Thursday, November 30, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Galatians 6:10 American Standard Version

So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:25 American Standard Version

Save now, we beseech thee, O Jehovah:
O Jehovah, we beseech thee, send now prosperity.

Nurturing Seeds of Hope

Just as a seed holds the promise of a flourishing plant, hope carries the promise of a brighter future. Support the growth of hope by contributing the cost of a premium beverage to share the Good News.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:6-7 American Standard Version

Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye,
Neither desire thou his dainties:
For as he thinketh within himself, so is he:
Eat and drink, saith he to thee;
But his heart is not with thee.

Morning Scripture Reading - Numbers 6:24-26 American Standard Version

Jehovah bless thee, and keep thee:
Jehovah make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
Jehovah lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Acts 7:51-53 American Standard Version

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? and they killed them that showed before of the coming of the Righteous One; of whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers; ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels, and kept it not.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:24 American Standard Version

This is the day which Jehovah hath made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Mid-Week Message - Christmas is Near

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is rapidly approaching. My, how quickly this year has flown! As we approach this festive time, let's be mindful of the true reason we celebrate. Although it was probably not the actual date of the birth of Jesus, it is the day that has been chosen to commemorate it, therefore it is a holy time. It is up to us as followers of Christ to be bold about telling His story and to train up our children to do the same.

Each year there is a debate about whether to use the words "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." I have my personal preference, however, I have to wonder if it really matters. Does "Merry Christmas" evoke thoughts about Jesus? That is the argument that is used. "Keep Christ in Christmas!" "Remember the reason for the season!" Amen! I agree wholeheartedly. This season should honor Him.

So, how do we accomplish that? It is through our joy and willingness to share Him. We don't have to set ourselves up so that those around us think we are religious weirdos. We don't have to shy away from enjoying the holiday in our own homes. But we do need to be willing to be openly honest about the reason why we are celebrating.

Jesus left His majestic throne in Heaven to be born as a human infant. His purpose for doing so was ultimately to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. And He did it out of love. Should it matter that He was not born on that day? No, because we should hold each and every day as a day to rejoice over His birth. Every day should be Christmas in our hearts.

Our children need to witness the grown ups around them loving and praising Jesus. They need to hear us praying. They need to see us reading the Bible and know that we believe what it says and that we obey it. We teach best by modeling behavior that we want them to emulate. I pray that as you begin your preparations for the holy day ahead, that you will include your young ones in the "whys" of the season. God bless you!  

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:5 American Standard Version

Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?
For riches certainly make themselves wings,
Like an eagle that flieth toward heaven.

Morning Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 32:43 American Standard Version

Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people:
For he will avenge the blood of his servants,
And will render vengeance to his adversaries,
And will make expiation for his land, for his people.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 Samuel 22:5-7 American Standard Version

For the waves of death compassed me;
The floods of ungodliness made me afraid:
The cords of Sheol were round about me;
The snares of death came upon me.
In my distress I called upon Jehovah;
Yea, I called unto my God:
And he heard my voice out of his temple,
And my cry came into his ears.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:23 American Standard Version

This is Jehovah’s doing;
It is marvellous in our eyes.

Hope Springs Eternal

In every corner of life, hope persists. Let's cultivate hope within and share it generously. Your donation, equivalent to a premium beverage, can bring the light of hope to others.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:4 American Standard Version

Weary not thyself to be rich;
Cease from thine own wisdom.

Morning Scripture Reading - Jonah 2:7-9 American Standard Version

When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Jehovah;
And my prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.
They that regard lying vanities
Forsake their own mercy.
But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay that which I have vowed.
Salvation is of Jehovah.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Ezekiel 18:5-9 American Standard Version

But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbor’s wife, neither hath come near to a woman in her impurity, and hath not wronged any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath taken nought by robbery, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; he that hath not given forth upon interest, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true justice between man and man, hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept mine ordinances, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord Jehovah.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:22 American Standard Version

The stone which the builders rejected
Is become the head of the corner.

Embracing Hope's Light

Today, let hope illuminate your path. In the spirit of spreading hope, consider donating the cost of a premium beverage to share the Good News with others.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:3 American Standard Version

Be not desirous of his dainties;
Seeing they are deceitful food.

Morning Scripture Reading - Isaiah 55:3-5 American Standard Version

Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not; and a nation that knew not thee shall run unto thee, because of Jehovah thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 American Standard Version

And he that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness: ye being enriched in everything unto all liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:21 American Standard Version

I will give thanks unto thee; for thou hast answered me,
And art become my salvation.

Embracing the True Spirit of Advent: Beyond Gifts and Discounts

As we stand on the threshold of the Advent season, a time of sacred anticipation, let us come together in unity to prepare our hearts for the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In a world often consumed by the hustle and bustle of gift shopping and the pursuit of deals and discounts, it is crucial to redirect our focus to the essence of Christmas.

Advent beckons us to pause and reflect on the profound truths that underpin our faith. Let us remember the humble circumstances of that holy night, when a poor child was born in a stable, and His bed was a manger—a feeding trough for animals. The manger, a symbol of simplicity and humility, sets the stage for the remarkable story of the Incarnation.

Advent beckons us to reflect on the significance of the first Sunday, marked by the lighting of the candle of Hope. The prophet Isaiah declared, "The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine." (Isaiah 9:2, NLT)

Imagine the scene: a journey through the depth of darkness, where shadows seem to stretch endlessly, and uncertainty obscures the path forward. In the encompassing darkness of our lives, we often find ourselves searching for meaning, for hope, for a guiding light to illuminate the way. The profound truth is that we, too, were once travelers in this darkness, seeking something beyond ourselves—a light that promises to dispel the shadows of despair and uncertainty.

In the Gospel of John, we find a powerful affirmation of this concept:

"In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:4-5, NLT)

Here, the significance of Jesus as the Light of the World cannot be overstated. It is not merely a flicker against the darkness; it is a radiant beacon that pierces through the deepest and densest shadows of our lives. Jesus, the Light, is not confined by the darkness; rather, the darkness is utterly incapable of overcoming the brilliance of His light.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." (John 1:5, NLT)

As we kindle the candle of Hope on the first Sunday of Advent, let us remember the vivid journey from darkness into light. Jesus, the Light of the World, has come to dispel that darkness. In His light, we find hope that transcends the ephemeral pleasures of the season, guiding us toward the eternal joy found in His presence.

As we kindle the candle of Hope on the first Sunday of Advent, recalling the journey from darkness into the radiant light of Christ, we now turn our hearts towards the second candle, the candle of Peace. This transition mirrors the transformative journey we undertake during Advent, a journey guided by the profound promises of God.

The concept of peace is intricately woven into the fabric of Advent. In Isaiah 9:6, a verse familiar to us during this season, the coming Messiah is foretold, and among His titles is "Prince of Peace." This title extends beyond the absence of conflict; it signifies a holistic peace that permeates our innermost being, a tranquility that can only be found in a harmonious relationship with the Prince of Peace.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6, NLT)

The Advent journey is not merely a progression of weeks; it is a pilgrimage toward the heart of God's promises. In Isaiah 26:3, we find assurance that this journey, guided by the Prince of Peace, brings a steadfast peace that transcends circumstances—a peace rooted in unwavering trust in God.

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you." (Isaiah 26:3, NLT)

As we light the second candle, may the radiance of Christ's peace shine brightly in our lives. Just as the flame of one candle does not diminish when lighting another, the peace of Christ does not wane but multiplies as we journey through this season. Let us embrace the transformative peace that Christ offers, a peace that surpasses understanding and guards our hearts as we eagerly await His coming.

As the glow of the second candle, symbolizing the profound peace of our Prince of Peace, continues to illuminate our Advent journey, we now direct our hearts towards the third candle—the candle of Joy. The Bible reminds us that the joy we experience in Christ transcends circumstances. In Psalm 16:11, David expresses the source and nature of this joy:

"You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever." (Psalm 16:11, NLT)

Our joy is rooted in the presence of God, and Advent is an opportune time to rediscover this profound truth. The angels proclaimed joy to the shepherds on the night of Jesus' birth, signaling the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah:

"The angel reassured them. 'Don’t be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!'" (Luke 2:10-11, NLT)

Furthermore, in John 15:11, Jesus Himself speaks of the connection between abiding in Him and experiencing complete joy:

"I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!" (John 15:11, NLT)

The candle of Joy reminds us that, despite the challenges and uncertainties of life, the joy found in Christ's presence is unwavering. This joy is not dependent on external circumstances but is a gift bestowed upon us by our Savior.

In the spirit of embracing joy during this season, let us draw inspiration from the remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914. In the midst of the First World War, opposing forces laid down their weapons, and enemies became friends. They exchanged greetings, shared meals, and celebrated Christmas together. This historical event serves as a powerful testament to the transformative impact of joy and goodwill, even in the most challenging circumstances.

As the warm glow of the third candle, symbolizing the joy found in Christ's presence, continues to brighten our Advent path, our focus now shifts to the fourth candle—the candle of Love. Love is the essence of the Christmas story, woven into the very fabric of God's redemptive plan for humanity.

In John 3:16, a foundational verse, we encounter the profound depth of God's love:

"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NLT)

The advent of Jesus, born in a humble stable, is the ultimate expression of God's sacrificial love for us. The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 2:4-5, emphasizes the richness of God's love, which extends even to us in our fallen state:

"But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead." (Ephesians 2:4-5, NLT)

The candle of Love, when illuminated, beckons us to reflect God's love in our lives. In 1 Corinthians 13, often referred to as the "love chapter," Paul eloquently describes the transformative power of love:

"Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT)

As we light the fourth candle, may the flame of love remind us that the Christmas season is a celebration of God's boundless love reaching down to us. It is a call for us to emulate this love in our relationships, our communities, and the world at large.

In the midst of worldly distractions and division, let the love demonstrated in the manger guide us to seek reconciliation and unity. Love is not just an emotion but an action, and the Christmas story is the ultimate testament to the transformative power of love in action.

As we journey through the sacred season of Advent, each candle we light becomes a beacon, guiding us to the heart of the Christmas story. The flickering flames of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love illuminate the path, reminding us of the profound truths woven into the fabric of our faith.

The candle of Hope beckons us to trust in the promise of the Messiah, the Light that pierces the darkness. In lighting the candle of Peace, we reflect on the tranquil assurance that Christ, our Prince of Peace, guards our hearts and minds. The flame of Joy, symbolized by the third candle, demonstrates that in Christ's presence, our joy is complete, transcending circumstances. Finally, the glow of the fourth candle, the candle of Love, invites us to embody the sacrificial love demonstrated in the manger.

In the busyness of this season and amidst the shadows of conflict, we are easily tempted to be drawn away by distractions—be it the clamor of shopping or the weight of regional hostilities. Yet, the true essence of Christmas calls us to stand firm in His grace. Let us not forget the profound lessons of the Christmas Truce of 1914, where enemies became friends, and love triumphed over conflict.

As we enter each Sunday devoted to the lighting of these Advent candles, let our hearts be fortified with the enduring message of Christ's birth. Let us stand firm, not merely against distractions but firmly rooted in the significance of each candle—Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." (Colossians 2:6-7, NLT)

May our lives reflect the brilliance of these Advent candles, 
illuminating the world with the transformative power of the Gospel. Let our celebrations be a testimony to the enduring hope, peace, joy, and love found in Christ alone.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 23:1-2 American Standard Version

When thou sittest to eat with a ruler,
Consider diligently him that is before thee;
And put a knife to thy throat,
If thou be a man given to appetite.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Chronicles 16:34 American Standard Version

O give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good;
For his lovingkindness endureth for ever.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 30:19-20 American Standard Version

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; to love Jehovah thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which Jehovah sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:20 American Standard Version

This is the gate of Jehovah;
The righteous shall enter into it.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:29 American Standard Version

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings;
He shall not stand before mean men.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Timothy 1:12-14 American Standard Version

I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to his service; though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Philippians 4:6-7 American Standard Version

In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:19 American Standard Version

Open to me the gates of righteousness:
I will enter into them, I will give thanks unto Jehovah.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:28 American Standard Version

Remove not the ancient landmark,
Which thy fathers have set.

Morning Scripture Reading - Daniel 6:25-27 American Standard Version

Then king Darius wrote unto all the peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, that in all the dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel; for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, And his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed; and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Reflecting on the 5 Kernels: A Thanksgiving Message

As we approach the Thanksgiving season, let's take a moment to reflect on the rich tapestry of lessons woven through our exploration of the 5 Kernels. In Psalm 100, we find an anthem of thanksgiving, a call to "shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!" This psalm echoes the sentiments of our journey, encapsulating the essence of gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us.

Each kernel, intricately explored in recent weeks, has been a stepping stone leading us toward a heart brimming with thanksgiving. The first kernel prompted us to reflect on the awe-inspiring creation that surrounds us, inviting us to acknowledge the Creator with a heart full of praise. The second kernel guided us on a stroll through the beauty of home and family, emphasizing the joy found in the simplicity of life's blessings.

Our footsteps then trod the path of the third kernel, inviting us to appreciate the freedom to worship—a privilege not to be taken lightly in a world where such freedoms are often curtailed. In the fourth kernel, we navigated the terrain of friendships, celebrating the profound impact these connections can have on our lives, mirroring the divine friendship exemplified in the Scriptures.

And now, with the fifth kernel, we stand at the intersection of health and grace, recognizing these precious gifts as divine endowments that merit our perpetual thanksgiving. As Psalm 100 resounds, "For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation." In each kernel, we witness His goodness, love, and faithfulness.

As we gather around the table of thanksgiving this year, let our hearts resound with the melodies of gratitude. Let us, with a spirit akin to Psalm 100, enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Reflecting on the 5 Kernels, may our hearts overflow with gratitude for His love that endures forever.

Evening Scripture Reading - Jeremiah 30:18-22 American Standard Version

Thus saith Jehovah: Behold, I will turn again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have compassion on his dwelling-places; and the city shall be builded upon its own hill, and the palace shall be inhabited after its own manner. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me; and I will punish all that oppress them. And their prince shall be of themselves, and their ruler shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is he that hath had boldness to approach unto me? saith Jehovah. And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:17 American Standard Version

I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of Jehovah.

Mid-Week Message - About Thanksgiving

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever."  Psalm 107:1 (NLT)

The year was 1621.  Those who had made the pilgrimage to what is now the United States of America, had a great feast that lasted three days.  It was a celebration of thanksgiving to the Lord for His provision and protection which followed a time of extreme hardship in which many had died.  None of these precious souls had envisioned the difficulties they would face before they set sail and I often wonder how those who survived were able to show such gratitude after all they endured. 

The holiday of Thanksgiving that we observe each year has become a day that is engulfed in activity that causes tensions to run high.  Rather than a day of praise and gratitude, it is spent exhausting ourselves attempting to fulfill expectations of family and guests.  After the food has been served and the kitchen has been cleaned, men gather around the television and women rush out to shop in stores that now open early to capitalize on Christmas dollars yet to be spent.  

Before we know it, midnight as come and the day intended for giving thanks has ended for another year.  Recipes made once a year are filed away and all thoughts turn to the next big day of festivities.  In all of the hustle and bustle, how much time was actually given to the Lord in appreciation for His great love and care?  

Aside from the necessary prayer at the table tomorrow, will we spend any private time with Him reflecting back on how He has sustained us this year?  Will our hearts be consumed with gratitude or will our focus be on the troubles of the moment?  Whatever our struggles are today will likely still be struggles tomorrow and will be vying for our attention.  Will we choose Him over worry and chaos? 

We are the Lord's first priority.   He is always present.  Always listening.  Always within our reach.  We may not be able to see Him physically with our eyes, but He is always active in our lives.  Every blessing that we receive comes directly from His hands.  He has promised to take care of our needs and to guide us through each step we need to take.  No matter what arises in our lives, His power is greater, His love all-encompassing and He is worthy of our praise.  

This year has been full of ups and downs, some of them have knocked me off my feet, which I am sure you have experienced as well.  However, the one thing we have always been able to count on is that we have a Father that can be depended upon to pick us up and dust us off and help us take the next step, no matter how hard that step might be.  Let's spend time with Him tomorrow letting Him know how much we love and appreciate Him.  Without Him, there would be nothing to celebrate.  

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:26 American Standard Version

Be thou not one of them that strike hands,
Or of them that are sureties for debts.

Morning Scripture Reading - 2 Corinthians 4:13-15 American Standard Version

But having the same spirit of faith, according to that which is written, I believed, and therefore did I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak; knowing that he that raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also with Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - James 1:16-18 American Standard Version

Be not deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:16 American Standard Version

The right hand of Jehovah is exalted:
The right hand of Jehovah doeth valiantly.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:24-25 American Standard Version

Make no friendship with a man that is given to anger;
And with a wrathful man thou shalt not go:
Lest thou learn his ways,
And get a snare to thy soul.

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 4:2-6 American Standard Version

Continue stedfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; withal praying for us also, that God may open unto us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 58:6-7 American Standard Version

Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:15 American Standard Version

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous:
The right hand of Jehovah doeth valiantly.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:23 American Standard Version

For Jehovah will plead their cause,
And despoil of life those that despoil them.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 American Standard Version

I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus; that in everything ye were enriched in him, in all utterance and all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye be unreproveable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom ye were called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Closing Prayer for the Gift of Health

Heavenly Father, as we gather our hearts in prayer, we are humbled by the richness of Your Word and the journey we've embarked upon in exploring the fifth kernel of gratitude—for health and Your sustaining grace. Your Scriptures have resonated with the melodies of thanksgiving, reminding us to "be thankful in all circumstances, for this is Your will for us who belong to Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We lift our gratitude for the precious gift of health, recognizing it as a divine endowment intricately woven with the threads of Your unending grace.

Lord, in moments of trial and triumph, may our hearts echo the symphony of thanksgiving, embracing the delicate dance of health and grace in our lives. As we step into each day, may the rhythm of gratitude guide our steps, and may we stand firm in Your grace, rooted in the recognition that each breath is a testament to Your faithfulness. In the name of Your Son, Jesus, whose sacrificial love secures our eternal gratitude, we pray. Amen.

Evening Scripture Reading - 2 Chronicles 5:11-14 American Standard Version

And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place (for all the priests that were present had sanctified themselves, and did not keep their courses; also the Levites who were the singers, all of them, even Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and their brethren, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them a hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets); it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking Jehovah; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised Jehovah, saying, For he is good; for his lovingkindness endureth for ever; that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of Jehovah, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of Jehovah filled the house of God.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:14 American Standard Version

Jehovah is my strength and song;
And he is become my salvation.

Cultivating Thankfulness in the Gift of Health

As we gather today in the warmth of God's presence, our hearts resonate with gratitude for the journey we've undertaken together in this Thanksgiving series. In these moments of reflection, we've explored the kernels of thanksgiving, each encapsulating a unique facet of our journey with the Lord.

Today, as we stand on the brink of Thanksgiving, our hearts turn to the fifth kernel—the kernel that symbolizes gratitude for health and the unyielding grace of our Heavenly Father. In a world marked by uncertainties, trials, and triumphs, our health becomes a precious gift, and God's grace, the steady anchor that sustains us through every storm.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, let us embark on this sacred exploration of gratitude—a gratitude rooted in the vitality of our physical well-being and the boundless grace that we've experienced in the presence of our loving God. May our hearts be open to receive the blessings of this season, recognizing that true thanksgiving flows from a deep appreciation for the gift of health and the enduring grace that guides our journey.

Let us dive into the richness of God's Word and the stories of His faithfulness, as we celebrate the fifth kernel with hearts overflowing with gratitude.

In navigating the essence of the fifth kernel, our hearts are tenderly drawn to the intricate dance of gratitude and understanding—gratitude for the delicate tapestry of our health and the profound nature of God's sustaining grace. Our health is not merely the absence of illness but a treasured gift bestowed upon us, a vessel through which we navigate the complexities of life. As Psalm 103:2-5 resonates, we echo David's sentiment: "Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me." This kernel prompts us to reflect on the intimate connection between physical well-being and our spiritual journey.

Recently, we journeyed alongside a dear friend who faced an extended period of illness. Despite the tireless efforts of doctors and specialists, the answers remained elusive. She spent her last days in the embrace of hospice, where she continued to praise God and share the Good News with unwavering strength. Her life serves as a poignant testament—a reminder that each day is precious, and every moment is an opportunity to witness to the grace that sustains us. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the apostle Paul unveils a profound truth: "Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.'" Our friend's journey underscores the profound reality that even in weakness, God's grace shines most brilliantly. Let us embark on a journey of understanding—grasping the delicate dance between health and grace, weaving a tapestry of gratitude in our lives.

As we explore the landscape of the fifth kernel, our journey takes us through the sacred terrain of gratitude amidst trials. It's a terrain marked by the undeniable truth that our faith is tested, and our endurance has an opportunity to grow. In Romans 8:28, we find solace: "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God..." This kernel beckons us to reflect on our personal experiences of trials and triumphs, navigating the delicate balance between hardship and the promise that God orchestrates all things for our good.

In this exploration, we encounter the intertwining stories of those around us. We bear witness to the poignant testimony of a dear friend who, in the face of insurmountable health challenges, clung to the unyielding grace of God. Her journey mirrors the words of Psalm 34:19, "The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time." Each trial became a testament to the Lord's faithfulness, an opportunity to witness to the enduring grace that sustains us.

My own journey intersects with this narrative—a season marked by a bone infection that demanded the tireless efforts of medical specialists. This infection, left unchecked, threatened to extend its reach to my brain. While in the hospital, a specialist, surprised to see me standing, remarked that he expected me to be bedridden and suffering. In those challenging moments, the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9 became a lifeline: "Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.'" Through trials, we learn that it is in our weakness that God's grace shines most brilliantly. As we delve into this kernel, let us navigate the sacred terrain of gratitude through trials, acknowledging that even in the darkest moments, God is working for our good.

Amidst the fabric of gratitude for health and God's grace, we find ourselves unwrapping the precious gift of physical well-being. In recognizing our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, as beautifully stated in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we acknowledge that good health is not merely a happenstance but a divine endowment. This kernel prompts us to reflect on the responsibility that comes with the stewardship of our bodies—caring for the vessel through which the Holy Spirit resides.

The apostle John, in 3 John 1:2, extends a heartfelt wish: "Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit." This wish transcends mere physical well-being; it extends to the robustness of our spiritual health. It beckons us to not squander away the blessing of good health but to recognize its interconnectedness with our spiritual well-being.

In this exploration, we confront the reality that our bodies are not isolated entities but integral parts of our holistic existence. The gift of good health invites us to consider how we steward this blessing, not only for our physical vitality but as a means to nourish our spiritual well-being. As we unwrap this kernel, let us cherish the divine gift of health and commit ourselves to the intertwined journey of physical and spiritual flourishing.

As we stand on the precipice of gratitude, contemplating the fifth kernel—the gratitude for health and God's grace—we find ourselves enveloped in the profound truth that a heart of thanksgiving is both a response and a daily choice. In Colossians 3:15, we're reminded to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and to always be thankful. This verse beckons us to cultivate a spirit of perpetual gratitude, allowing thankfulness to be the melody that orchestrates the symphony of our lives.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the call to "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" resonates as a divine imperative. This kernel invites us to transcend the circumstantial and embrace a heart posture that remains thankful, irrespective of the trials and tribulations we encounter. It's a recognition that, through every challenge, God is at work, and His grace sustains us.

Our collective journey includes peaks and valleys, moments of joy and seasons of trial. Yet, this kernel serves as a poignant reminder that our hearts should remain tethered to gratitude. Daily, we're urged to thank God for the breath in our lungs, the beat of our hearts, and the intricate dance of health and grace. Above all, we lift our voices in thanksgiving for the unparalleled gift of salvation, graciously provided through the sacrificial love of His Son, Jesus.

So, my beloved brothers and sisters, let us not reserve our thanksgiving for specific moments but cultivate a heart of gratitude that echoes daily. In the symphony of our lives, may the melody of thanksgiving be harmonized with the divine rhythm of God's grace.

As we draw the curtains on our exploration of the fifth kernel—gratitude for health and God's grace—we find ourselves standing at the intersection of remembrance and thanksgiving. The recent passing of a dear friend, who bravely embraced her journey with unyielding gratitude, stands as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life. Simultaneously, my own medical journey, navigating the shadow of a bone infection, underscores the reality that health is a gift often taken for granted until it's intricately woven with the threads of uncertainty.

It's an all-too-common tendency to overlook the intricate dance of health and grace, dismissing the preciousness of each moment as we hurry through the tapestry of our days. Yet, this kernel whispers a gentle truth—that in the mundane and extraordinary, in trials and triumphs, our hearts should be tuned to the melody of thanksgiving. Every breath, every step, is a divine gift, intricately woven into the fabric of God's grace.

Let us not squander this gift by overlooking the profound reality that health, both physical and spiritual, is a divine endowment. Instead, may our hearts resound with gratitude for the gift of each moment, recognizing the intertwining of health and grace in our lives. As we step from this sacred exploration into the rhythm of our daily lives, let us carry with us the echo of thanksgiving—a melody that harmonizes with the divine rhythm of God's grace. In every circumstance, in every trial, let us stand firm in His grace, rooted in gratitude for the intricate dance of health and the sustaining embrace of God's unending grace.

May the Lord's blessings and His gracious presence be with you. May He shine His light upon your path and grant you His peace.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:22 American Standard Version

Rob not the poor, because he is poor;
Neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:

Morning Scripture Reading - Colossians 3:15 American Standard Version

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Amos 5:4-9 American Standard Version

For thus saith Jehovah unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live; but seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Beth-el shall come to nought. Seek Jehovah, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, and there be none to quench it in Beth-el. Ye who turn justice to wormwood, and cast down righteousness to the earth, seek him that maketh the Pleiades and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night; that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth (Jehovah is his name); that bringeth sudden destruction upon the strong, so that destruction cometh upon the fortress.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:13 American Standard Version

Thou didst thrust sore at me that I might fall;
But Jehovah helped me.

Bible Study: "Gratitude for Health and God's Grace"


As we journey through this Bible study, let's open our hearts to the profound theme of gratitude. The fifth kernel represents our thankfulness for health and the unyielding grace of God. In times of adversity, when storms of life threaten to overwhelm, our faith in God's provision becomes a beacon of hope. Feel free to share your stories and experiences in the comments, as we learn from one another's journeys of thanksgiving through trials.

1. Gratitude in Adversity: James 1:2-4 (NLT)
"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."

Reflect and Share: How have challenges in your life become opportunities for spiritual growth and endurance?

2. Trusting God in Times of Need: Philippians 4:19 (NLT)
"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."

Reflect and Share: Share instances when you felt God's provision during times of need.

3. Gratitude for God's Unchanging Nature: Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Reflect and Share: How does the unchanging nature of God bring comfort and assurance during turbulent times?

4. Rejoicing in Hope: Romans 12:12 (NLT)
"Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying."

Reflect and Share: How does rejoicing in hope contribute to a heart of gratitude, especially in challenging circumstances?

5. God's Faithfulness in Thanksgiving: Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation."

Reflect and Share: In what ways has God's faithfulness been evident in your life, leading to a heart of thanksgiving?

As we delve into these passages, let's allow the Word of God to nourish our hearts with gratitude. In times of trial and abundance, may our thanksgiving be a constant melody, echoing the faithfulness of our unchanging God. Feel free to share your stories and experiences in the comments, as your journey becomes a source of encouragement for others. Stand firm in the assurance that, regardless of circumstances, God provides, and our shared gratitude becomes an offering of praise.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:21 American Standard Version

To make thee know the certainty of the words of truth,
That thou mayest carry back words of truth to them that send thee?

Morning Scripture Reading - Genesis 17:1-2 American Standard Version

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Deuteronomy 29:29 American Standard Version

The secret things belong unto Jehovah our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:12 American Standard Version

They compassed me about like bees;
they are quenched as the fire of thorns:
In the name of Jehovah I will cut them off.

The Countdown to Thanks

We're on the brink of a profound moment—gratitude for health and God's sustaining grace. The countdown to thanks is almost over. Your presence on Sunday is invaluable. Consider supporting our ministry with the equivalent of a cup of coffee. Let's celebrate together!

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:20 American Standard Version

Have not I written unto thee excellent things
Of counsels and knowledge,

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 7:14-17 American Standard Version

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practise; but what I hate, that I do. But if what I would not, that I do, I consent unto the law that it is good. So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12 American Standard Version

For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and righteously and unblamably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe: as ye know how we dealt with each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging you, and testifying, to the end that ye should walk worthily of God, who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:11 American Standard Version

They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about:
In the name of Jehovah I will cut them off.

Preparing Hearts for Gratitude

In a few more days, we gather to express gratitude for the fifth kernel—the precious gift of health and the grace that sustained us. Let's prepare our hearts for this joyous celebration together. Your support, like a cup of coffee, fuels our ministry. Will you join us?

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:19 American Standard Version

That thy trust may be in Jehovah,
I have made them known to thee this day, even to thee.

Morning Scripture Reading - 1 Chronicles 16:34 American Standard Version

O give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good;
For his lovingkindness endureth for ever.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 60:3 American Standard Version

And nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:10 American Standard Version

All nations compassed me about:
In the name of Jehovah I will cut them off.

Mid-Week Message - Always in His Sight

"For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their prayer..."   1 Peter 3:12a  (NIV)

I can still see the look in his eyes.  When my daughter was four years old, we went to Texas City, Texas to visit my parents and my aunt and uncle.  One of the things I wanted to do was to take her to Galveston to see the beach and the ocean.  On the evening that we chose to go, my father, who never wanted to miss a moment with his first grandchild, decided to ride along.  

Before we got to the beach, she spotted a roadside carnival and began asking if we could go there after the beach.  She liked the sand and all the water, but she was most excited about stopping to have some fun on the way home.  Being that I also always loved carnivals, we stopped.  

She rode the Merry-Go-Round and a couple of other rides meant for young children.  We played a couple of the games and had some cotton candy.  She was curious about the Ferris Wheel so I asked the man who was running it if it would be safe for me to take her for a ride, as I was concerned about my weight causing a problem.  After giving me the history of the wheel, he assured me it was more than sturdy enough.  

Now my father had never liked this particular ride.  He didn't trust it and he surely did not want his daughter and granddaughter on it.  He told me he didn't think it was a good idea and he asked me to please reconsider.  However, by this time my daughter was excited and, frankly, so was I.  After taking our seat and as the wheel started moving, I looked at my father and saw distress.  He was so worried.  

When I recalled this incident the other day, I began thinking about our Heavenly Father and how diligent He is to watch His children.  Psalm 139 tells us that He is always aware of what we are doing, so I wonder what the look would be in His eyes when we put ourselves in danger or engage in sinful activities.  

The look in my dad's eyes came from his love for us.  If our parents love us that much, just think how incredible the love of God is!  I didn't honor Daddy's request and it hurt him because he was trying to keep us safe.  When we fail to follow the Lord's leading, we have to be aware that we are choosing our own path rather than staying under the protected cover of His wings.  

Thankfully, nothing happened to us that evening.  Were I to have the chance to relive the moment, I would take my father's advice because now I understand that, in his wisdom, he knew that I was putting both myself and my daughter in avoidable danger.  With age comes a deeper understanding of the frailty of life.  I am so grateful for his deep love and that the Lord chose that precious man to raise me.  And I am astounded by what the Father has taught me about Himself through my time with my dad.  

Lord, thank you that your eyes are always on us.  How I'd love to see the look of love that you have for each of your children.  

"I sing because I'm happy.  I sing because I'm free.  For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."  💓

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:18 American Standard Version

For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee,
If they be established together upon thy lips.

Morning Scripture Reading - 2 Samuel 22:31-37 American Standard Version

As for God, his way is perfect:
The word of Jehovah is tried;
He is a shield unto all them that take refuge in him.
For who is God, save Jehovah?
And who is a rock, save our God?
God is my strong fortress;
And he guideth the perfect in his way.
He maketh his feet like hinds’ feet,
And setteth me upon my high places.
He teacheth my hands to war,
So that mine arms do bend a bow of brass.
Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation;
And thy gentleness hath made me great.
Thou hast enlarged my steps under me;
And my feet have not slipped.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - 1 John 4:12-16 American Standard Version

No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us: hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:9 American Standard Version

It is better to take refuge in Jehovah
Than to put confidence in princes.

The Fifth Kernel Unveiled

On Sunday, November 19th, we unveil the final kernel—the essence of thankfulness for health and God's unwavering grace. It's a celebration of the strength that carried us through trials. Don't miss this moment of gratitude. Support our ministry with the generosity of a cup of coffee.

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:17 American Standard Version

Incline thine ear, and hear the words of the wise,
And apply thy heart unto my knowledge.

Morning Scripture Reading - Exodus 23:25-26 American Standard Version

And ye shall serve Jehovah your God, and he will bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. There shall none cast her young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Evening Scripture Reading - Isaiah 56:1-2 American Standard Version

Thus saith Jehovah, Keep ye justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that holdeth it fast; that keepeth the sabbath from profaning it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:8 American Standard Version

It is better to take refuge in Jehovah
Than to put confidence in man.

A Prelude to Thanks

As we step into this week, let's anticipate the crescendo of gratitude awaiting us on Sunday. Join us as we explore the fifth kernel—gratitude for health and God's grace. Your presence and support mean the world. Can you spare the price of a coffee to support our ministry?

Proverbs Scripture Reading - Proverbs 22:16 American Standard Version

He that oppresseth the poor to increase his gain,
And he that giveth to the rich, shall come only to want.

Morning Scripture Reading - Romans 5:6-11 American Standard Version

For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life; and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Prayer for Nurturing Friendships

Heavenly Father,

We come before you with grateful hearts, acknowledging the precious gift of friendships in our lives. Thank you for the tapestry of connections that you've woven into our journey, each friendship a unique thread contributing to the beautiful design of our existence.

Lord, help us to cherish and nurture these bonds. May our friendships be built on the solid foundation of love, trust, and understanding. Teach us to be loyal friends, just as you exemplify unwavering faithfulness to us.

Grant us the wisdom to appreciate the differences that make each friendship special, and the patience to navigate through challenges. May our friendships reflect the beauty of unity in diversity, mirroring the love you have for each one of us.

Lord, may our hearts overflow with gratitude for the friends who sharpen us, support us, and journey with us through life's highs and lows. As we celebrate the gift of friendships, help us to extend the same grace and love to others.

In the name of Jesus, our ultimate friend and confidant, we pray.


Evening Scripture Reading - Hebrews 11:5-6 American Standard Version

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him: for he hath had witness borne to him that before his translation he had been well-pleasing unto God: and without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

Psalms Scripture Reading - Psalm 118:7 American Standard Version

Jehovah is on my side among them that help me:
Therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.

A Tapestry of Thanks: The Fourth Kernel - Nurturing Friendships

As we venture deeper into the heart of the Thanksgiving season, our exploration of the Five Kernels of Corn brings us to the fourth kernel, a kernel that symbolizes the profound sentiment of "Gratitude for Friendships." These kernels, each laden with historical significance, invite us to reflect on the blessings that shape the fabric of our lives. As we delve into the realm of friendship, we not only draw inspiration from timeless examples in the Old Testament, such as the unwavering bond between David and Jonathan but also from historical narratives that echo the enduring power of companionship.

Consider, for a moment, the remarkable friendship that blossomed between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. In the face of unfamiliarity and adversity, these two communities forged a friendship that transcended cultural differences. It was a friendship marked by shared wisdom, mutual support, and a genuine desire to understand and learn from one another. This historical testament to unity in diversity sets the stage for our exploration of gratitude for friendships.

As we journey through history, we encounter countless examples that illuminate the beauty of human connection. Think of the camaraderie among leaders who, despite the tumultuous nature of their times, found solace and strength in their friendships. Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two towering figures from different backgrounds, shared a friendship that defied the prevailing norms of their era. In our global tapestry, friendships like these serve as beacons, guiding us toward understanding, compassion, and collective progress.

So, as we unwrap the layers of "Gratitude for Friendships," let the examples of David and Jonathan's unwavering loyalty and the harmonious alliance between the Native Americans and Pilgrims echo in our hearts. Let the historical tapestry of friendships paint a vivid picture of the enduring power that connection, understanding, and mutual support can bring to our lives. Stand firm in the grace of these friendships, and as we embark on this exploration, may our hearts resonate with gratitude for the friendships that shape our stories and enrich our shared history.

In the pages of the Old Testament, the friendship between David and Jonathan stands as a testament to the enduring power of companionship. Their connection surpassed the conventional boundaries of friendship, embracing loyalty, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to a higher purpose. In 1 Samuel 18:1 (NLT), we catch a glimpse of this profound bond: "After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king's son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David."

As we reflect on this ancient friendship, we unearth valuable lessons about the essence of true companionship. In Proverbs 18:24 (NLT), we encounter a timeless truth: "There are 'friends' who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother." David and Jonathan exemplified this closeness, offering a profound example of the selfless, sacrificial nature that defines genuine friendships.

In our fast-paced world, where relationships can often be fleeting, the gratitude for enduring friendships becomes even more significant. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT) encapsulates this sentiment beautifully: "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble."

The power of gratitude for friendships lies not only in the joy shared during moments of triumph but also in the unwavering support offered in times of trial. Just as David and Jonathan navigated challenges together, we too find strength in the bonds of true friendship.

Amidst the windswept shores of Plymouth, a chapter of history unfolded that would forever mark the essence of gratitude—the profound friendship between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. As the Pilgrims disembarked the Mayflower, stepping onto unfamiliar soil in search of freedom, they encountered the indigenous people who inhabited the land. This intersection of two worlds would give birth to a friendship that transcended cultural divides.

In the pages of history, we find echoes of this friendship in the tales of Squanto, a Native American who played a pivotal role in helping the Pilgrims adapt to their new surroundings. His assistance in teaching them vital agricultural techniques and forging alliances with neighboring tribes became the cornerstone of a bond forged in the crucible of adversity.

The friendship between the Pilgrims and Native Americans was not merely a diplomatic alliance; it was a genuine exchange of knowledge, support, and respect. It manifested in shared feasts, where the fruits of the land were celebrated, and a sense of unity prevailed despite differences in language and customs.

As we reflect on this historical friendship, it stands as a testament to the power of unity and gratitude. In a world often marked by division, their story teaches us the importance of reaching across cultural boundaries, embracing differences, and cultivating friendships that enrich the collective human experience.

The lessons from this historical tapestry resonate in the present day, encouraging us to foster connections that go beyond our immediate circles. Let the spirit of the Pilgrims and Native Americans inspire us to seek understanding, extend a hand of friendship, and, in the process, cultivate a tapestry of unity that transcends generations.

As we navigate the corridors of history, another powerful testament to friendship emerges—a narrative that not only altered the minds and hearts of individuals but propelled an ideal into the realm of reality. This transformative change exacted a steep toll on our nation, yet it served as the crucible through which the lofty proclamation of the Declaration of Independence, declaring that "all men are created equal," was fiercely advanced. The echoes of this friendship reverberate through time, reminding us that the journey toward equality and justice is often paved with the enduring bonds of camaraderie.

In the annals of history, amid the turbulent era of slavery and Civil War, a remarkable friendship emerged—a friendship that defied societal norms and stood as a beacon of hope and progress. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, and Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave turned abolitionist leader, forged a bond that transcended the deeply entrenched divisions of their time.

In the crucible of the Civil War, Lincoln faced the formidable challenge of preserving the Union and abolishing slavery. Douglass, a fervent advocate for the abolition of slavery, initially viewed Lincoln with skepticism. However, as the two men engaged in a series of meetings and discussions, a profound friendship blossomed. Douglass, once critical, came to respect Lincoln's commitment to ending slavery and recognized in him a partner in the fight for justice.

Their friendship was not merely symbolic; it led to tangible change. Lincoln welcomed Douglass's counsel, and Douglass, in turn, offered invaluable insights on issues of race, freedom, and equality. This extraordinary collaboration between a President and an escaped slave demonstrated the power of friendship to transcend societal barriers and drive transformation.

As we reflect on the friendship between Lincoln and Douglass, we draw contemporary lessons about the potential of friendships to bridge gaps and foster understanding. In our diverse and complex world, marked by its own set of challenges, their story serves as a poignant reminder that friendships, even in the face of profound differences, can be catalysts for positive change.

Just as David and Jonathan's friendship in the Old Testament guided us in understanding the essence of companionship, Lincoln and Douglass exemplify how friendship can be a force for societal transformation. Their story challenges us to cultivate friendships that push us toward empathy, unity, and shared progress.

In the rich tapestry of history, we've woven through the narratives of profound friendships—from the unwavering bond of David and Jonathan in the Old Testament to the transformative connection between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. These friendships stand as pillars, testaments to the enduring power of companionship in shaping the course of human events.

As we reflect on these historical friendships, let the words of Proverbs 27:17 resonate in our hearts: "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Each friendship, whether in the ancient tales or recent history, has the potential to refine and elevate, molding us into better versions of ourselves.

The friendship of David and Jonathan teaches us loyalty, sacrifice, and the beauty of standing by one another in both triumph and tribulation. The camaraderie between Lincoln and Douglass speaks to the transformative power of unity in advancing ideals that form the very backbone of our nation.

And in the gentle embrace of history, we find the Pilgrims and the Native Americans—a friendship that unfolded on the shores of Plymouth, where unfamiliar faces met in a dance of mutual understanding. Their tale is one of shared knowledge, support, and respect, echoing the ideals of unity and gratitude that persist to this day.

So, stand firm in His grace, dear reader, knowing that the friendships we hold, both earthly and divine, are a gift to be celebrated. As we approach the Thanksgiving season, let our hearts overflow with thanks for the dear friends who sharpen us, support us, and journey with us through life's highs and lows. In the symphony of gratitude, may the chorus of our hearts resound: "What a friend we have in Jesus."

May the Lord's blessings and His gracious presence be with you. May He shine His light upon your path and grant you His peace.