Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Thank You God

i thank You God for this most amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything                                                                                  
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
So begins one of my favorite works by E.E. Cummings—a short little poem filled with praise for the Creator and His magnificent works.  I thought of it as Thanksgiving approached and I began to focus on being grateful for all God has done this year.  Thanksgiving has always been a hallmark of God’s people. Thousands of years before the Pilgrims came to Plymouth and shared a momentous feast with the Native Americans or Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation during the Civil War, God explained to the Israelites the importance of offering praises for His blessings to them.
The Psalmist admonishes us in Psalm 100:4 “to Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name.” God wants us to praise Him not to stroke His ego, but because it helps us focus on our dependence on Him as well as His overwhelming grace and goodness. Praise recognizes God’s attributes—His goodness, love and mercy. Remember He described Himself to Moses as “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).
Thanksgiving declares our awareness of His benefits. “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation" (Ps. 40:9-10)
In my church’s communion service called “The Great Thanksgiving,” the responsive reading says: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.”
It is always right to praise our God who is so good and kind and to offer thanks for His many gifts.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Here Comes the Son

“There cannot be a dark cloud where Jesus is.”   Pastor John Prince

The other day while I was at the lake, the sky was covered with dark clouds and the wind was stirring up the lake waters. It was somewhat cool and there wasn’t even a hint of sunshine. Then suddenly, the clouds parted and the sun shone so brightly I was immediately warmed and had to relocate to the shade. The water became so still it looked like a liquid mirror and everything was quiet. Even the butterflies which I love but had not yet seen began to flutter around me.  It was as if God had torn apart those dark clouds to shine His light and love directly onto me and I felt like I was standing in a celestial spotlight.

I paused in my prayers and just enjoyed that special time with God. There are some struggles about which I’ve been praying for days to which God has simply responded  ”wait.” The break in the dark clouds did nothing to change my circumstances or lighten the cares which are weighing me down, but in that holy moment God reminded me that He can shine His grace into anything in my world and my life and it will change instantly.  He gave me a much-needed shift in focus, redirecting me back to Him, the One whose face shone like the sun (Matt. 17:2) on the mount of transfiguration which was the basis of Pastor Prince’s sermon.
The same picture of Jesus is echoed in John’s words in Revelation 1:16 where he describes Jesus’ face as “like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” When we turn our eyes toward the Son, His bright countenance will eclipse all of the dark clouds of our griefs, our pain, and our doubt. Even though it’s now fall and the weather is cooler, go out today and bask in the sun. While you’re there, bask in the Son, too!

“I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun, not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else.” – C. S. Lewis