Thankful for Faith
Our first Thanksgiving in Virginia felt odd. For the first 18 years of our marriage, we’d always celebrated the holiday with my husband’s extended family—30-40 people—in California. Now, since leaving the Golden State so I could attend Regent University, Thanksgiving only included our family of five.
Over the years, my contribution to the yearly feast was to bring the sweet potato casserole (the kind with the crunchy brown sugar/pecan topping—YUM!). Now the whole meal was up to me. Unfortunately, I’d never learned how to prepare a turkey, how to make homemade mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, etc. And attempting to reproduce one of Grandma’s pies? Out of the question!
That’s when I discovered my local grocery store sold “Thanksgiving in a Box”: a pre-cooked frozen turkey, frozen mashed potatoes, frozen rolls, canned cranberry sauce, canned green beans, canned gravy … you get the picture. All I had to do was thaw and/or reheat. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess how the meal turned out. Let’s just say it was memorable for all the wrong reasons!
On a happier note, we started a new tradition that year. Before we prayed over the food, we went around the table and shared what we were thankful for: new friends, new jobs, family, our dog, etc. What did I share? I was thankful to be in Virginia, and here’s why:
Five years earlier, the Lord gave me a word while I was praying on the beach in Monterrey, California. He said, “Major in Communications and prepare for television.” Long story short: after much prayer and preparation, my husband and I resigned from our jobs, sold our home, and moved our family to Virginia Beach so I could attend Regent.
At some point in our Christian walk, God will test our faith. I’d been in ministry all my life, but it wasn’t until we trusted God’s call and moved to Virginia that my faith became truly alive. A supernatural breakthrough happened in the spirit when we put our faith into action, and we were never the same again!
In the book of James, we see the brother of Jesus calling out people who claimed to have faith but had no deeds:
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17 NIV).
What does faith in action look like? James says we should look at father Abraham. God told Abraham to go to an unknown land, to believe for children even though he was too old, and finally to sacrifice his promised son Isaac. With each test of faith, Abraham obeyed. In the words of James,
“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did” (James 2:22).
When you trust and obey God, I guarantee your life will never be boring. With faith, we can move mountains. With faith, we can please God. With faith, we are promised eternal rewards. And here’s the greatest benefit of faith: friendship with God!
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend” (James 2:23).
Today, I’m thankful for faith.
Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 1Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 2Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
When we gather together for corporate worship, we need to be especially conscious of what we are saying. Modern worship services often focus on one preacher. How important it is that his words be clear and to the point! If there is humor, it needs to be applicable and appropriate. Better a short sermon that is anointed than a long winded one with many rabbit trails. We need to leave with the clear message ringing in our hearts. Anything that distracts from that should be avoided. C. S. Spurgeon once said that the ground behind the pulpit was holy ground, and that one should take his shoes off before standing there.
We can be easily moved by emotion and the appeal of the sermon to make a vow to God. This passage warns us not to be hasty in our hearts to utter anything before God. Be sure that it is at the direction of the Holy Spirit and that you have counted the cost before making commitments to God. To make a vow to the Almighty is a serious thing. When God promises something to you, you can count on it coming to pass. We are to be like Him, faithful to our word. Use caution not to fill the air with words just to avoid silence. God often speaks to us in the silence.
When you come together to worship, come to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart. Expect Him to meet you there. Take what He has said seriously. Take it with you through the week and determine how God would have you respond. Count the cost and then make the commitment.
Consider: What steps can I take to remember and cling to the Spirit’s direction?
Streams in the Desert – November 20
- 202220 Nov
Blessed is he that waiteth (Dan. 12:12).
It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still.
There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption?
No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God and spread the case before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of aid.
Wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him. Believe that if He keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet He will come at the right time; the vision shall come, and shall not tarry.
Wait in quiet patience. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses. Accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but Thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities; but I will wait until Thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if Thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon Thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for Thee in full conviction that Thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”
—Morning by Morning
Why Being Thankful Is a Powerful Way to Live Free – Thanksgiving Devotional – Nov. 20
By Debbie McDaniel, crosswalk.com
The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.” Psalms 28:7
We have so much to be grateful for in this life, every single day. But reality is that sometimes constant life demands, battles, and worries give more room to defeat than to a heart of thanks. Or we forget, in the midst of busyness and pressures, just to pause and give thanks for all that God has done and continues to do in our lives.
Sometimes it really is a sacrifice to offer praise and thanks. We may not feel like it. We’re struggling. We’re weary. Or maybe, we feel like He let us down. We think God seems distant, like he’s far away, or doesn’t really care about what’s troubling us. Painful life blows and losses might have recently sent us spiraling.
But here’s what can make a lasting difference. We have a choice, every day, to give him thanks. And with a heart of thanksgiving, we realize that no matter what we face, God doesn’t just work to change our situations and help us through our problems. He does more. He changes our hearts. His power, through hearts of gratitude and focused minds on Him, releases the grip our struggles have over us. We’re strengthened by His peace, refueled by His joy.
No matter what our current situation, or the struggles we may be facing, here’s what choosing to be thankful does:
- It gets our eyes off ourselves, and helps us to focus back on God.
- It reminds us we’re not in control, but that we serve a Mighty God who is. It keeps us in a place of humility and dependency on Him, as we recognize how much we need Him.
- It helps us to recognize we have so much to be thankful for, even all the little things, which often we may forget to thank Him for. It takes our attention off our problems and helps us instead to reflect on the goodness of His many blessings.
- It reminds us that God is the Giver of all good gifts. We were never intended to be fully self-sufficient in this life. A grateful heart reminds us that ultimately God is our Provider, that all blessings and gifts are graciously given to us by His hand.
- A heart of gratitude leaves no room for complaining. For it is impossible to be truly thankful and filled with negativity and ungratefulness at the same time.
- It makes the enemy flee. The forces of darkness can’t stand to be around hearts that give thanks and honor to God. Our praise and thanksgiving will make them flee.
- It opens the door for continued blessings. It invites His presence. God loves to give good gifts to His children. He delights in our thankfulness and pours out His Spirit and favor over those who give honor and gratitude to Him.