Malankara World Journal Thanksgiving
Volume 3 No. 180 November 28, 2013
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Malankara World Journal Issue No: 111: This was a Malankara World Journal Special on the Visit of St. Mary and the Magnificat. Definitely worth reading or re-reading.
8. Count Your Blessings
In United States, Thursday, November 28 is celebrated as Thanksgiving. The tradition goes all the way back to the founding days of America when the pilgrims, having survived a bad winter and fury of the nature, had a rich harvest and sat down to eat the bounty of blessings given to them by God, first thanked God for all the blessings. Thanking God for the blessings received is very important for Christians, but we often forget that. Jesus showed it by His example. We read that at Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he took the bread, lifted it up, looking at heaven, thanked God. The best example of lack of thankfulness comes from the story in bible (Luke 17:11-19) when Jesus healed 10 lepers, and only one returned to him to say thanks.
Yes, when things are tough we all cry to God, like the lepers did when Jesus was passing through, pleading for his blessings. But when we receive blessings, like the 9 lepers out of 10, we forget God. How sad!
Eldon Reich states:
President Abraham Lincoln recognized that the blessings of food, land, family, and freedom enjoyed by Americans are all gifts from the Creator. But Americans, he realized, had forgotten this. A special day was needed for Americans to forget their differences and remember their blessings. And remembering naturally leads to giving thanks to the Source of those blessings. So, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national holiday in United States. Americans had been celebrating it since.
We should be mindful of the supreme sacrifice of God, when the second person of Trinity incarnated as a human being and was sacrificed at Calvary for redeeming mankind. Our partaking in the qurbana or eucharist is not complete until we remember the passion of Jesus Christ, and his glorious resurrection and thank God for His blessings before partaking on the living sacrifice.
Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. observed in this connection:
We are continuing with our Advent Feature of the Story of Joseph, the Old Testament analog to Jesus Christ. Today, Joseph is tempted by Pontiper's wife. It would have been easy to succumb to her temptation. But Joseph knew that there is no grey area between right and wrong. He chooses the right path and, as a result, was wrongly accused and was put in prison. It is a fascinating story. Don't miss it.
As we celebrate the Thanksgiving, I want to thank all the people who supported and encouraged us in this venture including our valuable readers. Thank you. May God bless us.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
This Sunday in Church
St. Mary's visit to Elizabeth
Before Holy Qurbana
Malankara World Journal Issue No: 111
This was a Malankara World Journal Special on the Visit of St. Mary. Definitely worth reading or re-reading.
Volume 2 No 111: Nov 29 2012 - Theme: Magnificat and St. Mary's Visit
Malankara World Supplement on St. MaryFor more articles, hymns, prayers, and eBooks on St. Mary, please visit Malankara World Supplement on St. Mary here:
This Week's Features
by Dr. Ray Pritchard
Scripture: Genesis 39
Who said this?
Those are the words of Tim Tebow, speaking to 26,000 people at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego in June 2012.
Who said this?
That's Charles Barkley, and those words come from a famous Nike commercial.
When Tim Tebow spoke in San Diego, he was asked, "Do you see yourself as a role model?" His answer was simple and clear:
"There are a lot of role models out there, there just aren't many good ones. To me, that's so frustrating because you have in today's society so many famous athletes in baseball and basketball and football and golf, every sport there is. If we come together to be great role models, it would be amazing to see how the next generation turns out."
Here's a bit from the news coverage of the event:
"I loved how genuine he was," said Tracy Cox of Santee. She attended the event with her extended family, who she described as football fans and Christians.
Her mother-in-law, Sharon Cox, added, "He loves the Lord so much, there's no embarrassment when he drops to his knees."
Just pause for a moment and consider those two words:
That's high praise for any Christian.
Not embarrassed to be a Christian.
Then we have these words by the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard:
Without God's help, you will never become who you were meant to be.
A Slave in Egypt
With that in mind, we return to the story of Joseph. When last we saw our hero, he had been betrayed by his brothers and sold to desert traders who took him to Egypt where they sold him to a man named Potiphar who was head of Pharaoh's security detail.
He's far from home.
As Genesis 39 opens, his future appears bleak indeed. There is one fact - and only one fact - that should give us any hope that his story will turn out well. After informing us that he is now a slave in Potiphar's house, the text adds one all-important detail: "The Lord was with Joseph" (v. 2).
That fact makes all the difference.
This is the story of Joseph's battle with sexual temptation. We will see how Potiphar's wife does all she can to seduce this fine-looking young Hebrew slave. We will also see how and why Joseph was able to resist her advances.
Let's begin our investigation of this story with two revealing quotes:
British playwright Oscar Wilde once remarked, "I can resist anything except temptation." His own life proved the truth of those words. When we hear them, we chuckle because we all know, in various ways, how true they are.
On the other side we have C. S. Lewis who observed that "no man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good." The first quote proves the second. It is precisely because we can't resist temptation that we learn how bad we really are - and how greatly we stand in need of God's grace.
Temptation is not new in any sense. Temptation is the same for us as it was for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan tempts us today in the same way he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. From the very beginning a battle has raged for the souls of men and women, a battle that touches all of us sooner or later.
What exactly is temptation? Here is a working definition: "Temptation is the inner urge to do wrong that hits us in the place of our own personal weakness." I find that helpful because it emphasizes that temptation ultimately comes from the inside. While the stimulus may start from the outside, the urge to do wrong comes from the inside. That's hugely important because we all tend to blame something else or someone else when we fall into sin. But it's not the devil who made us do it, nor is it some titillating scene or some irritating person or some questionable relationship. We can't blame our parents or our grandparents, and we can't blame our DNA. Those things are factors in the equation, but the inner urge belongs to us.
We can't lay that off on people or circumstances.
Five Principles We Need to Know
The familiar words of 1 Corinthians 10:13 remind us that while we all face temptation, God will always provide a way of escape if we are willing to take it. There is no better example of this truth than the case of Joseph in Genesis 39. From this familiar story I find five principles that will help us in our personal struggle with the temptations of life.
Principle #1: When Things Are Going Well, Be On Guard!
The scene is the royal court of Egypt. A man named Potiphar enters the room. He is the captain of Pharaoh's bodyguard, a position of great honor because it meant he was personally responsible for the Pharaoh's safety. At his side is a young man, not an Egyptian, a fact made clear by his appearance. If you were an onlooker, you would notice the young man immediately and say, "I wonder where he came from?"
He is tall, about 6'1" or perhaps an inch or two taller, ruddy, well-built, with medium-brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and the casual walk of a teenager with a high degree of self-confidence. As he follows Potiphar all eyes follow him. He has it all—good looks, self-confidence, poise, and a playful sense of humor. His name is Joseph.
Wherever Potiphar goes, Joseph follows. They look good together, these two. Not father and son exactly. As a matter of fact, Potiphar had purchased Joseph as a slave from the Ishmaelites. So they couldn't be father and son, but they didn't seem like master and slave either. There is something else at work—a kind of friendship seems to erase the culture that separates them. Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh's bodyguard, likes this young man. For his part, Joseph admires his master.
This is how Moses puts the matter in Genesis 39:2-4
The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.
Potiphar was no dummy. He knew that the Lord's hand was upon this young man he had purchased as a slave. So he puts Joseph in charge of his house. Verses 4-5 clearly imply that he was a wealthy man with a large estate. Notice what happens when Joseph takes over:
From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field (39:5).
If you're counting, that's five times in four verses that Moses mentions how God blessed Joseph. There are two things we ought to learn from this. First, lost people are not stupid. They are lost in their sins, but even in their spiritual confusion, they can see the hand of God at work in a believer's life. Sometimes we act like lost people have no perception at all. It's true that they don't understand our doctrine. They don't know what it means to be premillennial, but most of us aren't too clear on that either. They don't get the Trinity, but we have trouble with that too. Lost people may not understand the finer points of doctrine, but I will guarantee that this much is true:
Lost people can spot a phony a mile away.
Second, there is no contradiction between God's blessing and our temptations. In fact, we are more likely to be tempted when things are going well. After all, when we are enjoying God's blessings, we often become complacent and take those blessings for granted.
That's exactly when Satan wants to strike us.
The lesson is clear.
Watch out! Be careful! Take nothing for granted! Keep your eyes open!
Today's victories often lead on to tomorrow's trials.
Principle #2: When You Are Tempted, Remember Who You Are
It is exactly at this point - when Joseph seems to be sitting on top of the world - that a new character enters the story. We do not know her name, only that she is the wife of Potiphar and is connected to him in name only. To use a modern phrase, she is a "single married woman."
Verse 7 lays out the situation for us with unabashed directness: "After a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, 'Come to bed with me!'"
The Hebrew has a wonderful way of putting it. It literally says that she "lifted up her eyes" at Joseph. The Living Bible says she "made eyes" at him. As he crossed the room she followed him with her eyes, a smile of satisfaction crossing her face. He was a fine looking man, young and strong the way Potiphar had been when they first met, before too many court dinners had spoiled his waistline and before too many late night meetings with Pharaoh had placed permanent bags under his eyes. Yes, this Joseph looked like an excellent companion for a casual affair, a brief meeting between "a younger man and an older woman."
She must have been persistent because when Joseph turned her down (verses 8-9) she came back again and again. Perhaps she thought he didn't mean it when he said no. Perhaps she thought she could wear down his resistance. Perhaps she thought he wanted to but was afraid to say yes. Back she came, slinking into his life, offering him forbidden fruit, ripe and juicy, his for the taking. Still he said no.
At this point it's worth pausing to ask why a red-blooded young man would say no to an available woman. Verses 8 and 9 suggest two answers:
1. He was loyal to his boss. "'With me in charge,' he told her, 'my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife'" (8-9a).
2. He was loyal to God. "How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" (9b)
Joseph did the right thing because he knew that adultery was wrong. He called it "a wicked thing" and a "sin against God." These days we like to rename sin to make it sound less sinful. In the last few years we have been assaulted by the Gay Rights lobby in an attempt to redefine sin. Or perhaps I should call it an attempt to "undefine" sin. In late June the Supreme Court handed down a pair of decisions that open the door to the complete legalization of gay marriage in our country.
Christians are now under great pressure to compromise our convictions.
How shall we respond? I suggest that we remember four simple words:
The Supreme Court isn't.
We show proper respect to earthly courts even when we disagree, but we reaffirm our conviction that there is a Judge who cannot be swayed by public opinion and whose rulings will never be overturned.
We will carry on with tenacious, winsome courage, not changing our convictions about right and wrong. We say with the psalmist, "Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89).
In times like these, we need an infusion of the Joseph-spirit so that we will do
what he did.
Instead of a hard word like "adultery," we use words like "affair," "tryst," "fling," "one-night stand," and we even call it "making love." Call it what you like. Adultery is still sin because God says so. Renaming sin doesn't change its character any more than calling rat poison food turns it into bread.
Despite his flat refusal, she continued to seduce him day after day (v. 10). Finally she made her move:
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" (vv. 11-12a).
So what do you do now?
Joseph knew he belonged to God. When a man knows that he belongs to God, it makes the decisions of life easier. If you belong to God, you can't sleep with your boss's wife. It's just that simple. It doesn't matter that she's lonely or attractive or available or anything else. You just can't do it. Period. End of story. No discussion needed.
He didn't mess around.
And he didn't apologize for saying no, and he didn't worry about hurting her feelings.
Principle #3: When You Are Tempted, Act Fast
Verse 12 tells us what happened next:
"But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house."
As I pondered the matter, I made of list of excuses Joseph might have given for sleeping with Potiphar's wife:
1) We're all alone (true).
It was all or nothing. Either he slept with her or he faced losing his job.
He was first courteous.
Or maybe crazy, but he stayed cool and got out clean.
When she said, "Why don't you stay for a while?" he said, "I'd love to, but I've got to run." And that's exactly what he did. Out the door, across the lawn, over the hedge, dodging camels as he went. He left her holding his coat while he ran the other way. The King James Version uses a quaint expression to describe how Joseph responded to the final seduction: "He left the garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out" (v. 12). Why does it say, "He got him out"? Because no one else could get him out so he got himself out of trouble.
There's one other point to notice. You've got to make up your mind in advance what you're going to do. It's too late to pray about it when Potiphar's wife is playing kissy-face with you.
Or as Kenny Rogers sang,
You've got to know when to hold ‘em,
When temptation comes, you've got to move fast.
God isn't obligated to give you a second chance to get out clean. He promised to make a "way out" but he isn't obligated to give you three choices in case you don't like the first two.
Principle #4: When You Do Right, Don't Expect A Reward
As you can imagine, Potiphar's wife wasn't too happy about all this. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. While Joseph is running half-dressed across the countryside, she's left with nothing but a handful of dirty laundry. This is not a good situation. Two things happen in short order:
1) She makes a false accusation (13-18). In essence, she accuses Joseph of attempted rape. When she calls him "this Hebrew" (15), there is even a touch of racism in her words. Her words sound plausible because she's got Joseph's coat in her hand.
2) Joseph is unjustly imprisoned (19-20). The Bible says that when Potiphar heard this story, his anger burned. So he had Joseph thrown into jail with the common criminals. How could such a thing happen? It happened because the world cannot understand a believer with conviction. That's why Joseph was locked up. He knew who he was and he acted on his convictions. His reward was a quick trip to jail.
The good news is, you can stand up to temptation. The bad news is, you may end up losing your popularity in the process. After all, the world crucified Jesus. Why should you and I expect to get off any easier?
Principle # 5: When You Do Right, God Will Honor You
Before we leave this story, we need to see how it ends. It's not the way we might have expected.
The Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did (vv. 21-23).
At this moment Joseph is chained in a filthy pit (see Psalm 105:18). Because of his faithfulness to God, he lost his job, his freedom, and his reputation. He appears to be a ruined man.
This story proves that God honors those who dare to say no. It may not appear that way at first. Things may not work out exactly like we think they will. But when we have the courage to say "No" to temptation, God takes care of the details. In the end, we will never be disappointed. Remember, it's always better to do right the first time.
There are some things worse than going to jail for doing right. One of them is living in the prison of a guilty conscience. It is better to do right and sleep well than to toss and turn because you couldn't say "No."
There is a neat symmetry to this story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife. It opens with Joseph enjoying good success because "the Lord was with him." Although he ends up in jail, even there he prospers because "the Lord was with him." In between he proves himself worthy of greatness because he knew how to say no.
How did it happen?
He knew he belonged to God.
Here are Four Great Don'ts to remember when you are tempted to sin:
Just Say No
If we are going to be victorious over temptation, we must do what Joseph did when Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce him: Just Say No.
When you are tempted to do wrong this week, Just Say No.
When someone says, "Come sleep with me," take a deep breath, leave your coat behind, run the other way, and Just Say No.
When Satan whispers in your ear, "Go on. Everyone else is doing it." Remember who you are and Just Say No.
When you feel like giving someone a piece of your mind, remember that you don't have a piece to spare, so grin and bear it and Just Say No.
When your mind plays tricks on you and says, "Go ahead. No one will see you," remember that God sees everything you do, and then Just Say No.
When it's 5:30 p.m. and the kids are cranky and your husband isn't home yet, and supper isn't ready and the house is filled with dirty socks and dirty diapers, before you lose your cool, take a deep breath, look to heaven, count your blessings instead of your problems, and Just Say No.
When you find yourself down and out, up against the wall and under the pile, when nothing is going right and you are hopelessly entangled and you see no way out of the mess you are in, before you say something you shouldn't say or do something you shouldn't do, before you blow your top or give up the ghost, remember that God still loves you and then Just Say No.
In the end, it comes down to a simple question:
"Christian, do you know who you are?"
Tim Tebow said, "The world looks at me as a football player who's a Christian, but I look at the world and say, 'I'm a Christian who happens to play football.'"
Soren Kierkegaard said it this way: "And now, with God's help, I will become myself."
Here is my whole sermon in one sentence: If you know you are, you can serve Christ anywhere.
Christian, do you know who you are?
So now Joseph is in prison where he's about to get some company. You won't believe who shows up.
Stay tuned. This story is far from over.
Copyright © 2013 Keep Believing Ministries, All rights reserved.
The story of Jesus continues next week. Stay tuned for:
by Eldon Reich
Gospel: Luke 17.11-19
Statistics now tell us that about 2/3's of working people
Maybe they should think about those who workout
Or how about those who work in sort a-maybe kind of cramped conditions,
Or how about those who get blamed for everything; they are the target of blame,
Maybe some of those unhappy folks would be a little bit more grateful
So, today we want to talk about being grateful, about gratitude.
In this sermon series we have been studying
Gratitude is one of the most prized of a person's spiritual characteristics,
1. GRATITUDE STARTS WITH RECOGNIZING OUR NEED
Luke 17, verse 11-13:
These men obviously knew they had a need and they asked for help.
Leprosy is a devastating disease in many ways.
Physically there would be ulcers, open sores or rough scaly patches of skin.
So fingers, toes, nose, ears, eyelids, and lips might fall off.
There were social consequences as well.
A person with leprosy was quarantined and put in a leper's colony,
Emotionally that person was cut off from family and friends.
Think about not being able to hug your wife, hold your babies, or play with your children.
You couldn't even just be in the same room.
And lepers suffered spiritually as well.
In their culture if you had health, wealth, and babies
If you didn't have health, wealth, and babies,
The lepers recognized their need for healing and asked for healing.
We have needs too. Needs beyond our physical needs.
What are some our greatest needs?
To be loved? to be accepted? To be forgiven?
To be reconciled to God? To have worth? To find meaning?
We all would do well to ask for healing and not just for our bodies,
2. GRATITUDE RECOGNIZES WHAT WE HAVE
Verse 14, "When he saw them, he said, 'Go show yourselves to the priest.' And as they went, they were cleansed."
The word for "saw" means to see, to see with understanding, to recognize.
Now there are a couple of things we want to "see" here.
First, let's take a little detour…
One, Jesus saw, "recognized" the needs of others and responded to that need.
Do you and I see the need of others and do what we can to help.
When we "see" others do we really see them, want to know them,
Secondly, the question for us is do we "see" what we have.
How many times have I heard a person in crisis,
Carter had cancer and had to spend a lot of time at a children's hospital.
3. GRATITUDE IS ABOUT RECOGNIZING THE ONE THAT MET YOUR NEED.
It's kind of tough to tell how he felt about his healing isn't it?
I think it is significant that they came pleading in a loud voice for mercy
Then think about him throwing himself at Jesus' feet,
This guy must have experienced hell on earth, the darkest of darknesses,
And now he was free, he had experienced the light, and it felt like heaven.
Imagine that someone sitting here today is so thankful they get out of their seats, make all kinds of commotion, come down front, and lay prostrate before the altar simply. That is basically what this leper did.
That could be our story couldn't it?
We're like the lepers. They are hanging out under a low lying black cloud of
Only we're hanging out under the low lying black cloud of condemnation
They asked for help, they prayed.
We can ask for help, we can pray.
Then were healed and we can be healed
Do you want to hear a contemporary version of this story?
In October of 1942, somewhere over the Pacific, out of radio range,
For a month they fought the scorching sun and the stormy sea,
They needed a miracle.
One morning after their daily Bible reading
A bird landed on his head. He knew it was a sea gull.
He reached up and grabbed it.
Rickenbacker and his crew lived to tell the story.
That could be our story too-right?
I mean we're like the crew of the Flying Fortress.
We're stranded, drifting aimlessly in this sea we call life,
Like the crew we pray and we read the Book.
And like the crew, we're rescued.
Rescued by one we've never seen but through his sacrifice we'll never forget.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacher didn't forget.
Each Friday evening about sunset until his death in 1973 you could see
We don't want to forget either, forget the one who died that we might be rescued.
Each day we need to pay homage to the one who delivered us from sin and death.
We don't do it by walking on a broken pier.
We do it by walking and talking with the one who delivered us.
Why wouldn't everyone do that, why do some forget to say thank you?
It's a good question. You're in good company asking that question. Jesus did.
Jesus even asks about that with three times…verse 17-18:
I suppose Jesus was meaning something like, wow, this foreigner,
4. WHY DON'T SOME RECOGNIZE THAT THEY NEED TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE?
Well, fear could have been a factor for some.
Some people have been so used and abused they're not able to trust.
During Christmas break wayyyy backkk whennn,
We got a hold of some Xmas presents and we took them to the children's home.
Some of those faces were full of sheer joy.
And maybe another reason some don't express gratitude
And too much translates into too spoiled, too busy,
Besides, it's mine, I've earned it, I deserve it, who do I need to thank, anyway.
A mother and her son were in the store.
A teachable moment-right?
Lack of contentment is another reason why some people are ungrateful.
I know when I'm grumpy and grouchy, I'm not very thankful.
Paul has it figured out. Philippians 4.11b13 (MSG) says,
5. WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE IT IS A BLESSING OF EXPRESSING GRATITUDE
Gratitude is one of the most prized of a person's spiritual characteristics,
A top name singer was on tour.
The people were obviously pleased and grateful for the benefit performance.
He remembers one lady raising her hand.
And he remembers her raspy voice and whispered words, "Could you sing,
But most, he remembers singing Count Your Bless different than he ever had before.
I invite you to stand if you are able and sing "Count Your Blessings."
by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
For Americans, the term "Thanksgiving" conjures up images of turkey and cranberry sauce, parades and bowl games. These "traditions" have come to mark an event made a perpetual institution of American life by President Abraham Lincoln.
But why did Lincoln proclaim the last Thursday in November as a national holiday? Because it was clear to him that the blessings of food, land, family, and freedom enjoyed by Americans are all gifts from the Creator. But Americans, he realized, had forgotten this. A special day was needed for us to forget our differences and remember our blessings. And remembering naturally leads to giving thanks to the Source of those blessings.
The Israelites had an annual Thanksgiving Feast, as well. It was actually a combination of two feasts, Passover and Unleavened bread, and occurred in early spring. This is when the first grain began to be harvested and when the ewes gave birth to their lambs. The pagan Canaanites had already celebrated the feast of unleavened bread at this time to thank the gods for the harvest and offer them the first fruits as a sacrifice of gratitude. The pagan Bedouins, wandering from place to place with their flocks, celebrated the spring gift of lambs by sacrificing some of them to the gods in gratitude for the gift of fertility.
The ancients did not need divine revelation to know that divine forces brought about the world and all its creatures. That's just plain common sense. That we owe these divinities a debt of gratitude is justice, pure and simple.
But for the Jews, Passover was not just giving thanks for the blessings of creation. For them, God was not just the author of nature with it seasons and life-cycles. No, God was also the master of history. Among all ancient peoples, only the Jews believed that God entered into human history, manifested his love and power, and acted decisively to save his chosen people. So while the pagans thanked their gods each spring for the blessings of food and fertility, the Israelites thanked the Lord for food, but even more, for freedom. They remembered not only that creation comes from Him, but that salvation from slavery as well. This remembering happens each year in a solemn way in the Passover Meal that is the climax of the Jewish year.
On the night before he died, Jesus celebrated this solemn memorial by deepening its meaning yet further. Liberation from Pharaoh's oppression was certainly something to sing about. But there was a crueler slavery that a change of geography and regime could not alter. This slavery to Satan was kept in force through the shackles of sin. Just as he acted through Moses to free his people from Pharaoh, God was now about to act decisively to liberate his people from the ancient curse. But this time, he would act personally, not through proxies.
And this liberation would be more costly. The only way that it could be won would be if God were to give not only his blessings, but His very self. To do this, God had become man, capable of offering the supreme sacrifice. And before he did it in actual fact, he did it in sacrament by offering himself under the unassuming forms of bread and wine. Before delivering himself into the hands of the Romans to be their victim, he delivered himself into our hands to be our nourishment.
For his aim was not just to open the way to future bliss in heaven. His plan was to pour into our wounds the balm of Gilead that would begin the healing process here and now. The bite of the serpent had injected venom. His body and blood would be the antidote, the "medicine of immorality" in the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
Blood brings nourishment and life to every cell of our bodies. It also carries away impurities that poison our system. The Eucharist offers us a transfusion–we put aside our old life and receive his ever-new life. We exchange his divine vitality for our tired, toxic blood. The life of a thing is in its blood. Blood was poured out at the foot of the altar and could never be consumed by a Jew, for it belonged to God alone. But here God pours out his own blood at the altar of the cross gives it to us as our drink, for the transformation of our lives.
"Do this in memory of me." We are commanded to remember the supreme love of Christ for us that holds nothing back, that gives everything for our freedom. So naturally the sacrificial banquet of remembrance is called the Eucharist, or "thanksgiving." The priest introduces the great central prayer of the celebration with these words: "let us give thanks to the Lord our God." And we respond "it is right to give him thanks and praise."
During the Eucharistic Prayer, I always silently add thanks for my personal blessings. I think of the natural blessings of home and work, of food on the table and the health of my family. I also thank God for my own salvation history, especially for plucking me out of the dangerous crowd I was running with as a teenager. I thank God for bringing me together with a woman who loves him and loves me, and for having kept us faithful to him and each other for many years and blessed us with wonderful children who love him. I thank him for our own family's salvation history.
If you haven't already established the habit of adding your personalized thank-you's to the priest's Eucharistic Prayer, try it next time you're at Mass. It's a very appropriate mode of participating in that part of the Eucharist.
But true thanksgiving is not just a matter of words and warm sentiments. Gratitude for a gift means offering a gift in return. He gave his whole, entire self to us – his body, blood, soul, divinity. The only adequate response would be to offer ourselves. Note what Paul says in his letter to the Romans: "I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Rom 12:1).
So thanksgiving cannot be separated from sacrifice. The Mass is a celebration of his love and the freedom it won for us through his sacrifice. Through it, the love of God is poured into our hearts and enables us to love with his love. In the power of that love, we offer ourselves back to him and enter into that sacrifice which we celebrate.
True thanksgiving means self-giving. This is the meaning of eucharist.
by Pastor Jeffrey Bonack, St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church
Scripture: Psalm 103: 1-5
The story is told of two old friends who bumped into one another on the street one day. One of them looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, "What has the world done to you, my old friend?"
The sad fellow said, "Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me forty thousand
His friend continued, "Two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left
me eighty-five thousand free and clear."
"You don't understand!" his friend interrupted. "Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million."
Now the first man was really confused. "Then, why do you look so glum?"
"This week I've gotten nothing!"
We are strange people, aren't we? We have an uncanny way of failing to recognize how blessed we truly are. Fifty wonderful things can happen to us and only one negative and what will we focus on? The negative.
It's in our nature - our sinful nature. Now we could spend the next twenty minutes being chastised for our lack of gratitude and we would certainly deserve a good earful, wouldn't we? Ingratitude is a wretched sin. Yet, will focusing on our failure to give God the thanks he deserves actually change our hearts and make us grateful? No. What makes us grateful is the good news that God stills loves us, despite our sinful weaknesses, that God forgives us in Christ, that God's goodness to us does not depend on our response, but flows from a love that can neither be daunted nor discouraged.
Counting our blessings is what makes us grateful. And with help of David's words in the 103rd Psalm, that's what we're going to do today. We're going to count our blessings.
Psalm 103: 1-5:
I. He forgives all your sins.
Think for a moment about the greatest blessing God has poured into your life. If you were to choose one gift that surpasses them all, what would it be? Your spouse? Your children? Your family? Your friends? Your job?
The blessing that topped David's list? Forgiveness. Forgiveness is by far the greatest blessing we have received from God. And the more acutely we are aware of our need for forgiveness, the more this great blessing will mean to us. Think of David in those days and weeks after he committed adultery and murdered his faithful friend, Uriah. The psalms that David wrote during that time spoke of his bones wasting away inside of him, his guilt crushing and nearly destroying him.
It's really as we grow in our faith that we recognize more and more the incredible gift we have in Jesus and the forgiveness he won for us. When we recognize that our relationships with those around us will come and go, but our relationship with God is forever. When we lie awake at night and think of the people we've hurt and the opportunities we've passed by. When death becomes more real to us by touching the lives of those we know or by threatening to take us. When guilt saps our strength, or fills us with fear and regret, it's then that forgiveness seems more precious than all the gold in the world.
He forgives all your sins. Take a moment to jot down on your sermon outline some of the sins you've committed this past year, sins for which you truly appreciate God's gift of forgiveness in Christ…and then listen to these beautiful pictures of forgiveness that David includes later in this psalm: "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east in from the west, so far as he removed our transgressions from us." Thank you, Lord, for your limitless forgiveness in Christ.
II. He heals all your diseases
As David continues to count his blessings he says that the Lord "… heals all your diseases."'
That's an odd statement, isn't it? We pray every week for brothers and sisters in our congregation who are struggling through various diseases. In some cases this healing never comes. How can David say, "He heals all your diseases"?
Actually, there are many different ways that God works healing in our lives. How many of us consider ourselves fairly healthy individuals? For many of us the Lord "heals all our diseases" by not even letting us become ill, by giving us the gift of health. Our congregation has 2200 members. Yet, there are weeks when we on the ministerial staff are surprised that, as far as we know, there is no one we know in the hospital. I have seven children, every one of them born healthy. Thirty-six years of life and not a day in the hospital (except when our children were born). Let's not wait until we get ill before we recognize what a gift God has given us in our health and thank him for it.
Let's also not forget the ability that God has given our bodies to heal and recover. Many of you have faced surgeries and life-threatening diseases this past year from which and through which the Lord has graciously healed you. We prayed for a women in the congregation this past weekend who was battling cancer, but now was declared "cancer free." What a blessing! It's the Lord who gave the medical professionals the wisdom and the knowledge that allowed your healing to take place. When we pray for the Lord to guide the hands of the surgeon, those aren't empty, meaningless words.
And finally, if you have a disease for which there seems to be no cure in this life, there is a cure. There is a cure in death. Death will "heal" us once and for all. There is disease because there is sin in this world. That's why David so closely connects the concepts of forgiveness and healing in this psalm. In heaven there will be no disease or sickness. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk. Our desires for health and our timetable for healing might not be the same as God's, but as his children we can be sure that he will heal all our diseases.
Take a moment to jot down a way in which the Lord has healed you this past year, whether it was sparing you from illness, or bringing your through some kind of surgery, sustaining you in your disease, or healing a loved one forever by taking him or her to heaven.
Thank you, Lord, for your healing hand in our lives.
III. He redeems our life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion
Earlier we talked about forgiveness being our greatest gift from God. There are many, many other blessings that accompany that forgiveness. When Jesus redeemed our lives from the pit of hell, when he paid the price for our forgiveness, when he brought us into God's family, he surrounded us with God's love and compassion.
Forgiveness brings us into God's family. That means God himself is our Father. We can go to him any time. He will listen. He will answer in a way that only a perfect and loving Father could answer, in the way that is best for us. "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him."
Think of the sense of peace that your ability to go to God in prayer has brought you this past year. When no one else understands, when no one else knows, the sadness in your heart, the fears that torment you, the temptations that you fall for, Jesus knows. He understands. He lived in our flesh and walked in our shoes. "He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust."
Think of the many other promises God has made to you as one of his children. Whatever it is you face in life, you never face it alone. God goes with you wherever you go. When evil men plot against you, God defends your cause. When you face set-backs and other trials, God turns it into blessing., somehow or another, whether we see and understand that or not. Think of the confidence God has given you this past year as you have faced whatever it is you've had to face - the good, the bad, and the ugly - knowing that you have a loving and caring heavenly Father.
How has the Lord displayed his love for you in real and tangible ways this past year? How has the Lord surrounded you with his compassion? Think of some concrete examples and write them down…
Was it through the messages you heard at church, through your own personal Bible reading, through communion with him at the Lord's table, through a Christian friend or mentor? Was he there for you in a moment of tragedy, did he work a miracle for you, send a counselor to advise you? "From everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children." Thank you, Lord, for the countless ways your love and compassion are displayed in our lives.
IV. He satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles
Finally, David reminds us that God's goodness goes way beyond simply giving us what we need. In his great love for us, he fills our lives with all sorts of pleasures and joys that go above and beyond. Has God given you a job that you enjoy, a challenge that invigorates you, a task that fills your life with meaning? What a blessing!
Do you have people in your life, family and friends, who care about you, people with whom you can share your thoughts and your dreams, people you can count on to be there when you need them most, people who speak the truth to you in love, who forgive and accept you despite all the miserable things you say and do to them? What a blessing!
Do you have more than a roof over your head, an extra change of clothes, and a scrap of food to eat each day? Do you have time to play with your kids, watch a football game, go out to a movie, surf the net? Do you have nice things in your house, a yard in which to play or plant a garden, more than one car in your driveway? You are richer than 90% of the people in this world. Why is God so good to us? What a blessing! Take a moment to jot down some of these above and beyond blessings that God has poured into your life this past year…
Thank you, Lord, for filling our lives with so many joys!
I don't know exactly when David wrote this psalm. But David didn't always live the king's life. There were many years when David was running for his life from King Saul. Forced to live in caves like a refugee, far away from family and friends and the comforts of home. From our perspective that was no life.
Yet, knowing what we know about David and the character God gave him, I can see him penning this psalm right in the middle of it all. That's the attitude of faith, an attitude that knows how to seek and take hold of the blessings God gives no matter what the situation.
That was the attitude Paul displayed in our epistle lesson when he spoke of being content in any and every situation. May God give each of us that attitude of faith! May we always remember to count our many blessings so that we sing with David today and every day:
"Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul and forget not all his benefits"!
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:15
The Utterly Crucial Questions in Life
Do you think that the major communication media of our society provide you with serious insight and counsel on the most important issues in life? I mean the utterly crucial questions like:
These are the great issues of life. But where will we turn for insight and wisdom and counsel and truth? The great media powers of our land - the newspapers, the magazines, the television, the radio - are silent on the greatest issues in the world. And the effect this silence has is to spread an assumption throughout the mindset of our society that these questions are no more important than your private preference for pizza over potatoes.
A Strange Disorder in Man's Sensitivity
Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and philosopher who died in 1662, said, "Man's sensitivity to small things, and his insensitivity to the most important things, are surely evidences of a strange disorder." Pascal thought that if there is a possibility that there is a God in heaven, and if there is a possibility that there is eternity and judgment beyond the grave - just the possibility! - then reasonable people will be earnestly engaged in settling these things for themselves and getting right with God and preparing for the endless ages of existence beyond this world.
But what do we see? We see a modern culture that has no significant place for these questions at all. And we see people like the man I sat beside on the plane flying in from Madison Thursday night. I struck up a conversation with him and he found out I was a pastor. He asked, "Are you happy in that line of work?" I said, "Yes, I think it is exactly where God wants me, and I think I could be happy anywhere if I knew it was God's will for me to be there."
He responded, "Well, I'm not a very religious person."
That's a portrait of millions of Americans: "I believe there's a God . . . but I'm not a very religious person." It's like saying:
We live in a very dark and strange age. What I've been praying as I have prepared for this service is that none of you would be asleep like that, but that God would wake us up to what really matters in life.
Jesus Is the Answer to Life's Crucial Questions
What I want to do this morning is take the five questions we started with, which seem to me to be the most important questions in the world, and show from God's Word that Jesus is the answer - that Jesus is God's gift to the world and that he is so valuable the Bible calls him an "inexpressible gift."
1. Peace with God and Forgiveness of Sins
How can I as a sinful person have peace with a righteous God? How can I have my sins forgiven and God's judgment taken away?
Every one of us knows that the Bible is right when it says, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We also know intuitively that God is just and must be reckoned with. As the Bible says, "It is appointed to man once to die and after that comes judgment." We will give an account to God for our lives.
So our hearts tell us loud and clear, we must find a way to get right with God!
Jesus is God's inexpressible gift to meet this need.
The Bible tells of the time a man came seeking healing from Jesus. Jesus looked on him and his friends and saw their faith and said, "My son, your sins are forgiven" (Mark 2:5). But some of the religious leaders sitting there said to themselves, "This is blasphemy!"
Now why did they think Jesus committed blasphemy when he said, "Your sins are forgiven"?
You can see the answer if you put yourself in this position. Suppose I sock Tom Steller in the nose for no good reason. And before Tom has a chance to say anything or retaliate, you step in and say to me, "Now let me settle this before it gets out of hand. John, I forgive you for hitting Tom. There, now, all is well."
Tom would have a right to say, "What in the world do you think you are doing? He hit ME not you. You can't just step in here and forgive him. I have to forgive him!"
That, in essence, is what the religious leaders were saying to Jesus. "Who do you think you are? This man sinned against GOD! GOD has to forgive him not you! You are committing blasphemy because you act as though you were God."
To this Jesus calmly responded, "The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." And then he healed the man to validate his authority. Jesus did what only God has the right to do: forgive sins.
The choice we must make is this: either Jesus was a Jimmy Bakker, or Jesus was the Son of God who takes away the sins of all who believe in him. Jesus is God's answer to our first great question. He came and suffered and died and rose again from the dead to pay the price for our sins. He is no charlatan. When we trust him as Lord and Savior of our lives, we have peace with God, our sins are forgiven, and there is no more condemnation (Romans 5:1; 8:1; Ephesians 2:13–16).
And we sing, "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!"
2. Joy and Not Judgment Beyond the Grave
How can I know that beyond the grave there will be life and joy and not a fearful prospect of judgment?
It is an amazing thing how little concern people have for eternity. About three weeks ago I asked a man if he was ready to meet God when he died, and he just laughed it off, and said, "Oh, I'm sure God will just send me the other way when I show up at the door." I tried to help him see how serious this matter was, and he just pulled back and wouldn't talk about it.
Believe me, the Bible is clear on this: there is a heaven and there is a hell. Both last forever. And where we spend eternity is chosen in this life. And Jesus is the way to heaven, the only way. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
You can know what is coming and sing, "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!"
3. The Satisfaction of Our Deepest Longings
How can I have the deepest longings of my heart satisfied, not just the superficial desires for comfort and prosperity, but the deep, deep heart-cries of the night?
Gary Gaetti, the third baseman for the Twins, said that in 1987 he thought winning the World Series was the greatest thrill in the world. This was the peak of fame and fortune. But he writes,
Then in 1988 I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord of my life. Believe me, friend, the World Series was great but nothing compares to the thrill of having a personal relationship with God through Jesus and knowing you have your name written in the record books of eternal, everlasting life.
There is no denying that the world has some thrills to offer. But the older and the wiser you get, the more you realize they do not satisfy. They aren't deep enough to touch the longings of the heart and they don't last.
The reason is that the appetites of our hearts were made for God and they will not be satisfied until we feast on fellowship with God. Jesus said, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." Everybody is thirsty. Everybody is searching for a fountain of everlasting joy. When you find Jesus, the search is over.
The heart sings, "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!"
4. A Personal Relationship with God
How can I know God personally? Can I have a relationship with him now, and walk with him as with a friend?
Yesterday's paper reported that two Harvard astronomers had discovered a "great wall" of galaxies spread through the universe 500 million light years across. A light year is six trillion miles. So that makes the wall of galaxies three billion trillion miles across.
Now if you believe, with the Bible, that God created everything that is not God, then God is unspeakably great. And the bigger the universe gets, the greater God gets. But for some, this means he is farther and farther away and harder and harder to know and to love.
But Jesus is the answer. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all thing were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (John 1:1–4, 14). God in the person of his Son has become flesh - human. And Jesus said to Philip, "If you have seen me you have seen the Father" (John 14:9).
Jesus is God reaching out to us. God wants to be known. He wants to be loved. He wants to be a Father and a Friend. And though he is great beyond all imagination, he came near in Jesus so that we could know him. "If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him" (John 14:7).
We can know God - just as personally as you know anyone in this world.
Your heart can sing, "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift."
5. Power to Love and Power for Change
Is there a power to love? Is there a power that can really change people, so they don't do drugs or steal or cheat or hate or kill?
The answer to this question can be found in the Bible and can be found in the lives of those who know Jesus best. In the Bible Paul said,
And the life Paul lived by faith in the Son of God was an incredible life of love and sacrifice and joy for the good of people and the glory of God.
Paul had no doubt at all that there is a power that really changes people. Namely, the power of Jesus Christ when we trust in him.
An Amazing Story of God's Grace
Let me close with a story that I just heard this week of God's power in a man's life. When I heard it, I knew God was giving it to me so that I could give it to you.
I had lunch last Wednesday with a black pastor named James Ford. He's the pastor at South Shore Baptist Church in Chicago. I asked him if he grew up in a home where there was a mom and a dad. And he told me his amazing story of God's grace in his life.
He was the oldest of ten children and grew up on welfare in Pittsburgh. His dad was never at home. His mom told him early on that his dad was dead. Then when he was older, she said he was alive and in prison in Tennessee. But before his dad could get out, he was murdered for selling bad drugs. Jim swore that if he ever had a son, he would not leave him like his dad left him.
He began using drugs. In the service he was put in jail for it at least once. When he got out, he got married and had a son named Jay. But all this time he and his wife were using drugs. He would blow smoke into his four-year-old son's face to make him high and watch him do funny things.
His wife began to play around on him. He said he resolved to kill her and the other guy, and then die in the shoot out if necessary since he swore after the service he'd never do time in jail again.
But two things happened to stop him. One day at work a man - a southern white - named Ray Reno, who called himself a "ridge-running hippie from Tennessee," saved Jim's life by pulling him back from a falling crane. That made Jim willing to listen to Ray when he said, "Jim, whatever your problem is, Jesus is the answer." That's all he said.
Then Jim's brother talked him out of killing his wife and said he should just move out and leave her. So he decided to spend one more night with her and then leave. That night they were both on the couch high as a kite on what he called Columbia Gold laced with embalming fluid. Then something amazing happened.
Jim's wife said, "What about Jay?" And Jim said to me, "I could feel the high go out of me. It began at the top of my head and went down through my face and drained out of my whole body until I was stone-cold sober. And the very first thing I did, right there in front of my wife, was hit the floor and start calling on God, 'God, don't hurt me! God, don't hurt me!'"
No one had to convince Jim he was a sinner. All he had to be convinced of was that God was real, and now he knew that beyond any doubt. And that meant trouble.
But God didn't hurt him. He healed him. The next day at work, he went around telling everybody, "God is real. God is real." His boss thought he had flipped out and sent him home. But on his way out, he looked up on a scaffold and saw Ray Reno, and called out, "Ray, God is real." Ray came down and gave him a big bear hug and took out his New Testament and showed Jim what really happened.
From then on for the next several months Ray would drive every Thursday afternoon from his suburb to the inner city of Pittsburgh to have a Bible study with Jim. Jim told him once, "My old drug dealing buddies think you're a NARC and said they were going to kill you and me. Maybe you shouldn't come in any more."
To this Ray said, "Jim, if Jesus can shed his blood for me, I can shed my blood for you."
Today fourteen years later James Ford has three sons. His wife is a faithful partner and he has been a pastor for over eight years.
God's Inexpressible Gift to You: Jesus Christ
The answer is a resounding yes. And that yes is Jesus Christ, God's inexpressible gift to you this Thanksgiving season. I urge you to trust him and call upon him for all the help you need.
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org
by John O'Leary, www.RisingAbove.com
How grateful are you?
Do you feel like you are bearing the weight of stress and bitterness from some of your circumstances?
Whether professionally you are inundated by the needs of demanding managers, shareholders, coworkers or clients or personally you are struggling with your faith, family, health or finances: at times you inevitably feel bound by these circumstances.
When you feel bound, it's impossible to live your most joyful, purposeful and gratitude-filled days.
Today I remind you that what happens around us and to us matters far less than what happens within us.
As a speaker, I've had the good fortune of sharing my message with fortune 100 companies to start-ups; from an amphitheater in China to a living room in my neighbor's home; with CEO groups and Girl Scout troops.
One event that will always stand out in my mind is one that had me speaking behind bars. This event was wildly gratifying. Let me explain.
I was teaching leadership workshops to the inmates at Fort Leavenworth Prison. In the these sessions, we discussed learning from mistakes, uncovering talents, discovering passion, setting goals, overcoming adversity and being on fire for life both while incarcerated and after.
At the end of the day, I challenged the men to ignite the gift of gratitude in their lives. I shared the remarkable, specific blessings I've discovered in my life after being burned as a child. I shared how the formation of character, strength of faith, growth of friendships, increase in resilience and celebration of life all came because of a seemingly terrible fire.
After sharing my gratitude list, I asked the inmates to do the same. The men made their list of everything they're grateful for as a result of being in jail. They were given four minutes.
After the exercise, the men were invited to share their list and two hands went up.
The first gentleman stood, paused and then said: "Not one damn thing. I hate this place." He sat down to laughter from his fellow inmates.
The next gentleman stood. I asked if he had better luck and he said, "Yes, I got 43."
He had 43 reasons for being grateful because of being stuck in prison! I asked if he'd share with us and his list included: three square meals, a bed to sleep in, a warm shower, time for reflection to increase his faith, air condition in the summer, access to the library and a second chance.
The last two bullets on his list were: my last breath and the hope for tomorrow.
The first gentleman sat down to laughter. This man sat down to applause.
My friends, real freedom isn't merely casting off your chains, but also living in a such a way that encourages others to do the same. [Tweet this]
Certainly we all know individuals who seem to have everything, except a good outlook on life. We also know individuals who seem to have nothing, but exude possibility, peace and joy. Our ability to be truly happy, truly content, and truly free is bound by our ability to be grateful for what we have.
Today, kick down the walls holding you back from thriving in life. Break through whatever mindset is keeping you chained up. Unlock the opportunity to fully wake up, take back your life, ignite your possibility and change your world.
It's not walls that keep you locked in. It's the mindset that gives the illusion of walls.
by Dr. James MacDonald
Scripture: Psalm 107:1-9
Psalm 107 is all about thankfulness. Very specifically Psalm 107 repeats one verse four different times: Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men (vv. 8,15,21,31).
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Praise and gratitude are inseparable. Praise starts from the soles of our feet and comes up through the muscles and sinews and joints and organs of our bodies and bursts from our throats. It's with all of our hearts that we give God thanks. Gratitude is not something shallow or frivolous, flippant or superficial. It is the deepest expression of the soul in love with God. And that soul says, "With all my heart I give You thanks."
What bugs me, though, is when people express their gratitude on a day like today, late in November, and then return to their self-centered, dissatisfied, hopeless, and pathetic outlook on life the other 364 days.
Gratitude is more than an annual ritual performed hastily before diving into the Thanksgiving meal. It's more than a holiday decoration, more than a snappy word that rhymes with "attitude." Of all the human emotions, gratitude is the most powerful. So powerful is gratitude, it can obliterate fear, hopelessness, and doubt. Gratitude can heal a broken heart, slow the aging process, and restore broken relationships. Gratitude creates hope, and hope brings joy. It is in joy, not fear, that we find strength.
Come, 'you thankful people,' and let us praise the Father,'
who in His goodness' created heaven and earth,'
and all that is in them,' endowing us His creatures,'
with reason to worship Him,'
who in His great mercy and love for us His children.
has granted us salvation.
Lord, in your mercy....
Come, you thankful people,' and let us praise the only-begotten Son,'
Come, you thankful people,' and let us praise the Holy Spirit,'
+ + +
Come, you thankful people,
by Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World
Thanksgiving doesn't have to kick-off a month of unhealthy eating for your family. The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to make healthier choices for your family meal. Try the following tips to ensure a healthy and delicious Thanksgiving meal.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a national non-profit founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to combat childhood obesity, offers more tips and tools to help you serve healthier holiday meals online at www.HealthierGeneration.org.
Bake, mash & smash:
Sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of energy and one of the most nutritious vegetables around. Bake 'em, smash 'em, mash 'em, or stuff 'em. Toss them in salads, or in with other baked veggies.
Turkey is a great source of lean protein and is healthiest if you skip the skin and go for the white meat. If you prefer the dark meat, mix and match in order to get a little extra flavor without adding too much fat.
Don't forget the fruit:
Baked apples or poached pears are perfect, healthy ways to end any autumn meal.
Stuffed with nutrition:
Try adding fresh veggies and whole wheat bread to stuffing for a delicious, nutritious traditional dish.
Add some color:
Fall vegetables such as radishes, carrots, squash and green beans are great side dishes that can add color and variety to the meal.
About the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation works to address one of the nation's leading public health threats - childhood obesity. The goal of the Alliance is to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015, and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices. Founded in 2005 by the American Heart Association and William J. Clinton Foundation, the Alliance works to positively affect the places that can make a difference to a child's health: homes, schools, doctor's offices and communities. For more information please visit: HealthierGeneration.org.
by Dr. Preston Maring, MD
Nothing spells culinary satisfaction in the winter like a bowl of chili. Get all the warm, filling comfort you crave, along with the homemade nutrition your body needs, with this turkey chili recipe.
This recipe results in a rich, spicy red, green, and white chili loaded with good things. Using dried beans lengthens the cooking time to about three hours from about the one hour of simmering if you use canned beans. If you have turkey frozen from Thanksgiving or other holidays, this is the perfect chance to use it.
Chili is usually better in the days after it’s made, so it’s one of those recipes to make on a weekend day which makes dinner very easy for a couple of nights during the week.
Turkey Chili (Serves 8)
1 tablespoon canola oil
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over a low flame. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeños, and cook them until the onions soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and oregano. Stir in the turkey. Add the stock or broth, tomatoes, farro, and beans. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for about an hour. Stir in the chopped cilantro near the end of the cooking time. Season with salt to taste.
Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Source: Kaiser Permanente Healthy Living Newsletter
by Carole Kmetz, Parma, Ohio
This will stuff a 20 pound turkey with dressing left over.
5 pounds ground meat
(round, sirloin or ground chuck)
Put celery, apples, onions, eggs and toast through the food processor, mix into
the meat and spices to taste.
Let cool, refrigerate overnight, stuff the turkey just before cooking. Any leftover stuffing can be heated in a casserole dish. This makes great sandwiches with gravy.
Here is an idea to use your left-over Thanksgiving Turkey. This makes a delicious mouth-watering Mexican food that can be frozen for use later. The Thanksgiving turkey will be around for awhile; However, it is well disguised.
3 cups of diced up cooked leftover turkey (I used the breast)
Put the Olive Oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is tender. Pour in 1 can of enchilada sauce, and add the turkey. Let this mixture sit. It doesn’t need to cook.
Take a 9 X 12 inch dish with a one inch edge all the way around. Pour 1 can of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish.
Put a skillet on the front burner on medium heat. Spray the skillet with Pam. Put the Tortilla in the skillet. Brown for 10 seconds. Spray the top side of the tortilla and flip. Brown the other side for 10 seconds. Remove from heat. Put about 3 spoons of the turkey mixture in the center of the tortilla and cover with 2 oz. of grated cheese. Roll the tortilla in the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish until the turkey mixture and cheese are completed encased by the tortilla. Keep the seam side down. Repeat this procedure until the pan is full. I was able to fit 7 filled tortillas in my dish. I then took the last can of enchilada sauce and poured it over the enchiladas. I put an additional 12 to 16 oz. of grated cheese on the top of the enchilada sauce.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.
Source: Sherman Provision Blog
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