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What Happened to Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving Day in America is filled with holiday traditions – time with family and friends, an abundance of good food, football, games, walks. It is often time together with loved ones. For some the day begins by going to church to thank God for all He has blessed us with. It was established by our founding fathers as a day that was set aside for us to give thanks to our Creator and God for the abundant blessings He has lavished on us from the material things to His providential care.

Dr. Charles Stanley was talking about our needs recently and said,

“Don’t be mistaken: there’s nothing wrong with having an awareness of our present needs. But too often we allow them to become the focus of our lives. The result is that our hearts become blind to the bounty all around us – a blessing far greater than blue skies, the beauty of creation, or the food it provides; something more essential than clothing, income, or a roof over our heads. It’s the provision of God Himself, and His constant presence among us.”

After reading these words I saw some of the news stories about Black Friday now becoming Black Thursday. I understand that some people really enjoy getting together with family and friends and hitting the early morning shopping sales experience after Thanksgiving. But it seems to me that we are focusing more and more on the THINGS of Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of the WHO and WHY of these two holidays.  Thanksgiving is becoming more about time to spend money shopping for the perfect gifts and Christmas has become more about giving the right gift and making people happy.  Those things in and of themselves aren’t wrong, but somehow we’ve lost the WONDER AND AWE of Christmas. We are focused too much on THINGS and not enough of God’s precious gift to us of His Son to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. Thanksgiving becomes more about strategies for what stores to hit and when in order to get the most bang for our buck instead of taking time to Thank God for all He has done for us.

Whether it is God’s providential hand keeping a truck from rolling completely over and drastically injuring the driver, or having a surgical procedure available to help an irregular heart become regular. Whether it is groceries dropped at the door of someone in need, or taking someone to a doctor’s appointment who feels like a burden only to tell them you’ve been in their shoes. You understand how they feel and are so grateful to be able to pay it forward. Maybe it is just the eagles soaring above you as you go for a walk under beautifully blue skies. Or it may be the hug you receive from your 9 year old grandson whom you never thought would make it when he was born at 2 1/2 pounds. It may be the peace of God in your heart as you meet with someone you’ve had conflicts with in the past and realize God’s grace has provided incredible healing.

A while back I wrote how worshiping God changes us to being more like Him. With the renewed advertising campaigns to buy and spend more and more this holiday season,  it seems to me that Pastor Jack Hayford’s statement – “Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the one being worshiped,” is very true.  Instead of worshiping God and being changed into His image. Too often we are worshiping the almighty dollar and the

happiness it might bring.  If that is the case and we are worshiping material things, does Hayford’s quote mean – When we worship material things we are changed into the image of those things we are worshiping?  Given the amount of advertising and news coverage over changing the shopping day and getting prepared for the holiday sales, it really makes me wonder. I heard of people who will have been camped out in line in front of a store in Wisconsin for a week by the time the store opens for the sale. Do we, do I, come close to having that type of anticipation and time for God?
I have been challenged to intentionally give God some serious time to thank Him for ALL HE has done for me. He has blessed me, my family and my friends abundantly more than we could ask or imagine. So much more than money can buy. I pray you are able to take time to reflect on and thank God for His love and grace He lavishes on us during this Holy Season.

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Praise the LORD!

Psalm 148Psalm 148 – What a beautiful Psalm of praise. The Psalmist calls for all of God’s creation to praise the LORD because God is GOD. God is glorious. God has blessed His people. God honors His faithful ones. God desires to have all creation praise and glorify His Holy Name!

Praise the LORD

  •             from the heavens!
  •             from the skies!

Praise Him,

  •             all His angels!
  •             all the armies of heaven!
  •             sun and moon!
  •             all you twinkling stars!
  •             skies above!
  •             vapors high above the clouds!

Let every created thing give praise to the LORD, for He issued His command, and they came into being. He set them in place forever and ever. His decree will never be revoked.

Praise the Lord

  •             from the earth, you creatures of the ocean depths,
  •             fire and hail, snow and clouds,
  •             wind and weather that obey Him,
  •             mountains and all hills,
  •             fruit trees and all cedars,
  •             wild animals and all livestock,
  •             small scurrying animals and birds,
  •             kings of the earth and all people,
  •             rulers and judges of the earth,
  •             young men and young women,
  •             old men and children.

Let them all praise the name of the LORD. For His name is very great; His glory towers over the earth and heaven! He has made His people strong, honoring His faithful ones – the people of Israel who are close to Him.

 Praise the Lord!

I can’t imagine the wonder and awe the writer felt as he penned this Psalm. It reminds me once again of the indescribable awe of God’s majesty, His unfathomable ways, His unconditional love and grace to each one of us, and so much more. We are so incredibly blessed.

Join with me today in the blessing being able to openly and freely Praise the Lord!  ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Incredibly Blessed

I don’t have a lot to say today. I’d like to share how I experienced abundant blessings from God Friday after a beautiful snowfall during the night. I was up early and reflecting on Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout  all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”

I dressed warm, grabbed my camera and headed outdoors right at sunrise. It was pristene white, peaceful, and quiet. God blessed me with His beautiful creation. I saw eagles closer than I’ve been to them before in the wild. I’ve been praising God all weekend for the way He blesses us over and over again with the beautiful from His creative hands.

I pray you will be blessed by these photos as well. I especially pray that you will be able to see the beauty of God’s love and grace all around you ~ Faye

A New Perspective on Prayer

What a blessing we have to pour out our hearts to God. We can go to Him with our praises for answered prayers and how He provides. We are often quick to go to Him with our requests, particularly in times of trouble. In a group setting, we listen to prayer requests and praises, and then we lift them up to God. Sometimes those prayer requests are easy to do and remember even outside of the group setting.

When we get together in a group or are on our own with the LORD, it’s relatively easy to ask for prayer for our physical needs – a job, health issues, raising children, traveling safety, marriages, etc. Sometimes, when we know the people well and there is a healthy measure of trust, we can ask for emotional support as well. But rarely do we reach out and ask someone to pray for our spiritual health. I know in my life, I’ve not even prayed this on a personal level often.

Paul is so grateful (sitting in prison) for his fellow brothers and sisters. He brings them before God in thanksgiving and in prayer for their spiritual welfare. He prays for their understanding of the immeasurable richness of God’s love. Every time he thinks of them he prays that they will be filled with a confidence in what they hope for and an assurance of what they cannot see (Hebrews 11:1).

Ever since I heard of your STRONG FAITH in the LORD Jesus and your LOVE for God’s people everywhere, I have NOT STOPPED THANKING GOD FOR YOU. I PRAY FOR YOU CONSTANTLY, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, TO GIVE YOU SPIRITUAL WISDOM AND INSIGHT so that you MIGHT GROW IN YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.  I pray that your HEARTS WILL BE FLOODED WITH LIGHT so that you can UNDERSTAND THE CONFIDENT HOPE He has given to those He called – HIS HOLY PEOPLE WHO ARE HIS RICH AND GLORIOUS INHERITANCE. I also pray that you will UNDERSTAND THE INCREDIBLE GREATNESS OF GOD’S POWER for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now He is FAR ABOVE any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else – not only in this world but also in the world to come.         Ephesians 1:15-21

I finished my reading on these verses challenged to 1) give God continual thanks for the abundance of friendships He has placed in my life through friends and family; and 2) lift up in prayer those God has placed in my life that they may be filled to overflowing with the knowledge, wisdom and understanding of how awesome our God is, and that they may grow in their understanding of His love and grace.

Praying that you may be filled with blessing of confident hope in God ~ Faye

Then Will the Very Rocks Cry Out

Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the LORD Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth. … God has ascended with a mighty shout. The LORD has ascended with trumpets blaring. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King over all the earth. Praise Him with a psalm. God reigns above the nations, sitting on His holy throne.   Psalm 47:1-2, 5-8

While vacationing out West this summer, I was often amazed at the beauty and textures of the rocks. It seems like even the rocks lift their praises to God with the brilliant color and amazing richness of textures. As I prepare for worship services, I’ve questioned myself often, is there enough opportunity to “Shout to God with joyful praise!” It’s rare in our church to hear an “Amen!” shouted out. However, the praises of the people as they join together in singing praise to God is sometimes overwhelmingly beautiful worship. Of course, there are days where I struggle with feeling the depth of worship in my heart. Sometimes I’m tired, my body is in pain, the troubles of the world are distracting and draw me away from giving God the glory.

Years ago our choir sang a piece Then Will the Very Rocks Cry Out.

From the corners of creation, come the people of the Living God. Ev’ry tongue and ev’ry nation gather now to praise the Lord!  If we keep our voices silent, all creation will rise and shout. If we fail to praise You, Father, then will the very rocks cry out.

From a world of tribulation come and let your voice be raised. Join us now in congregation. Let the Living God be praised.  If we keep our voices silent, all creation will rise and shout. If we fail to praise You, Father, then will the very rocks cry out.

Words and music by Gary McSpadden, Bill George, John W. Thompson, and Randy L. Scruggs.

A few years ago God encouraged me to share how He had been working in my life through chronic illness and the flood. I argued with Him about doing so. He reminded me very clearly of the passage in Luke 19:40 where Jesus says, “If they (Christ’s followers) kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

Looking at the beauty and splendor in the rocks, I remembered the passage in Luke, and was challenged to lift my voice, AND more importantly, my heart in praise to God, through the good and the bad times. I don’t want the rocks to praise God for me – I want to thank God for ALL He has done. “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises!”

Praying you are able to lift your hearts in praise to God today ~ Faye

Thanksliving Blessings

I am abundantly blessed!  I know this because I’ve just spent some time reviewing my journal.  It’s the time of year to prepare the annual Christmas letter. So reviewing some of the blessings and ways I’ve seen God’s hand has been such a wonderful reminder of His providential love and care.Remembering God's Blessings

For several years I’ve kept a journal in a planning calendar that gives me just enough space to fill in thoughts for each day.  Usually I don’t miss a day unless there are some health issues that keep me from it. There are days where the praise of seeing God’s hand at work just flow on the page. And there are days where I haven’t “seen” God, but I know He is providing for my needs. Thankful for a “warm furnace on a cold day, a bowl of hot soup, energy to exercise, or medicine to help improve lifestyle through chronic illness.”

However there was a period this year where I went from mid-May to July of not journaling. Some of this was because we were abundantly blessed to spend 5 weeks with our active 7 year old granddaughter who took up a lot of time. But most of it was a time of introspection, frustration and anger at God for “not being there,” at least not in the way I wanted Him to answer my prayers and show Himself to me. There were several big changes and losses that had happened from January on. I just wanted God to “give us a break” when it came to health, finances, relationships, etc. It seemed like we were living on a perpetual rollercoaster.

In retrospect I realize I didn’t want to write things down on paper that I was grateful for or ways I’d seen God because I was mad at Him. I was angry that God, Who is in control of all things in my life, was allowing these things to happen. During a time of vacation and rest with friends’ who live on a lake, I did a lot of thinking and praying about why I was so angry at God. I realized that wasn’t how I wanted to continue living. One of the first ways to change that was to pick up my journal and start noticing the blessings again.

Thoughts began with the simple things like “air conditioning, a bed to sleep in, and granddaughter cleaning up”. But quickly came the “see Your hand guiding me toward words of encouragement.” Things didn’t automatically get better because 3 days after starting the journaling, I had news that the meds to help the RA symptoms were potentially damaging my liver, and so had to change meds once again. But this time I stayed focus on the blessings. The first week back to journaling ends with “For the blessings of seeing people worship you – How Great Thou Art!”

We have a great and awesome God. We are abundantly blessed to have God’s Word to fill us, refresh us, encourage us, and draw us back to Him.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one—for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself.  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.   –  Romans 8:31-39

Thank You God, I am abundantly blessed that You do not leave me nor forsake me even when I turn my back on You in anger. You continue to hold out Your arms for me to come back to You. Thank You!

 Abundantly Blessed by God ~ Faye

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. www.Biblegateway.com

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving

Now thank we all our God with  hearts and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
 
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in His grae, and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills of this world and the next.
 
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest, who reign in highest heaven.
The one eternal God, whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
 
-Martin Rinkart, 1636; tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Forever Grateful for God’s Call

What an incredible blessing of assurance – we HAVE the Holy Spirit at work within us, fighting for us, keeping us from temptation, helping us understand God’s word and helping us to discern truth from evil.

I have been reading I John 4:1-6 this week. At the beginning of the week I was concentrating more on how we can see false prophets by testing the spirits to see whether they were confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is from God. But I had a problem with that because in James 2 it say, “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” So if it is just stating the words it wasn’t enough. So I realized the implied part is that this is GENUINE, heart-convicting and changing confession, not just saying the words.

I had some time today so I listened to John Piper’s message on Test the Spirits to See Whether They are of God, and I received some great insights into this passage that I want to share. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/test-the-spirits-to-see-whether-they-are-of-god

This isn’t just about discerning false prophets, but seeing who is a true believer/child of God. Verse 2 says we must hear them genuinely confess with their mouths and in their hearts, that Jesus Christ is LORD. Verse 6 encourages us to test people by seeing how receptive they are to allow sincere and truthful words to go into their heart.

Not one of us will hear the message of Christ’s salvation unless the Holy Spirit softens our heart and opens our ears to hear.  Not one of us will confess – sincerely and genuinely – from the heart that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh unless the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts and humbles us to accept the free gift of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, our LORD.

What a blessing to know that God loves us so much He calls us to Him. He gifts us with the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we can hear God’s call and receive His grace. I like how Piper concluded, “If this type of listening and confessing could be explained any other way, they would not be sure signs of the Spirit’s presence and power at work in us.”

Thinking of all this reminds me of the song – I’m Forever Grateful © 1985 Mark Altrogge.

You did not wait for me, to drawn near to You,

but You clothed Yourself with frail humanity.

You did not wait for me to cry out to You,

but You let me hear Your voice calling me.

And I’m forever grateful to You.

I’m forever grateful for the cross.

I’m forever grateful to You,

that You came to seek and save the lost.

What a wonderful blessing to know that God is at work in us so we can hear His invitation to come and worship Him, believe in Jesus Christ our Savior. What a great reminder of a way to pray for those who haven’t heard – that God will soften their hearts and open their ears to hear the words of TRUTH.

Enjoying the wonderful truth of the Holy Spirit’s continuing work in me and you 😉

God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye

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