Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

4 Prayers of Thanks

In Chrisian Life on November 26, 2014 at 8:00 am

Give Thanks

“Pray without asking for anything.”

Wait. What?  Isn’t that what praying is all about?  How will God know what I want (as if He is Santa)?  I was challenged a few years back to take a day, or week, and pray without asking for anything.  That was more difficult than I gave it credit.  Our habit is to ask God for stuff.  The problem is that we often just ask for stuff, rather than something meaningful.  Right now I am praying

  • for a friend to have words and wisdom in a particular situation.
  • That the house would sell
  • My kids would shine in dark places
  • That my mother in law would make the cranberry salad we all love so much

Now, that last one is a little ridiculous sounding until you have tasted it, but I digress.  The point is that much of our prayer time is spent requesting.  As a parent, I am not fond of every time my child speaks to me there is a request.  Even the flattery at the beginning is just a prelude to a kiss.  They want so they ask.  I don’t begrudge them asking since they cannot really provide for themselves in any capacity, but it would be nice to have a change of pace.

Do you find yourself asking for stuff every time?  Is your prescribed praise time in prayer just a way to “butter up” the “man upstairs” so that you can get more stuff? Do you think God might appreciate a change of pace now and then?  I am thinking that now and then it is healthy for us to just thank God and not ask for anything.  When Jesus was asked how a person should pray, He included requests, but what if we turned them into thanks? Because God is consistent, these will sound like Give Thanks and Party On.

Here are 4 prayers of thanksgiving from the prayer Jesus taught the people that Matthew recorded in chapter 6 of his gospel.  I will give a brief note and then a sample prayer:

9Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
10May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
11Give us today the food we need,
12and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

  1. Matthew 6:9-10 – Thank You for Your power and presence.

This preamble sets the tone.  While you could just say this is praise and recognition, I suggest we take these words and give thanks to God.  He is our Father because of Jesus and our faith.  I am thankful that I can trust in my Heavenly Father.   I am thankful that God is in control when my life is not.   I am thankful that His will is being done in Heaven and one day will be the same here when Jesus returns.

Thank you God you your power and presence.  Without it we would all certainly be lost and living in anarchy.  Thank you that you are in control.  Thank you for being present with me even when I don’t feel it.  Thank you.

  1. Matthew 6:11 – Thank You for Your provision.

The fact that you have daily bread is a result of God.  The fact that you have a job to bring in money to buy groceries, cars, and houses is because of God.  He is the provider for all that is.  Nothing happens that He is not aware of, or caused to happen.  I didn’t earn the money, God gave it to me.  You didn’t earn that truck or house, God gave them to you.  We like to think we do more than we really do.

Thank you God for providing me with clothes, shoes, cars, a house, streets to drive on, church to belong, schools to attend, and jobs to bring in money.  Thank you for your gracious provision.  Thank you for meeting my needs and sometimes my wants.  Thank you.

  1. Matthew 6:12 – Thank you for peace.

Forgiveness brings about peace between you and God and you and others.  Forgiveness brings people back together that were apart.  Forgiveness forges new roads, new relationships, and new opportunities.  Forgiveness frees you to be what God created you to be.  Forgiveness for yesterday’s hurts frees you for today’s blessing.

Thank you God for Your forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  My shame, guilt, and stain have been removed.  My alienation from you has been removed.  Thank you for my serenity and sanity.  Thank you for releasing my sin debt.  Thank you for bringing restoration in my family.  Thank you.

  1. Matthew 6:13 – Thank you for protection.

While I firmly believe, for the Christian, God will allow you to experience more than you can handle, I also firmly believe that God will protect you from sin being your only option.  You, as a believer, don’t have to sin.  There is always an escape route if you would choose it.  God protects us from limited options.  God protects from Hell once we have placed faith in Jesus.

Thank you God for giving me options and protecting me from sin being the sole option.  Thank you God for holding my soul in your hand from which it cannot be taken by any force.  Thank you for the hope and healing you have given.  Thank you.

May our lives be ones of thanksgiving to God for all the great things he has done!

Give Thanks and Party On

In behavior, Chrisian Life, Gospel Living on November 25, 2014 at 8:52 am

give_thanks1

This week will be the biggest feast of the year for many of us.  We will see family, friends, football, and a lot of food!  We gather around to thank God for his bounty and blessing and well we should.  Many have taken to social media all month to share one thing a day for which they are thankful.  Being thankful is a moral and ethic that God established among his people. He guided them to thanksgiving 4 times a year. As you read Leviticus 23 take time to thank God for these 4 things.

  1. Leviticus 23:5-8 Passover

The Israelites were in a tough spot and were not sure God was there, was aware, or if He even cared.  I am sure, given the human condition, there were some who wondered if God even had the power to help them.  In the midst of 1000’s of gods being worshipped in Egypt, it is conceivable that some began to doubt.  God afforded them sanctuary from the 10th plague if they would just believe and act on that belief.  By following the directions, they would be exempt from the devastation of the 10th plague – losing the firstborn of everything.

God showed His power to sustain.  What, in your life, are you struggling to overcome?  Are you losing the battle of love, addiction, health, or job?  Is what you are facing seem to overwhelming that you are beginning to lose hope?  God has the power to sustain you through the darkest and brightest times of your life.  We don’t always see the need in the brightest days, but in the dark days we get it.  Let God’s power sustain you through this moment.

Thank God for His power to sustain.

  1. Leviticus 23: 9-22 Harvest

Each year the farming community receives in a harvest.  I remember serving in Buffalo, OK where each August, after the wheat harvest, our monies would soar.  Many in the community waited all year for the one check and survived on it alone.  So it was with Israel.  While they did have livestock for food, shelter, and clothing, the harvest provided the basic needs of life.  God instructed them to give 10% back and have a party while doing it!

Because of God’s provision, they were supplied with the needs of life.  The holiday season always reminds us of those who don’t have anything.  As I helped to unload the 68 boxes for Operation Christmas Child from our church, I realized that 68 kids will have something that brings them joy.  As I saw people taking the tags from the tree for our winter clothes drive, I realized that those 34 kids will have coats, gloves, hats, and more.

Thank God for His provision that supplies your need.

  1. Leviticus 23: 26-32 Atonement

This festival was of specific concern for the nation.  Once a year, they gathered together and received atonement, nationally, for sin.  At that time, God has established that a sacrifice had to be made for sin and guilt to be removed.  Every day, on a personal basis, people would come and present their sacrifice with the priest and be made right again with God.  However, nationally they would do the same.

Our country struggles today.  We are conflicted morally and ethically.  We do not have agreement on right and wrong.  Whatever seems right to each one appears to be the rule for the day.  Leadership is making executive decisions without regard, it seems, to the best interests of the country.  When moral rot sets in to a country, the leadership will soon crumble.  But there is hope.  As each of us take on our responsibility before God and develop others to do the same, then a grass-roots effort could spark a change in our country, but it begins with each one of us.  God offers peace through a sacrifice.  When someone places faith in Jesus and follows Him, we have peace with God.

Thank God for His peace through a Sacrifice.

  1. Leviticus 23:33-44 Shelters

This festival helped the Israelites to remember that while it wasn’t always pretty, He provided the shelters while they were in transition before the Promised Land conquest.  Annually, Israel was to live in a makeshift shelter, or booth, for 7 days.  This served to remind them of how God protected them during that time.

We drove to the edge of town.  I looked up and saw what looked like a little city of cardboard.  Surely no one lived here right?  Surely, this was just some huge child’s building project.  There were 1000’s of people/families living in this section.  House constructed completely from cardboard and other scrap materials.  The nice ones had corrugated plastic or metal intermixed!  I stopped right there and was thankful for God shelter provided to me.

Thank God for His protection in your shelter.

 

Like worship, thanksgiving is a lifestyle more than party!  Let us be mindful of God’s love and grace each day.

Black Friday

In Evangelism, Life and Culture on November 29, 2013 at 8:46 am

Today is the day when crazed people who have pitched their tents outside of their favorite store will receive the best deals.  Today is the day when those who can shove the hardest, sift the fastest, and move the swiftest will acquire all 22 family members gifts by lunch!  The Army, whose motto has been that they do more before breakfast than most people do all day, has nothing on Black Friday shoppers!

How did all of this start? (Full Article)

For millions of people Black Friday is the time to do some serious Christmas shopping –even before the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone! Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and it’s one of the major shopping days of the year in the United States falling anywhere between November 23 and 29. While it’s not recognized as an official US holiday, many employees have the day off except those working in retail.

The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Ever since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.

In the 1960’s, police in Philadelphia griped about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians, calling it “Black Friday.” In a non-retail sense, it also describes a financial crisis of 1869: a stock market catastrophe set off by gold spectators who tried and failed to corner the gold market, causing the market to collapse and stocks to plummet. (1)

As many of us shop this day in stores or online, let us remember another black Friday long, long ago.

Jesus had been up all night in court.  He was slapped, mocked, spat on, whipped, and abused.  Now He was hanging on a cross with two thieves. This action was being carried out by the Romans, but was initiated by God.  Our lives are in the red.  We are losing and have no way of gaining a profit on our own.  Instead of the business closing, our lives are on the line.  If we die with our spiritual account in the red we will eternally be absent from God in a place called Hell.  However, God, loving us like He does, provided a way for us to come back into the black and have our debt removed.  Jesus died.  he was buried.  He rose again on Sunday providing for our needs in a way we never could. (Start reading here.)

As you shop for those gifts, remember the greatest gift given.

As you help retailers find their way back to black, remember that God has provided a way for you also.  May Black Friday remind us of our spiritual need before God.

Are you “in the black” with God?

Off the Hook

In Chrisian Life, Journey, Suffering on April 18, 2013 at 8:03 am

phone-off-hook-de-45542603

I pulled out my phone the other day to make call.  I had a question and needed an answer pretty quick.  It rang and rang but no one answered.  I thought it odd so I hung up and tried back.  It rang and rang.  No one answered.  No voice mail picked up.  Nothing but an incessant ringing.

Was something wrong?
Were they injured?
Were the phone lines down?
Did I call the right number?
Had I done something wrong and they were refusing to answer?

It turned out to be nothing.  But when I needed an answer I felt all alone.  Anxiety for their well-being and stress over my problem both rose quickly.

Has that ever happened to you with God?  Have you ever felt like God was not listening?  Have you ever felt God did not care?  There are cherished moments when I felt such a strong bond with God.  There are also those moments when I felt like I had lost connection.  Why is that?  For me, the seasons of dissonance are a result of personal sin.  I feel distant, lonely, anxious, and scared.  A person really appreciates what they have usually only when they lose it.  The closeness of God, the joy of His presence, the peace that passes understanding are all easily taken for granted.

9 but as for me, I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving.   Jonah 2

Jonah had walked away from God.  He literally  went in the opposite direction!  He found himself in a big mess.  In the middle he made that statement above.  He was going to worship with thanksgiving even though his present circumstance were horrible.  Thanksgiving?  How could he give thanks?  He would because he realized that he could be dead.  Things could get worse.  He thanked God.  He realized that the mess he sat in was his own just like our is.  Paul wrote,

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 3:6

We have become awesome at taking needs to God!  We can throw up our prayer list, post it on Facebook, or Tweet it so all can know our problems.  We often engage in spiritual manipulation telling others they must pass it on for a blessing.  The reality is that my problems are my problems and not yours.  While Christian brotherhood would demand that we bear one another’s burdens, in the end they are still my problems.  Jonah had his.  I have mine.  You have yours.

The real question is what are you going to do about them?

Jonah cried out to God in worship with thanksgiving.  I tend to whine.  You?  Paul tells us to take our anxieties to God with thanksgiving.  I tend to stress out, take it out on others, and attempt to work it out on my own.  You?  Your situation, like mine, must be owned.  You must come before God and own up for whatever your part was.  Accept the situation as it is and worship God with thanksgiving.  Then you may claim the second half of Paul’s statement: and the peace of God will guard your heart and mind.

Own Up.  Grow Up.  Send Up.  Watch the blessings come down.  Gotta go…phone’s ringing!

For Shame, For Shame

In Anger, behavior, Control, Family, Jesus on November 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

As we approach the Holiday, or as some feel, Shame, season of the year I wanted to share a few things to help us navigate these choppy waters of family, friends, and holiday events.  Many of us will spend much “quality time” with family members that can dredge up all manner of evil like CSI diving in the East River.  Even approaching the house, memories invade and emotions stiffen.  These negative emotions are often due to some trauma, experience, or relationship that carries such negativity that we can hardly breathe.  Shame is:

  1. negative emotion: a negative emotion that combines feelings of dishonor, unworthiness, and embarrassment
  2. capacity to feel unworthy: the capacity or tendency to feel shame
  3. state of disgrace: a state of disgrace or dishonor

Why do we feel these emotions around a time of year where thankfulness and joy are to abound?

1.  Your track record of behavior is not how you were raised.  If you were honest, you would admit that the current behavior, lifestyle, housing arrangement, etc is not approved by the parental unit.  You fear the subject being brought up though our false-pride and bravado would kick in and you never openly say those words!  You dread the judgmental looks and comments from family.  As early as Genesis 3 we see this pattern happening.  Adam and Eve had made a poor choice of lifestyle and now were awakened to shame, guilt, and fear.  This sin is what causes us to feel that way too.

2.  Your family has a history of being holier than anyone else.  Let’s face it, sometimes our family is perfect and we cannot live up to that kind of standard.  Dad is the model citizen and mom wins all the awards in the community.  Your family has been like a glass house to the public and held in high esteem as the family everyone wishes they had.  Maybe you had friends openly state they wish they had your parents.  All the while you rolled your eyes and prayed to God that this would somehow end.  This is the same kind of feeling you get about halfway through any holiday meal!  Your prayer life triples right there at the table.  It is hard to live up to those family standards.  In fact, you haven’t and now the shame is poured out on you, possibly without you even deserving it!  Maybe your sibling was the perfect child.  Imagine living in the home with Jesus and having to hear, “Why can’t you be perfect like your brother Jesus?”  You might have heard those kinds of things.  Having everyone drop in together for a meal, a day, or more can be overwhelming.

3.  The Family Secrets.  You know what I am talking about.  Those events from the past that no one is supposed to discuss.  The time that Dad got drunk and….  That one day where your sister skipped school and then cried for days after.  That Summer where you felt all free and wanted things to be special before leaving for college.  The time when you heard the screams from the basement.  All of these secrets have never been exposed to public discussion.  All of these events are locked up in your heart and spending time with certain family members creeps you out.  Maybe, you don’t want Uncle Joey hanging too close to your kids.  Yes, these things can bring a sense of shame; a wish that you had a different family.

How do we deal with shame?

Be honest before God.  Adam and Eve came clean and God dealt with them mercifully.  We must be honest before God about those actions we can control.  Faith in Jesus may not erase your memories but there is no condemnation in Him either.

Be honest with yourself.  There are those things that are out of your control.  Be who God created you to be.  Live how He desires for you to live.  My parents don’t “approve” of all the things I do, but as an adult they are not in control of me.  If I am good with God then I am good to go.

Forgive.  For more read THIS.

The holidays do not have to be something you dread.  God provides a multitude of coping skills through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Here are a few that you can request starting right now:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Happy Holidays!!

 

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