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Archive for November, 2010

We have just celebrated one of the biggest feast holiday weeks in the United States—Thanksgiving.  We all probably ate too much and have a refrigerator full of leftovers.  Some families intentionally plan for leftovers—especially for turkey sandwiches late at night or pie.  But, this year looking at the leftovers on my counter caused me to pause and think about what other leftovers I might have in my life. 

Do I have leftover emotional baggage that I am still carrying around?

Do I serve my family leftovers—leftover time, leftover attention, leftover love?

Am I settling for leftovers in my life? Do I also give God only leftovers? 

What does it mean to live life fully engaged so as to enjoy all that God has to offer to the fullest? 

This week in our Daily Devotionals  we will explore these thoughts and what it means to live in God’s abundance and no longer settle for “leftovers. ”  We hope you will join the conversation!

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The tradition of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and thank Him for His blessings dates back almost four centuries in America. Though Colonists held Thanksgiving services in various settlements down through the years of our new country, it is from the Pilgrims that we derive the current tradition of a Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims arrived in America in December 1620 and experienced a harsh winter of extreme hunger and starvation in which half of them died. The following summer, the Pilgrims reaped a bountiful harvest. As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (who later became their governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of corn. . . . [and] by the goodness of God, we are far from want.”

The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their friends. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of food (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of athletic games (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and other athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival – was the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November.

To learn more about America’s oldest holiday please visit: http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=17984

But the history of giving thanks to God is much longer than our American history.  Scripture records some beautiful passages of thanksgiving that turn our hearts towards the Lord.  In our Daily Devotionals this week, Monday through Friday, we hope you will join us as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

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Some of us look back at our actions in our misspent youth and have regret, guilt, shame or perhaps are just numb. In our rebellion from the boundaries at home, searching for identity, we made choices without thinking of the long-term consequences.  I know I did.  There was another woman who did that but who has taught me a lot about forgiving myself and learning of a love that accepts me as I am, where I am at this moment—warts, past, inadequacies and all. Her name was Rahab.

Rahab was a prostitute.  Now, I am not condoning that course of action, but I understand the desperation that would cause a woman to do whatever it took to take care of herself in a culture where that was not discouraged. 

It is interesting that when two men of God needed assistance, she was the one in the community willing to provide openly, trusting their sincerity.  Because she did, they shared with her God’s love and told her to trust her future in God’s hands and her family would be saved when her community faced destruction.  She chose to believe them and accepted their message, their God, and exhibited that acceptance by helping them escape to safety. 

Rahab’s story proves God is in the business of rescuing.  Like any great artist, God doesn’t make something and then decide to throw it away.  God creates and then if there is a problem, he rescues—he redeems.  Redemption always involves the redemption of creation.  The psalmist says, “Know that the Lord Himself is God.  It is He who made us and not we ourselves.” Psalms 100:3.

Because Rahab, the harlot, opened herself to hear of God’s redemptive love, she is one of few women mentioned in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ,   She was a member of the lowest element of society, scorned by the women, abused by the men, counted amongst the dregs of civilization.  But, praise God, she was a candidate for God’s grace just as you and I are.  She opened her heart to hear and the Lord God welcomed her as a daughter. 

If you would like to learn more about finding a place for your heart to flourish and become free from all of that baggage you may be carrying, please know it is easy and Jesus Christ is waiting to welcome you with tears of joy, eyes of love and a hug that will draw you to a warm peace that comes only from being sheltered in His arms. 

The Bible tells us that while we were still lost in our sin, God’s Son came to earth and died for us, paying the penalty for our sins.  Jesus Christ took this drastic step because the penalty for our sin is eternal separation from God and He loves us too deeply to not provide a way of redemption.  He longs for us to trust in Him, in His powerful plan for our redemption, so that we can be in relationship with Him.  Trust only and completely in Jesus Christ’s payment for your sins and you will be saved…saved to live a life of freedom and of purpose!  (Romans 5:8; Romans 6:23; Acts 16:31;Eph.2:8,9)

We hope you will join us this week in our Daily Devotionals as we take a closer look at lessons learned from Rahab’s story.

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A 2008 movie, 50 First Dates, recently reminded me of an aspect of God’s grace.  You might remember the story.  Drew Barrymore portrays a young woman that because of a closed head injury wakes every morning and does not remember yesterday.  So, Adam Sandler, every day has the opportunity to create a new day of memories that will last just for that day. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ provides that for us.  Each morning we can wake with a clean slate, leaving the baggage of hurts, pain, sorrow, mistakes, injuries and sadness from yesterday behind.  We can choose to start each morning with the attitude of the song; this is the first day of the rest of your life, because it is. 

We will explore this week in our Daily Devotionals how to find His mercy and grace in a fresh way that includes forgiving ourselves for yesterday and letting go of all that is in that past.  Remember, the past is past—it ended last night. 

The future is filled with a hope and an assurance that God’s plan is filled with His best for my life and yours. 

“The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance, therefore, I will hope in him! “   Lamentations 3:22-24

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope, I will listen.’ “   Jeremiah 29:11

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