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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

During this time of year we practice hospitality, invite others to come into our home and join us in celebration of all we are thankful for. This is a season of thanksgiving, not just one day.

However, we Americans do have a unique day of celebration that started in the early 1600's. A group from England, we call Pilgrims, seeking freedom to worship God as they pleased, sailed across the sea and landed on our the east coast. They established a colony amid much suffering and hardship. Many died of disease and starvation that first year. American native Indians came to their rescue and taught them survival skills in this new land. A day was set aside for them to come together and thank God for His blessings. We continue that tradition in our country and attempt to re-create this time of giving thanks by gathering with family and friends, sometimes strangers, to eat too much, work too hard, wash too many dishes and most of all, take note of all God has done for us.
       
"Let us come before him with thanksgiving. . .for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care."
Psalm 95: 2,7

Just as children of earthly parents should honor those who have loved and cared for them, we need to honor our Creator, the One who will sustain us and has given us victory over death through Jesus Christ so we can live eternally in the presence of God.

It's easy to see what is wrong and needs to be changed. What is right isn't always that obvious. When I'm having a hard time with day to day life, it is best I take stock of all I have to be grateful for. I will be teaching a Bible study for the women in our local jail this week, and "What are you grateful for?" will be the topic of discussion. I also teach 'creative writing' for a group of veterans who are in a special program at the jail and they will be writing on the topic of 'gratitude'. Yes, even those who are incarcerated can find a reason to be grateful.

Like many Americans today, I feel very sad that a group of unruly people have torn up a nice little town because they didn't think that a decision was 'fair'. I'm not only sad, I'm ashamed of these fellow Americans. They've looted, burned, and destroyed things that didn't belong to them. They aren't able to see all they have to be thankful for. Our Constitution guarantees all citizens 'free speech'. We have the right to our opinions and can express them without fear of government interference. We have the right to peacefully assemble and protest. We do not have the right to commit crimes.

In our Declaration of Independence (from England in 1776) this is
written. . .

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

 Our forefathers set the stage for a free country. Our rights are "inalienable" which means they can't be taken away because they come from God, not a government. In an attempt to be 'fair', we sometimes become 'unfair'. We can't expect perfection in an imperfect world. The irony is this: if Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri was a blond, blue-eyed, snow white 300 pound, 6 foot 4 inch man, rather than black one; would there be riots and accusations of prejudice and persecution?  I don't think so. Would a group of activists, many who live elsewhere, be destroying the livelihood of hard-working minorities who've built businesses? I don't think so. Would they be shouting about the fact that a white police officer killed a white thief and justice was not done? I don't think so.

Many years ago a black, very handsome former football player was charged with killing his white wife, mother of his children, and her friend. The trial was a public event, every witness, every bit of evidence was presented so all could see. A mostly black jury declared OJ was "not guilty". There was a huge collective gasp across the nation; we'd seen all the evidence and he was guilty. Profound disappointment that this man could get away with murder - yes, rioting, no. When I heard the verdict, this verse popped into my head, and kept me focused on the truth that God is in control and He will ultimately avenge the innocent.

"For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay. . .The Lord will judge his people".  Hebrews 10:30

The prophet Isaiah wrote that the  Lord will have "a day of vengeance. You may be interested in reading Hebrews 10; it gives us hope that God has a good plan for His people.

I am bothered about the fact that Christian 'men of God', ministers, pastors like the Rev. Al Sharpton fan the flame of discontent rather than preaching Christian principles - forgiveness, love and hope. The parents of the young man who was killed have asked for calm and peace, the President of the U.S. and his Attorney General pleaded for the violence to stop - all to no avail.
 
I believe, the heart of the problem is a heart problem. I don't think the protesters care much about William Brown, most have never met him or his family. They are looking for an outlet for their anger. They have been convinced that they haven't been treated fairly and are going to 'get even'. I have volunteered in a jail for nearly fourteen years; I know this anger, I've heard their stories. 'Social justice' will not heal their heart, but God can. Knowing that no matter how their life looks, there is a God in heaven who loves them unconditionally brings peace and ultimately destroys anger. It's a process, little by little we learn to trust and place our faith in God. 

This is not about what happens in the White House, the Capital or the courtroom. It's what happens in your house, your realm of influence and in your heart that will change our world into a better place. I admit it, I cling to Bible verses, and this is a favorite. . .

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  I Thessalonians 5:18

I have a little sign on my kitchen cabinet that reminds me daily that as a child of God, I'm never a victim of circumstances. I am blessed by so many 'gifts', most of which I don't deserve, but God deals with us in grace.

So, set a pretty table, put a turkey in the oven and gather folks around to praise God for His goodness. We become more at peace with what happens around us when we have an 'attitude of gratitude'.

Thank you Lord that you always have your hand on us and everything that happens will ultimately work for good for those who love You. Bless America Lord so we can continue to be a beacon of hope in a lost world. We know that a nation that honors You will indeed overcome.