Category Archives: Devotional

food for thought on thanksgiving

Billy’s grandmother told him today was Thanksgiving, so he needed to stop and count his blessings. Billy replied, “I’m not very good at arithmetic.” Many are pausing today to offer thanks.

The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of harvest. It was a celebration of the fact the pilgrims finally had a foothold in their new land. These folks had a rough start in their new settlement. In fact, it has been calculated that out of the 101 original settlers only 48 survived to celebrate Thanksgiving. This band of settlers experienced much hardship, but with the help of their neighbors, they learned how to live. To spite the emotional drain of their hardship, the settlers took time to thank God for their blessings.

Today, we are celebrating Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada. This celebration comes amid much difficulty; however, we have reasons to be thankful. As Christians, we all can be thankful for a Lord who is always with us. Beyond this, our reasons for being thankful could vary. Family and friends, the start of a new job, the start of an exciting life chapter or the end of a stressful one, or the long-asked prayer being answered may make the list of thankful reasons.

No matter the reasons, remember the encouragement of Scripture to always give thanks. And, challenge yourself to make it a daily occurrence if you’re not already giving thanks daily. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

As I think of my thankful list, you are on it. I am grateful that you have taken a moment to read this. I am grateful so many of you stop by on a daily basis.

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thankful heirs

When we think of inheritance, financial gain is what usually comes to mind, but it can be more. Families pass many items down from generation to generation, person to person. A younger brother once said, “All the comic books I inherited from my brother had the last page torn out. I had to reach my own conclusions.” Heirs of an inheritance will gain, and as Christians, we gain an inheritance of great value.

We are heirs to God’s inheritance.

Scripture says…

  • Romans 8:16-17 says, “For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children, and since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory….”
  • Galatians 4:7 says, “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child, and since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”

We are heirs of a valuable inheritance.

This means we are heirs to Heaven, which is yet to come, but it also means we can be thankful that our inheritance has already started.

  • Scripture reminds us our inheritance is perfect peace. It is a peace which transcends human understanding. When it does not make sense to have peace, you and I can have peace because we are heirs to God.
  • Ephesians 1:19 reminds us the Lord is already working on our behalf with incomparable power. There is nothing capable of overpowering the Lord.
  • We can embrace this life thankful for victory, not fighting for a victory.

We are heirs of God. The Creator of the universe has decided to share with us. With hope for the future, we can give thanks for the blessings of the present.

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faith’s root system

I was standing at the kitchen sink. The sun was coming in the window as it was a sunny, but windy day. I could hear the wind blowing and for just a second, the noise level increased. Thinking it was just a gust of wind, I went on washing dishes. Then from the next room comes, “The tree fell!”

A seemingly nice evergreen tree in our neighbor’s yard had been toppled by the wind. The tree’s root system was weak, so it couldn’t handle the force of the winds.

Paul writes in Colossians 2:6-7, “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him and let your lives be built on him, then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

How is your faith’s root system? As a deeply rooted tree is less likely to be toppled by the winds, a deeply rooted faith in the truth of God’s Word is less likely to be toppled by the winds of life. Scripture encourages Christians to fertilize our faith’s root system by spending time in God’s Word and in prayer, and by overflowing with thankfulness.

When we realize how we have been blessed and the source of our blessings, the resulting response should be giving thanks. We are encouraged in Colossians to continually and habitually offer thanksgiving. We know the winds of life will blow, but a firmly rooted faith can help us stand tall. Even amid a storm in life, Christians have reasons to be thankful. There’s always a reason to give thanks.

In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown feeds Snoopy on Thanksgiving Day. He gives the pooch his usual dog food. Snoopy looks at it and says, “Dog food again. That’s all I ever get is dog food. Everyone else is having all kinds of food today, but I just have my dog food. Oh well, at least I’m not the turkey.” There’s always a reason to be thankful.

Thankfully, the tree that fell did so in an almost perfect way. Across our neighbor’s yard into our yard. The only thing the tree hit was an old, ugly bush at the corner of our yard. We wanted the bush removed and the tree knocked it over, so mark that off the to-do list. There’s always a reason to be thankful.

Challenge yourself to spend time fertilizing your faith’s root system.

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be part of the 10%

One morning there was no food to eat at the orphanage. The director went ahead and gathered the children and workers together to give thanks as they did every morning. There was a knock on the door a moment later. The local baker was bringing bread. He had been prompted the night before to bake bread for the orphanage. The baker was just leaving as a local farmer came up to the door. He had an abundance of milk which he would like to share with the children. The director of the orphanage had faith the Lord would provide, and he remembered to give thanks.

Luke 17 tells of a man, afflicted with leprosy, who had faith and remembered to give thanks.

Crying Out

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and as he enters a village, there are 10 men with leprosy standing there. “Crying out, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us,” says Luke 17:13.

What a scene. These 10 outcasts of society have formed their own little community, and as Jesus approaches, they attempt to grab his attention. The affects of the disease would have been obvious. Disfigured hands, lumpy foreheads, and damaged vocal cords scrambling for Jesus to look their way. They knew their need, and they had heard Jesus could help them.

We too have a need; a spiritual leprosy for which Jesus can help. Like these men, our crying out to him will easily gain his attention.

Going in Faith

Verse 14 says, “He looked at them and said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.”

Jesus gave these men instructions and sent them on their way. He did not provide instant cleansing. The men had to trust Jesus and follow his instructions to get what they needed. It took faith on their part.

It takes faith on our part as well. Not every day is a good day. Some days are simply a struggle. Yet, Scripture encourages us to continue trusting the Lord. He will help us with our need.

Remember the director of the orphanage. It was his trust which prompted him to go to the Lord in prayer, and remember to give thanks.

Giving Thanks

Luke 17:15-16 records, “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus shouting, ‘Praise God!’ He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet thanking him for what he had done.” Verse 19 goes on, “And Jesus said to the man, ‘Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you.”

This man relied on Jesus and his needs were met. Our reliance on Jesus will also meet our needs. Relying on Jesus can help us with our heartaches and struggles. It can replace fear with confidence, and give us the assurance of eternal life. Jesus told the man it was his faith that saved him.

Like this man, we need to remember to give thanks.

Don’t Forget the Thank You

10 men received cleansing that day, but only 1 returned to offer thanks. The other 9 must have quickly forgot the source of their blessing. Needs met, these men could move on with life. They could return to their families. They could continue pursuing their dreams and desires, so they quickly forgot how the Lord helped them.

Often, the busyness of life can consume our thoughts. Our phone’s calendar is filled with dots. We have to be here at a certain time, and there a short time later. Sometimes, we even need to be two places at once. We can quickly forget the source of our blessings. Giving thanks is pushed out of our minds by the thoughts of the day’s activities.

Make Yourself Part of the 10% of Luke 17

So, here is a challenge. Make yourself part of the 10% of Luke 17. Take time each day to thank the Lord for the abundance of blessings you have received. Take time to thank him for what you know he will do even before he does it.

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Why can we be thankful in 2020?

Hebrews 13 says, “Therefore let us offer, through Jesus, a continual sacrifice of praise to God proclaiming our allegiance to his name.”

A little boy was asked to say the prayer before a meal. He looked at the dish then said, “Lord, I don’t like the looks of it, but I’ll thank you anyway.” The little boy’s impression may have been that he wanted to “accidently” feed the dish to the cat, but he was thankful. We may not like the looks of life, but we still have reasons to be thankful.

Not liking the looks of life may especially hold true in 2020. There is no escaping that it has been a rough year. COVID19 has caused much difficulty. Its grip has caused anxiety, unsettled routines, financial hardships, and even worse – the pain of loss. Couple this with the usual cast of life’s seasons, and it has been a historically hard year. The looks of it may not be that appetizing. The original recipients of Hebrews could understand our perspective.

Hebrews was written to a group of Christians facing persecution. They were being told everything they heard and believed about Jesus was false. They needed to revert back to the Old Testament ways of worship. Heavy pressure was being applied in an attempt to force the believers away from Christianity. Life did not look appetizing for these folks, so the writer wanted to encourage them.

There are many reasons, the writer concludes, believers can continually be thankful. Notice the word continual. Thankfulness is not designed for just the good-looking seasons of life. It is also for the times that do not look good. There are always reasons to be thankful, even in 2020. Here are just a few.

Jesus is always the same.

Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.” He is changeless.

  • The same Jesus who was with God the Father at creation is still with us.
  • The same Jesus who danced in the flames of the fiery furnace is still with us today.
  • The same Jesus who was willing to leave Heaven to help us is still helping us today.
  • The same Jesus that conquered sin and overpowered death still has his power today.
  • The same Jesus who was in control yesterday is still in control today, and he will be in control tomorrow.

Jesus is changeless. In an everchanging world, we can be thankful Jesus stays the same.

The Lord will not leave us.

No matter how bad things get the Lord will stay with us.

Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So, we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” God will always be there.

This applies to the easy times in life, and to the times when life looks grim. Perhaps a good place to see this is in Acts 7.

In its infancy, the church endured harsh persecution, and Stephen was one of those early martyrs. Acts 7 tells us Stephen was stoned because of his faith. More than that, it shows us where Jesus was during the stoning. Verses 55-56 say, “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to Heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see Heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Jesus wasn’t absent during Stephen’s stoning. He was present and encouraging Stephen.

This was a terrible time in Stephen’s life, and the Lord was there. He wasn’t absent or idlily watching from a distance. The Lord was right there – standing, encouraging, cheering, helping. In what can easily be considered the darkest moment in Stephen’s life, he could have confidence in the Lord. The Lord didn’t abandon him; the Lord was there with him.

There is not a great chance we will be stoned, but life can have some terrible moments. We can be thankful the Lord is there. He is there to bandage our spiritual wounds. He is there to help wipe our tears and heal our heartaches. So, we can say with confidence, “I will not fear. The Lord is my helper. Thankfully, he is always there.”

This life is only temporary.

Hebrews 13:14 reminds us this is not our permanent home. We are awaiting a world that is yet to come.

This verse serves as encouragement for us. No matter our current situation, we can truly say it is only temporary as this is not our permanent home. The struggles and difficulties this life brings do not last forever. They give way to something much better. They give way to Heaven.

While we don’t fully know what Heaven will be like, the Bible does tell us it will be a glorious place. There will be no pain, sorrow, or difficulty. Today’s struggles will be gone. There will be no pandemics or tensions caused by skin color. There will be no hurt or heartache. Rather, Scripture says there will be peace. The lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the blind will see. Heaven will be glorious.

Struggling today? Remember, this is not our permanent home. We are awaiting one that will be far better. And for this, we can truly be thankful.

We have life.

Finally, we can be thankful we have life. It may become messy at times, but the Lord has granted us life. “I have come that you may have life,” Jesus says in John 10:10, “and have it to the full.”

Someone has said, “Even though I clutch my blankets and groan when the alarm goes off, thank you for a new day. Even though I try to block out the light, thank you Lord that the sun rises. Even though I dread it, thanks God that I have the privilege of getting out of bed. Even though my family gets on my nerves, I’m thankful you blessed me with them.” We can be thankful the Lord has given us life.

Why are you thankful in 2020?

Someone has said, “Giving thanks is too often demoted to a secondary place in the prayers of Christ’s people. We are quick to make our requests and slow to thank God for his answers, because God so often answers our prayers, we come to expect it. We forget that it is only by his grace that we receive anything from him.” Why are you thankful this year?

2020 will undoubtedly be recorded as a hard year in world history, yet there are reasons we can give thanks. The Lord has blessed us in many ways, and for that, I am truly thankful. Why are you thankful in 2020?

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what would have happened if ananias stayed home?

The group was walking down the road. Their leader was confident he was doing the right thing. He was on a mission to cause much havoc and bring harsh persecution to a new group. Paperwork in hand, this man was well on his way to his next destination. Suddenly a bright light knocked the leader to his knees and a voice interrupted his thoughts. The once confident leader was now trembling before the Lord.

Acts 9 goes on to tell us Paul was then directed to go to Damascus. Blinded by the light, Paul had to be led by the hand to the city where he waited and prayed.

Meanwhile, “in Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered. The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus, named Saul. For he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight” (Acts 9:10-12).

At this point, Ananias was probably thinking, “Hey, wait a minute. This man has caused a lot of hardships for Christians, and you want me to walk right up to him.” No one could blame Ananias for having these thoughts. Paul’s track record prior to this day is anything but pleasant. He’s oversaw a stoning, had believers thrown in prison, and caused great difficulty for followers of Christ. Yet, the Lord had a plan for Paul’s life that started with Ananias.

Acts 9:15 says, “But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go, this man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

It is hard to argue with the Lord, so Ananias goes to the house. Ananias places his hands-on Paul, and Paul’s sight is restored. This begins Paul’s journey of following Christ. His zeal for persecuting Christians switches to exuberance for the Gospel message. Paul touched the world, but it was not before Ananias touched him.

What would have happened if Ananias refused to go?

You and I may have a “Paul” in our lives; individuals who we are influencing today to do something great tomorrow. Are we following Ananias’ example?

  • Befriending that coworker who is a little rough around the edges.
  • Trying to talk to that neighbor who seems a little standoffish.
  • Giving that applicant a shot even though we know she lives in the halfway house.
  • Allowing our faith to touch someone who may touch the world tomorrow.

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showing our thankfulness

Being thankful can display itself in many ways. Along with encouraging us to always offer thanksgiving, the writer of Hebrews suggests two ways we can show our thankfulness.

Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others. For with such sacrifices, God is pleased.”

2 Ways to Illustrate Thankfulness

Doing Good

This is seeing how we can benefit the world around us and doing it. This is interjecting good in what we do every day.

In January 1925, a 6-year-old boy showed signs of Diphtheria. This signaled the possibility of an outbreak in the small town of Nome, Alaska. When the boy passed away a day later, Dr. Curtis Welch began immunizing children and adults with an experimental, but effective, vaccine. Dr. Welch’s supply was small and soon depleted. The nearest vaccine was located in Nenana. The towns were separated by 600 miles of frozen wilderness. A group of trappers and prospectors agreed to cover the distance with their dog teams running a relay from trading post and trapping station and beyond. One sled started from each town. Drivers ignoring the risk of frostbite, fatigue, and exhaustion. Braving the -50-degree winds for 120 hours, the relay team was able to deliver the vaccine to Nome. The result was the avoidance of a pandemic as only one other life was lost to the disease. The good deed of these individuals gave an entire town life.

To us, these men are heroes. To themselves, they may have just been doing what they did every day; braving the elements to accomplish the task at hand. Good comes in all shapes and sizes. It does not have to be headline grabbing to have a tremendous impact. What good can you do today?

Sharing with Others

Perhaps this is easier to picture. We have something that would benefit another person, so we share it with him or her. Money is obviously the first thing that comes to mind, but financially is not the only way we can share with one another.

One example of someone sharing what they have is the Hopkins family. The family has a Black Friday tradition of donating blood rather than shopping. “It’s a way to give back. I think a lot of times when we go shopping it’s for things that people want, but this something that obviously people need, so we feel privileged to be able to provide that,” said Mike Hopkins. The Hopkins family is sharing with their neighbors in a big way.

Doing good and sharing with others are just a couple ways we can live out our thankfulness to the Lord. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, what good can we do? What can we share with others? The Lord has been gracious to us, and we can illustrate our thankfulness through our actions.

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answered prayer is knocking

It is rare that I lose my keys, but it does happen. One morning I unlocked an office door and left my keys hanging in the knob as I turned to put several items down. I was going to grab my keys next, but the phone rang. One thing led to another, and my day had launched.

A few hours later I couldn’t find my keys. Searching, I mentioned to someone I lost them.

He said, “No, you didn’t. They are hanging in your door.” There the keys were in plain view.

Sometimes the answers to our prayers are in plain view, but we are astonished so we miss them. Just ask Rhoda, and the others, who were praying for Peter.

They forgot to open the door.

Acts 12 records Peter being put in prison to face persecution, and many of the believers gathered at Mary’s house to pray for him. They are praying, and simultaneously, an angel is freeing Peter from prison. No one expected a rapid answer to their prayers. This causes some confusion at Mary’s house.

Verses 13-16 say, “Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed, she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’ ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said it must be his angel. But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”

Luke paints a humorous scene here. Christians have gathered late at night to pray, and suddenly there is a knock at the outer gate. Rhoda checks and discovers Peter, but forgets to open the door to the answered prayer. She is so shocked the prayer was answered quickly, or answered at all, she runs away from the answer. She runs away to tell others the answer was at the door. Disbelief, shock, and surprise keep the others away from the door. No one is opening the door for the answered prayer.

Meanwhile, Peter keeps knocking. They finally open the door, and there stands Peter. He is the answer to their prayer, and he is standing there in plain view.

Be ready to open the door.

While God always answers our prayers, the timeline is not always so sudden. The answer may come concurrently or it may take a minute. As we pray, are we ready to open the door when the answer knocks? Are we ready to receive the answer at any time? We just never know when the answer will knock on the door.

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4 reasons to always have thanksgiving

While at the store purchasing a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, a little boy said to his mother, “Thanksgiving should come after Christmas, then we would have more reasons to be thankful.”

In the fast-paced, bad news culture in which we live, it is easy to overlook reasons to be thankful, yet there are reasons to offer praise to the Lord.

Always Have Thanksgiving

The writer of Hebrews encourages us to always have Thanksgiving. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that openly profess his name,” implores Hebrews 13:15.

Reasons to be Thankful

We are encouraged to continually offer thanks to the Lord. This is not because it has been a super year or everything in life is grand right now. For many that is not the case; however, there are still reasons to offer thanks.

  1. The Lord is continually with us. God promises he will not leave us or abandon us.
  2. The Lord is not changing his mind about his Promises. Hebrews 13:8 reminds us Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday, and forever.
  3. Our current situation and circumstances are only temporary. The Lord promises he will come again.
  4. The Lord grants us life.

What reasons do you have to be thankful? Take a moment to make a mental note of your thankful list.

Someone has said, “Even though I clutch my blankets and groan when the alarm goes off, thank you for a new day. Even though I try to block out the light, thank you Lord that the sun rises. Even though I dread it, thanks God that I have the privilege of getting out of bed. Even though my family gets on my nerves, I’m thankful you blessed me with them.”

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not yet home

Quick word of caution. This story may cause a tear to fall.

An elderly man was in a hospital room and he was fading quickly. The nurses and doctors decided it was time to call the gentleman’s family, and they gathered around his bed. As he was lying there, holding his wife of 50 years hand, looking at his son and grandchildren, he whispered, “Don’t cry. I’ll see all of you again. This was not my permanent home; I’m only passing through.”

A moment later, the man looked up and said, “I can see the Lord’s face.” Peacefully, the man fell asleep and went to be with the Lord.

“For this world is not our permanent home. We are looking forward to a world yet to come.”

Hebrews 13:14 reminds us this is only a temporary stop in eternity. The original recipients of Hebrews were undergoing severe persecution, and the writer wanted to offer some much-needed encouragement to them. The Lord was with them, and he was not going anywhere (Hebrews 13:6). This persecution was only going to last a little while, and a better day would be coming.

This verse serves as encouragement for us as well. No matter our current situation, we can truly say it is only temporary as this is not our permanent home. The struggles and difficulties this life brings do not last forever. They give way to something much better. They give way to Heaven.

While we don’t fully know what Heaven will be like, the Bible does tell us it will be a glorious place. There will be no pain, sorrow, or difficulty. Today’s struggles will be gone. There will be no pandemics or tensions caused by skin color. There will be no hurt or heartache. Rather, Scripture says there will be peace. The lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the blind will see. Heaven will be glorious.

Struggling today? Remember, this is not our permanent home. We are awaiting one that will be far better.

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