Thanksgiving 2019

“Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord , for he is coming to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord , for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:31‭-‬34 NLT

Are You Thankful?

“The old advice of always spending less than you earn is kind of worthless when you hardly have an income….”

I don’t know who said this, but they have a valid point. It’s a problem I have struggled with, and the interesting thing I have realized is that it has been true regardless of my income. Americans are spoiled. We live in a country where poverty level is higher than many countries highest earners. I don’t deny that there are thousands here who really are living in horrible conditions. It would be amazing to be able to change, but the reality is just as Jesus said.

“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Matthew 26:11 NLT

Search for the words “the poor” in scripture. They are referred to dozens of times. There are many people who believe that we should divide everything up among the entire population – I disagree, because it only encourages the lazy to become,more so, and it discourages those with ambition. Why should I work so that someone else can sit around?

My point is this: we should help those we can, especially family, the orphans and widows, and I have to add, our veterans. Give thanks for what you have, be it a little or a lot. Thank God for your blessings. A roof over your head, food to eat, transportation…. indoor toilets, heat when it’s cold. Family, friends, FAITH.

To me, this describes how Thanksgiving should be:

“This festival will be a happy time of celebrating with your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows from your towns.” Deuteronomy 16:14 NLT

Paybacks

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:19‭-‬20 NASB

I’m so tired of living my life in fear of how I’m going to get through it financially; of how I’m going to survive the month. I’m tired of living in fear of growing old alone. I’m tired of being rejected from job after job, because they “decided to go in a different direction.” What does that even mean???

Let me be clear: My choices brought me to this point. God did not do this to me. He didn’t cause me to make poor financial decisions, and He certainly didn’t encourage me to trust men who would lie, steal, and cheat me. He didn’t put those men in my path. No, all of the bad choices are mine, and mine alone, and once again I am faced with payback for [some of?] those bad choices. I don’t know how to pray about all this. I think I am searching for God’s will, but am I really just trying to get Him to accept my wishes?

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the Mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26‭-‬27 NASB

Tauren Wells has a song God’s Not Done With You, and a devotional by the same name on https://bible.com. When you are struggling with the unfairness and the paybacks of this life, lean on these truths. Paybacks happen in life, but it is very reassuring to me that my life is not dependent on them. My GOD is in control; I just have to trust Him. Not an easy thing for someone whose trust has been broken by man, over and over again ….. but it can be done. Remember, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38‭-‬39 NASB

NOTHING. No enemy and no “payback” that he can throw at us can take us away from GOD. God, THE God; Creator, Saviour, Lover and LORD of humanity, is not dead, He is not diminished in any way by the enemy’s devilry and mischief. The LORD is ALIVE, and He is NOT done with me – or you! – yet!

My Saviour’s Love

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8 NASB

In 1905, Charles H. Gabriel wrote these words:

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus
the Nazarene
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous!
How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!
For me it was in the garden He prayed:
“Not My will, but Thine.”
He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous!
How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!
He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary and
Suffered and died alone.
When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of His love for me!
How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous!
How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!
How marvelous!
How wonderful is my Savior’s love for me!

It’s really hard for me to speak the words to this hymn. They strike a cord deep within my soul; the depth of feeling chokes me up. I am so amazed that Jesus could love me – me, a sinner. It’s hard, no, almost impossible, for me to comprehend.

He had no tears for His own griefs,
But sweat drops of blood for mine.

Think about those words! Jesus, the Son of GOD, didn’t cry because of the horrible experience He was about to undergo; He sweat drops of blood for me, a sinner, unclean, flawed, and wholly undeserving of His Mercy.

He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own; He bore the burden to Calvary and
Suffered and died alone.

My sins, my sorrows. Not His. Mine.

That last verse, though, WOW. When I get to see His Face, the voice that refuses to work here on earth will get to join the angels and the heavenly hosts, along with all of the other ransomed souls. We will raise our voices in Glorious Praise and Honor to our Saviour. His Love is so marvelous, so wonderful, so indescribable!

“To Him be the Glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18b NASB

Settle Down, Soul!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The LORD is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of Peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:4‭-‬9 NASB

Amen! There’s no room for anxiety when the Peace of our LORD washes over you. It’s important we don’t cause others anxiety, too. When we dwell on these things, the honorable, pure, lovely, good …. not only do we free ourselves from the anxiety of the enemy, but we also free those around us of the burden of our anxiety. Our example can show them what a blessing prayer can be.

How is your soul? Are you anxious? Tell God about it. He doesn’t care if you are alone in a closet, knelling by your bed, sitting in a chair, lying on the ground….. He just wants a conversation with you. Anytime, anywhere. Tell Him what you are thankful for (remember, you can always be thankful for toilet paper!), then tell Him what’s bothering you. If you can’t put it into words, that’s okay, too. He knows. He promises us that His Holy Spirit is always with us, ready to carry our groans and unintelligible words and thoughts to Him. And if you’re mad at Him, tell Him! He can take it! Talk, and let your soul settle down.

Is it well with your soul?

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well (it is well)
With my soul (with my soul)
It is well, it is well with my soul

– Horatio Spafford, 1873


Mountain Fork River, McCurtain County, Oklahoma

Can You Pay The Taxes Due?

(24) “When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax [the Temple tax; collected each year from every male over the age of 20**] came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” (25) He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” (26) When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt.” – Matthew 17:24‭-‬26 NASB

** “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them.” – Exodus 30:12 NASB **

These verses tell us some incredible truths.

Jesus knows everything; He is Omniscient. He is the silent listener to every conversation. He spoke, before Peter had a chance to tell Him of the encounter. He already knew about it! He not only knows all, but He is in control of all, and He cares down to the tiniest details. In verse 25, He asks Peter for his opinion, just as He is always listening to ours.

Jesus is the Son of God, Ruler, King, and Head of the Church. He owns everything. Malachi 3:1b says “And the Lord, Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the Messenger of the Covenant, in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.” – Malachi 3:1 NASB

He already owns the Temple, so why should He pay this tax? He was exempt! Instead of arguing with the tax collectors, Jesus shows us His humility. He paid the tax to avoid offending the tax collectors. It is a wonderful example that He gives us, to forego His rights for the sake of others. The Jews paid ransom money (the Temple tax) as a substitute to going to Jerusalem and working in the Temple, and they paid the priests through their offerings to be sacrificed as the ransom for their sins. We’re exempt! Jesus pays the ransom for Peter here, just as He pays the ransom for us. We owe a ransom to God for our sin, but we are spiritually destitute. We can’t pay the taxes due – so Jesus paid it for us. JESUS pays all; He ransoms all, so we no longer need to!

“For there is ONE God, and ONE Mediator also between GOD and men, the man CHRIST JESUS, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5‭-‬6 NASB

That’s the BEST News ever!

Trust and Obey

I remember standing in church as a child and a youth, singing Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, than to Trust and Obey. I believed it; I knew, deep in my heart, the profound Truth in the words. I knew Solomon was right when he wrote this proverb:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6 NASB

Even then, knowing what I knew, I didn’t let myself completely trust God, especially once I hit the teen years. I began to believe the enemy’s lies. I viewed myself as unlovable – not pretty enough, or popular enough. My body didn’t look good enough. I wasn’t as smart as my older sister or good enough to be part of my brother’s life. My voice wasn’t as clear as I thought it should be, and my range was too limited. I wasn’t one of the ‘popular’ girls. I hated that I was so painfully, excruciatingly shy, and that I wasn’t strong enough to overcome it.

The enemy was winning that battle, and I gave up; surrendered to him for years. As in Ezekiel’s time, I became like the dry bones:

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry.” – Ezekiel 37:1-2 NASB

My God is stronger than our enemy!

“Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord .'” – Ezekiel 37:5‭-‬6 NASB

“And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” – Isaiah 58:11 NASB

I learned over the years that Isaiah was right, too! The world we live in is like the velley Ezekiel was in, full of the dry bones of people who don’t know the goodness of the LORD; who haven’t received His Mercy and His Grace. Testify of the Goodness of the Lord! Expose the enemy for what he is: deceiver, manipulator, the Father of Lies. We may lose a skirmish, but the war has been won. The battle belongs to the LORD…… and the enemy knows it!

“….. for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” – 1 Samuel 17:47 NASB

AMEN!