To spur your thanks


A Thanksgiving Prayer

For forests tall and oceans deep
For canyons wide and mountains steep
For sunset skies of pink and gold
For every sunrise we behold

For Winter’s snow and springtime’s thaw
For Summer’s warmth and Autumn’s awe
For roofs that keep the rain away
For walls that hold it all at bay

For work that puts food on the table
For health and rest to keep us able
For friends and family around us
For years to come, may they surround us

For soldiers fighting for our peace
For days to come when wars may cease
For hope, so burdens won’t enslave us
For thy forgiveness which will save us

For feast, and those with whom we share it
For loving hands that did prepare it
For all that makes this life worth living
We take this time on this Thanksgiving

To bow our heads and bend a knee
And pause to look around –Submitted by About.com member, Eddie Mallonensee
For all that was, is, and shall be
We have none to thank, Oh Lord, but thee.
Amen.

Submitted to About.com by Eddie Mallonen

Never enough

A sigh of contentment is a rare pleasure. How often do you find yourself in this state? Maybe it’s, how often do you realize this condition of the soul? It usually takes a quiet moment with reflection.

Ecclesiastes speaks much of satisfaction, which I equate with contentment. In the first chapter of the book, the writer, Solomon says “the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear filled with hearing.” He is stating in short, they never get enough. We humans always want more. In the sixth chapter of the same book, Solomon writes, “All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied.” Here he uses another of the five senses, and concludes man never gets enough. In reference to monetary gain, he writes, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income.” He concludes, as he often does, this is vanity.

Solomon does give a positive statement in verse 9 of chapter 6. “What the eyes see is better than what the soul desires.” Paul makes a similar statement when he writes to Timothy, “Contentment with godliness is great gain.” When I think of what the eyes see versus what the soul desires, I imagine children writing Christmas lists; they are putting on paper what the “soul desires”. At Thanksgiving, however, we seem to take stock of that which we do have. We hopefully articulate in some way thanks for what our eyes behold.

I quizzed my son this week, “What do you need that you do not have?” He said, “You are being tricky.” I was. We are so blessed at our house, we NEED nothing. I am hopeful many of you are in that same condition. We could make an infinite list perhaps of wants (what the soul desires), but in kind we could tabulate quite a lengthy list of blessings. Solomon also stated at the beginning of this book, “what is lacking cannot be counted.” (Ecclesiastes 1:15) I agree, we could spend a lifetime calling to mind that which we do not have. We could in contrast spend a day of sighing at the many wondrous things we do have.

I do hope that you are able to spend some quiet time of reflection this Thanksgiving Day. I encourage you to make a list of that which your eyes do see, and thank the Giver of all good gifts. I also hope we all find ourselves with sighs of contentment and give thanks.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Under the sun

I am thankful for men who make the Word of God clearer. I study and enjoy as the Spirit opens my eyes to God’s truth. I also enjoy listening and reading from those who have spent their lives studying and then share their wisdom and knowledge. One such teacher is David Jeremiah. Years ago a book of his settled some long existing confusion in me. That confusion surrounded the dismal writings of Ecclesiastes.

As I have gone back to spend time in this book of wisdom, I have been marking the many times Solomon uses the phrase “under the sun”. He speaks of men’s futile toil under the sun. The man and the beast both have the fate of death so life “under the sun” is vanity. Your reward is here “under the sun” so make the best of what you have before you die. I am of course paraphrasing, but it reads much like this. As I studied this time, it became obvious to me that Solomon doesn’t mention or describe any life after the grave. For his writings, people end there. Ah, but there is life after we leave this earth. We are taught in the New Testament of a reward that awaits in heaven, not under heaven, but in heaven. Matthew 5:12 speaks of the reward of the persecuted being there. We all cherish the verse that reminds to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! (2 Corinthians 5:8) Jesus promised He was leaving this earth to go and prepare a place for us. (John 14:2) Jesus doesn’t teach our lives will end in Sheol (the grave).

I wanted to encourage you today that this isn’t all there is. Eternity awaits. We don’t know the details of what it will be like, but we know Who will be there. Solomon testifies He has written eternity on our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), there is life after the grave.  Keep in mind however, Solomon does share, “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”  Ecclesiastes 12:14  Be prepared for that life after the grave.

Burning within me,

Joy

The loss of hope

The terminally ill Brittany Maynard had no hope of long or enjoyable life. Her brain cancer already caused her terribly painful headaches and seizures that left her unable to speak. She chose to end her own life this past month. Holocaust survivors have said when prisoners of the death camps lost hope, they didn’t live long. With the inhumane conditions and starvation, the only thread holding them in this world was hope. I can imagine what hope means for some waiting in impossible situations means. I think of the state side family of Pastor Saeed who has been imprisoned in Iran for two years and has been brutally beaten and tortured. I think I know what hope means to a friend who received a heart transplant this past summer. Emily Dickenson gave a beautiful description of hope. “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without words and never stops at all.”

It is Thanksgiving week. One of my greatest gifts is hope. In the darkest nights of the soul, God holds out hope to us. He wrote His words of hope into a wondrous book. We can read and dwell on it day and night. It causes that feathered creature within me to sing its wordless tune without cease. Thank you, Lord.

Peter spoke of the ceaseless song of hope. In His first epistle to the churches he writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” Do you have time to digest all that is in that one statement?

His great mercy has caused us to be born again. Had we not been born again, we would still be responsible for the debt of our sin. A living hope is ours through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Christ is not dead and neither is our hope! We have an inheritance which is not going to waste away and it is pure. It is also reserved for us in heaven. No one is going to take it before we arrive.

I truly wish someone could have introduced Brittany Maynard to that hope. My mind drifts to her often. She ended life because she had no hope. There are lessons to be learned and revisited from the atrocities of Holocaust. A major truth from that attempted extermination is the hope of the people Israel is Jehovah God. He is still offering hope today. I trust that Pastor Saeed and his family know the hope which Peter writes about. They covet your prayers.

What is it today that causes you to despair? Might I suggest to you to turn to God’s Word and read words of hope? One of my favorite verses from First Peter is in chapter 2 verse 2, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow in respect to salvation.” As a baby is quieted by nursing the milk of his mother, so we too can be quieted by the pure milk of the Word of God.

There is hope. I pray it sings ceaselessly in you today.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Thankful even though

The political sector of America is more than disconcerting. Even tonight as I type, analysts are predicting the president to once again use executive order to override our congressional representatives. I know many who are angry and fearful, resentful and bitter. It seems as if nothing is concrete or absolute today. Ah, but there are words you can cling to. As I read them this morning, I said, “Yes, Lord I can be thankful in spite of the anxiety filled days in this country.

Psalm 97 The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
Let the many islands be glad.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3 Fire goes before Him
And burns up His adversaries round about.
4 His lightnings lit up the world;
The earth saw and trembled.
5 The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples have seen His glory.

Who reigns? The Lord reigns. I am to rejoice. He is not bound or kept from executing His plan. The whole world is under His control. I am thankful in times of unrest and uncertainty, He has a plan.

I don’t know what problems you are facing or what problems keep you awake at night or anxious throughout the day. I do know God has not lost control. How do I know? I see His word fulfilled daily. It’s amazing to watch the events and situations He foretells come to pass. Take notice of things and remember. His plan is not falling apart; pieces are falling into place. We can be thankful; He reigns.

Burning within me,

JOY!

The oppressor

We’ve all seen seemingly innocent people mistreated. The oppressed often has no power or recourse to retaliate. Oppressors are generally in authority in some way. To the oppressed, their situation seems hopeless. Those of us on the sideline are often indignant and angered. We frequently don’t have a way to intervene either. Solomon spoke of the injustice.

Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. Ecclesiastes 4:1

Solomon seems to imply to me that the oppressor too is seeking some sort of comfort. Whatever the case, he shall be judged. That’s important to the observer as well as the afflicted one. God sees. If He did not, we would be hopeless as Solomon who claimed the dead are better off than the living.

Psalm 96:11-13 (NASB)

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all it contains;
12 Let the field exult, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy
13 Before the Lord, for He is coming,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in His faithfulness.

I’ve watched just such a situation over the past 10 years, and it culminated in the past couple of weeks. My heart aches for the one shedding tears. I labor not to hold bitterness for the one who has inflicted the weak one. This morning the Lord showed me again, when He comes all will be made right. Thankfully, praise His name, He judges righteously. He knows all the facts and all the motives. Also, He is faithful to His own. He sees every tear we cry. David cried for Him to keep record of them. (Psalm 56:8)

I am careful not to wish judgment on others. I know I have been an oppressor in my life time. For that I repent. God knows my deceitful heart. I do not want to wish on someone else a punishment for which I have received pardon. I do pray all seek His forgiveness. However, I also know that no iniquity goes unpunished. So in that truth, I pray comfort for the one with tears.

Burning within me,

JOY!

An American Heidi

Some time ago I wrote of a German lady led by the Spirit to confront a joint service in a Christian church in Germany where an imam was to pray.  Her name is Heidi Mund. Today I read of an American Heidi. The lady’s name is Christine Weick. She drove from Tennessee to Washington to proclaim “Jesus died on that cross. It is the reason we are to worship only Him. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. We have built enough of your mosques in this country. Why don’t you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone?” The service where she spoke was being held in none other than the National Cathedral. The house of prayer was full of rugs facing Mecca and backs turned to the cross which Muslims find offensive. Have you heard of this? I had not until I saw a tweet today from Jan Markell and read an article by a nonpolitically correct Donna Wasson. On her site, Rapture Ready, Wasson has an article entitled “Asking For It”. She tells of Weick’s pilgrimage as well as her own opinion of the service. If you are easily offended by the intolerant, don’t read her article. She is vocal about her allegiance to Jehovah God as well as her opinion of our political leaders’ lack thereof.

I searched for Christine Weick’s name on google.com. I only found this information on websites such as Christian Post and Raw Story. Searching FoxNews, CNN and ABCNews did not yield results. I would like to read more of her “incident”. If I remember correctly, the main stream news didn’t report of Heidi either.

Donna Wasson’s article was blunt to put it mildly. I am grieved yet again at how few American Christians have a jealousy for our God. I hope you too will read of this. I hope it bolsters your desire to stand for your Lord. He is coming, and I pray He doesn’t find us shrinking back. (Hebrews 10:38-39)

Burning within me,

JOY!

Daniel 11:32 By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.

Benefits

I questioned the children on the way to school this morning. It’s the month of Thanksgiving, and before making all those exhaustive “want” lists, I want them to list their blessings. I asked them first to name a blessing in their life. I then asked they name a blessing from this morning. They replied as children their age reply. They didn’t ask me to answer in kind. I was ready though. At this stage in my life I am the most thankful I have ever been for the word of God. This morning in particular God spoke to me through His word. Through His living recorded word, He reminded me what I can be grateful to have every day.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV)

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul;  And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Out of God’s great mercy, my sin is forgiven. Stop. That fact should wash peace over our souls. This truth alone is mind-boggling. He heals all our diseases. I know what you’re thinking, not all. Whether in this world or the one to come, God will do away with our diseases. He redeemed us from the destruction our sin brings. He crowns us with loving-kindness and mercy. I know you can name at least one of those today. He satisfies your mouth with good things. I am just sure if you have access to digital media and can read this post this morning you have access to food. It may not be what you were “craving”, but it is good clean food. As David listed God’s benefits, we have access to those too.

As this month of thanksgiving focus unfolds, I read often of anxiety and stress diminishing as we focus on our blessings. I am trying to take that admonishment to heart. I know many hurting people with large problems. This world, however, and the evil contained therein cannot take away the blessings the Father has bestowed on us. As David reminds us, “Forget not all His benefits.” The best are eternal.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Never disappointed

From the Expanded version of the Bible… Isaiah 28:16
“I will •put [lay; establish] a stone in the ground in •Jerusalem [L Zion; C the location of the Temple], a tested stone.
•Everything will be built on this important and precious rock [L …a precious cornerstone for a firm foundation].
Anyone who trusts in it will never •be disappointed [or panic; waver; be shaken; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:6].


Keep believing and trusting Him. He will not disappoint you, ever. Spend time daily in His Word. Truth is ever so important in our tumultuous world. It may seem He has lost control. However, I have heard often lately from the God-fearing, “Things are not falling apart. The pieces are falling into place.” His Word will bear this out.

Burning within me,

JOY!

Dwell on His Word! He repeats this 3 times! See above and below.
Romans 9:33 (EXB)
33 As it is written in the Scripture:
“[L Look; T Behold] I will put in ·Jerusalem [L Zion; C a poetic term for Jerusalem and symbolizing the nation Israel] a stone that causes people to stumble, a rock that makes them fall [Is. 8:14].
Anyone who ·trusts [believes; has faith] in him will never be ·disappointed [put to shame; disgraced; Is. 28:16].”

1 Peter 2:6 (EXB)

The Scripture •says [L contains]:
“[L See; Look,] I will •put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem [L lay a stone in Zion; C Zion is a poetic term for Jerusalem].
•Everything will be built on this important and precious rock [L a chosen and precious cornerstone; C the stone that supports the others].
Anyone who •trusts [believes; has faith] in him
will never be •disappointed [L put to shame; Is. 28:16].”

I have no idea where I am going

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end… But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me. And You will never leave me to face my perils alone. – Thomas Merton

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust… Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, for they have been from of old. Psalm 25:1-2, 4-6

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