Happy Thanksgiving 2021

I have had several folks respond to my wishing them a “Happy Thanksgiving” with some variation of “not much to be thankful for this year…”

I get it.

These are darker days than our nation faced faced in quite some time. Definitely the darkest times I can recall. My Mom agrees that she can’t remember a worse time for our nation.

Just remember that no matter how tough the times are compared to past years and decades we still have it pretty good here socially and economically.

Compared to many (maybe most) nations, we still have it pretty good here economically. I remember when we were hiking in the mountains of southern Mexico one family proudly offered for us to stay in their home. Their home consisted of an indentation in the canyon wall with hand woven blankets on wooden poles to keep out (some) of the elements. They were considered to have the nicest home in the community because there was a natural spring that fed water directly to a small basin within their home. They didn’t have to hike to get water. Nightly summertime temperatures at that elevation were generally well below freezing. Despite living in such primitive conditions they were better off than many we encountered on that trip.

While those in control of the nation are making it more and more difficult to maintain our traditional beliefs we face nothing even close to what many in the world face. I worked for an organization for a time that helped translate and smuggle Bibles into countries where Christianity was illegal. Smuggling a Bible into some of these countries carried a more severe penalty than smuggling heroin yet the local Christians found ways to gather and worship even if it meant doing so in secret. It is a pretty rare week when I don’t see a news report out of Africa where Christians are murdered for their faith.

Do we have a fight on our hands to protect our way of life and win our country back? Absolutely.

Are things likely to get worse before they get better? Most likely.

Nevertheless, we have so very much to be thankful for.

As for me, I am so very thankful for the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross to pay the price for my sins. He paid my debt so that I can be a part of God’s family. For a limited time on this Earth and for eternity when my time here is through.

He has blessed me with an amazingly wonderful wife. I have been privileged to help raise four amazing children and experience the wonder of seven grand children. I have a home, a vehicle, a job and (more than) enough to eat.

Life is good and I am both blessed and tremendously thankful for that.

God bless everyone.

Sunday Scripture: Isaiah 1:18

Three crosses on a hill

Verse:

“Though your sins are scarlet,

They will be white as snow;

Though they are crimson red,

They will be like wool

-Isaiah 1:18

Personal Meaning:

We are a broken and sinful people. Even the best among us falls far short of God’s standards. Our sins leave us bloodstained in red. The good news is that they sacrifice of Jesus, the blood He shed leaves us cleansed of our sins. We become as white as snow, as white as the finest wool.

Prayer/Today I am Thankful For:

Dear Lord,

Thank You for Your grace and forgiveness. Thanks you for the sacrifice that cleansed us of our sin.

***

Stay alert, stay prepared and stay safe.

God bless.

Sunday Scripture: Ephesians 1:9-10

Three crosses on a hill

Verse:

He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He purposed in Christ as a plan for the right time — to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.

-Ephesians 1:9-10

Personal Meaning:

Christ did not die on the cross by accident. His death was ordained and planned from the beginning of time. All that happened in the Old testament was a lead up to that moment. All that happened since and will happen in the future is another phase in the same plan is ultimately completed with the return of Christ as King and the salvation of all who can be saved.

Prayer:

Lord,

I am amazed that You would go to such incredible lengths to save us; to save me. You are a wonderful and amazing god.

Thank you.

Today I am Thankful For:

That Wonderful Wife is employed and, most importantly, continuing to recover from COVID.

***

Stay alert, stay prepared and stay safe.

God bless.

Sunday Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:6

Three crosses on a hill

Verse:

He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the spirit. For the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

-2 Corinthians 3:6

Personal Meaning:

God equips Christians with the tools needed to spread the gospel. The gospel, or “good news,” is that there is salvation in Christ. The “letter’ is legalism and the Mosaic law. The law does not save. In fact, the law only serves to show us the need for grace through Jesus Christ.

Prayer:

Lord,

Give me the words and tools to share Your message of redemption from sin. Give me the wisdom to see those opportunities and the courage to take them.

Amen

Today I am Thankful For:

That the Lord in Heaven is in control and remains so through these dark times. He will use these times to strengthen us and further the salvation of the lost.

***

Stay alert, stay prepared and stay safe.

God bless.

Sunday Scripture: Romans 13:1

Three crosses on a hill

Verse:

Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.

-Romans 13:1

Personal Meaning:

What a verse to contemplate in the current political environment.

I try to contemplate these verses without significant research or study. I just want to consider what they mean to me based on my existing knowledge of the Bible, my heart and the Holy Spirit.

I can’t do that with this verse.

There is too much I don’t understand.

It seems to mean that Christians should blindly submit to the governments over us, but Paul did not do that. He was executed by the government of Rome for breaking Roman law. He converted Romans to Christianity, he proclaimed the gospel and refused to worship Caesar as a god.

Some suggest that Paul was actually writing about the leaders of the Roman synagogues. Most Christians of the time were Jews who accepted Christ and converted gentiles even saw themselves as converted Jews so many worshiped in the synagogues. Again, Paul regularly defied Jewish leaders in preaching the gospel.

Add to this the Biblical accounts of people opposing tyrannical rulers and kings. God used some of the heroes of the Bible as vessels of His judgement on kings, rulers and even entire peoples. Daniel and his friends defied Nebuchadnezzar, their king. God saved them from the punishments for doing so.

I don’t know the true meaning of this verse.

Prayer:

Lord,

Open my eyes and give me ears to hear, guide me and fill me with the Holy Spirit so that the mysteries will be revealed and Your word made clear. Lord, help me to understand Your word and Your will.

Amen

Today I am Thankful For:

The strength and comfort You have given me. Thank you for helping me to see that the stresses and worries matter little because, ultimately, You will be done.

***

Stay alert, stay prepared and stay safe.

God bless.

Sunday Scripture: 1 Peter 9

Three crosses on a hill

Verse:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of the darkness into His marvelous light.

-1 Peter 9

Personal Meaning:

Becoming a Christian is so much more than deciding where you will spend your Sunday mornings. By accepting Jesus as our Lord we also turn away from sin, keeping our eyes always on Him. We become a part of His family. He has adopted us into it. We set ourselves apart from this world by focusing on Him and His holy word rather than Earthly motivations. We are called to extend the invitation to join His family to others so they too can experience the joy, peace and fulfillment of being one of the chosen.

Prayer/Thanks:

Dear Lord,

Thank You for helping me to see my sin and need for a savior. Thank You for welcoming me into your family. Give me the strength, courage, wisdom and words to share Your invitation to others.

Amen

***

Stay alert, stay prepared and stay safe.

God bless.

Sunday Scripture: Romans 12:1

Three crosses on a hill

Verse:

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.

-Romans 12:1

Personal Meaning:

We are to give our bodies, our lives, to Christ. Instead of sacrificing a lamb or a goat we are to live our lives in such a way that it becomes a form of worship.

Prayer:

Lord,

Give me the strength and courage to live as a sacrifice to You. Fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I will have the strength to resist temptation.

Amen

Today I am Thankful For:

My job and the ability to take care of and provide for my family.

***

Stay alert, stay prepared and stay safe.

God bless.

Sunday Scripture: 1 Peter 1:24-25

Three crosses on a hill

Verse:

All the flesh is like grass,

And all its glory like a flower of the grass.

The grass withers, and the flower falls,

But the word of the Lord endure forever.*

And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you.

-1 Peter 1:24-25

*quoting Isaiah 40:6-8

Personal Meaning:

We spend so much time and attention on matters of the flesh; our looks, our health, our safety, etc. Many people will do or sacrifice most anything or even everything for the “glories” of the flesh whether that be fame or fortune. Yet these things are as temporary and fleeting as the grass and the flowers that grow and bloom in the desert. They are wilted and dead within a season.

Stevie Nicks was quoted recently saying that if she had not sacrificed her unborn child via abortion the band and its musical legacy would not have existed. A child’s life meant less to her than fame, fortune and notoriety. Yet, none of those things last longer than the blink of an eye.

Salvation and the word of God, on the other hand, are eternal.

Prayer:

Oh Lord,

Help me to keep the temporary and the eternal in priority as I live my life. Help me to do Your will and remain focused on You, Your word and my salvation rather than the fleeting distractions of the flesh.

Amen

Today I am Thankful For:

My salvation and the opportunity to spend eternity in fellowship with You, my God.

***

Stay alert, stay prepared and stay safe.

God bless.

Sunday Scripture: Matthew 5:11-12

Three crosses on a hill

Verse:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

-Matthew 5:11-12

Personal Meaning:

People hating you, insulting you and persecuting you is a hard thing to think about or accept. It is even tougher to see the bright side of such treatment. Our Lord Jesus suffered this at the hands of the Jewish leaders and the Romans. He took it despite having the power to destroy every single one of them or to deliver himself from the torment. He did so because He knew His suffering would redeem us and allow us to (re)join His father’s family. His reward, His blessing for suffering through this was for us not for Him…

As the world turns further and further away from God we will see this treatment increase. It already is. We need to face this treatment with strength and perseverance not allowing it to steal our faith and focus on God. We can also find hope and confidence that our troubles will increase our rewards in Heaven.

 

Prayer:

Dear Lord,

Give me strength and courage in the face of persecution. Help me to rejoice in the eternal rewards that will be gained from enduring temporary hardships faced in this fallen world. Lord, help me to keep my faith through trials.

Amen

Today I am Thankful For:

The word of God and the freedom to study it, learn it and share it.

***

Stay alert, stay prepared and stay safe.

God bless.

Sunday Scripture: Hebrews 4:12

Three crosses on a hill

Verse:

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of the soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

-Hebrews 4:12

Personal Meaning:

Scripture, the Word of God, is more than words on a page.

Scripture has power.

It has the power to separate our sinful natures from our God given being, cleansing and purifying us. Studying scripture can be uncomfortable or even painful as it convicts us of our sins (shows us our sinful ways) but if we listen and follow it we will be led to incredible joy and wonder, it will lead us to eternity in Heaven.

Prayer:

Lord,

I have learned and grown so much from Your words. I pray that You would continue to write them on my heart (change me with them). Give me a willing heart to understand, open eyes to see and ears to hear Your voice always.

Amen

Today I am Thankful For:

God’s comfort and peace.

My trials and burdens are light compared to most but I would not make it through without Him.

 

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Stay alert, stay prepared and stay safe.

God bless.