A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth


Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts

November 22, 2022

Be a Voice of Thanksgiving!


As I look back on each Thanksgiving of the 11 years that I have been writing this blog, all the posts have several things in common: gratitude for all the ways God has blessed me; for the establishment of this nation founded on trusting God;  along with praying He will deliver us from the transgressions we have committed against Him. And in the midst of it all, it is an opportunity to take the time to praise Him for His faithfulness, even when we fall short of glorifying Him.

And in speaking of gratitude, I have a feeling that, like me, you are viewing this Thanksgiving season with a bit more reflection, and giving pause to think about all the things you have to be thankful for.  The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  It is easy to give thanks to those things that come easily -- our family, friends, our health, our job, God's provision.  But notice that Paul said everything!  

So, we're supposed to give thanks for the minor stuff like our aches and pains, the difficult people in our lives, the mounting bills on our desk?  And, Paul couldn't possibly mean that we're supposed to give thanks for the sinful world we see all around us -- the immoral culture; the apostate Church; the diseases and plagues that have afflicted so many families; the escalating evil that we've seen in the wars and rumor of wars around the world; and the increasing violence and rage that seems to be seeping into the spirit of this nation. Is all that the everything Paul is speaking about?

But instead of focusing on all the pain and sadness and anxiety that all those things -- both great and small -- bring to our mind and hearts, wouldn't it be nice this Thanksgiving to actually put into practice the words of Psalm 95?  To come before His presence with shouts of joy and songs, in full spiritual recognition that no matter what is going on in our lives or in the world, He is a great God and a great King above all gods?

Have you ever thought about thanking Him for all the times He said, "No", and for unanswered prayer because it not only made you depend on Him more, but humbled you to admit that He knew what was best for you?  What about thanking Him for the things He withheld from you, and for protecting you from things you may never realize ... and the closed doors that may have frustrated you, when, in fact He mercifully kept you from going places He did not want you to go. 

You see, we tend to limit the idea of Thanksgiving to this one special day that has become a uniquely American holiday centered on family gatherings, food, and football. But surely there's a deeper message in the Thanksgiving story than Squanto, corn and succotash, and the fall harvest.  Turns out there might be... Thanksgiving became associated through the centuries with giving thanks to God for the harvests of the land. Throughout the Bible we find times of thanksgiving in which God's people come together and thanks has been offered through the gift of fellowship between all. And I find it quite significant that 233 years ago, our first President, George Washington, proclaimed a national day of thanks to the Lord for His care in guiding us to become a nation. Washington's Proclamation stated that on this day, the people of the newly established United States of America should be devoted 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 we gather around the Thanksgiving table this year, can we remember those inspiring words? Can we see it as more than just family, friends, and food?  Will we take advantage of this one day out of the year that is designed to give thanks and dedicate it to our great God -- to the LORD who has given us an inheritance in the heavenly places, which is something greater than all the possessions of this world?  Can we thank God for the greatest gift He could ever give us: forgiveness through His perfect Son's death on the cross on our behalf?

This Thanksgiving, it needs to be all about HIM!  We need to thank God for our eternal salvation, and for the salvation He gives us every day of  our lives as He saves us from ourselves and our foolishness. We need to thank Him for allowing us to be born in a nation that was founded on personal freedom, and fervently pray that He will guard and protect us against the enemies of freedom. We need to thank Him for His power and strength that are ours to call upon in our moments of human weakness -- and the ways we have failed Him are quite evident in these days.

So, as we get ready to partake in our national holiday of giving thanks, let us join together in declaring this prayer:  Our Father, who reigns from Your Heavenly throne, look down upon us this day and forgive us for failing to thank You in all the ways You have blessed us. We give praise and honor and glory to You for the countless ways You have been faithful to us and this nation. On this Thanksgiving holiday, we acknowledge that all that we are is a credit to Your patience and enduring love. We appreciate the bountiful provision you have given us, and we pray that both our individual lives and this nation will stand on the solid ground of Your Holiness and Righteousness. On this day, we come before Your Presence with hearts full of praise and worship. We thank You, and we lift up Your Holy Name in humble adoration. We bless You, Father, in all Your majestic ways. Amen!

#thanksgiving #gratitude #thankfulness #thanksgivingday

Isaiah 12:4      And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name [in prayer]. Make His deeds known among the peoples [of the earth]; Proclaim [to them] that His name is exalted!”


   

November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving Thoughts 2020

 

For most of us, this is a sentimental time of year.  We have fond and emotional memories of celebrating the holiday season with friends and family; it's those childhood memories that stir something in our souls and provide a connection to those we love. And I certainly intend to enjoy the bountiful blessings of this Thanksgiving with my family as I marvel at the provision the Good Lord has given us. 

Since Thanksgiving is a particularly American holiday, I wanted to know more than I'd been taught in school about the origins of that historical event.  Surely, there's a deeper message in the Thanksgiving story than Squanto, corn and succotash, and the fall harvest.  Turns out there might be...

Thanksgiving became associated through the centuries with giving thanks to God for the harvests of the land. Throughout the Bible we find times of thanksgiving in which God's people come together and thanks has been offered through the gift of fellowship between all. And I find it quite significant that on this same day of November 26th, two hundred and thirty-one years to the day, our first President, George Washington, proclaimed a national day of thanks to the Lord for His care in guiding us to become a nation. Washington's Proclamation stated that on this day, the people of the newly established United States of America should be devoted 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 ...".

He reminded the people of all that God had done for them ... He  had cared for and protected the people of this country before they were even a declared nation, and He extended his significant and numerous mercies and divine intervention on their behalf until the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. The proclamation further called them to remember the peaceful union and prosperity they had enjoyed since that time. And here is what this nation so desperately needs to take from that 1789 Proclamation: President Washington declared this national holiday in remembrance of the "peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national Constitution now lately instituted." He went on to thank God for the civil and religious liberty with which they were blessed; and the means they had of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various Favor that God had been pleased to confer upon them.

Are we still that same nation? Are we still able to identify all that God has done for us? Do we still honor and praise His favor, our unity, our prosperity, and the Constitution that has successfully served us for these two hundred and thirty plus years? Are we still thankful and devoted to serving Him?

On November 26th, 1789, President George Washington urged the citizens of this nation to "humbly offer our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions -- to enable us all, whether in private or public positions, to perform our duties properly and punctually -- to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed." 

It is my prayer that November 26, 2020 will be the day we return to the spirit of the declarations made on November 26, 1789. It is good to remember that Americans were learning how to come together in unity after a long, hard-fought war in which the populace was divided along social, religious, geographic, and ethnic lines. We face that same dilemma today. In the end, they had to find a way to come together and live united for the common good. And so do we. They began by recognizing that God had established this nation according to His will, and that a wise, just, and law-abiding Government would ensure the success and prosperity of the nation and its people. Do we still believe that's possible today?

What would President Washington think of the current state of the nation He was blessed to see established by the hand of God? What would he think of our means of acquiring and dispensing useful knowledge? Can our national government be called a blessing to all the people? And can it be described as wise and just; do the members of government discreetly and faithfully execute and obey our constitutional laws? 

I know I sound skeptical, and I would venture, with good cause.  But I also believe that the same Lord and Ruler of Nations, and the same Almighty God who laid His hand on this nation at its founding has not abandoned us. Just as He answered the prayers of the Israelites who aligned themselves with His will, He stood for the colonists who saw America as their Promised Land and refused to bow down to the Pharoah of their day, the British government. Then, as now, our God created men to glorify Him; to praise Him for His goodness and justice; and to humbly thank Him for His Providence. 

I have no doubt that there are millions who will join me, on this Thanksgiving day, with hearts full of gratitude; who will offer their adoration and praise to a merciful and gracious God.  And it is my prayer that we will continue to express our indebtedness to the Almighty God of the Universe each and every day.  I know that difficult days are forecast, but I also know that His love endures forever.  That is the thought that I will take captive and nurture in my heart.  I hope your Thanksgiving has brought you closer to the God who created you and this nation, and it is my prayer that all your days be full of thanksgiving and praise!

Hebrews 12:28-29     Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

 

November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Week: My Personal Thoughts

      It's the day after Thanksgiving, and I find myself in a reflective mood.  As for most of us, this is a sentimental time of year.  We have fond and emotional memories of celebrating the holiday season with friends and family; childhood memories that stir something in our souls and provide a connection to those we love.
     But as the Lord has drawn me closer to Him, I find myself looking for significance and meaning in those celebrations that point to Him.  I no longer am satisfied with the sentiments that thrill my flesh. I want to celebrate these "holidays" as true "holy days", and I want to be consciously seeking my Lord as my spirit is renewed.  That doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the bountiful blessings of spending time with my family yesterday, or marvel at the provision the Good Lord has given us.  It's just that I wanted Thanksgiving to be more than family fun, mouth-watering food, football games, and going to an afternoon movie.
     Since Thanksgiving is a particularly American holiday, I wanted to know more than I'd been taught in school about the origins of that historical event.  Surely, there's a deeper message in the Thanksgiving story than Squanto, corn and succotash, and the fall harvest.  Turns out there might be...
     Thanksgiving became associated through the centuries with giving thanks to God for the harvests of the land. Thanksgiving has always been a time of people coming together, so thanks has also been offered for that gift of fellowship between us all. Surprisingly, I found that the true nature of Thanksgiving has less to do with the part history/part myth story that developed around the Pilgrim's and America's "First Thanksgiving", than it does with the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles, or as it is also known, The Feast of Ingathering, or Sukkot.
     It is interesting to note that, prior to making their way to the New World, the Pilgrims, themselves the victims of religious persecution, spent several years among Sephardic Jews in Holland.  Perhaps the Biblical perspective of the Feast of Tabernacles was the root for their own expression of thanksgiving after that first harsh winter.  Whether this is true or not, I couldn't help but think that Jews celebrate Sukkot by recalling God’s providence toward Israel during the forty years of wandering in the desert.  And it commemorates a future time when the harvest of souls will bring about peace and harmony upon the earth.  Simply put, it is a time to feast and a time to pray.
     It was at that moment that I realized that I could do that -- that I could enjoy the gathering of my family, and honor the Lord who is protecting us and providing for us each day.  I could be prayerful throughout the day, praising Him as the Holy Spirit brought impressions to my mind, among them ... How grateful I am that my extended family is healthy and thriving; that I could pray for the safety of my nephew serving in Iraq, while enjoying the laughter of his wife and two small children who are living here in Texas while he is deployed.
     I can trust the Lord with the safekeeping of three other nephews who are serving their communities as law enforcement officers.  I am thankful that He has given them hearts to love their neighbor, and that I know He hears my prayers concerning their safety each night.  I am also so appreciative that He has restored a connection to more distant family members, who like myself, went their own ways after college.  It is amazing to see how He brought us together after 30 years, through the seemingly random transfer of their son to a college here in Texas.  I am astonished at the spiritual connection that my husband and I have with this young man, and how quickly he integrated into our family and accepted our love.  This is the second Thanksgiving he has spent with us, and that very fact is evidence of what an amazing God we serve.  I will be forever thankful for the renewal and restoration of old family ties, and the creation of new family relationships.
     In fact, I see Him growing all my relationships, and our common love for the Lord is translating into unselfish love for each other. Neighbors are dearer to my heart; our Home Church is growing in relationship and faith; we are seeing friends come to a life-changing faith in Jesus, and being baptized.  This world is fading away and I am seeing glimpses of His Kingdom coming!
     But perhaps the greatest reason for my thankfulness is the journey that God has taken my husband and me on this year.  I have so much gratitude for how He is growing my husband into a spiritual leader who has so much passion to know Jesus and to obey His every command.  He has a heart that bursts with a desire to see others reborn, and his heart grieves when he sees the suffering of those in bondage to satan.  He has been on a transformative and healing journey of his own, and he is making it his mission to see others freed by the Power of Jesus, just as he has been.  No wife could be prouder or made more humble by the evidence of compassion and mercy in her husband, than I.
     Yes, this Thanksgiving was truly a season of gratitude; of adoration and praise to a merciful and gracious God.  And it is my prayer that I will continue to express my indebtedness to the Almighty God of the Universe each and every day.  I know that difficult days are forecast, but I also know that His love endures forever.  That is the thought that I will take captive and nurture in my heart.  I hope your Thanksgiving Week has brought you closer to the God who created you, and it is my prayer that all your days be full of thanksgiving and praise!

Psalm 9:1    "I will give thanks to You, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds."

November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Week: The Giving Kitchen

   
     For some, the Thanksgiving holiday is all about the food.  For others it is all about family; reminiscing about old memories and creating new ones.  But it is also about inspiration and gratitude. But if you watched CBS Sunday Morning last weekend, you saw a story that combines the best of all these aspects.
     Chef Ryan Hidinger was well known in Atlanta, having worked at some of the premier restaurants in the area. In addition, he and his wife, Jen, had gained quite a reputation for their unique supper club, called Staplehouse.  They ran it for several years, in anticipation of opening their own restaurant with the same name.
     Then out of left field, Ryan received a devastating Gallbladder Cancer diagnosis.  Doctors told him it was stage-four and he was given six months to live.  Needless to say, their dream of opening a restaurant suddenly seemed out of reach.  But friends, those within the Atlanta area, and the restaurant industry came together and held a charity gala that raised $275,000.  That money not only paid the Hidinger's medical bills, but became the seed money for The Giving Kitchen.  
     The Giving Kitchen was formed as a 501(c)(3) to fill the need for a crisis grant program in the restaurant community — as a way to do for others what the community came together to do for Ryan and Jen.  The organization provides emergency assistance grants to cover basic living expenses, care-related travel expenses, and funeral expenses for those who meet defined criteria; to families of chefs, restaurant owners, servers and restaurant staff. The Hidinger's research showed that there are over 200,000 restaurant workers in the City of Atlanta. At any given time, 1-2% are facing unanticipated crisis. The Giving Kitchen is committed to trying to meet as many of those needs as they can. 
     The idea for the Giving Kitchen originated with the compassion shown the Hidinger's during Ryan's illness.  In the business world, it models a unique hybrid structure as a nonprofit with a for-profit subsidiary. The for-profit subsidiary is Ryan and Jen's original dream, Staplehouse — the casual fine- dining restaurant they opened in a turn-of-the century brick building in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward. After all the bills are paid, the staff is paid, taxes are paid, etc., 100% of Staplehouse’s net profits are channeled back into its nonprofit parent, The Giving Kitchen, as an ongoing stream of support.
     The testimonials on the website are proof that The Giving Kitchen is meeting the needs of those in the restaurant industry.  Bartenders, servers, and families of restaurant workers who are enduring the anxiety of unexpected medical crises and bills become recipients of Funds set up in their names, and supported by restaurant patrons, other restaurant employees, and profits from Staplehouse -- all donated in the spirit of assisting others who need a helping hand. 
     This is a unique story and so appropriate for this Thanksgiving season.  The CBS presentation didn't reveal whether Faith played any part in the Hidinger's decision to start The Giving Kitchen.  But their motivations are certainly pleasing to God.  For He tells us to share generously with those in need, and to help those in trouble.  He tells us our giving should be motivated by a sincere desire to help others, and that is evident in Ryan and Jen's story.  Ryan died from Gallbladder Cancer in January of 2014.  Since that time, Jen, along with Ryan's sister, Kara, and her husband, Ryan Smith (who now serves as Staplehouse chef), have labored with love to keep Ryan Hidinger's memory and dream alive.
     While Staplehouse has been a project of passion since the beginning, it has become a lasting testament to Ryan and Jen's desire to not only give back to the community who helped them, but to pay it forward.  As the website bon app├ętit proclaimed, "Staplehouse is about love, and it is about family. It is inspiring, and it is humbling. Staplehouse is an example of what good a community can do. This is why [we named] Staplehouse as the Best New Restaurant in America".  And from the reviews I've read, they did not receive the award out of sympathy -- the service is outstanding, there is a palpable spirit of joy and love, and the restaurant's food is leading the pack towards the next step in modern Southern cooking. 
     But it is the quote from Ryan Hidinger, himself; written on an exposed wooden beam, that sums up the intrinsic nature of this story ... “Anything long-lasting or worthwhile takes time and complete surrender.” That speaks to my experience as a human being and as a Christian.  I think we can say that The Giving Kitchen exemplifies the spirit of Thanksgiving with its story of love and family and giving to others.  And perhaps, most of all, it shows us how to live out Jesus's command to love our neighbor as ourselves. May it continue to prosper and be blessed.

Luke 6:38   "Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."