Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9)
What a blessing to live in a country with an official holiday dedicated to giving God thanks for such astounding blessings! Giving thanks is the perfect antidote to the pervasive distress in our world. When we focus on what we want but don’t have (as in shopping lists) or on what we have but don’t want (as in added pounds) we only add to our stress. But when we focus on the freedom from want that we have because of God’s amazing grace, or the future already ours because Christ sacrificed for us, we discover that we are wealthy beyond hope and loved beyond reason.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing us with such a prosperous, peaceful, and free nation. Thank you for the opportunity we have to reflect on our blessings this weekend. Be present in all our gatherings, so that we may better understand and experience the grace You have so generously poured out on us, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.”
It's the day before Thanksgiving, and a grocer is just locking up.
A man begins pounding on the front door of his small store.
'Please let me in, 'says the man desperately. 'I forgot to buy a turkey!
My wife will kill me if I don't come home with one.'
'Okay, 'says the grocer.' Let me see what I have left.'
He goes into the freezer and discovers one last scrawny turkey.
He brings it out to show the man.
'That one is too skinny. What else have you got?' says the man.
Annoyed, the grocer takes the bird back into the freezer.
He waits a few minutes and brings the same turkey back out to the man.
The man says, 'That one doesn't look any bigger. I’ll take them both!'
A boy was watching his grandmother prepare the Thanksgiving meal.
'What are you doing?' he inquired.
'Oh, I'm just stuffing the turkey,' his grandmother replied.
'Wow, that's cool,' he remarked. 'Are you going to hang it next to the deer?'
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
This Veterans Day, it is helpful to remember that the Bible is full of military metaphors because no human institution more closely resembles the Christian church than the armed forces. Both have missions of such vital importance that they supersede individual needs and desires. Both are involved in life or death struggles to protect freedoms and rescue individuals from evil. Both develop deep bonds between individuals through shared service and sacrifice. Both succeed through skilled leadership, discipline, and a clear chain of command. In the church, our battle is not against flesh and blood, and the victory is assured in Christ Jesus. Yet as long as the war rages we are called to follow our commanding officer, who is always faithful.
Lord God, strengthen us to sacrifice and serve under the command of our Savior, in Jesus, amen.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
We’ve all heard that “we are what we eat,” meaning that what we consume is a huge factor in our physical health. It’s true of our spiritual health as well: what we fill our minds and hearts with is a huge factor in the quality of our relationship with God. So we pray that God’s Spirit will strengthen our faith in Christ, and feed on the astounding love revealed in God’s Word, rather than stuffing ourselves full of empty calories in the form of public opinion and popular entertainment. The more we feast on Scripture, prayer, worship, and service, the more satisfied we are by the goodness and love of God.
Lord God, feed us with Your Word to grow our faith, and satisfy our spirits with Your Love, in Jesus, amen.
As Pastor at Pilgrim, Kirk is fueled by a passion for God's Word and a lot of good coffee.