Give Thanks

THANK YOU, GOD

 

Thank You, God, for the harvest.
I am thankful for what I have and for what I will receive.
In this spirit of thankfulness, I pray with a very grateful heart.
Your loving presence provides for my every need.
You make the rough ways smooth.
Thank You for Your vigilant care.
Thank You for strengthening my judgment – good judgment that turns me away from pursuing courses that may be unwise and unfulfilling, good judgment that prompts right responses and right action.
Thank You for Your empowerment and strength in me as wisdom — wisdom to know what to do in any need, wisdom to know how to handle any situation, wisdom to avoid danger, wisdom to choose right paths.

 

Dear God, I am grateful for life, as it is unfolding in my life and in my experiences.  I am grateful for the courage, strength, vision and stability of mind I have to know that all things are working together for the highest good of all, even in the midst of change.  I am aware that every good thing comes from You, God. I pray that I will be aware of all the good and give thanks for everything I see. I do not take anything for granted.  I am filled with gratitude.
In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.

 

“The Lord is the stronghold of my life.” Psalms 27:1

 

Here’s a short Thanksgiving story.

 

“A man had an experience of thanksgiving recently. Really, it was a spiritual experience for him. He went to Colorado for a business trip. When he left his home, the weather channel said the skies were absolutely clear over Colorado. They were not expecting snow for quite a while. He was going to a place in the mountains where his family was going to have a huge family reunion the next summer.

 

He was going over the Continental Divide when he discovered that weatherman was wrong. There was not only snow; it was a blizzard. He was at 14,227 feet and ready to go down this mountain. He drove very slowly and did just fine. Soon he arrived at the ranch where the reunion would take place. He was supposed to meet with some people, but they weren’t there because of the blizzard.

 

So, he opened his trunk and got out the video camera to take some pictures, but the snow was coming down so fast that he started to get nervous. And then he realized he was missing the beauty and majesty of the snow. At that point, something changed in him. He decided he was going to enjoy the snow.

 

He said, “I saw scenes in Colorado that most people don’t see. There is a beauty to the snow that is coming down. I began to relax at that time. I let go and let God. What a glorious experience it was to know that everything is okay, that I was protected, that this was going to be a wonderful experience. I was able to slow down enough so I could really enjoy the trip and see before my eyes the beauty of God. I ended up giving thanks to God the whole rest of the trip; it was profoundly meaningful.”

 

Isn’t that our main goal? To slow down just enough so we do enjoy the trip called “our lives?”

 

Now on this Thanksgiving week, let’s take a look at the founding of our great country; you may not have ever heard this before.

 

“There was a man named Squanto. Now, Squanto was as important to Thanksgiving as Santa Claus is to Christmas time or as Jesus Christ is to the true meaning of the season. He was a very important Native American who made a strong impression on the pilgrims as they arrived in the “New World.”

 

Let’s first mention the actual pilgrims who came over to the new land. There were 102 brave people who journeyed across the seas. They were escaping religious oppression. Now, that’s not very many people.

 

 

Just imagine what these people had to give up in order to take this voyage. Can you imagine leaving your hometown, where you live right now and may have lived for years, because of religious oppression. Just imagine first of all your whole family and your friends are not going to be coming with you. You’ll probably never see them again. But you are so strong in your religious beliefs and the way you worship God that you’re willing to give up everything just to come to a free land.

 

Many people right here in our own countries have done similar moves, not that they were being oppressed, but they knew they had to move on. They were willing to leave their place of worship, their friends and their families to move to a worship venue that touched their hearts. Often, their own families disowned them and their friends walked away. It takes a lot of courage for someone to do this. I’ve known many people who have done this here in this country. They have had to leave friends and family that were of a certain religion to come to a church that Touched Their Hearts. Many times they were disowned. It takes a great courage inside of a man or woman to do this. It takes a courage that goes the extra spiritual mile. But these people are willing to do that and putting the life as they know it away.

 

Imagine getting on a ship with 101 other people, knowing you’re going to be sailing for weeks going to a land totally foreign – not knowing what’s going to be on the shores when you arrive; not knowing what will be waiting. They know nothing at all except their lives and worship and trust in God – enough to board a wooden ship with no special luxuries or amenities at all.

 

“The ship was named the Mayflower. They were at sea for 120 days. They were running out of food and water. They met incredible turbulence on the sea. They finally arrived in what is now named Plymouth, and the year was 1620. This was Massachusetts on December 11 – probably the worst time of the year in that area because the snows and the winner blizzards can be very bad.”

 

Now remember, there is nothing there. And even though they did not realize they were about to face the worst winter the Indians who had lived there for ever could ever remember. They put down the anchors to the ship, and in rowboats road onto this new, strange land. And there they were. As they stood on the beach the cold, winter winds hit them in the face. But they kept on going as best they could.

 

“In the months that followed, almost one half of the Pilgrims died. All of them would have died if it hadn’t been for Squanto. Squanto was really one of the fathers of our country.

 

“In his old age, he gave his all, even when he didn’t have much to give. By the time the snows had melted, a hot summer that followed, and harvest came around, there were only 56 Pilgrims left. But thanks to Squanto they had wonderful crops.  He taught them how to be farmers, how to plant, and how to harvest.

 

“For the first Thanksgiving dinner, they invited 91 Indians. The 91 Indians and 56 Pilgrims totaled 147 people. I’d like to tell you about who cooked that dinner. Of all the Pilgrims, there were only four women left. These four women and two teenage girls prepared the meal.”

 

We often consider the first Thanksgiving Day here in America as the first Thanksgiving celebration – where the Pilgrims gave thanks for the crops and the blessings that came to them. But in reality there have been Thanksgiving celebrations for years and years before the Pilgrims. the Greeks honored the goddess of agriculture in a Thanksgiving type celebration. The Romans had a celebration to the goddess of corn. The Hebrews gave thanks for the abundant harvest with an actual eight-day celebration called “feast of the tabernacles.” It is really nothing new, but we may have taken to a whole new level.

 

But here’s a question to think about – if you were one of the 56 Pilgrims who survived when so many of your friends and family actually lost their lives and had met with great adversity, could you give thanks for your blessings? Think about it. I hope you could.

 

Well, the Pilgrims had the right attitude there is adversity and sorrow and pain in all our lives. Times have landed on us when we were least prepared and when parts of our lives have gone and many people that we have loved have gone – maybe through death, may be a career, maybe through disease – so many traumas and horrible experiences have occurred in all our lives. But now we have the choice to live in regret and sadness or makes a choice as spiritual people to be the same as the Pilgrims and rejoice in our blessings.

 

Can we, like the Pilgrims, still explore what we can call the New World of our life, and let it begin today, and let it be celebrated every day. Or we could lie down and feel sorry for ourselves, lie down and wallow in the adversity; we could not appreciate the things we do have but focus on what we do not have and how life has been so tough on us. But we can’t; but we don’t. Our spiritual soul lets us stand up and use the power of appreciation and give thanks to God for all the blessings that have come into our lives and that we hold true.

 

Always remember that no matter how hard life has been, no matter what adversity and horror we have gone through, the blessings of God always overwhelm the negative. If we open our eyes and count our blessings, we can see the good that is here.

 

“During the first two critical years of the infancy of this colony, Squanto helped the Pilgrims. He stayed by their side. He helped them build houses, plant and cultivate crops and learn to use the land. He helped them build seven private homes and two communal buildings. He was an English-speaking Pawtuxet Indian.

 

How did he learn to speak English? As a boy he was playing along the shore, and some early explorers captured him. They put him in the hull of their ship and took him to a land where he would work as a slave for the rest of his boyhood and well into his young manhood. One day, he was able to escape. He went to England and worked for a wealthy merchant. During this time, he mastered the English language. But his dream was to go back home and be with his people.”

 

You know what it is like to always feel you are away from your home. You feel a bit disjointed.  You want to be with your people, the people you connect with. So finally, six months before the Pilgrims arrived, Squanto returned to his people.

 

For a moment, think about all the toil and adversity Squanto must have experienced in his life, and see how God used every bit of it. “Here Squanto was when these new people came. He could speak English. He knew the ways of these people. He knew how to communicate with both the Pilgrims and the Indians. In doing this, he kept the Indians from killing the Pilgrims and from stealing their food. He was able to get these two peoples together and work together.”

 

“Here was this elderly man who came back at a very harsh time. That winter was also very bad on his Indian family. The Indians lost hundreds of people during the cold weather of that winter. But he was there. And during the last two years of his life, he was able to help this infant colony to make sure something would last so we could be here today and call this country ours. He is really a great unsung hero who gave of his life. He used his adversity to the betterment of humankind.”

 

Imagine if Squanto had said, “How dare they do this to me? I’ve had my youth taken away and my life was so bad. I am truly miserable.” He would have come home an old, defeated man. But he didn’t. This old man had stature from overcoming adversity. He had the power of appreciation, of seeing the blessings when they came. He had the power of being a positive attitude person. He didn’t resent the people who came over six months after he returned home. He welcomed them as friends and appreciated them. He used all the toil of his life for the betterment of humankind.

 

In Ecclesiastes 5:19 it says: “Every man also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and find enjoyment in his toil – this is the gift of God.”

 

We are so surrounded by the gifts of God. I pray that you have this new power of appreciation in you for everything in your life, every person in your life, for yourself, and for God.

 

Enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving, and into God’s courts with praise: be thankful unto God, and bless God’s name. For the LORD is good; God’s mercy is everlasting; and God’s truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 107:1

 

Pray with me:

 

Dear God, it has been a tough year. Many have lost jobs and homes and yet in this moment I thank You for the blessings of life, knowing in my faith that the best is yet to come. Now, I ask that You will bless me and all of us by helping us learn the positive lessons from our adversity so that we may use them for the betterment of our life and others. Dear God I ask you to turn our every adversity into opportunity.

 

Thanks be to God for the cornucopia of opportunity that lies ahead.

 

In Jesus Christ’s name … Amen

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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