Thanksgiving Thoughts - Thinking About the Receiver

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a day filled with good food, family and friends, football and for many of us the beginning of our Christmas holidays. It was Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, who declared this fourth Thursday of November to be a day of giving thanks. Considering the Civil War was in full swing at that point, I find it intriguing that our 16th president felt compelled to put in place a regular day of giving thanks to God, for initially that is what it was. Perhaps in the midst of the carnage of one of our history's greatest internal wars, Lincoln realized how very lost we were without God and that a day of giving thanks would bring us back to center.

We have heard much on what being grateful does for the giver of thanks, but what about what it does for the receiver. I'd like to offer several possible thoughts.

I did include a few pics of some of the food I'll be serving today....for which I am thankful. Ha, ha. Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

Thanksgiving food

1. Giving thanks blesses the receiver. Think about how you feel when someone takes the time to say thank you. Doesn't it make you feel good? Doesn't make you feel noticed? Doesn't it make you feel like all that work you did was worth it? I know for me when someone takes time to thank me, I feel up lifted. 

Wouldn't the same be true for God? Granted God does not have to be consoled or motivated like we as humans so often do, but the Bible, especially the Psalms talk about blessing the Lord. 

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
— Psalm 34:1 (NASB)
I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
— Psalm 145:1 (NASB)

I would include passages that talk about praising God, as those which bless Him as well. Just as we can be blessed by being thanked, God is lifted up when we give thanks to Him. 

Thanksgiving food

2. Giving thanks creates a connection with the receiver. When you give thanks to someone you are acknowledging their existence. You are telling them they are worth your time and your effort. You are connecting with them as a real, and important individual. Isn't that one of the reasons we labor to teach our kids to say thank you? We want them to acknowledge there is another person in the world besides themselves, whether it be their teacher, the fast food worker at McDonalds, the clerk at a store or their grandparents. 

When we give thanks to God we are creating a connection with Him. I know I have days where I feel disconnected from Him. It might be sin, it might be that I am not feeling well, it might be things that are bothering me, or it might just be the weather, but regardless of what caused the disconnect, as soon as I go to Him with thanksgiving and praise that connection is restored. This is the result of our choice to acknowledge, He exists and without Him we are nothing. 

for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children
— Acts 17:28 (NASB)
thanksgiving food

3. Giving thanks creates meaning and purpose. When I receive thanks from another it makes me feel good. It reminds me that I am important and that what I am doing has meaning and purpose. Many of us work jobs that we do not feel make a real difference in the world, but we must never underestimate the power of a life planted exactly where God wants it to be. I try to remember that working in retail. At times customers can be less than grateful, but I always feel my job is worthwhile when I hear a thank you, either from a customer, my boss or a fellow employee. 

Obviously we cannot give meaning or purpose to a holy, omniscient God, but when we thank Him we are acknowledging the meaning and purpose He has given to us. Every time I approach God with a humble attitude of gratitude I am reminded of the great love He has for us. 

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (NASB)

Today as you gather with people you care about,  remember not only to be thankful, but that your giving of thanks has an effect on the ones you give it too. 

Have a blessed day!

Steadfast Hope

Last week I wrote about Elusive Hope. The purpose for calling it elusive, is that there are times hope is very hard to find. When life constantly beats us down, it is hard to keep feeling like there is much hope. Here is where we must make a differentiation. Hope is not a feeling. 

Webster's online dictionary defines hope in these ways: to cherish a desire with anticipation, trust (though it says that this is an archaic definition), to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment, to expect with confidence. 

I find it interesting that this online version of Webster's dictionary calls the definition trust, archaic. I would not dismiss this definition so easily, especially when looking at what the scripture has to say about hope.

For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
— Hebrews 6:13-20 (NASB)

There is much to learn from the book of Hebrews, about faith and about hope. I actually asked my husband for help on this one. Being a philosophy instructor, he has spent most of his adult life musing over writings that are not easily understood. He has a unique ability to look at something logically, especially when it comes to language. I can write. But I cannot write on the level of a Kierkegaard, or an Aquinas. 

The writer of Hebrews, while fairly easy to understand, still delves into writing that must be mulled over, not glossed over. Just like the book of Romans, there is so much in this book and I am only looking at one small passage. 

The part that intrigued me was this: "...In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us..."

There are several points that need to be made. 

1. When it came to making promises in that day, men swore by one greater than themselves. So, in other words, men would swear by heaven or by God that they would do what they said they were going to do. 

2. They basically sealed the contract by performing an oath. The oath made the promise so. 

When it comes to salvation God did both of these things. He made a promise to us and swore according to Himself, since there is no one higher than Him. He also, then sealed that promise with an oath, or a guarantee. 

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (NASB)

God made the promise and then sealed it with a blood oath, that of His son Jesus Christ. 

What I find fascinating is the fact that this phrase was included, "...in which it is impossible for God to lie..." The things that the author is referring to, would be the swearing and the oath. God made a promise to us, through His son Jesus Christ and He cannot lie.

Therefore, we have "...strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us." What is that strong encouragement? The fact that God swore by Himself and that He sealed the promise with an oath. He cannot lie, so the fact that He told us if we believe in Jesus, we will have eternal life, along with all the other promises in the Bible means He will do it. He is as good as His word.

So elusive hope, becomes steadfast, because of what God did. Bringing back the idea of hope to the definition of trust makes perfect sense. We are placing our hope or our trust in an almighty God. There is no one higher than Him. He cannot lie. He is good. 

It is this hope in God that becomes our anchor. It is sure and it is steadfast and best of all it enters into the veil as Jesus did! This hope is more real than the earth we stand on or the stars we see in the sky. 

Next time you feel hopeless or that hope is hiding like a rainbow on a sunny day, take a closer look. Hope is blooming all around us, because it is found in Him. 

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull  

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull 

Thinking Ahead to Easter

I have always loved Christmas and Easter. When I came to Jesus the idea of a mighty, all powerful God willing to be born and die, for our sakes, was and still is, remarkable. What would possess such a powerful being to cram His holiness into human form? What great motivation moved that same being to go to a cross? Many say that it was His love for us. 

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (NASB)

Obviously, scripture concurs with the idea that God loves us. He loved us so much that He was willing to send His son to die for us, and not just die, but actually become human. That would be like me becoming an ant, so that I could save all the other ants from that shoe about to crush our hill. 

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
— John 15:13 (NASB)

What I find fascinating is that God didn't need to love us. I mean He could have gone on for another billion centuries, whatever that looks like in God time, and never created another living being. He was wholly perfect and, shall we say, content, in His God-head. He doesn't need us. He didn't create us because He was lonely and wanted someone to talk to. 

Photo credit StockSnap -  Quino Al

Photo credit StockSnap - Quino Al

Could it be that God created us for something much more relatable than just a desire to make something out of nothing? Maybe God created simply because He could. Perhaps His artistic nature wanted to make something tangible and shall we say earthy. I'm not an artist. I can draw a little bit and took a ceramics class in high school, but that's where my ability ends. However, I can write. When I finish a piece and I  reread it and am moved to tears then I think, "Dang! Your good!" This isn't a matter of pride, it is a matter of being able to use that creative force that lies in all of us.

We are made in His image, so I must believe that God is especially creative. Just look at the fish, birds, bugs and animals. Look at the millions of people in the world, and we are all different! Amazing! If you gave me a yellow, blue and red crayon, I would only be able to come up with a certain number of color combinations, but God....well, He not only colors outside the lines, but outside the entire box! 

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

I can just see God as He began that creative work called life, with all of it's complex DNA combinations and miracles at a cellular level. He had to be thinking, "Dang! Your good!" Ha, ha. Whether it be the complexity of the human eye being able to see or the return of salmon to their spawning ground without a GPS, God moved with creativity when He brought this world about. 

Photo credit StockSnap 

Photo credit StockSnap 

Now, try to imagine that the work of art you had just created wound up ruined. Would you have proceeded to pour your passion, your heart, your very essence into something you knew was going to get so messed up? God did! He knew that a serpent's whispered temptation and a human's lustful response would ruin all that He had spoken into existence. But with that knowledge He created a plan. A plan for our welfare. A plan for our salvation.

You see, just as we would do all in our power to preserve our creative efforts, or the creative efforts of others: think van Gogh, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Mozart, Handel. Bach, Beethoven, and so many more, God wouldn't just throw it all in the trash. He made a way for His creation to be redeemed. That redemption comes through Jesus Christ. 

As we look forward to Easter in a few weeks I hope you will take some time to think about Jesus and who He is. He is waiting for you. He loves you. He wants a relationship with you. 

Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
— Romans 10:13 (NASB)

 

 

How Can I Encourage You Today?

Sometimes when I start writing these posts I have no idea where they will take me. This is my third try today. I ask God, what do you want me to write about? Many times, when I think I have this great idea, it turns out that I can't finish it. It sort of dies on the vine, so to speak. Sometimes, the ideas are very clear and without distraction I can write as though the idea is already formed in my head. It is just that easy. Most of the time, however, I write hesitantly, wondering if anything I put on this Faith page makes a difference in anyone's life. But, that is not for me to know or to worry about. My goal is to be obedient to what God wants me to do. So what exactly does that look like?

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to write and with my writing to encourage people, more specifically women. I know many women, my age who are struggling to figure out who they are and what their purpose is. For many of us, we are no longer raising children. In fact, many of us are now faced with having very little control in our adult children's lives or in the lives of their children. Our precious grand babies! Many of us work jobs, some that bring us great satisfaction and others out of necessity. Believe me I would much rather be a full time writer earning an income than working retail. But this is where I am at and this is the path God has put me on.

I know many women who are going through really hard stuff. Things like divorce, children with addictions, spouses with mental disorders, parents with extra needs and financial burdens, and illness. These are just a few on a long list of concerns that women are dealing with. As women we are expected to work, take care of our homes, our families and maintain some semblance of emotional control. I don't know about you, but once in a while, this just gets hard! 

For me, I know when life gets hard, what I really want, is to be encouraged. I want someone to give me a hug. I want a friend to call me and listen when I rant and then say, "Can I pray with you?" I would like my spouse to listen to me as I struggle with life without interjecting advice on how to fix it. And just so you know, my husband is much better at this than he used to be. Ha, ha. Once in a while I would like someone to rescue me! Unfortunately, everyone is busy. Everyone has their own issues that they are dealing with. Everyone needs to be encouraged.

Pixabay

Pixabay

So today, right here, in this little blog, that is what I want to do. I want to tell you some things that are true about you and I want you to believe them with all your heart. 

1. You are beautiful! I don't care what color your skin is, how old your are or how much you weigh. I don't care how you dress or what visible scars or deformities you have. You are beautiful. You know how I know this, because God said so!

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.
— Genesis 1:26-31 (NASB)

What I want you to pay attention to is that very last line, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." God's word doesn't say, "...it was okay," or "...it needed to be tweaked," but that it was very good. 

2. You are intelligent! We can refer back to the same passage for confirmation on this one. "Let us make man in Our likeness..." How awesome is that? We are made in the image of a holy, awesome being. A being who created us out of dust. 

3. You are strong! Once again I must refer to scripture here. 

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
— Philippians 4:13

Because you are intelligent you can figure this one out. You are strong because He is strong, the He being Jesus. I have found in my life, when I strive in my own strength I get awfully tired. When I rely on Him to get me out of bed in the morning, do the tasks I need to do, even when I am overwhelmed, He is my strength. He keeps me going. 

4. You are valuable! 

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
— Matthew 6:26 (NASB)

I love this! I love to watch birds. My mother always had a bird feeder hanging from a pine tree next to our house when I was growing up. We loved to see the birds flitting back and forth as they enjoyed nuts and seeds from the feeder. My mom and I liked to see how many different types of birds  we could see throughout the year. My 90 year old mom outlived the pine tree so she had to get a different type of feeder, but she still enjoys her birds. The point being, if a great God can care for those little tiny birds, providing food for them in the winter, giving them instincts to fly south for those that do, blessing them with feathers and down, how much more valuable are we to Him? We are the crown of creation.

Pixabay

Pixabay

5. You are loved! Don't let circumstances or people make you feel unloved. 

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (NASB)
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
— John 15:9 (NASB)
for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
— John 16:27 (NASB)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
— Romans 5:8 (NASB)

The list could go on. God the Father loves you. Jesus the Son loves you. His Spirit loves you. 

I hope that you will hold these thoughts close to your heart today. Maybe you are struggling. Maybe you just needed to be reminded. I hope this helped.