What will they See this Thanksgiving?

In the gospel of Luke we find a story about 10 lepers who came to Jesus for help. They are a lot like people in our neighbors today. They knew that Jesus cared about their needs and has the ability to help. These 10 men also were ready to  immediately do anything that Jesus asked.

Luke 17:12-15

Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God

Jesus had made an impression on people because they knew that He was willing to touch lepers and that He had the power to help them Because of how Jesus ministered He was continually surrounded by people longing to get close. Some wanted to touch Jesus, others hoped just to see Him and still others sat quietly listening to what He had to say. It must have looked a little bit like a hospital emergency room. People were lined up waiting to be seen. Others brought their loved ones and family to Jesus. He was constantly presented with opportunities to demonstrate the love of God.

Sadly our local church today bears a distant resemblance to the ministry of Jesus. Too often we seem to function more like an understaffed medical clinic. Sick people still show up regularly but they find few people around to help. Our nurses are out on strike for a better benefits package and our doctors are having coffee together reviewing their retirement program. When folks press their nose against the glass and look inside the office they hear the sounds of a business meeting called into session to discuss how to reduce the number of sick people allowed in! If any hospital functioned like our churches they would quickly find themselves in court. The front page of the paper would be filled with angry headlines. The 6 o’clock news would begin with a lead story demanding immediate change to how that medical facility functioned. nepal-and-india-260

So as we approach this Thanksgiving let’s consider what we can each do differently. The world has as much need as it ever did. Do our altars act more like walls to keep folks off the podium rather than a meeting place for prayer? God  is still willing to cleanse. Jesus is still ready to heal. He still welcomes the sick, the blind and the sinner. They are outside looking in our windows. What will they see this Thanksgiving?

 

Thankfulness Challenge 2

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly[a] mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ  1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

“What exactly do you love about me?” my wife sometimes asks me. She doesn’t just want an akimg0754bstract lovey -dovey comment, she wants all the little nitty gritty details! Think of thankfulness as a thousand piece puzzle. It takes more than knowing what the big picture looks like to get that thing together. Finishing the puzzle means fitting each and every tiny part exactly into the position for which it was designed! Paul got very detailed about the thanks he was giving for his friends at the Thessalonian church. In fact Paul went into extra innings in his prayer time to remind God with a specific list of their work, their faith and their labor of love.

We might tell our pastor, “Hey great sermon today!” but can we take the time to say, “That part about unshakable confidence being like the mountains really made me think.” If we are to start building a design of thankfulness, let’s make it our goal this week to just fit in at least one tiny puzzle piece. If kimg0749we were blessed by the worship, we could say something like, “When you got to that part about God breaking chains, my heart just felt a breakthrough tonight!”

Saying thank you, may feel awkward and maybe a little strange but God himself can be very specific when he expresses His love for us. He counts our every hair, he bottles every tear and hears every cry. He touched a leper and put clothing on a naked demon possessed man. Jesus had compassion on the hungry, then took the time to count every one in the crowd before he multiplied their bread. He has left us a perfect example that is not only our duty but it is our joy to follow. When we give thanks for what someone has done for us we never know what it will do. Giving thanks is a bit like washing dirty tired feet. Thankfulness means taking the position of servant before our brothers and sisters, so we can walk together into everything that God has designed for us!

He Gave Thanks

The screen door banged and feet shuffled in at our back door on summer afternoons. The occasion was the silent call of the delicious aroma of Mom’s homemade bread! One by one my friends and I waited in line as Mom cut open the first loaf and slid butter across it as she handed us each our slice.

I don’t remember anyone standing outside the door waiting to be invited in. She never made an announcement and but Mom’s welcome to her kitchen was quietly understood. In Mom’s kitchen we all knew we had one piece of bread with our name on it.

Now of course we went by Mom’s rules that said we had to wait for the bread to cool. We could not expect a second slice and most importantly we needed to say thank you!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God   Philippians 4:6

bread

There are so many things we are asking God for today. We ask for His help with temptations, difficulties, emergencies and financial needs. Yet often we have such low expectations of God’s answer it seems as if we have forgotten the aroma of the grace of God. And on those occasions after we have received an answer to our prayers do we just say, “We give you thanks in Jesus name” without truly being grateful? I am struck with the fact that Jesus, who is the creator of all things, and was there at the birth of our planet, said, “thank you”.  As Jesus prayed for the multiplying of the bread perhaps He smelled the fresh bread being baked in His Father’s heavenly ovens and with great joy and expectancy gave thanks!

He Gave Thanks

Paul tells us in Philippians … we are to be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and petition WITH THANKSGIVING. to make our requests.. Philippians 4:6

There are so many things we are asking God for today. We ask for His help with temptations, difficulties, emergencies and financial needs; yet how often as we close our prayers do we just say,  “We give you thanks in Jesus name” without truly being grateful?

I am struck with the fact that Jesus, who is the creator of all things,and was there at the birth of our planet, stopped and gave thanks.

Then He took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, He broke them and gave them to the disciples, …. Matthew 15:36

For Jesus this was not a one time example setting moment. Jesus regularly was heard being thankful. Jesus thanked the Father for hearing Him, before He called Lazarus from the tomb. When the disciples came back from their first preaching tour, He gave thanks that God had showed himself to them. When Jesus took the bread and the cup at the last supper, He paused and gave thanks. Jesus lived and died a life filled to overflowing with thankfulness. His thanksgiving wasn’t just for a holiday a religious ritual, or a show for others. The thankful heart of Jesus was woven into every detail of His very nature. This might be a good moment to pause this morning and ask God for His mercy to forgive our ungratefulness, and to teach us to be like Jesus: who was always thankful!

What Have I to Give?

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

IMG_5329

And When your road seems frozen cold

and if your heart feels old

And When the snows lie over grass

And no Spring thaw seems soon to pass

Then God’s word comes from ancient days

And shows us how to walk the ways

To give away our widow’s mite

And like the jailer who bowed one night

And bandaged wounds that he had made

Then asked of Paul how to be saved

So when some friend or neighbor bleeds

And you feel helpless to meet their needs

And wonder what you have to give

Remember its God’s love that lives

Inside the things we give to them

When we give our best we are giving Him

“What have I to give” you said

When you were feeling very small

Look to the cross where Jesus bled

“It is finished”  was the Savior’s call

He breathed His last

He bowed His head

He had nothing left

So He gave His all!

Of

Gratefulness Challenge Day Six Thankful for Discipline

“Go sit on your bed until your father comes home!” Those were the most dreaded words my mother ever uttered to my eight year old ears. What miserable long hours (Well maybe minutes) those were. By the time I heard the car in the driveway the dread I had of what was to come had become a mountain before me. I knew everything that was to come. “You know this hurts me more than it hurts you” was always spoken just before the inevitable discipline was meted out..

Not long ago we visited Fort De Soto in Florida. At the fort are some of the largest artillery pieces I have ever seen. They were installed at the entrance of Tampa Bay during the Spanish American war.  Though they were never fired in battle their  presence at the harbor entry served as a warning and a preventive measure against an enemy attack.

IMG_5216

 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:11

In the same way both our childhood discipline and the trials God allows us to pass through are not joyful events while we are passing through them. But God loves us and cares for us and He is teaching us some things that we can not learn any other way. We are learning timeless truths like:

We are not perfect

We will be held responsible for our actions

We have a father who disciplines us but he does not disown us.

This discipline is for our good!

So if like me you are going through a Winter of trials it helps to stop and realize that our chastening today will help to prevent the enemy’s attack tomorrow. It reminds us that we belong to Jesus. The worst (and the best) part of the punishment was getting a hug when it was over. So be patient, be open to correction and hold on for God’s hug!

 

Gratefulness Challenge Day 4

 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. Matthew 19:21 

Florida trip 072

Our day will be changed if we begin to be thankful for some of those treasures. Here is my own personal thanksgiving list  Please feel free to add to my list as it is in no way complete!

Eternal life – forgiveness of sin – Acceptance and adoption by the Father –  – My name written in the Book of Life – God Himself wiping every tear from my eyes – Eating the fruit from the Tree of Life – Seeing Jesus face to face – Embracing my Dad, my friends, William, Quina, Rick , Pastor Joe and many more who are there waiting on the other shore – Drinking from the Crystal River – Hearing His Voice – Worshiping Him forever!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4