Thoughts On Thanksgiving


Core scripture: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Message: We have this plaque.  It is in our kitchen, and we use it as a white board to write different scripture for our family to enjoy.  This week’s theme was an easy one.  Thanksgiving!  I wanted my boys to have a say in the scripture, so I allowed them to choose it.

“Hey, Daddy, I think I found one,” my oldest son declared. 

When he rattled off 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, I knew we had our verse.  It was one that I had reflected on recently, journaled about, and even taught about in an FCA lesson.  Of all the scripture to choose from, how appropriate for my son to pick THIS one! 

It was a God moment.

Time to break it down.  Rejoice always.  Two words.  So easy to say, yet to actually live it out … that would be a whole different ballgame.  How do you rejoice during tragedy?  How do you see God’s handiwork when the rest of the world questions His intentions?    That takes a lot of trust.  And faith. 

Pray without ceasing.  You have to work up to this one.  Praying is not just a one time a day thing.  It is a lifestyle.  It flows through every word you say, every step you take.  You are not literally in prayer; you are allowing the Holy Spirit to direct you.  When you begin to live out the Word with all your decisions, you are praying without ceasing.

Give thanks in all circumstances.  I am talking about the good.  The bad.  And even the ugly.  Eat your heart out, Clint Eastwood.  Quick application to a teacher … Thank you, Lord, for allowing the wifi NOT to work.  I am grateful my lesson is totally thrown out the window in favor … of … wow, what can you do without wifi?  A little tricky.

A scripture that I lean on during the hard times “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  In other words, God knows something I don’t know, and I must trust Him. 

That blind trust is anything but easy, and it takes a lot of practice, but it could turn a negative into a positive.  Consider any of the following examples:

  • Your best student moves away … therefore, another school is blessed.
  • The wifi goes out and postpones testing … hey, more time to prepare!
  • Your anger gets the best of you … and you learn from your failure, modeling humility.
  • A colleague dies from cancer … allowing your prayer group to reach out and provide comfort to their family.
  • A student continually forgets their device … allowing the printer to feel useful for hard copies.
  • You only get 25 minutes for lunch … making those meals at home with your family that much sweeter and not as rushed.
  • The air conditioning goes out … allowing you to take your students outside to enjoy an afternoon breeze.
  • You have to stay late again to catch up on grading … which allows you to catch a gorgeous sunset on the drive home.
  • You forgot your lunch at home … giving you the opportunity to fast and catch up on your quiet time.
  • Your star student is stressed out from play practice … which prompts you to write them an encouraging card that they will savor forever.
  • Two best friends are fighting … which reminds you of the story from college when you and your old best friend fought over spilled Doritos.  You share the story to the class, helping all of them put that situation into perspective.
  • Your school goes on academic probation for not hitting testing requirement … helping you discover a new free online program. 
  • You have to stay home with your sick son … allowing you to get caught up on grading, and you get quality time with your son.
  • Your administration now requires lesson plans to be shared in advance … helping you become more proactive and prepared.
  • A perfect grading platform is replaced with a cheaper, less flashy one … and your school saves money, allowing more field trips.

It is all a matter of perspective.  As a matter of fact, I bet there are teachers in my area right now that are slightly jealous that Olathe got the ENTIRE week off for Thanksgiving.  You can feel that way, or you can say, hey, at least I have five days off and don’t have to return to work on Friday like others. 

Be blessed this week.  Enjoy your time off.  Relish moments with your family and friends.  Even in the hard times, God is working everything for our good (Romans 8:28). 

Challenge: Take a dire situation in your life and consider how you might be able to give thanks for it.  Journal about your feelings.  Talk it over with a Christian colleague.  Praise God for the trial, and embrace it the way James embraced it in James 1:2-4 when he says the following …

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …

  • Praise God for time off over Thanksgiving.
  • Praise God for the trials in your life, making you a stronger person.
  • Pray that we can gain a godly perspective on our lives, knowing how much He loves us.

Song application: “Thank You Lord” by Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, and Chris Tomlin

Thank You Lord for the small things
Like me and her on the porch swing
For summer nights and fireflies
And the sound of my old six string

Blessings, on blessings, on blessings, on blessings
If I still got breath in these lungs
And that’s all I need to get down on my knees
And be thankful for all that He’s done

For my mama, for my friends
For Your love that never ends
For the songs that make us dance
On this ol’ dirt floor
For my babies, for my girl
For the way they changed my world
Waking up today
Yeah, I just gotta say
Thank You Lord
Yeah, I just wanna say
Thank You Lord (oh, now)

Just for fun: So, we were driving home from getting our boys an early Christmas gift.  Oh yes, we went big and helped them buy a Nintendo Switch!  Quite a bit of money, right?  Well, we stopped at Quick Trip to get a soda for my wife, and my youngest asked if HE could get a soda.  My oldest pipes up, “NO!  We shouldn’t do that!  I mean, we just spent a TON of money on that Nintendo Switch!  Why do you need a soda, too? … (long pause) … So, can I have a pretzel?”

Prayer: Father, thank you for the many blessings you lavish upon us!  Help us be grateful for every one.  Amen.

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