Thanksgiving in all Circumstances

Thanksgiving-circumstances

It is my sincere hope that each of you out there have a wonderful day today.  We have been blessed with so much and we have so much to be thankful for.

If we stopped with the fact that Jesus died for our sins and is even now preparing a place for us in Heaven, that would be enough.  However, most of us have so much more than that.

I want to encourage you today to look around you for all you have to be thankful for.  Take an extra moment to hug those you love, enjoy the food on your table, and be thankful for the breath in your lungs and the beating of your heart.

Even when it seems that your circumstances tell you to be angry or ungrateful, you still have opportunity and choice and freedom.

Perhaps our circumstances aren’t holding us back, but rather are equipping us to be thankful.

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  2 Corinthians 9:11

This verse isn’t talking about riches that you put into your pocket.  It is talking about the blessings that we enjoy and can then pass on to others in their time of need.  We always have something we can give another person.  It may just be a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, or a bite to eat.  Take time today to remember that.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

It is interesting that Paul ties anxiety in with thanksgiving in this verse.  They seem to be opposite of one another.  Perhaps we are to be thankful about the things that make us anxious.  Perhaps those very things drive us to our knees in prayer and drive us to the loving embrace of our Father.

I hope that no matter what circumstance you find yourself in this Thanksgiving, that you take a moment to remember to be thankful.

Thanksgiving is an attitude that you cultivate.  It is a reminder of what has been done for you.  It is a way to pass on to others a blessing and enrich their lives.

I hope that you will be thankful today in all things and that you will have a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!


 

Please, leave a comment below and let me know what you are most thankful for or how I can pray for the difficult circumstances you are facing right now.

What We Need, When We Need It

Sun & Rain

Thank you for giving us a little bit of sunshine so we could play outside today and a little bit of rain to wash away the pollen.”

These were the words of my 8-year-old tonight as he prayed over our dinner. As he said “Amen” my wife and I looked at each other thinking that sometimes the most profound words come out of such a small package.

After all, isn’t this what God wants us to do?  Sometimes He gives us sunshine and playtime outside.  Sometimes He gives us rain to wash away the pollen.  Usually we are upset when the rain comes because it stops us from doing what we want to do.

But God says in His word that He will give us just what we need if only we will trust Him:

  • Matthew 5:11 Give us this day our daily bread…
  • Psalm 23: 1  The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
  • Philippians 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
  • 1 Timothy 6: 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

This is where the difficulty lies.  If we truly trust in God we have to be content with what He gives us.  I know that I have never gone without; however, I have had some lean times when I had to trust in Him to provide for my most basic of needs.  In these times, I grew closer to God than I ever had before.

When we get to a point of total reliance on God, He will step in at the perfect time and deliver us.  Just today I had a prayer answered that I had been praying over for over a year.  I have been asking God to provide for a need in His perfect timing. I can honestly say that I never doubted that He would provide.  Sometimes it has been tough waiting, but I know that He can provide for my needs so much better than I can.  In fact, sometimes I mess things up if I don’t wait on His timing.

I am working on developing that child-like faith that I saw tonight at the dinner table.  Wouldn’t it be great to just thank God at the end of the day for whatever He gave you?  Instead of complaining when things don’t go our way, just thank Him for your blessings and just see what He is going to do next.

I know that this is can be difficult, but if we focus on the Son and thank Him for the rain, we just may be surprised at what the next day brings.

There Are Two Kinds of People…

I posted this picture on the screen in my classroom and asked my students to put their pens to paper and write. Although this is a simple question, the responses I received were quite insightful.
Here are some of the responses:
givers & takers
judges & juries
the skeptical & the gullible
rich & poor
dependent & independent
What was interesting to me is that these answers came from kids that are no older than 21 and most come from a low income, sometimes at-risk living situation.
So when I answered the question for myself the first thing that popped in my mind was: There are two kinds of people in the world… people who are content and people who are not content.
Since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, it seems like there is no better time to look at what contentment is and what it means. To me, contentment is a feeling of peace within yourself that allows you to face the difficulties of life without allowing them to weigh you down and burden your soul. So many people walk around with heavy hearts and you can almost see the burdens that they bear. It is very difficult times that we face right now. The difficulties that we face, however, need not dominate our thoughts or weigh down our hearts.
I think that contentment is key to the message of Jesus in the New Testament. Contentment comes from knowing who you are and where your security rests. When I acknowledge the Lordship of Christ in my life and when I recognize that circumstances don’t control me or change my eternal destination, then I can begin to be content with where I am and what I have. Please note that there is a difference in being content and being stagnant. Contentedness is not a fatalistic mindset that nothing will ever change so why bother trying. Rather, it is a realization that my circumstances can be used to shape me and mold me into the image of Christ and that I must be content to allow the Father to work in me through whatever ways He sees fit.
There is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I haven’t enjoyed everything that I have persevered through this year and it is easy to compare what other people have and feel dejected, but if you take a few moments to look around you, you will see there is much to be thankful for and content with.
I hope that you can choose to be one of the contented instead of one of the discontented. It will not only change your life, but it will change your outlook and your relationships with others as well.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

The Surprise of Stillness

January 12, 2011

We absolutely hate to sit still.  Think about it, we have to keep moving.  It may be in our cars, going to the store, going to work or going through the drive-through at McDonald’s. It may be in our house on the computer, checking e-mail, looking at Facebook, texting or watching television.  Whatever you choose, chances are you can’t sit still either.

I am watching the news this morning and it is proving my point.  Reporters are at the side of Interstate 75 showing a 3-mile long line of cars and trucks sitting still.  At the airport the reporter shows travelers sitting still and rows of planes sitting still.  According to reports not one plain has taken off this morning from the worlds busiest airport.

It seems like with all this stillness it is a perfect time to hear the voice of God.  After all, what else is there to do that is more important.

Psalm 46:10 says, Be still and know that I am God…

This verse is a great reminder to us about the power of stillness.  Unfortunately sometimes it takes something as dramatic as a snowstorm to give us pause and to let us become still. 

Today as the first day of the corporate fast begins, embrace the stillness.  As you dig into the Word let it permeate into your soul.  Let the fact that you are stuck draw you closer to the Father.  Let the things that are important be important.

Yesterday I went outside with my 8 year old daughter and 4-year-old son and made memories.  We tromped through snow in the woods behind our house following the tracks of several deer.  We slid down the snow and ice encrusted street on a piece of plastic and laughed when we crashed to a stop.  We fell on our backs in the snow and just enjoyed the stillness.  All of which is not typical Monday behavior for any of us.  The stillness didn’t allow me to be particularly productive, but when then we came inside and sat by the fire sipping hot chocolate, my daughter said, “Dad, this was the best day ever!” 

Thank you Lord for the stillness that causes me to see what’s important.