As we approach the day we have set aside in our great nation, Thanksgiving Day, let us come together as Americans and Christians to reflect on the blessings that have been showered upon us and thank God for each of them. Considering all that we have endured, we must stop and, in the words of that wonderful, old hymn, “Count Your Blessings,” we should count our many blessings and name them one by one.
Even when we are facing tragedy, we can still find a blessing in all of it. For example, when my mother was going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I thanked God daily for the time we had together. We spent many hours in the infusion center just talking. I can honestly say that our relationship grew stronger. I could choose to focus on her daily struggles and allow them to dominate my thoughts, but God gave us a wonderful gift of just being able to share things with one another.
It is so easy for us to see only the bad and not look for the good in any situation. When we look back at the early days of our nation, we see people who traveled a great distance by ship to find a place where they could worship God in their own way. Those people, the Pilgrims, didn’t travel by cruise ship and play shuffleboard while they pleasantly spent their time heading from one buffet to the next. Each day aboard the ship was hard. With rough seas and being packed on a tiny ship, their days were filled with struggles.
Once they got here, things seemed to go from bad to worse. It was difficult for them to grow their own food. They had to live through a harsh winter with very little to eat. Food had to be rationed and even then, people starved to death. Many became sick.
According to legend, it got to a point that they had to survive on only five kernels of corn a day. That was the sum and total of their daily rations. Can you imagine having to live on five kernels of corn a day? But, they survived and it wasn’t because of those meager rations. They survived because of their faith in God. They knew that God loved them and that He would provide for their needs.
After surviving that hard winter, the Pilgrims learned from their new friends, Native Americans, how to grow their own food in this new world. Those new friends gave them so much and each worked together to help one another. As they enjoyed the harvest of food, they all came together to share a meal and to give thanks to God for their blessings of new friends and the bounty they were able to harvest and enjoy.
When I heard of this story, I had decided that I would write messages about those five kernels of corn and dedicate each one to the Lord and use them as a reminder for all of the blessings we have reached from His bountiful hand.
The first kernel reminds us of God’s love for us. God showed us His love in a very special way. He sent His son, Jesus, to live among us, teach us and, ultimately, to die for us as our sacrifice for our sins. Jesus became our last atonement sacrifice. He was our perfect sacrifice and, through his blood, we have received God’s gift of salvation.
In chapter three of his Gospel, John eloquently writes, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
John, in just two simple sentences, crystalizes the entire plan of salvation for each of us. There is no way for us to save ourselves from the wages of sin, death. No matter what anyone says, the simple truth is that we are all sinners and have fallen short of God’s glory. As sinners, it is impossible for us to simply wave our hands and make our sins disappear.
It is only through God’s love for us that we are able to receive salvation and eternal life with the Father and there is only one way to do that. We must first accept Christ Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord of our life and live a Christ-like life by following his example daily.
Paul, in chapter three of his epistle to the believers in Rome, writes, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”
God provided us with a once and only atonement sacrifice that covered our sins completely. All we have to do is realize that God loves us and has given us His son to pay our debt of sin. God’s love for us is beyond our comprehension. We cannot measure the breadth and depth of His love for us. He sent His one and only son to save us and not judge or condemn us. He came out of love for each of us.
As you sit down with your friends and family around the Thanksgiving table, I encourage each of you to think about the first kernel of corn and thank God for His love. He loves us and shows that love to us daily by showering us with blessings. Each heartbeat and breath we experience is a blessing. Each time we see the sun rise and set is a blessing. Each time we have an opportunity to share not only the Good News with others but also provide for the needs of others is a blessing.
When you really think about it, we have a lot to be thankful for. Don’t squander the moment of reflection. Take the time to hold up a single kernel of corn and thank God for His love for each and every one of us. Share that special moment with others. When you do those things, we truly are followers of Christ Jesus and can stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.