Our Thanksgiving

In these United States, we have been celebrating Thanksgiving for at least thirty years, from what I recall directly as a child.  Beyond that, we have to trust other historical sources, which give us a good idea of how this celebration has changed over the years since that first gathering of 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims in 1621.  Giving thanks to God is not a new concept, but proclaiming it as a nation is limited to about four places on the world stage, notably the USA and Canada.  The first presidential Thanksgiving Day Proclamation was made by our first president, George Washington in 1789.  It continued through the next couple presidents, and then fell out of favor until Abraham Lincoln, who in the midst of the Civil War in 1863 also set our now current celebration date as the last Thursday in November.  A new presidential proclamation has been issued each year since till now, though the content of each varies somewhat.  If you were to make a proclamation of Thanksgiving, or even a prayer for your family, what would it include? 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians  5:18

Growing up, Thanksgiving Day for me was a time to fellowship with extended family and feast together on an overabundance of food.  It was a time of celebration, often initiated by someone giving a prayer of thanksgiving before we filled our plates.  We learned about the pilgrims in school and made projects out of construction paper to take home, but rarely got much deeper than that.  That’s how it is with many traditions, we just do them like this because we always have and seldom ask why.  Now, whenever I read the words of the Washington or Lincoln Thanksgiving proclamations, it humbles me.  Phrases such as ‘to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be’ as well as ‘And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions’ leave little doubt as to the message.  Even the process of giving thanks (even a simple ‘thank you’) tends to diminish pride and promotes humility, which is something, God knows, we all need.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

As humans, we have a tradition of taking things for granted.  We quickly forget the sacrifice and all that it took to gain the freedoms and rights we claim as a nation and as individuals today.  One result of this is our tendency to move from a day of gratitude to a day of gluttony a.k.a. ‘Turkey Day,’ which is immediately followed by a day of greed in which we trample over one another to get a good bargain.  We are encouraged by our society to spend as little time as necessary focusing on humility and instead, to do things that promote selfishness.  So, what can we do to avoid this tendency?  One is to regularly (even daily) count your blessings and give thanks for what you have in this life, even if all is not perfect.  The Israelites often needed these reminders as well and participated in seven major festivals each year.  Another good practice is to serve others and put their needs before ours, which is the ultimate sign of love that Christ illustrated.  This will slow the growth of selfishness as much as anything in our lives.  So whether you put the hours in preparing a feast for your family, or serving food to strangers, take a moment to give thanks and also to share with others why you do so.  They may thank you for it later on.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.   It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;  give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalm 100

In Gratitude to God,

Clark

I’m grateful because…

Today we are going to do something different…

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Instead of spending the next 10 minutes reading a devotional, I challenge you to text 10 people who you are grateful for and to tell them why. It should read like this… “I am thankful for you because… you love people so well, you made me feel special on my birthday, you are alway there for me, or any number of reasons”

 

Ready Go!

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Thriving in a Drought: Use What You Have

Part 3 of a four part series based on 1 Kings 17 

Throughout my life I’ve rarely been satisfied by what I have. I may have had a Nintendo, but I wanted the latest game. I may have been a good student, but I wanted to be as smart as someone else. My ministry may have been going well, but I really wished it could be a little more like the church over there. Now, the positive aspect is that a hunger to do better can drive us to better develop our skills, getting the most out of our lives and abilities. Drive and motivation are certainly good things. However, I sometimes are longings to be like others, or to achieve certain goals we set for ourselves, lead us to miss something very important, and that is what we already have in our lives.

As we continue to follow the ministry of the prophet Elijah I am very struck by the following incident. For months Elijah has been living by a stream being fed by birds. FINALLY God tells him he can move on and live in a house in a village. When he arrives he discovers that his new caretaker has only the most minimal of resources: a little oil, a little flour, and some sticks.

“Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 1 Kings 17:11-14

The woman thought there was little she could do because she had so little, but Elijah taught her to trust the Lord to bless and use what she did have. Friends, I think that’s one of the most important lessons we can learn in life. Instead of lamenting that we can’t sing like someone else, get a yield from our field like our neighbor, materially provide for our family like others, or preach like our favorite preacher, we need to fully trust God with what we do have. What gifts, skills, possessions, and passions do you have? Are you really trusting God to bless and use them? Instead of lamenting all that you lack, start rejoicing in what you have, and begin fully entrusting God to use it, as he used just a few sticks, a little oil, and a pinch of flour.

Thankful for My Spouse

Ephesians 5:25New International Version (NIV)

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

What is a husband’s responsibility to love his wife well? I think there are 3 components that are crucial for loving our wives well, to love her without selfishness, to love her without reservation, to love her without condition, and to love her as Christ loved the church unto death. (see John 13:1)

It is easy to fall into a comfortable pattern with your spouse and allow ingratitude to settle in. We take for granted to express that, “I love you.” or “You look beautiful today.” Show that you are thankful to have her as a partner in your life.

We try to remember to show our love on anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, or some other special occasion. But how often do we simply tell our spouse, “I am thankful for you.”

I am thankful that my wife loves Jesus more than me. I am thankful when my wife’s life choices do not point to me, but point to Jesus. I am thankful when my wife’s love for Christ is transparent and real in her life. It makes me truly thankful to see that in my spouse’s life. When your spouse loves Jesus more than you, you are the recipient of a spouse who looks at you through the eyes of Jesus and will love you unconditionally. She is your support and helper. She is a treasure.

Men, this is a call to show thankfulness and gratitude to your spouse. Step into the moments with vulnerability and show your wife just how thankful you truly are to have her in your life.

Strength and Courage

Michael

 

Diligent Pursuit

With the demands of the archery shop this fall, I hadn’t been able to get to the field as much as I would have liked.  However, this week I took off Tuesday and Wednesday, combined with my regular Sunday and Monday off, I was able to spend some quality time in pursuit of a mature whitetail buck.  

The timing could not have been better, or the script more exciting.  After, church on Sunday, my wife, my friend Joey and I were headed to stands.  It had been a few years since Joey and I had this opportunity, so we struck out together, while my wife headed to one of her favorite stands on the east side of the farm.  Joey and I were headed to a seam in a hayfield that would permit us to enter undetected.  As, we started into the seam, I spied a giant mainframe 10, directly in our path, tending a doe.  We hit the deck!  I worked my binoculars from my pack, inched up and took a peak.  Yeah… he’s huge!  I gotta try.   I crawled backward to get into a line that offered some concealment.  Joey, provided over-watch as I proceeded to claw my way across the hayfield.  With Joey’s guidance, I managed to make my way to within 33 yards of the monarch undetected.  With him quartering away unawares, I began to draw.  In that instant, I saw a flash to my right, glanced over… busted!  The doe caught me and took off.  I redirected my focus to the buck, who, unfortunately was following suit.  Four seconds… that’s what I needed to seal the deal… four seconds.  

I made my way back to Joey, where we shared our exhilaration over what had just happened.  What a charge!  And, we still had our whole afternoon hunt to enjoy!

We saw the buck a short time later, cruising a hayfield across the draw.  To say I hoped he would cruise by my stand would be an understatement.  He didn’t.

The next morning on her way to work, my wife spotted him cruising not far from where I’d seen him the day before.  Due to other obligations, I was not able to get back until Tuesday.  That evening found me in the same area again.  There was amble action and opportunity, but he didn’t make an appearance.  When I was driving back to the house, I came up on him coming out of some standing corn.  “That’s it! I know what he’s doing!”  

My full focus is locked on this buck.  In all my years of bowhunting, I’ve only targeted a specific deer 2 other times, now we have #3.  Tuesday evening, I analyzed the terrain between the areas we had seen him.  A clear and logical travel route began to emerge.  Wednesday, I set a new stand in the area I felt could most likely yield an encounter.  The location is great, but the stand not so much.  It’s rather exposed, making movement nearly impossible, but manageable if appropriately measured. The scene is set, now to wait.  

I sat on stand that day for 12 hours.  I saw dozens of deer, had numerous opportunities to fill my tag, including a very nice mature buck, but not the one I was after.  I’m focused now.  Anything less would feel like settling.  It’s not often a bowhunter is presented with an opportunity such as this.  I fell short on the first attempt, but I’m not done yet.

Over the past few days of purposed, focused, determined pursuit and preparation I couldn’t help but compare what I was doing with my focus and pursuit of the Lord. “Am I this focused and purposeful when I comes to pursuing and knowing Jesus?  Do I study scripture with the same veracity that I studied the aerials of the farm?”  At times, yes, but full on continued focus, no would have to be the answer. 

If I am able to put everything together and harvest this deer, it would be nothing short of a miracle.  If not for the fortunate encounter on Sunday, I wouldn’t know that he even existed.  I’m focused now, but I haven’t done much leading up to now.  I depend on a long developed knowledge of the area and the animals, never really knowing the exact make up of the bucks from year to year and just trust that a nice deer will cruise by and an opportunity presents itself.  Most the guys I know that consistently tag big mature bucks dedicate themselves to that end.  They are focused nearly always, and put in the work.  The result is they are consistently rewarded. 

That kind of focus on God and His kingdom is consistently rewarded.  If you want to be consistently successful, you have to be consistently focused.  In order to wake us up and drive our determination, He’ll occasionally appear to us as a monster 10 point in a hayfield.  And, that works… obviously.  Question is, do you want to see that mack daddy once in a blue moon, or every season?!  Have a blessed weekend!

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

Every Sunday at 8:30 AM

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