Terror, and the pit, and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth! (Isaiah 24:17). If any day sounds like a Black Friday, this would be it. From a shopper’s point of view if you’ve ever been out the day after Thanksgiving it certainly can be the beginning of absolute terror on one hand and sheer excitement on the other. It depends on whom you talk to. From a retailer’s view it’s an opportunity for recovery from a year of operating in the red to perhaps a year of ending sales in the black. But for the believer however, what does “the day after” really mean? Is it the beginning of something new and exciting or the end of something old and disappointing? Life is certainly filled with both and yet to truly be thankful in all circumstances can sometimes elude us. Perhaps we can think of it in this way. We know that the holiday comes once a year. We, on the other hand don’t know that we will be here to celebrate it. In terms of life itself, who among us thinks so far in advance? Just remember, every day was once a “day after” but every today is an opportunity for thanks, an opportunity for giving or whatever we choose. Today, we get the chance to make the difference.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua, just before leading the Israelites into the promised land)
Hebrews 10:23 He who promised is faithful.
On the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, when so many of us are making plans to be with family and friends including myself, I wonder perhaps if I haven’t taken enough time to be thankful simply because I can and make the choice to do so. Certainly there were many days when anger, frustration, disappointment etc. superseded any thought of being thankful. But it always helps to be in the presence of others to realize how very blessed we are to simply breathe. Imagine the breath of a multitude of living stones when formed for the purpose of building a spiritual home for all who seek comfort, pardon and love. For those who believe today, could you consider yourself a living stone? Perhaps we can begin with letting the gift of Thanksgiving support the head cornerstone chosen by God to connect every household of praise, in the hope that anyone may experience the Kingdom not only on the one day the world sets aside for the physical, but also for everyday that God gives to his creation.
Let us also remember and give thanks for the saints who have gone before us as they build with us as spiritual stones, and we continue to build on the love they have left within our hearts. If you have someone you would like to add to the list, please comment and I will add them to my morning prayers on our Day of Thanksgiving. Join me at 6:00am if you wish. God bless!
Betty Richburg, Timothy Richburg, Joenell Richburg, Sarah Richburg, Ozzie Rouse, Esther Rouse, Evelyn Payne, Mary Davis, Bernard Davis, Lucille Anderson, Vivian Smart, Gail Fowler.
1Peter 2:1-10 Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.
God’s discipline is different from the world. While the world’s discipline usually involves physical consequence based on action, God’s discipline involves changing attitudes of the heart, the soul and the mind. Once you begin to have a relationship with God, you begin to understand God’s discipline in trying situations. It used to be that whenever I was in a hurry, I always seemed to find myself behind the slowest driver on the road that day and frustrated by the time I reached my destination. It took me awhile to discipline myself to leave the house on time and stop cursing the consequence of the situation. Our thoughts generally guide our actions. We can’t control what other people do but we can control the self. Every day life experience warrants that the rod that disciplines and the staff that guides never ends in this journey. God helped me to see that I was disregarding the other driver’s respect of the speed limit because I was in a hurry and admittedly, because of my lack of discipline. In every situation God’s discipline constantly transforms our thinking, which in turn creates a new being in us for God’s purpose and his will. The discipline that we receive in the home may be the beginning of how we understand that our actions affect the self and others. The discipline from God helps us to also think about why our actions affect the self and others and when necessary, make changes to the glory of God’s name.
Psalm 23 Your rod and your staff they comfort me…
Life is not easy. Life is not hard. Life just is. The valley the Psalmist speaks of, is not intended to be a permanent place. We do what we have to do in order to survive and we learn that not everything is necessary. A shadow is the dark image that is cast off an object when it comes between rays of light and a surface. When we begin to walk in truth about who we are and why we are here, as we walk through the valley, it is only necessary to walk towards the light and simply allow the shadows to fall behind. We all have shadows. Our own shadow is burden enough for anyone. We don’t have to walk in other people’s shadows too. We can however, as we walk towards the light, comfort one another through the valley and we never walk alone.
Psalm 23 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil…
It’s not always easy to understand the direction our life seems to be taking, but here the Psalmist not only expresses confidence in being lead, but also understands it is to fulfill God’s will and not his own. While in Sinai, God had become angry with the people of Israel and said to Moses he would only send an angel ahead of them in to the promise land. God himself would not go with them (Exodus 33:1-6). Moses prayed asking the Lord to not send them out of Sinai if God’s presence would not go with them. Without God’s presence how will others know that they are God’s people? Without his presence how will people see God’s glory? Probably the worse punishment I could give to my children was to ignore them, a shun of sorts. Because they no longer had my attention they knew I was very angry. Of course eventually I needed to be able to speak with them to encourage them and they needed to know that in spite of the situation, I still very much loved them and would always be there for them. God chooses us and he wants to be with us, so that we too can walk the same path of righteousness in which Moses walked. After Moses’ prayed (Exodus 33:12-16) God did change his mind. I believe he always intended to remain with them through their journey and God will remain with us in our journey also.
Psalm 23 He guides me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake…
My reality is that even the slightest wind is sometimes just enough to push me into an altered direction. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that I won’t reach my desired destination. However if the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, any redirection increases the length of my journey. My challenge isn’t the willingness to step out in faith, but rather the courage to remain in faith. All winds no matter how great or small have the potential to move us. The good news for us is that any wind that confronts our faith is never greater than God’s desire and ability to save us, then bring us back into his focus. Even though our faith at times may only be as strong as the next big wind, God’s faith is always stronger.
Matthew 14:22-36 So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
Distractions, diversions and deflections! It never ends. The moment you put your mind to a certain course of action, much like Nehemiah we too come under attack. The battle begins either in your mind (thoughts of doubt, uncertainty or worthiness) or from other people (known and unknown) or events. Theologian Thomas Fuller (1650) wrote; “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” Physically speaking in nature this isn’t true. However, in life circumstance, it can be very real because when opposition and struggle are rampant we can’t always see the progression of light before the sun actually breaks the horizon. What we see are the distractions, diversions and deflections. The good news is that when we are able to discern these actions we have the opportunity to rebuke and resist them in the name of Christ and the manifestation of God’s purpose in our life will in time be realized. Even though we can’t always see God’s process, our light is the gift of the Holy Spirit within us, which brings with it both faith and hope and just like Nehemiah, our own walls of Jerusalem will be rebuilt.
Nehemiah 6:1-19 But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
James 4:7-12 Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Ephesians 6:11-13 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Matthew 23:1-12 The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Jesus warns his disciples to heed the words of the well-learned scribes and Pharisees because of their expertise in the law. However their behavior served only to burden God’s people rather than help them live in communion with one another. Today, we get the message to love neighbor as self and many of us spend a lot of time trying to serve one another. However, we sometimes forget that it is God who desires to serve us through serving each other. It is the spirit and presence of God within in us that enables us to do the things that we do. Thus when we walk in Christ, the greatest among us is always the presence of God. In this way, when we all sit at the table we are all being served.
Luke 22:27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
Some of my most favorite memories are the ones I have with my mother; of the two of us laughing hysterically, or hearing the stories of her journey to love the woman she had become. Her dreams that were shattered succumbed to joys of her children. The pains of her frustrations were overtaken by her love and support of friends and family. I felt closest to her in my later years and enjoyed every moment. She humbled me and I honor her greatly. When she died I felt confident that she had given me all she possibly could both physically and spiritually. Although it took sometime to wean myself from her physical life, her spirit remains. I thank God for the memories that are true. Seek the Lord while he wills to be found and you will find him indeed. I found Him in her and my soul has been at peace ever since.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.
We’ve all seen those commercials of individuals claiming victory over circumstances they once thought they could never achieve; such as losing weight, attaining a new career or debt cancellation. While it is quite possible that many of these individuals may attribute their success to the grace of God, we don’t see that. We don’t see the time, discipline, and in many cases, the sacrifices they’ve made within, to reach this goal. What we see is the weight loss-company, educational or credit institution, as the force for making it happen. In reality they are simply the vehicles for making it possible for anyone who is willing to put forth the necessary effort. Organizations are successful when they are able to accommodate the needs of it’s target market and it’s target market has faith in the organization’s ability to fulfill that need, regardless as to whether any goal is achieved. Let’s face it, big or small, we all invest in things we don’t ultimately pursue. Of the things that we do pursue, we cannot put our faith in earthly vehicles to achieve them. We must put our faith in the one God, through the one vehicle (Christ) who by his grace, mercy, love and desire to bless us, is capable of fulfilling all of our needs. Make no mistake, whatever our ministry, the moment we feel overwhelmed by the journey, is when God’s Words through Christ will strengthen the desire and spirit within, which leads not only to fulfillment of our earthly goals, but eternal life as well.
Galatians 6:14-18 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Isaiah 45:20-25 They have no knowledge – those who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save.
Psalm 37:4-5 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
Matthew 7:9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?