25 November 2010

“Basking in Blessings”

Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving anyway?

I’m sure you’re all aware of the Pilgrims…at least I would hope so.  The Pilgrims, in search of religious freedom and opportunity, came from England on the Mayflower in the fall of 1620.  Their first winter in Massachusetts was brutal—killing 44 of the 102 people.  They befriended the Wampanoag Indians who taught them many skills to survive on the land.  The Pilgrims’ harvest of the autumn of 1621 was so plentiful that Governor William Bradford organized an enormous feast in celebration.  Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote of that time, “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty" (italics mine).  It is thought that Thanksgiving was celebrated every year after that, although not formally or nationally.

Sara Josepha Hale started lobbying in 1846.  She wrote letters to five presidents, starting with Zachary Taylor and ending with Abraham Lincoln, in an attempt to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.  It wasn’t until her letter reached Abraham Lincoln, 17 years after she began her lobbying, that she was successful.  Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday in 1863, smack dab in the middle of the American Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln, even in the midst of war, found reason to be thankful to God.  Why, in this world today, in America, the land of the free and home of the brave, is it so hard for people to open their mouths and hearts to thank the God that made them, that sustains them, and that loves them enough to send His only begotten Son to die for them?!  All good and perfect things come from God.  You have nothing that didn’t come from God, for you can do nothing on your own.  It’s time to thank Him for them.

I heard a story awhile back.  It was about a woman, her face and body ravaged by leprosy, standing in a church service in another country.  The missionary was worshiping God through song and was taking requests.  This lady, in all her grief and anguish, requested a song.  That song was “Count Your Blessings.”

The Pilgrims counted their blessings long ago.  The leper counted hers.  Can you count yours today?  I know the number would be great.  I’ve realized that if I’m feeling down or upset, I just have to praise God, because that will quickly bring me up!  And if you don’t know God, I suggest you go to Him right now in faith and trust in His Son, Jesus. 

It is Thanksgiving Day, not Turkey Day as this secularized world often calls it.  It is a time to give thanks to God, not eat a turkey.  So, Happy Thanksgiving!  May this day and all that follow be blessed to the max, as I know mine will be.  Give thanks to God!

Niki image

05 November 2010

"Death’s Stinging Grip"

A woman dies after 114 years of life.
A 55-year-old woman dies after fighting brain cancer for 6 years.
A 74-year-old man dies after a slow and steady decline in heath.
We sometimes expect death to come.  There are times we feel that death is welcome compared to the suffering taking place.
A skateboarding 14-year-old boy is struck and killed by a drunk driver.
A 59-year-old man is mauled to death by lions.
A 23-year-old is killed after gunmen opened fire on in his car while driving along the Mexican border.
Death also comes when it’s least expected.  Death often comes when we don’t want it to; when we don’t feel that it’s fair.
Either way, expected or not, death comes.  Man brought death on himself (Gen. 3).  We may as well be ready for it.

Are you scared to death of death?  If you haven’t given your heart and life to Jesus Christ and accepted His sacrifice for you, repented and turned to Christ in obedience to God’s Word, then you should be afraid.  Death to you may simply mean no longer being, with your body buried waiting for decay to take its toll and for your body to be consumed by worms and the like, and that’s the end of it.  Regardless of your limited view, the Bible says that if you haven’t accepted Christ, you will not have such a “nice,” simple ending as that.  Instead, you will find yourself in torment worse than you’ve ever imagined.  A torment that you will experience for eternity, forever and ever, with no relief.  And you will know why you’re there, why you’re suffering.  You will know that, because of your foolish denial of the Holy Son of God, you subjected yourself to the everlasting wrath of God.

My neighbor’s wife just recently died.  I expressed my condolences to him, and he stated that she was very sick, so the death was expected and almost a relief.  He then said that “she believed in God a lot, so … .”  She believed in God a lot?  So what!  You better believe that demons believe in God too.  They know who He is and what He can do.  But that doesn’t save them from His wrath.  God is a holy God.  God’s holiness absolutely cannot look upon any sin with favor.  This is why He gave us His precious Son, to shed His blood and die for us, for those willing to accept His gift of salvation.  Let Christ destroy death’s power over you!  Only Christ can give you a victory over death and it’s sting (Heb. 2:14-15).

We who have accepted Christ’s sacrifice for us, we who have admitted our sinfulness, confessed our sins, repented of our evil ways, and turned to God…WE ARE VICTORS!  We can truly say, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 54-55).   For we know that Christ has overcome the world and the evil one who is in it!  Our victory is through our Lord Jesus Christ, thanks to God the Father.

Yes, death brings grief to loved ones, because death produces an emptiness…that person is longer there, and it’s brings great heartache.  But we as Christians should never fear death.  Frankly, as strange as it may sound to your ears, I absolutely look forward to death!  I know that to be out of this body is to be present with my Lord, to be in His arms, to be comforted and loved like I’ve never been before, to look upon my Lord and worship Him—He who made and sustained me, He who gave me life, and then gave me LIFE!

Don’t let death keep a fearful hold on you.  Allow Christ to vanquish that fear!  Don’t let death have power over you.  Fill yourself with the power of God.  Accept Christ today.  Now is a perfect time.

God is so good.

I pray you have a wonderfully blessed day, and may God touch your hearts as well as mine.