Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving Message - Thankful for the Fifth Kernel

As the Pilgrims sat and enjoyed their bountiful feast with their new friends, the American Indians, they stopped and gave thanks for all of the blessings of the Lord. I am sure that each person at the first Thanksgiving feast offered up their prayers to the Lord and thanked him for all that he had done and provided them. It could have been very easy to simply reflect on all of the heartache and hardship they faced during their first year, but they saw only the blessings of a loving and caring God. Their Father had seen them through some of the toughest times.

As they endured those rough times, it could have been so easy to just give up on God and believe that he wasn’t hearing their prayers. For all they knew, God wasn’t listening and just gave up on them for whatever reason. But, they remained faithful and continued to pray and even thank God for even the small portions of food that they received during those tough times.

When I face tough times, my faith sometimes wanes a bit. There have been times when I honestly thought that God was ignoring me and that I would just have to do things on my own. We have all been in those types of situations. The problems that we face seem insurmountable and we feel that nothing can be done. All we want to do is simply be lifted out of the problem and not have to worry about it again. It would be like having financial problems and wishing that you had the six magic numbers that would just change everything. In short, we want the simple, easy fix to our problems.

Think about it this way. All of the things that we face right now with COVID-19 and the social unrest could be just wiped away by the hand of God. In one simple motion or with one word, God could just make everything better. Who wouldn’t want that? I will be honest with you and vote for that solution. I want simple and easy. 

But, is it the right thing to do? If we had our way every time, how would we act? I, for one, would consider myself entitled to only the good things and God would be working for me. I would be a spoiled brat and demand everything and anything. I would use God like a magic genie to get my way every single time. But, that is not how it works.

John, in chapter five of his first epistle, writes, “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

There are a couple of key points that John makes. The first is that the reason we believe is that we may have eternal life. Believing should not be tied to getting what we want here in this world. Believing that Jesus is the son of God and our personal savior is the main thing.

The second is that we must be confident that God hears our prayers and we can ask for anything from Him. The next part is a little difficult. John adds something very significant to the end of that statement. He writes, “that pleases him.” God hears our prayers, but the answer that is given must be in accordance with his will. That is the key part to all of this.

Consider again my example of the lottery. I have seen so many people pray before playing a lottery ticket. I have, at times, even heard their words. Each reminds God about their problems and tells Him that all they need is to win the cash jackpot. They even go as far to tell Him that the money would be an answer to their prayers.

When you examine their lives, you see that God has already answered their prayers. They have all the food that they need. They have clothes, a means of transportation, shelter and everything they truly need to be happy. What they really want is more of everything. But, they leave that part out.

In their hearts and minds, money will solve all of their woes and give them more. It is that simple, easy answer that we all want. Could God give anyone of them that cash jackpot? Yes. He could easily do that as long as it is in accordance with His will. We must always remember that part.

As we sit at our Thanksgiving table and reflect on the fifth kernel, let us always remember that God hears and answers our prayers. We just need to understand that when He answers our prayers it is done in accordance to His will and not our own. We want the easy way out all the time, but the hard way may be the real answer. By following the road set before us by our Heavenly Father, we gain a lot more. We learn the value of prayer and that God truly provides for our needs. We also learn more about ourselves. 

Paul, in chapter five of his letter to the Romans, writes, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

As we continue to grow in our faith, we also grow in character. Sometimes, we have to go through a wall of fire to be purified. That fire builds our character and we are able to face even more adversity. The main thing is that we must always remember that God loves us and hears and answers our prayers in accordance to his will. When we remember that, we can easily get through the toughest times by standing firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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