Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

In homes across America, friends and family will soon gather around beautifully decorated tables filled with warm, scrumptious food to give thanks. It’s Thanksgiving Day. However, this day will be nothing like holidays of the past for many people.

Lonely but committed soldiers covered in the dust of battle will patrol foreign borders, fighting for our freedom while their families back home long for word of their safety. The homeless will make their way to the nearest soup kitchen, hoping for a warm meal and a smiling face as so many celebrate this day of abundance. An empty place at the table will be a painful reminder of the loved one lost. A worried husband and dad will sit at the head of the table, wondering how he is going to tell his family that he just lost his job. The list of wounded hearts and unmet needs is brutal.

We convince ourselves that life will be better when we have more money, when we find the right mate, when we get the kids raised or build the right house. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we buy a nicer car, when we get that promotion, when we are able to go on our dream vacation or when we retire.

We keep trying to find joy, contentment and peace in lifeless places and useless things. Jesus Christ is life. He is Joy and He is Love.

We can give thanks when it seems like there is nothing for which to be thankful because Jesus Christ took our place on the cross. It always comes back to the cross.

One day, a man went to visit a church. He arrived early, parked his car, and got out. Another car pulled up near him. The driver rolled down his window and shouted, "I always park here. You took my place!" The visitor went inside for Sunday school, found an empty seat, and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat. You took my place." The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday school, the visitor went into the church sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, "That's where I always sit. You took my place." The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still said nothing.

Later, as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood, and his appearance began to change. Horrible scars became visible on his hands and sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?" The visitor replied, "I took your place."

Yes, we live in a broken world. Life is filled with pain, challenges, dark times and trials. But today can still be a day of celebration because praise and thanksgiving have little to do with the Thanksgiving holiday and everything to do with our inner attitude toward God.

It really doesn’t matter how much we lose here, my friend. I have read the Book, and we win! We just need to take the time to remember … and give thanks.

Let’s Pray

Father, we come to You today, praising You for meeting our needs this year in ways that we may or may not have understood at the time. Looking back, we see Your hand of mercy and love. We recognize Your presence and your power, and we celebrate You. Today, we celebrate life.

In Jesus’ Name,

Dear Lord,

We come with hearts of gratitude today to bless Your name and to ask that Your hand of blessing would be upon us. THANK YOU, Father, for loving us with an eternal love that stands firm, even when we are unlovable. THANK YOU for being faithful, righteous, holy and just, yet willing to see us, Your children, through divine eyes of compassion, mercy, forgiveness and grace. THANK YOU for being a God of restoration and renewal in the midst of a broken, pain-filled world. THANK YOU for providing for our needs, directing our paths, and establishing our steps.

We acknowledge Your sovereignty, Lord, and freshly submit to Your will today. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our children, grandchildren, marriages, families, and loved ones. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our country, president, governors, senators, representatives, and local officials. We ask Your BLESSING and GUIDANCE over our communities, churches, schools, work places, decisions, and opportunities. Please FILL US with the presence of Your joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, and self control today. HELP US to see as You see and to love as You love. HELP US to serve others humbly for the sake of Your name. HELP US to be light that shines in the darkness. HELP US to follow Your ways and continually seek Your leading.

You are our hope and our strength, Lord. We give you THANKS in all of this and ask for the fullness of Your BLESSING in all these things, according to the power of Jesus Christ who is at work within us through Your Holy Spirit.


Standing Strong Through the Storm - ASHAMED OF JESUS

Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26

Young believers in the Lord in Muslim cultures often struggle with the issue of publicly declaring their new faith in Jesus. Shadiya is the youngest of five children in a Muslim family. At the age of eighteen she came in contact with a group of young people in the church of Pastor Jamil. During the summer of 2011, the church was visited by a group of other young Christians. During that time Shadiya decided to follow Jesus.

One day she forgot to hide her Bible and her younger brother found it. He asked his father about this striking book with a large cross prominent on the cover. Father was shocked. He soon found out that Shadiya brought the book into their house.

Initially dumbfounded by the hostile attitude of her father, Shadiya stood firm for what she believed. She admitted that she had become a Christian, that she received the Bible from some friends and that she no longer is a Muslim. Her father interpreted this as denying her identity. This, in his opinion, was a betrayal of the entire family and the Muslim community. In other words, the shame for the family was unbearable. So in her father’s eyes there was only one option; force Shadiya to deny her faith in Christ. “If you refuse to deny your new faith, you are no longer welcome in our home!” he yelled at her. Shadiya still held on to faith in Jesus.

The situation deteriorated even more after her father went to the mosque and shared the “apostasy” of his daughter with the local imam. They decided she had to deny her Christian faith openly and confess the Islamic faith in public. If she refused to do so, she would have to pay with her life. She would be stoned by the Muslim community.

She asked her apostate brother-in-law, Amir, for advice. He suggested that she do what they asked of her and remain a secret follower of Jesus. In her heart she could remain a believer in Christ, although she would openly deny her faith to save her life. Shadiya was not really convinced that this was the right thing to do and was full of doubt. In the end she followed the advice of Amir.

The prospect of becoming a martyr at the age of eighteen was now over but Shadiya remained doubtful about her decision. She and Amir asked Pastor Jamil what he thought about it.

“This could have been an opportunity for the whole family or the entire village to see God working in the life of an eighteen-year-old girl,” he replied. “It is a great challenge to deal with our fear; still we should rely on Jesus, rather than basing our choices on fear.”

The situation for Shadiya now seems less tense but the risk of escalation remains.

RESPONSE: Today I will not allow fear to control me…especially regarding the public declaration of my faith.

PRAYER: Pray for Shadiya and the people surrounding her. Ask our Father to further His kingdom through her and fellow-believers who are cautiously trying to help her to grow in faith.

Verse of the Day - November 24, 2016

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV) [ Spiritual Fullness in Christ ] So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Read all of Colossians 2

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NIV Devotions for Men - Nehemiah: Sword and Trowel

Nehemiah 1—6, 8 and 13

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

That must have been a special day after all you’d been through. Or was feasting more common for those of you in charge of the great restoration projects in Judah?

It was a very special day for all of us, and an unusual occurrence for us as well. Feasting was not common; on the contrary, I foreswore my governor’s allotment of food from the public treasury, and other privileges as well, and devoted myself to the work.

So, it couldn’t be said that you took advantage of this opportunity for your own benefit?

Well, I wish that couldn’t have been said of me, but unfortunately it was. Not true, of course, but my enemies spread all kinds of stories about me. If I had stopped working to refute every libelous accusation thrown up in the wind, we never would have finished the job—which was obviously my opponents’ intention. When the pagans tried to get me to engage in “dialogue” with them about the accusations, I simply sent the message that I was too busy to stop and debate.

How did you get the community of Judeans to trust you, then, if you didn’t refute the libelous accusations point by point?

I rolled up my sleeves and worked alongside them. I didn’t sit on a platform in the shade and direct the activities from afar. For the 52 days that we raised the wall, I didn’t even so much as change my clothes. None of us did. We worked with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other, ready to defend ourselves at any moment if it came to that.

How did you and your company finish the project so quickly?

The first week after I arrived I set out to do a complete survey of the site. The whole wall lay in piles of charred ruins and dusty rubble. The people didn’t know where to start. But when I told them how God had moved the king to be generous and favorable to me, and of our plan to restore the city, they perked up. Each man and his family worked diligently on the section of the wall that was closest to their own residence. They really put their hearts into it. It wasn’t necessary for me to micromanage the construction process.

So you functioned as both architect and building supervisor, governor and military leader?

Yes, we experienced so many obstacles along the way that to bring this project to completion I had to literally keep my hands in it, just as God’s hand was upon me.

Back to the Future
  • Do you sometimes feel, as Nehemiah did, that no sooner is one problem solved than another raises its menacing head? What sustains you in such times?
  • When have you seen God bring a project to completion that had looked impossible all along the way? What projects are you facing right now that you need God’s help to accomplish?
  • How can you become a man who truly relies on the power of God?
Read Nehemiah’s Story:
Find out more by reading Nehemiah 1—6, 8 and 13.

Un Dia a la Vez - Oración por cambios en el matrimonio

Dios, nuestro Dios, nos bendecirá. Dios nos bendecirá, y le temerán todos los confines de la tierra. Salmo 67:6-7

Amante Dios, me presento delante de ti porque solo tú puedes ayudarme.

Te pido perdón por mis faltas, mis pensamientos y mis actitudes que me han apartado de tu voluntad respecto al matrimonio.

Reconozco que te he fallado al romper ese pacto de amor incondicional en mi matrimonio y destruyendo mi familia.

Ahora solo puedo acudir a ti para pedirte una nueva oportunidad. Ayúdame, Señor, a recuperar el amor y a mi familia.

Te prometo, mi Dios, que pondré todo de mi parte y seré obediente a ti. Dejaré a un lado la crítica a mi cónyuge y empezaré por cambiar yo.

Muéstrame, Señor, mis errores y guíame para hacer tu voluntad.

Bendice a mi familia.

En el nombre de Jesús, amén y amén.

The Daily Readings for THURSDAY, November 24, 2016 - Thanksgiving Day

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, "Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us." When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God, you shall make this response before the LORD your God: "A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me." You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house.

Psalm 100 Jubilate Deo
1   Be joyful in the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness and come before his presence with a song.
2   Know this: The LORD himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
3   Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and call upon his Name.
4   For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his faithfulness endures from age to age.

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

John 6:25-35
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.

The Daily Meditation for THURSDAY, November 24, 2016 - Thanksgiving Day

From Forward Day By Day
Written by Richelle Thompson

John 6:35 (NRSV) Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Her lips had not touched a chalice for forty years. On her annual visits from Germany to a small town in Kentucky, she sometimes came to church, but she stayed in the pew while others went forward for Holy Communion. When she lost a child four decades ago, a priest criticized and belittled her instead of offering solace and comfort. And for her, the eucharist had become a symbol of betrayal and deep wounds.

But on this day, she rose. No one could hear the trembling of her heart or see the steel it took to hold out her hands to receive the bread. In this moment, she offered grace to a church that had forsaken her, and she received it from a Savior who had never left her.

After the service, I took her hand and squeezed. It was time, she answered, in halting English and from a broken heart that had started to heal. It was time.

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Our Daily Bread - Game of Thanks

Read: Colossians 3:12–17 | Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 22–23; 1 Peter 1

Whatever you do, . . . do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17

Every autumn we throw a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast on campus at Cornerstone University. Our students love it! Last year a group of students played a game at their table. They challenged each other to name something they were thankful for—in three seconds or less—without repeating what someone else had said. Anyone who hesitated was out of the game.

There are all kinds of things that students might gripe about—tests, deadlines, rules, and a host of other college-type complaints. But these students had chosen to be thankful. And my guess is that they all felt a lot better after the game than they would have if they had chosen to complain.

While there will always be things to complain about, if we look carefully there are always blessings to be thankful for. When Paul describes our newness in Christ, “thankfulness” is the only characteristic mentioned more than once. In fact it is mentioned three times. “Be thankful,” he says in Colossians 3:15. Sing to God “with gratitude in your hearts” (v. 16). And whatever you do, be sure to be “giving thanks to God the Father” (v. 17). Paul’s instruction to be thankful is astonishing when we consider that he wrote this letter from prison!

Today, let’s make the choice to have an attitude of thankfulness.

Lord, teach me the liberating joy of being thankful! Help me to find the blessings that are locked up in the things I complain about and to regularly express my gratitude to You and others.

Choose the attitude of gratitude.

© 2016 Our Daily Bread Ministries

Nuestro Pan Diario - Juego de gratitud

Leer: Colosenses 3:12-17 | La Biblia en un año: 1 Pedro 1

… hacedlo todo en el nombre del Señor Jesús, dando gracias a Dios Padre por medio de él (Colosenses 3:17).

T odos los años, hacemos una exquisita fiesta de Acción de Gracias en la Universidad Cornerstone. ¡A los alumnos les encanta! El año pasado, hicieron un juego mientras celebraban: en tres segundos o menos, cada uno debía mencionar un motivo de agradecimiento, sin repetir lo dicho por otra persona. El que vacilaba, era descalificado.

Los estudiantes tienen toda clase de cosas para quejarse: exámenes, fechas de entrega, normas y cientos de temas más. Sin embargo, estos decidieron ser agradecidos. Y estoy seguro de que todos se sintieron mucho mejor después del juego que si hubiesen elegido quejarse.

Aunque siempre hay de qué quejarse, si prestamos atención, también hay siempre bendiciones por las cuales dar gracias. Cuando Pablo describe la nueva vida en Cristo, la gratitud es la única característica que se menciona tres veces. En Colosenses 3:15-17 (RVC), afirma: «sean agradecidos»; canten a Dios «con gratitud de corazón»; y, en todo lo que hagan, asegúrense de dar «gracias a Dios el Padre». ¡Es asombroso pensar que Pablo escribió desde la prisión esta instrucción a ser agradecidos!

Decidamos hoy tener una actitud de agradecimiento.

Señor, ayúdame a ser agradecido, a descubrir las bendiciones que no veo por mis quejas, y a expresar constantemente mi gratitud a ti y a los demás.

Escoge tener una actitud de agradecimiento.

© 2016 Ministerios Nuestro Pan Diario

Unser Täglich Brot - Dankspiel

 Lesen: Kolosser 3,12-17 | Die Bibel In Einem Jahr: Hesekiel 22–23; 1.Petrus 1

Alles, was ihr tut, . . . das tut alles im Namen des Herrn Jesus und dankt Gott, dem Vater, durch ihn. (Kolosser 3,17)

In der Hochschule, an der ich arbeite, ziehen wir jeden Herbst an Thanksgiving ein riesiges Fest auf. Die Studenten sind jedes Mal begeistert! Letztes Jahr machten ein paar von ihnen an ihrem Tisch ein Spiel. Jeder musste etwas nennen, wofür er oder sie dankbar war—und zwar in nicht mehr als drei Sekunden. Es durfte nicht schon einmal genannt worden sein. Wer zu lange brauchte, flog raus.

Es gibt alle möglichen Dinge, über die Studenten jammern könnten—Prüfungen, Termine, Regeln und vieles mehr. Aber diese Studenten hatten beschlossen, dankbar zu sein. Ich bin sicher, sie fühlten sich nach dem Spiel alle viel besser, als wenn sie sich die Ohren voll gejammert hätten.

Sicher, es gibt immer Dinge, über die wir uns beschweren könnten. Aber wenn wir genau hinsehen, gibt es auch genug, wofür wir danken können. Bei seiner Schilderung des neuen Wesens in Christus ist „dankbar“ das einzige Wort, das Paulus zweimal erwähnt, ja, eigentlich sogar dreimal. „Seid dankbar“, sagt er in Kolosser 3,15. „Singt Gott dankbar in euren Herzen“ (V.16). Und was ihr auch tut, achtet darauf, dass ihr „dankt Gott, dem Vater“ (V.17). Wenn wir bedenken, dass Paulus den Brief aus dem Gefängnis schrieb, ist das schon erstaunlich!

Auch wir wollen heute ganz bewusst in einer Haltung der Dankbarkeit leben.

Herr, lass mich erfahren, wie befreiend es ist, dankbar zu sein! Hilf mir, auch in den Dingen, über die ich mich beschwere, das Schöne zu erkennen und dir und anderen regelmäßig Danke zu sagen.

Nimm dir heute vor, dankbar zu sein.

© 2016 Unser Täglich Brot

Хлеб наш насущный - Игра в благодарность

Читать сейчас: Колоссянам 3:12-17 | Библия за год: Иезекииль 22-23; Филимону

И всё, что вы делаете... всё делайте во имя Господа Иисуса Христа, благодаря через Него Бога Отца. — Колоссянам 3:17

Каждую осень мы в Краеугольном университете проводим изумительный праздник на День благодарения. Студенты в восторге от него. В прошлом году за одним из столов устроили игру: участники по очереди перечисляли, за что они благодарны. На раздумья давалось всего три секунды. Замешкавшиеся выбывали.

А ведь было много такого, на что они могли поворчать: экзамены, сроки, правила и множество других поводов для жалоб. Но ребята решили лучше подумать о благодарности. И мне кажется, что все они почувствовали себя намного лучше, чем если бы принялись роптать и выражать недовольство.

Конечно, при желании всегда можно найти на что пожаловаться. Но, с другой стороны, если присмотреться, то всегда найдутся и благословения. Описывая нашу новую жизнь во Христе, апостол Павел несколько раз говорит о благодарности Богу. «Вразумляйте друг друга псалмами, славословием... в благодати воспевая в сердцах ваших Господу» (Кол. 3:16). «Всё делайте во имя Господа Иисуса Христа, благодаря через Него Бога Отца» (Кол. 3:17). Эти призывы к благодарности особенно впечатляют, если вспомнить, что Послание к колоссянам он написал из заключения!

Давайте и мы будем благодарными.

Господь, научи меня быть благодарным. Помоги видеть благословения, скрытые в том, на что мне хочется жаловаться, и всегда выражать свою благодарность перед Тобой и людьми.

Будьте благодарными.

© 2016 Хлеб Наш Насущный

Notre Pain Quotidien - Le jeu des mercis

Lisez : Colossiens 3.12‑17 | La Bible en un an : Ézéchiel 22 – 23 et 1 Pierre 1

Et quoi que vous fassiez, en parole ou en oeuvre, faites tout au nom du Seigneur Jésus, en rendant par lui des actions de grâces à Dieu le Père. (Colossiens 3.17)

Chaque automne, nous donnons un festin à l’occasion de l’Action de grâces sur le campus de l’Université Cornerstone. L’année dernière, les collégiens ont joué à un jeu consistant à se mettre les uns les autres au défi de nommer une chose pour laquelle chacun était reconnaissant sans jamais répéter ce qu’un autre avait énoncé. Quiconque hésitait était éliminé.

Il y a bien sûr toutes sortes de choses dont les étudiants pourraient se plaindre – examens, dates de tombée, règlements et tout un éventail d’autres sujets sur lesquels râler –, mais ces collégiens avaient choisi de témoigner plutôt de leur gratitude. Or, je devine qu’ils se sont tous sentis beaucoup mieux après ce jeu que s’ils avaient choisi de se plaindre.

Bien que nous aurons toujours des griefs à formuler, nous devons reconnaître qu’en y regardant de plus près, nous aurons également toujours des bénédictions pour lesquelles nous montrer reconnaissants. Dans la description paulinienne de notre nouveauté en Christ, la « reconnaissance » est la seule qualité qui est mentionnée plus d’une fois. En fait, elle l’est à trois reprises. « Et soyez reconnaissants », nous dit Paul dans Colossiens 3.15. Puis il nous incite à chanter à Dieu « dans [notre] coeur en vertu de la grâce » (V. 16) et, quoi que nous fassions, à tout faire au nom de Jésus « en rendant par lui des actions de grâces à Dieu le Père » (V. 17).

Aujourd’hui, optons donc pour une attitude reconnaissante.

Optons donc pour une attitude reconnaissante.

© 2016 Ministères NPQ