Thanksgiving … a gratitude celebration. What are you grateful for?

Vegetables

 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

That first Thanksgiving celebration in America was a celebration of survival, a celebration of freedom, a celebration of worshipping God, and a celebration of new friends, the Native Americans who taught the Pilgrims and Puritans how to survive.

After a year of sickness and fleeting food, the Pilgrims and Puritans reaped a bountiful harvest. In 1621, an American tradition was born, a gratitude celebration.

Our God is a God of celebrations. He established the Passover and commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover to remember the time of their departure from Egypt and to point them to the future Messiah.

Another celebration God established was the Feast of Tabernacles:

13 Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Deuteronomy 16:13-15

A time of departure.

A time of harvest.

A time of work.

A time of joy.

All to be celebrated.

What are you celebrating today?

My prayer for you:

Father, we thank You for Your bountiful provision, for Your protection, for Your guidance, and for Your works. Thank You for establishing times to reflect upon the milestones in our lives and the life of America. May we live in gratitude and remember that it is You who bless us and provide for us. Thank You, Lord, that You love us. In Jesus’ holy name, we pray. Amen

Jesus feeds the 5,000 – 7-step lesson of the miracle

Grassy HillA grassy hillside in the Galilee region

Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test [prove] him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” John 6:3-7

Jesus and His disciples had retreated to the mountain after they received the news that John the Baptist had been beheaded.

When I heard that Pastor Chuck Smith had gone to be with the Lord, I was on my way to work. I had meetings to attend, phone calls to make, and talking points to write. As I drove, I remembered our time in Israel with Pastor Chuck, the times at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, and the changes in my life as a result of Pastor Chuck’s influence. When I got to the office, I shut my door to pray, grieve, and remember. I thanked God for Papa Pastor Chuck, opened my door, and attended to the needs of the day.

There was Jesus with His disciples, perhaps remembering the good that John the Baptist had done, grieving, and thanking God. Then, Jesus looked up, saw a need and taught the disciples how to attend to the need in a seven-step process:

1.  Possibility: Where’s the opportunity to fill the need?

Jesus asked Phillip, Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?”

2.  Recognize: Acknowledge our limitations.

Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.”

3.  Surrender: It’s not much, Jesus, but this is what we have.

Andrew came to Jesus and said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”

4.  Obey: Take the next step even if you don’t know what Jesus will do.

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

5.  Observe: Watch Jesus at work.

Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted.

6.  Gather: Preserve the miraculous increase.

When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”

7.  Reflect: Ponder the lesson in the miracle.

“Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’ … Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:31-35

After the miracle, Jesus departed to the mountain alone, and the disciples left by boat. They retreated.

After a long day at work, I enjoyed remembering Papa Pastor Chuck with my husband, Keith.

There is a time of retreat and a time of ministering. Sometimes rest is interrupted by need.

My prayer for you:

Father, empower us to recognize the process and possibilities open to us as we allow You to work in this world. May we surrender all that we have to You, so that You can multiply it beyond our imagination. Bring us to that retreat with You and teach us the lesson of taking in Manna from heaven. We praise You, Father, for Your goodness and holiness.

What will bring you peace?

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Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! Luke 19:38

Hosanna! Save now was the cry.

This King, riding a colt,

This King, descending the path of the Passover Lamb,

This King, coming in the name of the Lord,

This King, bringing salvation.

This King, weeping.

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42

Passover Lamb

As the Passover Lamb was examined and proclaimed without a blemish, so was our Lord Jesus. Jesus knew no sin.

The first Passover Lamb was taken into the home of the family, and some say that the family grew fond of the lamb, treating it like a pet.

Jesus entered Jerusalem following the path of the procession of the Passover Lambs. The multitudes praised Him and honored Him as their King. He taught them daily in the temple, and they soaked up His teachings.

And yet, they did not understand that they had been visited by God. They did not understand that the Kingdom of God was in their presence.

Their cry was “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Peace was in their presence, and they did not recognize it.

What brings peace

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

Jesus give us peace with God, a peace that is not dependent on our actions or others’ actions. This peace was bought with His blood and His flesh. Jesus paid the price for our sins and wiped away all that separated us from God.

Jesus breathes His peace upon us, all we have to do is take it in and live in His peace.

My prayer for you:

Save now, O Lord. Bring Your peace that only You can bestow upon these dear readers. Fill them with Your Presence and guide them as they walk in the fullness of Your grace, Your salvation, and Your enduring love. You, O Lord, are our Peace.