January 1, 2013..a brand new year and a new beginning for each of us. I know that God is not in time..but He uses time to do some amazing things. I believe that He is always reaching for our hands to tell us that we have a fresh start..not just once a year.. but every single day. At the same time.. this particular day brings with it an opportunity.
2012 was a very challenging year for me. I felt relief as I took down my calendar and put a brand new one in its place. It was very difficult.. but I am beginning to see fruit from the suffering in my life and in the lives of those around me. Nothing is wasted with the Lord. I feel a sense of excitement this morning. What does God have in store? How will He show His sovereignty and His goodness to His people? What new things will He bring into our lives to remind us that we are His. The slate is clean..it is a fresh start..we can use this day to prepare..to anticipate..to dream of possibilities.
Let’s trust Him more fully in 2013 because of the way He took us through 2012. He will be with us in every new adventure..His hand of protection is over us..He will rescue us before we fall off the edge. He will provide for all our needs and bless us beyond our expectations. He will encourage, comfort, and strengthen us.. He will never fail us in this new season. Let’s begin this year with thanksgiving.. in faith that our God is with us!
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
“We bring the sacrifice of praise Unto the house of the Lord. We bring the sacrifice of praise Unto the house of the Lord.
And we offer up to You The sacrifices of thanksgiving; And we offer up to You The sacrifices of joy.” ♪ ♫ ♪
Sacrifice has been the key word in my life lately. God has been speaking about it over and over.. I found this definition:
“the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.”
The purposes and plans of God are higher and have a more pressing claim on our lives than our own comfort or own agenda. God is unfolding a more perfect way. It requires sacrifice because we do not think His thoughts or understand His ways. As we say yes to Him and surrender our own good ideas and our own solutions to life’s problems, He reveals the path that we are to take.. the sacrifices that we are to make.
The wonder of all this is that once we take the narrow way, we begin to sing praises to our GREAT GOD. We are filled to overflowing with thankfulness for all that He is doing and all that we have been given. It is life with God.. abundant life..life that we cannot get any other way.
Lord, as we approach this Thanksgiving Day, let us lift our hands in praise to you, Our Creator who has given us every good thing. Without you we would not exist and without you are existence is meaningless. Fill us to overflowing with praises this day and every day!
Thanksgiving week is a wonderful time to remember the goodness of God. I want to share a story with you. This week-end my husband and I were out in Napa..we had several reasons to drive out there..primarily so I could have some physical therapy on my neck and back. God surprised us with some amazing sights. The grapevines were the most beautiful colors..we could hardly believe our eyes. We kept pointing out things to one another and I could not stop taking pictures. It was a wonderful unexpected gift from our God.
On our way home..as we were driving into our valley I saw a sign for an estate sale. I rarely visit these..they always remind me of the fact that someone died recently and here we are browsing through those things that meant so much to them. I suggested that we stop by, not sure why ..but it seemed as though God was leading. As we walked through the kitchen there was a set of beautiful crystal wine glasses..Wow! Two days earlier I had removed my old glasses from the cupboard because we never used them..I wondered if I would find others to replace those without spending much money.
I actually bargained with the estate sellers and we walked out with the whole set of 10 glasses for $24.oo. Something told me that God was being generous to us. We looked online and my husband, who is the world’s best researcher, found the same glasses on a crystal replacement website. It turns out they were made in England in around 1960 or 70. Each replacement glass cost $130.00. So..we were able to buy $1300 worth of crystal wine glasses for $24.00. Unbelievable. Why am I telling you this story? Because I want to remind you of the extravagance of our Lord. He is able to give us anything at anytime.. and I am not just writing about wine glasses.
His desire is to meet us with unexpected answers to prayer.. amazing miracles that no one but He can do. He wants to show us that He is leading us.. to bless us and give us good gifts. His plan for us is unfolding in a perfect way. In the dark times.. there is something beautiful He is doing in us. His heart is filled with new ideas that He will reveal at the perfect time. Remember His goodness today..have faith for tomorrow.
He is with you!
” Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
I try to think about this blog and post to it as often as possible..ideally it would be every day..but life interferes with that idea. Why every single day? Because every morning when we wake up..or in the midst of a sleepless night..God has something new to say. He is waiting for us to come and ask Him about the day. What do you have in store for this day, Lord? What new thing do you want to do? Interrupt my day, Lord, with a fresh glimpse of your activity in my life. Teach me to sit still so you can speak to me. Help me to realize how much I need you..even if all my ducks are in a row.
Walking with God is a daily thing..receiving His grace happens daily..comfort and reassurance are needed daily. Each day we make decisions..we relate to people..we have opportunities..we face new circumstances. This is true even if we never leave the house. We may talk on the phone..email someone..pray for a friend..write in a journal..cook dinner..wash clothes..feed the cat..clean up our desk..whatever we do..God is with us and He is speaking to us. He is teaching us to lean on Him moment by moment..to remember His presence..to rely on His wisdom..to grow closer to His heart.
When I come home and look around I see God’s fingerprints all over my home. The things that others have given me…the beautiful view..the quiet..His provision is evident. I never imagined living in such a beautiful place..enjoying such an abundant life. He had this in mind for me back when things were very different. He kept all my desires in His Heart and when it was time He began to unfold this life that I could never have imagined.
He is doing the same for you. He is holding on to your dreams nad desires. He has not forgotten you..in fact He remembers things you may have forgotten over the years. He is the perfect friend, Father, brother..He longs to have that time with you daily when you remember His goodness and He renews your hope.
” His mercies are new every morning! Great is His faithfulness!”
This time of the year stirs up lots of things..including past relationships that may be challenging. Some families gather together and others don’t even try. Being part of a family does not guarantee we will have healthy relationships with everyone. In fact it is just the opposite. Most people have a least one fractured family realtionship..some of us have more.
It is natural for these things to come to the surface and cause us grief.
We entertain the ” if only thoughts”….if only everything was different..better..healed..normal..easier..ideal. It isn’t and it will never be. Families on earth are problematic. Relationships are messy. Nothing is even close to perfect.
We can still celebrate. We can rejoice in this season. We are children of the Living God. We belong to His family and He is perfect. With all the uncertainty in the world and the troublesome circumstances in our own lives..we still have our free will. Let’s choose to remember Him and focus on His gifts to us..what an opportunity to be grateful and thankful to our Great God!
” You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”
“We acknowledge to you, O Lord, that you are our God as you were the God of our fathers, forever and ever. Rock of our life, Shield of our salvation, you are unchanging from age to age. We thank you and declare our praise, for our lives that are in your hands and for our souls entrusted to you. Your miracles are with us every day, and your benefits are with us at all times, evening and morning and midday. You are good, for your mercies are endless; you are merciful, for your kindnesses are never complete; from everlasting we have hoped in you. And for all these things may your name be blessed and exalted, always and forevermore. Let every living thing give thanks to you and praise your name in truth, O God, our salvation and our help. Blessed are you, O Lord, your name is good and to you it is right to give thanks.”
A blessing from the Amidah..the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy, prayed three times a day since the first century A.D.
Thanksgiving is a mixed bag for me. I loved it growing up..since we did not celebrate Christmas I enjoyed this holiday that seemed to belong to everyone. Later..as an adult there were some difficult family issues that came to the surface on this holiday. Now.. I anticipate that things will go well because many of the people are gone and the issues are resolved..but let’s face it there are no perfect family gatherings. Anything can happen and the meal itself is quite a bit of work!
So..what am I anticipating? Another opportunity to thank God for being God. To remember His goodness. Another day when I can tell Him how much I am thankful for the life I have been given. Giving thanks..something that can drive away anxious thoughts..depression and fear. He is there for us and we can thank Him for that assurance. He will surprise us this Thanksgiving with blessings we don’t expect because that is His nature. He is giving and loving towards us even if we don’t deserve any of it.
So I am anticipating rejoicing in the Lord..praising His name..praying to Him..singing to Him. Loving Him and receiving from Him. I hope that you are too! Prepare your heart to remember your God and give Him thanks in all things at all times !
“And this same God that takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
..with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name! The Bible is full of messages encouraging us to give thanks to our God. How easy is it to complain? I don’t know about you, but I have no trouble finding something to complain about. It becomes second nature to focus on our cirumstances..especially the challenging ones and to forget that each and every day is a gift from God. He is the giver of life.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner.. it is not too soon to prepare our hearts for this amazing day of celebration. I have always loved this holiday.. somewhere inside I knew it had great meaning. Although I was not raised in a Christian home, God seemed to be speaking to me and reminding me that He was the one we were thanking. Next week we have a new opportunity to gather with loved ones and enjoy a meal together..to proclaim the goodness of God in the land of the living. We have so much to be thankful for..this country is abundantly blessed..we can look almost anywhere else in the world and see problems that are much greater than the ones we have here.
We live in warm homes with all the things we really need. We have food and clothing and we can walk outside our homes in safety. We live in a nation with so much freedom..we have so many choices. We may not have everything we want..many of us face very difficult challenges..we may suffer in many ways..but we are blessed beyond measure. Our God is with us and will never forsake us. We have the opportunity to rejoice in this..to share it with one another..to proclaim His faithfulness.
Life here is far from perfect..that fact cannot be changed but our God is perfect. He knows us and He reveals His love for us through the things that happen to us. His desire is to remind us of the way He loves us and cares for us. We each have stories of how He has intervened for us and how He has never abandoned us..we need to share these stories and remind one another. What a great time of the year.. another chance to “enter His gates with Thanksgiving!”
” I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again–my Savior and my God!”