Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

I have “tracker” software on my blog which tells me how many “hits” I have, where they come from in the world, and what “search terms” they have used to bring them to my site.

For a person like myself, who has “detail-itis” it’s interesting to read. Naturally, at this time of the year the most often used “search terms” uses wording having to do with “Thanksgiving” prayers or devotions.

However, there was one hit last night that broke my heart. The “hit” came from Fort Worth, Texas and the “search term” used was, “Thanksgiving prayer when loved ones are gone…”

There are so many times that I wish I could contact the person and ask, “Did I have anything that helped?” How my heart goes out to them, and immediately I think of Fort Hood (however, after looking at a map, I see that Fort Worth is no where near Fort Hood – but still…) And I have to ask, are the loved ones gone due to death, or choice?

Either way – someone has lost someone at this time when we are all celebrating (or are supposed to be celebrating) our thankfulness.

Let us not “falsely” celebrate Thanksgiving. Let us not simply push aside our fears, our pain and our grief, and pretend that everything is fine. However, let us remember Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB) “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Paul doesn’t say to give thanks “for” everything, but “in” everything. Be aware that in even in the darkest times, God is still God, and we belong to Him. Psalm 100 says, “Know that the Lord, He is God. It is He that has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Don’t ignore the pain, but instead search for and lift up a “Thanksgiving prayer when…” whatever it is you are facing grips your heart.

Gracious and loving God may we, as the Psalmist said, “Shout joyfully, serve with gladness, come with joyful singing, and know that You are God!”

We are not in control. You have made us, and we are Yours.

May we enter Your door with thanksgiving, come into your garden with praise, and thank You and bless Your holy Name. Because, dear Father, You are good, Your “hesed” Your mercy, is everlasting, and your truth and faithfulness “endures” to all generations – including our own.

May we, in this time of Thanksgiving and in preparation for this Christmas season, lift up those (or even ourselves) who are struggling for whatever reason. Father, let us not ignore the pain; let us not pretend that it isn’t there, that there isn’t suffering on every corner. But instead Lord, may we “in all things” give thanks to You – for You are God. May we cling to the assurance that, You’ll “strengthen us, help us, and cause us to stand. Upheld by Thy righteous, Omnipotent hand.”

For it is in the Name of Jesus, our Saviour we pray – Amen.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

The other night we were out driving as the nearly-full moon was on the horizon. "Isn't that a beautiful moon?" my husband asked.

"Where?" I said, looking toward what I thought was the East.

"Over here!" he said, pointing out his side of the car.

"Gee, what's it doing over there?" I said. And then we rounded a curve, "and over here?" Then another curve, "and back over there?" (We live waaaay out in the country.)

It was so interesting to see the moon "seemingly" move from one side of the road to the other, and I got to thinking about perspective. What we "see" is all a matter of our perspective.

Over "Reformation weekend" (halloween weekend) we got to hear one of the very best Bible teachers I've ever had the privilege of hearing (in person or otherwise.) Her name is Evelyn Laycock. And if you ever get a chance to hear her - do whatever you have to do to get there.

She was teaching on the Parables of Jesus, but on Saturday night she began by talking about Psalm 137. You remember how it starts, "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion..."

It is a Psalm of Israel when they were taken into captivity in Babylon. You may recognize the beginning, but do you remember how it ends? It ends by saying, "How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock." That is what had happened to their children, and yes, it is what they wished upon their captors. But more than that, it was a prophecy of what would (and did) happen to Babylon.

But a sentiment like that disturbs us. And rightly so. It is the picture of vengeance, of retaliation, and of judgment. Judgment without mercy and grace should disturb us.

As Evelyn taught about it, she mentioned our view of God. She said that many people view the God of the Old Testament as being a harsh "mean" God. And that the God of the New Testament is loving and kind.

"But," she reminded us, "God is immutable. God never changes."

So, how do we reconcile that viewpoint? It is a matter of perspective. Not in that God changes or moves, but that we do - just like mine and Joe's viewing of the moon. The moon did not move, but we did!

Jesus Christ - the Word - became Flesh so that we might be moved from one perspective to another. The "veil" of sinfulness that prevented us from being in the presence of a Holy God was torn away, our eyes were opened and we were/are allowed to see.

In the Old Testament we view God more as Moses did on Mount Sinai - from His "backside" - without understanding.

In the New Testament we view God in the very face of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

(But, even at that - the "backside" of God is more merciful than we deserve!)

Our loving and gracious Heavenly Father we thank You for sending Your Son, Your only begotten Son to take away our sin. He is our mediator and the One who allows us to "see" Your loving face. It was always there... we just couldn't see it. Thank You for changing our perspective. Thank You for changing our standing.

In Jesus' Holy and Precious Name - Amen.

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