Friday, November 27, 2015

Room to Come Back

31“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34) 

Thoughts: Our deserting Christ to go our own way- to fail Him is no surprise to God.  Jesus predicts Peter's desertion here  But He also predicts He will turn back- and He thus gives words of encouragement- to keep Peter from getting totally discouraged about his faith.  His prediction of Peter's desertion is not so remarkable- all the disciples denied, betrayed or deserted Jesus.  But that He predicted Peter's coming back is  quite remarkable.  His asking Peter to strengthen his brothers is a reminder that his calling is to build up the church- the disciples of Christ.   
Today is the day we remember St. James Intercisus, who publicly fell away from the faith when the Persian king began persecuting the church.  His mother and wife rebuked him, and he publicly came back to the faith during a new king's ascension to the throne.  The new king threatened and made good on the threat to dismember and behead him.  James knew it was better to die for what he believed in to live a hundred years shrinking back.  Today, the world needs Christians who are not afraid of death- but brave enough to be faithful- or perhaps even better- brave enough to come back to the faith and strengthen the brothers.  

Prayer: Lord, if I fail, give me grace to come back to you.  Help me to be gracious to those who seek to come back to you.  Raise up those who have fallen. 

There is always room to come back to Jesus- as the Prodigal Son came back.  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving at the gates

1Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are hisa ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100)

Thoughts: Enter his gates with thanksgiving.  We come to worship the Lord with grateful hearts.  There are times when we come to God with heavy, worried, and grieving hearts.  But we should not come to God apathetic or nonchalant.   We should enter to God's presence with thanksgiving.  Even when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death we still can thank God for His rod and staff that comfort us.  The Lord is good.  For that, in and of itself, despite and through our circumstances, we can give thanks.  How do we know God is good?  Truth is (and this is hard for us in the post Enlightenment to understand), God defines good- for He is the giver of life and redeemer of it too.  He is there in the beginning and will be there in the end- His faithfulness continues- ever new- to every generation.  
    When the Pilgrims survived famine, and had lost so many  to illness and cold, they were still able to give thanks.  At one time they had rationed four grains of corn a day.   They were not bitter over their trouble- what good would that do?  They were, instead, thankful that God had seen them through to establish their colony which gave them (and us) a future. 

Prayer: Lord, draw me to yourself  Help me to come to you with thanksgiving in my heart for your many mercies.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanks in that day...

4 In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. (Isaiah 12:4)

Thoughts: "In that day" is repeated several times in chapters 11 and 12 of Isaiah.  What is "that day?"  It is the day that "a shoot comes forth from Jesse's branch."  It is the day that the Messiah comes.  When we know the Messiah comes, we give thanks.  When we know the Messiah- and that He has come- we are to tell everyone- tell all the nations so that His name would be exalted.
    As people who know Jesus, we should be thankful for Him.  That He has come to show us God's love is an amazing gift of hope.  Everyone should be invited to know this Prince of Peace.  In a day when people are trying to destroy the world and frighten the world, we should all seek this Prince of Peace with thanksgiving. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for coming and for your great love. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Command to give thanks

1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south. (Psalm 107)

Thoughts: Paul said to "give thanks in all circumstances" or "in all things give thanks."  Here we are told to give thanks to the Lord.  It does not say- and we should note- "If things are going well (or if you think they are going well) for you- give thanks to the Lord."  But God is worthy of our thanks all the time.  His love is not just for a moment.  His love is as constant as the sun shining.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so- let them tell others so that they too would see that we should give thanks to the Lord.
We are too affected by our circumstances.  Some want to pursue peace by simply withdrawing so they do not have to get in the mess of the ups and downs.  But even monks and hermits still face the problems and joys of life- though in smaller ways.  Others like to ride the waves of life up and down.  Christians see God's faithfulness in the down times and the up towns as well.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to give thanks to you in all things.  Let me see your love and give you thanks. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving and Blessing

4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 

5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.  (1 Timothy 4:4,5)

Thoughts: Ingratitude makes what is good bad-- Just like fussing at supper makes even the best of foods taste sour.  Gratitude over food blesses the food.  I have been to other countries and seen food that I would never touch eaten and enjoyed with gratitude.  Food like squid or locusts may seem terrible to me, but to a really hungry person (or someone who likes this food), this is food that keeps them satisfied and alive.    Their gratitude enables them to eat it whereas my ingratitude would keep me hungry.  The point is not that saying a blessing makes alcoholic or drug infested drink/food non-toxic.  To be able to eat food with thanksgiving requires we not seek to bless what is unhealthy, or seek to overindulge because we can.  Rather, thanksgiving to God means we seek to please God with the what and how of what we eat.  For the alcoholic to thank God for what would poison their liver would be an abuse of thanksgiving.  True thanksgiving, by its nature requires a measure of holiness. 

Prayer: Lord, may the way I give thanks and what I give thanks for honor you.  Thank you for your blessings in life.  May I use these blessings in honorable ways in order to honor and serve you. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Blessing and Thanksgiving

11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11,12)

Thoughts: God blesses- we respond with generosity and this results in Thanksgiving.  Paul was prophesying that God would bless them so they could be be a blessing.  Paul also speaks of giving as a way to minister or serve- meeting needs and causing thanks to God.  
    People who are blessed need to see that blessing is from God.  If we use that blessing in good ways we keep things going the way they should.  The other day I was washing my car.  The hose was working fine and then it just slowed to a trickle- there was a kink in the hose.  Cheaper hoses would explode.  My current hose just got out of shape and didn't function as it should.  It was advertised as a hose that would never kink.  When all we do is receive blessing from the giver of the water of life- then we block the output and become bloated.  Keep the water of blessing flowing- be generous out of thanksgiving and you will spread the thanks and glory of God. 

Prayer: Lord, may your blessing and gratitude flow through me and from me to others.   

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thanks and Offerings go together

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name.  Bring an offering and come into His courts.
(Psalm 96:8; 1 Chronicles 16:29)

Thoughts: When we are able to recognize God is the blessor and we are the receptor, then we glorify Him.  We recognize He is the one who blesses us when we give of ourselves to Him in worship.  We fool ourselves thinking that we can recognize God in our heads but not let that affect our lives.  Yet many say that are grateful to God but do nothing to really recognize that.  We do not simply bless ourselves- so much is out of our control.  But to say we are grateful to God but not show that gratitude in concrete ways fools ourselves, and eventually our ability to even recognize God blesses us fades, smothered by a wet blanket of selfishness.  Time is a gift from our Maker- it is not simply ours.  Our possessions are blessings.  Our ability to earn them- including our health, our brains, our being in a place to receive a decent education are gifts.  This thanksgiving, give thanks- ascribe the blessing to the Lord- and do it by bringing an offering and coming to His place.

Prayer: Help me to bring myself to you, O Lord.