The Thanks-Living Challenge

I love Thanksgiving.  I am grateful for President Abraham Lincoln’s leadership and unifying vision.  In 1863 during the Civil War,  set aside the fourth Thursday of November as a holiday, proclaiming “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

On this Thanksgiving Day, a new Truth from a familiar verse jumped out during my quiet time.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.’” –Matthew 26:26.

From the first Lord’s Supper to today’s Lord’s Supper, the same sentiment is expressed in each sacrament. Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it away.

1) Jesus took and gave thanks. 2) Jesus broke it and gave it away.

1. May we give thanks for everything we are given, for every person, every circumstance in our life. May we have an attitude of gratitude. It’s hard to grumble when you’re grateful. So often I/we complain over what we don’t have instead of thanking God for the many blessings we do have. I am guilty of this. Forgive me.

2. Jesus broke the bread before He gave it away. Although Jesus could, He does not use anything or anyone unless the item or person is broken.

The bread was/is broken, not whole.

The wine came/comes from smushed, fermented grapes.

Even His own body had to be broken on the cross to save all of us from our sins.

He broke Himself in order to give Himself away. May it be so of us as we live each day giving thanks. Thanks-LIVING.

Jesus only uses us when we are broken and available to Him. Recently I have felt so weak and inadequate. His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10). Oh friend, I am desperately dependent on Him, and it’s so liberating.

God is a promise-keeping, miracle-working God. He wants us to rely on Him as we live each day with gratitude.

Thanks and Brokenness. Jesus both focused on gratitude and brokenness in life and in the sacrament of communion.

As we celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving, let’s use Jesus’ example to take and give thanks.  Will you take on the challenge with me to turn this Thanksgiving into Thanks-LIVING? Not just one day of the year, but every day.

Happy Thanks-Living, dear friend.

Reflect:

  • How will you transform Thanksgiving into Thanks-Living?
  • For what, for whom are you thankful?

Renew:

  • “Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth.” –Psalm 98:7-9.
  • “Enter his gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” –Psalm 100:4.
  • “He must become greater; I must become less.” –John 3:30
  • “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” –2 Corinthians 12:9a-10b.

Recharge:  

  • Let’s start a new Gratitude Journal this week and  list at least three blessings daily. It could be a warm house, your health, laughter, cozy coats and boots.
  • Please let me know of some of your many blessings.

Resource:

 

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Finding Faith in the Fog

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  –Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Reality snapped me to attention. Just two hours before, I had left an encouraging Christian conference, full of hope, full of the love of Jesus, full of direction for my life, full of courage to get it done. So I thought.

The upbeat praise and worship music streamed from the car speakers into my heart as I loudly sang the words. Suddenly my singing stopped.

My fingers white-knuckled the steering wheel as I drove through the North Carolina mountains, cautious. The dense fog rolled in quickly, shielding the landscape like a thick blanket held from a clothesline. I had driven this familiar stretch of road a hundred times before. I knew it by heart. My heart doubted tonight, though.

My eyes strained to see past the hood of the car. I could barely see the white lines outlining the two-lane road.

“Lord, I am scared. Please guide me. You are the same God on the sunny, clear, mountaintop days, when I can see for miles, as You are right now. I see nothing. Please show me the way. I am doubting everything I know to be true.”

As my car inched along, I reflected back on the uplifting conference where I had just been for the last three days. God called me there to clearly trust Him, to serve Him, to write and speak for Him. I knew that full well, just as I know my name.

But minutes later, I was already doubting God. I was so scared. I kept driving.

“Lord, help me. Lord, help me. Help me drive scared. Lord, help me.”

About an hour later, I exited off the twisting, mountainous road and into the driveway of my destination. I exhaled. I don’t know that I had fully exhaled since I hit the fog.

My hands still shook as I reached in the dark for my car door handle. I breathed in that mountain air and made my way to the front door. Once inside the house, I fell to my knees in thanksgiving for the miracle God had just brought me through. It was only then that I realized I had just lived a message. The foggier nights result in deeper faith.

Since then, I have definitely hit other “patches of fog” in my faith journey. Usually the doubt comes soon after a deeply meaningful time when I feel God’s presence and feel clear about God’s purpose.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” –Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the Bible’s “Hall of Faith.” I love reading all the different examples of extraordinary faith, from Abel and Abraham to Rahab the prostitute. Each “Hall of Faith Honoree” demonstrated faith in the “foggy night” of life.

God is with you, whatever circumstances you find yourself in today, whether you just had an uplifting, mountaintop God experience or the foggiest night of your life. Know the same God in the sunny, clear day is the same God in the foggy night.  May we be encouraged to find and strengthen our faith in the fog and in the SON.

Lord Jesus, You are my Rock and my Redeemer. Thank you for the sweet times when I can feel Your presence so easily and know Your purpose for me. Forgive me for doubting You in the foggy times. Thank you for testing my faith and refining me. Please help guide me every breath to fulfill the purpose you have called me to do. Help me do it, even when I’m scared of the fog. I am Yours. You are mine. In Jesus’ Name, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Renew:

–Isaiah 7:11, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights” (NIV).

–Matthew 15:28, “Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted’” (NIV)

Reflect:

–What foggy night circumstances have you experienced lately?

–When have you felt God’s presence clearly, like a mountaintop experience?

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Ode to Dads

Happy Father’s Day!

For some of us, today is a more difficult day. It’s hard to believe my Dad passed away from colon cancer 13 years ago.

For so many years our relationship was strained, as my parents divorced after 37 years of marriage. He intimidated me because he was sometimes verbally and even physically abusive growing up.

The Lord helped heal our relationship. I know my Dad loved me the best way he knew how. It would be an honor to tell you some of the positive ways my Dad impacted my life. 

Here’s to you, Dad, just a few of your lessons for which I am thankful:

  1. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me how to check the oil dipstick in my old car, so that I never messed up my engine or blew my transmission. That little Ford Escort hatchback car I drove in high school–Awesomobile–burnt a quart of oil every 200 or so miles. Smile. 🙂 I loved that car and am grateful that I had it.
  2. Thank you, Dad, for providing for my needs and many of my wants. We were blessed with a house, plenty of food to eat, clothes and shoes. You even paid for my wonderful out-of-state college education. It was such a gift not to have to pay back college loans.
  3. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me to appreciate the outdoors and fishing. You even taught me to cast a fishing rod and how to bait my own hooks. I wasn’t squeamish about the worms and minnows most of the time.
  4. Thank you, Dad, for taking us to church most times the door was open. Your dedication to the Lord and His Word helped mold my faith.
  5. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me how to budget my money and spend wisely. I remember how you paid bills promptly and taught me how to abhor debt. I still to this day try to avoid debt, except for my mortgages.
  6. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me a strong work ethic. You worked hard at Delta Air Lines for 33 years before you retired. You liked to finish tasks you started and showed me follow through and doing what you said you would do.
  7. Thank you, Dad, for showing me to volunteer in the community and help others behind-the-scenes. You used to mow and weed eat the end of our street where no one would mow. You also mowed around the Turkey Creek bridge in Hanahan where you would walk daily. You thought no one knew. We knew and appreciated your quiet good deeds.
  8. Thank you, Dad, for trying to come to many of my basketball and volleyball games. Your presence was such a present.

Dad, I pray you can see from heaven I’m trying to carry on the Jordan legacy. Rest assured that I love my Heavenly Daddy–my Abba–with my whole soul. Thank you for loving me, Dad, the best way you knew how.

Reflect:

–What are some ways you are thankful for your earthly father?  Please comment.

–How will you strengthen your relationship with him?

Renew:

–“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” –Exodus 20:12 NIV

–“Listen to your father, who gave you life…” –Proverbs 23:22a NIV

–“The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad…” –Proverbs 23:24-25a NIV

Recharge:

–What is something you can do today or this week to honor your Dad?

–If your relationship with your father is strained, please prayerfully consider reaching out and forgiving him WITH boundaries. I reached out years ago. It wasn’t easy. I’m so thankful we reconciled before he passed away. God is faithful.

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