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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Give Thanks


GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES


By Kathy Graumann

November 7, 2012

 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

First Thessalonians 5:18

 

Our Heavenly Father created a perfect world, a world that was flawless, without sin or shame. When mankind chose to sin, our Father’s world became corrupted. Yet, our Father loved mankind and sent His Son to redeem us. In the midst of the turmoil and pain our sin has caused, our Father beseeches us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

“In all circumstances,” He commands. Even when Hurricane Sandy destroys my home or when a United States ambassador has been murdered by terrorists? Even when I have lost my job or the farmland is dry and parched? Does God call me to obey His command to give thanks even when cancer invades my body or dementia overtakes a parent or when my candidate is defeated in the national election?

Our Father did not say, “…in most circumstances” give thanks; instead, He commanded, “…in all circumstances” give thanks. Obeying God’s command to give thanks is a choice He alone empowers us to make.

Even when I am in pain and the world about me is in turmoil, even when our religious liberty is threatened and infringed upon, I know that my Father has everything in His control, even when I cannot perceive it. I know that He loves me perfectly and that every situation and event in my life is filtered through Him for my best. I can walk through troubles with quiet confidence in God’s sovereignty and divine purpose for everything He allows. Every frustration, every disappointment, every spiritual battle, and—yes, every joy in our lives—has a purpose and is used by our Father to refine us, to produce within us godly character, to draw us closer to Himself, and to fulfill His unique plan for our lives.

The poem, “The Tapestry of My Life,” expresses these truths:

My life is but a weaving

Between my Lord and me.

I cannot choose the colors

He works so steadily.

 

Oft times He weaves in sorrow

And I, in foolish pride,

Forget He sees the upper

And I, the underside.

 

Not ‘til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly,

Will God unroll the tapestry,

And explain the reason why.

 

The dark threads are as needed

In the Weaver’s skillful hand,

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned.

 

Let us, therefore, with joy, give thanks to our God and Father in all circumstances.

Prayer

Dear Father, we, who call ourselves Christian, come to You today, humbling ourselves before Your holiness. Where we have each personally sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, we ask for Your forgiveness. Where we, as a nation, have dishonored You and rejected what You value, forgive us. Cause the people of this great country, especially those who are called by Your name, to turn from sin and seek Your face. You call us, Lord, to give thanks in all circumstances. We choose to obey You. Your purposes are good, and we know that You have control over all things. Transform our anxiety into peace that passes all understanding. Your goal is to accomplish what is best for us in our lives. You work for our eternal good, for our eternal, sustaining joy. Thank You for the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross.  Thank You for being the Light shining in a dark and desperate world. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Honor the Military

 
 
In the United States, Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The armistice ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be "filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.” Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and, in many places, the American flag is flown at half-mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11 AM.

In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I and declared that the anniversary of the armistice should be commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving. The Congress also requested that the president should issue a proclamation calling upon officials to display the flag of the United States on all government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) was approved on May 13, 1938, that made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, known as Armistice Day. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I. A few years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States. American forces also fought in Korea. In 1954, the veterans’ service organizations urged Congress to change the word "Armistice" to "Veterans". Congress approved this change, and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans, where ever and whenever they had served.

Honor Our Military

Let's honor our military,
The men and women who serve,
Whose dedication to our country
Does not falter, halt or swerve.

Let's respect them for their courage;
They're ready to do what's right
To keep America safe,
So we can sleep better at night.

Let's support and defend our soldiers,
Whose hardships are brutal and cruel,
Whose discipline we can't imagine,
Who follow each order and rule.

Here's to those who choose to be warriors
And their helpers good and true;
They're fighting for American values;
They're fighting for me and you.

By Joanna Fuchs

www.poemsource.com

 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Exercise Your Right to Vote




We are blessed to have the privilege to vote in the upcoming election. This election just may be one of the most important elections in our nation’s history. We will have the distinct privilege to act upon our spiritual and moral obligations in this election. The commitment and courage of people of faith can restore truth and morality to our land through the power of prayer and the exercise of our freedom to choose godly leaders who will govern according to Christian principles.

Many of our forebears left their homeland so they could practice their faith without persecution. Being free—not only to worship, but also to live according to the teachings of their faith—was a driving force in their decision to uproot their families and establish themselves in America. In recent months, our government has taken steps that many believe infringe upon religious liberty. As we are on the cusp of national, state, and local elections, it is important to become informed citizens who follow our consciences and sound reason to support candidates, legislation, and social and political efforts that would improve society and safeguard our religious liberty.

Our nation was founded on Biblical values. In 1776, the members of the Continental Congress called for a day of prayer believing that “by sincere repentance and amendment of life,” they might “appease God’s righteous displeasure and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain pardon and forgiveness.” In 1863, Abraham Lincoln stated that “it behooves us to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins and to pray to the God who made us.” The Holy Scriptures records this promise of God in Second Chronicles 7:14, “If My people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Dr. Billy Graham stated, “We need to pray that God will give us officials in the White House and in Congress who will give moral leadership to our country, men and women who fear God and will turn the eyes of American back to Him.”

In the remaining days before the election, I encourage you to pray for our country, our leaders, those who serve in the armed forces, and for all those who work to preserve freedom, peace, and justice. Educate yourself about the issues facing our country and the positions of those running for elected office. Participate fully in the political process, and let your leaders know the issues that are important to you. Engage in respectful, informed discussion with family and friends, and be sure to exercise your right to vote.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An Acrostic Poem, Lighten Up!

The new school year 2012 - 2013 has begun at Salem Lutheran School in Tomball, Texas. Even after serving for 42 years as an educator, I still begin each new school year with fresh enthusiasm. I love teaching! I especially delight in introducing young eager minds to a love of words and how words can be knit together in a multitude of ways to express thoughts and feelings, relate events, and tell stories.

During these first few weeks of school, I have exposed my students to acrostic poetry, cinquain poetry, and haiku poetry. Students are writing about experiences and concepts with which they are acquainted. They are also writing about Salem's theme for the year, Lighten Up!, and preparing verses for the upcoming Veterans' Day celebration.




Below is an acrostic poem written on the SLS theme verse, Isaiah 60:1 -- "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."

Live in the light of Christ's love,
Inspiring others through
Generous giving of one's self and resources,
Happily
Thanking God for
Every blessing from His gracious hand,
Never
Under-estimating God's lavish
Providence and provision.

Monday, August 20, 2012

­­Purified by Adversity


Bible Verse:

Psalm 119:71 (ESV) – “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”


Additional Bible Reading:


James 1:2-4 (ESV) – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”


Devotion:



Depression has typically been my first response to the fires of adversity. Unpleasant words and actions sear deeply into my soul leaving painful scars. Even when the flames of adversity roar about me, I know that God is still actively present, caring for me in all circumstances and allowing the upheaval in my life to accomplish a greater purpose. When I suffer the consequences of my own sinful choices, I know that God is lovingly permitting the winds of adversity to burn away my imperfections and supply a quality I lack so that I can become spiritually mature, purified for his purposes. As I renew my intimacy with God, I trust his promise to never leave me or forsake me.

Prayer:

Dear Father, when the fires of adversity cause upheaval in my life, strengthen my faith in your good purposes and renew my trust in your promises.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 Challenge:                          
Consider your own response to adversity. Does it draw you into greater intimacy with God?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Facing Adversity

Meditation:

Bible Verse:

Isaiah 55:8, 9 (ESV) – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Additional Bible Reading:


Romans 8:28

Devotion:

 In our fallen world, bad things happen to people who do good things. The Aurora, Colorado, movie theater tragedy of July 2012 is a riveting example of this truth. When sin came into the world, suffering accompanied it. Our own foolish choices cause heartache.  Satan plots to destroy our lives and our Christian testimony, attempting to render us useless for God’s purposes in this life. For those who place their trust in God, we know that every adversity that befalls us has been sent or allowed by God to achieve his good purposes. In his love for us, he has the power to take every adversity and use it to grow us in faith, transforming us into the image of Christ.

Prayer:
Dear Father, in the midst of adversity, strengthen my faith in your good purposes.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 Challenge:                          
Reflect upon a time of adversity in your past when God used it for his good purposes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tell Me a Story

Bible Verse:
Psalm 102:18 (ESV) – “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.”

Additional Bible Reading:


Psalm 71:18, 19; Deuteronomy 32:7

Devotion:


­
Invariably, one of my six precious grandchildren will ask what life was like for me when I was a child. I treasure these moments, because they give me the opportunity to share with them God’s watch care throughout my life.­­­­­­­ To recount the mighty works of God with my grandchildren is a high priority for me, for it is a high priority for God. During these sacred moments of remembering how God has faithfully intervened in my life in the past and has kept his promises to me, faith in God is nurtured in my grandchildren and confidence for their future is strengthened. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11 (ESV)”

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for your faithfulness that endures to all generations, for your steadfast love that never ceases, and for your mercies that never come to an end. Help me convey these stories to others so that they may be connected more closely to you. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Challenge:                          
Share with a young person a personal story from your past that demonstrates God’s faithfulness to you.