On Monday, November 23, I will be the guest blogger over at Eternity Cafe. Susan has felt led of the Lord to encourage other Christian's to have "40 Days of Focus" on Jesus, of course! This is to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Jesus' birth, as well as prepare our hearts for His triumphant return.
Three days from now we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving. The holiday set up by the pilgrims to celebrate the planting of a new colony here in America. With six children, we've read the Thanksgiving story many, many times. One thing is clear, they were thankful - but not because it had been easy for them.
When they came to America, they didn't expect extreme hardships. They were hoping to find fame and fortune and religious freedom. If they knew the hardships that they would have faced that first year, do you think they would have volunteered to come? They experienced famine, sickness, death, hostile Indians - just to name a few! They were cold and unprepared for what they were faced with. But, they had one thing that got them through - FAITH IN GOD!
No matter what was going on, they made sure that they were at church and learning about the Bible and their God. They prayed and believed, and when loved ones started dying, their faith remained. I'm in awe that they chose to celebrate that first year in America. I have to admit that at first glance, it didn't seem so successful, or victorious.
So how did they celebrate and give thanks with pure hearts after suffering such loss and trauma? They knew the Bible! Here's what one verse says:
1Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
This is only one of many, many scritpures on giving thanks.
So what is going on in your life this year? I know that for me, 2009 has been a year of great trials and great pain. My beloved father stepped into heaven (unexpectedly) in August, just to share one trial my family has been through. Now I have a choice to make. I can allow myself to fall in to a pattern of sadness with negative feelings, or I can focus on scriptures and let God teach me how to have a thankful heart.
I am convinced that the only way to get through the pain of life is to break forth with praises and rejoicing to the God who is always faithful and who never sleeps or forsakes His children. Stay focused on the scriptures, dig into them daily, and you will find the strength to have a grateful heart this Holiday Season.
James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.