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The people of the United States of America have celebrated Thanksgiving ever since it was set aside as a day of Thanksgiving by the Pilgrims in October of 1621. Almost 400 years later our traditional Turkey Day with the celebration of football games and Black Friday sales is a far cry from the original intent of giving thanks to God for His bountiful blessings and provisions of food, shelter, and for sustaining life.
The heart of the question remains, is Thanksgiving simply a one day event where we give thanks for the turkey at our table and for the family gathered there, or is it an every day…never ceasing, giving of thanks in all things even when your day is down and out and you are having a real turkey of a day, to say the least?
From the beginning of our Christian walk the Word of God admonishes us to give thanks.
I love the Holy Words from the book of I Thessalonians 5:18…”in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
We are to give thanks in everything! These are very powerful words that cover every detail of our lives. Stop for a moment to ponder this statement. That means the good, the bad, and the ugly! Does God allow the bad and the ugly… You betcha! Why? For many reasons but primarily to draw us near to Him; to lean upon Him; to learn from Him. When we are at our wit’s end and feel the weakest spiritually, our strongest Prayer is a simple cry, “Oh, God help!” We say this Prayer many times when we face the bad and the ugly. Something deep inside of us recognizes that God is our refuge in time of trouble. We acknowledge His sovereign control and power and acquiesce that it was His Will through Jesus Christ concerning us. With that understanding did we follow through and give thanks with the deep faith in knowing that He has His glory and our growth in mind, and that all things really do work out for the good of those who know God?
For me, this past year has been a hard one, to say the least. Living with my affliction of multiple sclerosis, then suffering a stroke last December, and then to be tried with heart issues that needed a pacemaker in July, yep, a lot was going on and the physical therapy to get me back on my feet was hard. Many days I felt like my life had been grounded.
With all honesty, I must confess that it was not until my last hospital stay with my heart issues and I was facing the surgical procedure that the words of 1st Thessalonians 5:18 took root and became embedded into my being. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God…” It is the will of God for me to be thankful, and it is the will of God for me to see that everything that comes from His hand is His will. Over and over this past year in every trial with health issues, in that moment of time, I saw that it was the Will of God in Jesus Christ concerning me to do a good work in my life..
Before the foundation of time my God had plans for me which are not to harm me but that I might prosper. I believe that every single thing that happens to me comes from God, by God, with God, and for God. Every thing that ‘happens’ is another glimpse of His bigger purpose in my life…to reflect His likeness for His glory!
Life has become more easy and more peaceful since I gained that true understanding of 1 Thessalonians and began to live it… I don’t need to mumble and grumble, or fight against my trials and challenges with resentment. Instead, I know that every moment is the Will of God concerning me in Christ Jesus and I simply need to wait upon the Lord to reveal His richer plans for me.
Yes, this Thanksgiving, like I do every single day, I bow my head and give thanks. For although it is a day with the turkey, my heart soars with the eagles for the greatest gift of His love and His plans for my life.
Can you truly trust with Him every second of your life? Yes! He who made you and formed you in you mother’s womb, knows you better than you know yourself, and He has great plans for you, not to harm you but that you will prosper in Him.
May you experience the joy of Jesus as you put to practice the scripture of 1 Thessalonians 5:18. “In everything give thanks for this is the Will of God in Jesus Christ concerning you.”
God bless you, my friends, not only on this Thanksgiving but in every second of your life as you give thanks to the One who gave you that life.
Here is a thought to ponder in the days ahead…are you walking with the turkeys or soaring with the eagles?
Vermont in the fall is the most fantastic place to behold the splendor of God’s majestic power in the colors of His foliage. As a profoundly deaf person, I rely on my eyes to take in and understand the world. This time of the year is the most incredible, awesome sight my eyes can behold!
God is basking in His glory through all the warm colors of Autumn. As His Garment sweeps the Earth, He surely is the King of kings, as revealed by the Bountiful Harvest of His own creation.
Is it little wonder that for generations men have bowed humbly before Him in adoration and praise for the Bountiful Blessings of the year’s Harvest? In the US we call this day Thanksgiving, and it has become the gateway of the season which holds all the various festivities and celebrations. At one time it was a season that once held purity and joy and purpose.
I say, ‘once held’ because long gone are the days when families gathered around the laden table with heads bowed to give thanks and praise for the bountiful blessings that God had bestowed upon them throughout the year. Those days have been replaced by eating until we are stuffed, then plopping on the couch to watch “The Game” on TV. Or there is the frenzied shopping for the Black Friday sales (which now start on Thursday before the leftovers are even stored in the fridge). Who has time to quiet their hearts until they are overflowing with thankfulness when the turkey is calling, and they are being torn by exciting sales and the thrill of watching a leather football sail through the air?
Thanksgiving is not the first celebration of this season, though, nor is it the most popular one in our Western culture. Are you surprised? You should be. The most anticipated and favored celebration of our culture is the celebration of the dead…Halloween, or Hallowed/Holy Evening. The name alone is a smear on the name of all that truly is holy. Even God’s people say “Happy Halloween” when they should be saying “Hallowed be Thy Name…Thy Kingdom come!”
When I was young on Halloween, kids dressed up as clowns to make people laugh. But today, in some towns, clown masks have been banned because of their association with the violent killings by those wearing a clown mask. We donned cowboy and Indian outfits, but today that is considered racist. We modeled those we admired, and posed as policemen, and nurses, and firemen. But respect for our elders is lost today and these innocent costumes have gone by the wayside. The entertainment world now dictates the costumes of our kids.
Today our western society has a morbid fascination with the realm of darkness and the underworld. The perversion of the haunting has overtaken the mind. The entertainment world has capitalized on the season of Halloween and is constantly trying to outdo itself with eerie darkness and violent death. The gorier the presentation, the more exciting to the audience. You cannot even escape to the grocery store or the hardware without observing how they revel in the dark side through the displays. While the adults are morbidly fascinated by the haunted themes that attempt to make people shiver with fear; visions of witches and the Walking Dead have overtaken the minds of our children. I recently read a news article that shared how a young boy, as he attended the funeral of his friend’s father, attempted to console his friend by saying, ” It’s so cool…your Dad is now one of the Walking Dead!” The thin line between Reality and Fantasy has been broken.
What can we do? In a day when the enemy goes about as a roaring lion, we must be bold! Romans 13:12 truthfully speaks these words, “The night is far gone, the day is at hand, so then let us cast off the work of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
How much do we as a culture love Halloween? In 2015 Americans spent 6.9 billion dollars, in 2016 we spent 8.4 billion dollars and this year we continue to grow at 9.1 billion dollars!! Certainly, these staggering figures show where our hearts are! It is truly hard to comprehend that we spend this overwhelming amount of money on the lifestyles of the dead and the darkness!
Perhaps you’ve not given much thought to Halloween and what it signifies. But, as a Christian, have you pondered the thought that where your treasure is so your heart will be also? If you want to know where your heart is, then just look where you spend your money! Scripture echoes, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:27)
May I challenge you this year to seriously think twice before you add even $1 to that 9.1 billion in celebrating the things of darkness? Our world is dark enough.
It is very hard to comprehend that my eyes behold both the majestic splendor of fall with such vibrant living colors of His Creation, and at the very same time I see those that He created shrouded in darkness as they seek new decibels of fear and dread.
Where are you today? Are you celebrating life and giving thanks, or are you like one in that popular TV series, The Walking Dead, wandering with no purpose or hope?
You have the choice, to choose life or to chose death. And at this time of year, will you choose the lifestyle of the living, or will you celebrate the lifestyle of the dead?
As for me and my house, we choose life…there is no Halloween candy here, so please pass us by and don’t knock on the door!!!
The month of July brought forth many blessings and yet it reminded me of the words, “when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot Thou has taught me to say, ‘it is well, it is well, with my soul.”
But now you ask… how can you speak of both blessings and sorrows in the same breath?
Seven months ago I was struck by the hand of God with a stroke. That was the beginning of the lesson pounded in me for the rest of my life. The words from 1st Thessalonians 5: 18 became as natural as my breathing. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I give thanks that as the months have passed, I have made a full recovery from that stroke. For this I give praise and thanks to the Lord.
Almost exactly seven months later, the Master’s Hand touched me again and this time it was my heart. I was rushed to the hospital on July 3rd as my pulse slowed to heartbeat of 28 to 35. The rhythm of my heart hovered there for the next 8 hours. It was decided that between my AFib and the slow rate of my beating heart, I needed a pacemaker.
Did I want a pacemaker? NO! Was this the will of God concerning me in Christ Jesus? YES! Could I truly give thanks?
I did, and it became the most incredible experience of my life! I was not only able to give thanks for those 8 days in the hospital, and the mistake that was made when they punctured my lung during the implant or my collapsed veins due to being NPO with no fluids causing it to be nearly impossible for the techs to insert the IVs … BUT… I was given a tremendous JOY with each passing moment.
Where did the joy come from? It came from the Lord God, who made Heaven and Earth! My joy came in proclaiming Him to medical professionals. As each cardiologist or doctor entered my room I would ask them, “Are you a praying man?” Being in liberal New England, the majority of them responded with a “No” and with that, it was a God-opened door for me to proclaim the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to them. I next would ask each of them, “How can this be? You didn’t make my heart; you didn’t fashion or design my heart. Should you not be talking with the One Who made it? You do not know me or my heart, but you are the one person that has God-gifted wisdom and knowledge, and the delicate hands to be used in heal me. You are absolutely nothing, but in Christ Jesus, you can become everything. You will become much better if you talk to the Creator, the One who molded me and fashioned me in my mother’s womb and the One who knows my most inner parts better than even I do.”
Time after Time, with every new medical professional that entered my hospital room, I had the privilege with a tremendous amount of joy to proclaim my Lord. I felt an identification with the Apostle Paul who proclaimed our Lord while in the confinements of prison. It was another opportunity for me to live and experience His Word, In everything give thanks for it is the Will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I truly believe that God’s plans are not to harm us but that we might prosper… and there is no greater prosperity on this earth than pure joy!
I saw rain drops on my window, joy is like the rain
Laughter runs across my pane, slips away and comes again
Joy is like the rain
I saw clouds upon a mountain, joy is like a cloud
Sometimes silver, sometimes gray, always sun not far away
Joy is like a cloud
I saw Christ in wind and thunder, joy is tried by storm
Christ asleep within my boat, whipped by wind, yet still afloat
Joy is tried by storm
I saw rain drops on a river, Joy is like the rain
Bit by bit the river grows, till all at once it overflows
Joy is like the rain.
(Medical Mission Sisters)
I continue to run the race before me, strong and brave against the foe, looking only unto Jesus, as I go! Now I am staying in the race with a pacemaker to keep me going and I indeed give thanks to God for it as it is the will of Christ Jesus concerning me.
I pray that you will permit God to draw you near to Him with every and all circumstances and that you will be able to see that His plans are not to harm you, but that you may prosper. As you see this, you can honor Him by giving thanks in everything, knowing it is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. May you, too, experience the tremendous joy that floods the soul when proclaiming the good news of Christ to everyone that God sends your way.
“Oh, Lord, I know it is not within the power of man to map his life and plan his course.” – Jeremiah 10:2
I could have never mapped out all of the intricate details of my life nor had the strength in myself alone to live the ups and the downs. It has taken a lifetime for me to begin to fully grasp and appreciate that the Master has designed every detail of the canvas of my life. With this understanding comes the perfect peace that all things do work out for the good for those that know and love Him.
The Heavenly Father continues to paint on my life’s canvas. He is working on a masterpiece and has been working on it since the day of my birth, perfecting every detail accordingly to His master plan that was designed for me from before the foundation of time.
He has made use of various brushes, textures, and colors to bring forth His creation in me. From the beginning He allowed deafness to overtake me. Those colors reflected confusion and separation as laughter and ridicule overtook the child that talked funny. Then there was the gray storm clouds of sexual abuse as a child from a close family friend.
He created the bright colors of the joy of triumph as a champion skater to soften the agony of defeat in my days as a failure in my academics. He elevated me in my professional role at the FBI thus giving the world the TV series, Sue Thomas: FBEye. In those days it was not all that it appeared to be. Although I was successful at the FBI, in my spiritual life I was a miserable fugitive, wanted and pursued by God.
My faith in His Divine Plan went even deeper on the night of December 1st, 2017 when the Master while at work painting my life’s canvas, took one stroke of His brush and created a stroke in my cerebellum. In one instant my life changed as I knew it. I was unable to walk and swallow. I couldn’t even sit up on my own but kept falling to the right side. My precious eyesight was affected with severe double vision. By one stroke of the Master’s hand my life took on a new dimension and I had to let go of my own ideas and trust His hand that He always knows what is best for me. I experienced first hand those words of Jeremiah, when he wrote, “it is not within my power to map my life nor to plan my course.”
In the last 2 months I have been recovering. I spent two weeks in the hospital, and then had home visits from the physical therapist. With physical therapy I am regaining my strength and re-learning how to walk. I can now climb fourteen stairs in my home with assistance. My throat and tongue muscles have slowly come back, and I can enjoy a meal and eat regular food again, although it is a slow process. Something I marvel at is that I did not lose my speech. To me this is so profound. It took many years for me to learn to speak, and in the stroke of a second it could have been lost. In God’s goodness and mercy He did not take from me my Gift from God and my Gift to God, my ability to speak. Since that day of the stroke of His hand, He has even given me 6 speaking appointments this spring, to proclaim Him and to make Him known!!!
“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29: 11-13
What an exciting walk it is with the Master! He has formed each of us in our mother’s womb and designed our lives before the foundation of time. Each and every minute is safely in His hands with the purpose always of leading us back to Him. He will use each situation to reveal Himself to us that we may grow in understanding and wisdom. This wisdom and understanding of Himself is His prosperity to us – such knowledge is wealth untold!
This latest stroke by the Master’s hand is teaching me to walk anew in my faith and understanding of Him. Now I ask you, what situation are you facing, what crisis is in your life, that He has painted on your canvas today to bring you to Him in a deeper way? Remember, all things are from Him, with Him and in Him. As He was in the beginning, now and ever shall be, world without end, AMEN!