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True Thanksgiving


Image result for paul and silas in jail

Core scripture“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107: 1)

Message: You gotta love Paul and Silas.  Shackled up, thrown in a dungeon of a jail, they still praised God.  I mean, you think prison today is depressing—think of prisons back then!  The smell.  The grime.  The lack of light.  The feeling of hopelessness flooding your soul.  But no.  Not Paul and Silas.  They were praising God with hymns, ignoring the severe beating they got earlier for simply showing a bit of compassion to a slave girl.  The rest of the inmates must have thought they were insane!  Paul and Silas’ ways were so much higher than the normal human thoughts.  To suffer for Christ was a blessing, and they gladly sang on behalf of their Savior.

I’m pretty sure when tough times come the normal guy out there will throw himself a pity party.  Feeling sorry for yourself is quite easy when you only look at the bad.  But we Christians know there is a higher calling, a purpose beyond our understanding that resonates proudly in our hearts.  Can you see the good amidst the bad?  It is not easy seeing the world through the eyes of Christ, but if you try hard enough you can.  For example, while the world might see a student bound for shackles because of a drug addiction, the Christian teacher would see a hidden talent for art that might let him turn over a new leaf.

In Philippians 4: 11-13 Paul throws down some hardcore truth: “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  On this week of Thanksgiving, let’s try to be like Paul.  Whatever you’re going through, whether it is good or bad, praise God.  Know that He is in control.  Feel that trust in your heart that says His ways are so much higher than our own, and keep the faith.  “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8: 28).

I have to shout His praises for what happened to me last week.  I was humbled when I was asked to speak to a group of education majors at MidAmerica Nazarene University.  Injected with a jolt of caffeine right after supper, I was stoked, chomping at the bit to share God’s wisdom about how to live out your faith boldly in the classroom.  I knew I could have chatted them up till dawn, but looking at their exhausted faces as I began, I knew all they wanted was a little wisdom and a decent night’s rest after a long day.  So I prayed right there in front of them for time management and for the Holy Spirit to speak through my voice.  God answered!  A smile curled on my lips as I finished, glancing at the clock on the wall.  8:15 pm.  The exact time their professor told me I needed to be completed by.  I am talking down to the exact second!

So, I ask you, what are you grateful for?  What is on your heart that you could share with the number of Christian teachers reading this blog?  I would love to hear from a plethora of teachers out there toady.  Take a minute or two out of your day to respond to this blog and comment with your own praise.  Think beyond the ordinary.  Family.  Friends.  A job.  Sure, that stuff is all worthy of praise, but if you dig deep enough, you might be able to come up with a Paul praise.  Something like I praise God for allowing me to learn what patience is while instructing my 7th hour class.  (I’ll probably be gritting my teeth reciting that line this afternoon!)  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12: 10).

Challenge: My students are finishing up their Thanksgiving Thank You Letters today.  I’m not talking a quick note.  I’m talking a multi-paragraph, well thought out, awe-inspiring outpouring of gratitude to someone they love.  Someone that deserves praise.  Someone that might need a little boost of encouragement.  Is there someone like that in your life?  Thank them.  However you see fit, thank them.

Song to bring it home: Mikeschair has an incredible song that is played on the radio a lot during Thanksgiving week.  Go check out their hit song “All I Can Do” to see what I’m talking about.

Prayer: Father, it is never easy to be content no matter what the circumstance and praise You no matter what.  Let me see the world through Your eyes.  Rid me of all complaints, and allow me to be grateful for Your countless blessings.  Amen.

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