prayer thursday: thanksgiving

1

Category : God, different, faith, hope, miracles, worship

 

Today is Thanksgiving.  A day we Americans typically eat a ton of food, spend time with friends and family, and watch the Lions lose.  And it’s also the conclusion to R3’s series on thanks giving.  I’ve found that just writing and thinking about these posts has really impacted my perspective.  I find I’m a lot more thankful for just the random stuff in my life.  I hope you find the same.

Thankfulness

God – Thank you for everything you do in my life.  Most days I simply don’t take enough time to thank you for all the miracles I experience.  If I’m honest, I almost never thank you for anything.  In fact, my attitude tends to be one of ungratefulness, rather than gratitude.  I am sorry for that.

As I sit here thinking about how complex life is, I am amazed that my body can breathe air, type words, and hold a conversation with you all at the same time.  Even though I usually take it for granted, I am grateful for a working body. 

Mostly though, I find today I am very thankful for you.  You’ve completely changed my life.  You’ve completely changed me!  And you did it for no other reason than you love me.  Not because I deserved it.  Not because I earned it.  Simply because you are love.  For that I am thankful. 

As I enjoy thanksgiving with friends and family, I ask that you watch over them, and everyone else.  Perform miracles, heal the sick, and do amazing things – and I am thankful even when you aren’t doing those things in my life. 

You are a loving God.  For that I am thankful!  Amen.

<comments are open, feel free to add your own prayer of thanks>

thanks giving: the little things

1

Category : God, faith, fear, hope, miracles

 

Looking back at the list of things I am thankful for, I can’t help but notice how many “small things” are on it.  To be honest that surprises me.  Before I sat down, I fully expected my list to have a lot of “big ticket” items.  For instance, my car, my apartment, or even the Steelers. 

But most of what I’m truly thankful for are the so-called “simple pleasures” in my life.  Instead of being excited about the material possessions I have, what matters most to me are the basics – like being able to eat Sour Patch Kids

I’m not sure I would have recognized that without this exercise. 

It sounds cliché, but the small things really do matter.  So often we think that in order to be thankful and happy the big things must fall into place.  We tell ourselves, “if we just get this promotion I’ll be happy.”  Or “if only she likes me, then everything would be okay.”  But I’m finding that’s just the opposite.  My life has never been more “up in the air”.  And it’s the little things in my life that keep me excited and motivated. 

Funny how it takes hardship and struggling to realize that…

proof of God

1

Category : Exodus, God, faith, miracles

  

“You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him.” (Exodus 16: 8)

I’ve often heard people say, “if only God would do something to prove he was real, I’d believe him.”  If I’m honest I have to admit that I’ve said that exact thing.  Sometimes I still do.  But is that really what makes you believe in God?

The Israelites had all the proof they could ever want.  They had just been delivered from years of slavery.  They had seen their families and livestock spared while Egypt’s were destroyed. They had seen miracle after miracle, and yet, they still couldn’t simply believe in God.

Doesn’t this hold true to our experiences as well?  When God gives us exactly what we want, don’t we find a way to discredit the miracle?  We find ourselves saying it was coincidence or “a lucky break.”  Sometimes we even take credit for it ourselves.  After all, it was only your determination that got you that job interview, right?

God is always giving us evidence for his existence.  He was no different with the Israelites.  That’s the amazing thing about God – when Israel doubted him, he simply gave them more reason to believe.   “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” (Exodus 16: 12)

I would have told Israel they could eat when they found the next Quick-E-Mart.

For some of us no amount of evidence seems to be enough.  But maybe, just maybe, the issue isn’t really about God.  Maybe it’s more about how we respond to what God does show us. 

miracles

Category : faith, miracles

   

When you think about miracles what comes to mind?

Something big?  Something spectacular?  You know, burning bushes, parting seas, a winning season out of the Pittsburgh Pirates?  But miracles aren’t always big.  Sometimes they are small.  Sometimes just being able to get out of bed to go to work is a miracle.

The same thing can be said about how quickly miracles occur.  So often we think that if our prayers aren’t answered immediately, they will never be answered.  But that’s not the case.  As CS Lewis once said, a slow miracle was no less a miracle than a fast one.

Sometimes we complain about a lack of miracles in our lives.  But maybe that’s not the real issue.  Maybe the real issue is that we don’t always recognize the miracles we do experience.

what I’m reading: Judges

Category : God, bible, feeding my brain, miracles

  

Sometimes when you think of the Bible you have two different pictures of God.  There’s the hippy, happy-go-lucky God from the New Testament.  And the mean, angry, I’m-going-to-smote-you God from the Old Testament.  At least that’s how I used to picture the Bible before I actually started to read it.

That’s why I really enjoy books from the Old Testament like Judges – it challenges those misperceptions.  There are two themes in Judges that really resonate with me.  The first is that you can be a total screwup and God will still use you.  The second: God has ridiculous patience. 

The book of Judges takes place after Moses (and Joshua), but before David and the Kings.  It’s a time where Israel kept getting “distracted” by the cultures around them and getting into trouble.  The pattern goes like this:

1.  Israel becomes prosperous and begins to worshiping pagan gods
2.  God gets (justifiably) angry and removes his blessing from Israel
3.  Israel is promptly invaded
4.  Israel (eventually) turns back to God and asks forgiveness
5.  God forgives them and sends them a deliverer (a Judge)
6.  The Judge, with God’s help, delivers Israel
7.  Repeat step 1

Usually at Step 7 I want to yell, “Hey Israel!   Haven’t you learned yet?!”  And it’s usually at that point I remember on most days I haven’t learned either…  It makes Israel’s plight very personal.

Books like Judges teach me that God’s blessings do not depend on my perfection.  Samson (the guy with long hair and super strength) had a weakness for women and prostitutes.  Another Judge tried to manipulate God.  Almost all of the judges have some trait we’d consider “bad” in today’s world.  But God still worked miracles through them.

Doesn’t that mean he can do the same through me?  And through you?

God is bigger than me

Category : God, miracles, trust

   

“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.” (Joshua 3: 15)

It may be obvious that God is bigger than me, but somehow I keep forgetting that fact. Instead, I spend much of my time trying to bring a problem to God that is “manageable.” I’m the Goldie Locks of prayers. I don’t want to give God a problem too big in case he can’t handle it. And I don’t want to give him a problem too small, because I should just suck it up and do that one on my own. Instead, I want a problem that’s just right. Something “do-able” for him, but too hard for me on my own.

Of course that’s not how God works at all

After Moses died Joshua was selected by God to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. His first act was to take them across the Jordan river. Of course God wasn’t content taking them across the Jordan at any time of the year. Instead he chose to cross the Jordan when it was at it’s most powerful.

God was showing both the Israelites and the Canaanites that what they considered powerful, he did not.  He showed them that what they considered a challenge, he did not. God didn’t want there to be any confusion about who was the one true God. To do this, God was willing to demonstrate his power.

The Canaanites worshiped the god Baal, who had achieved “head god” status precisely because he had beaten the sea-god and could control the water. By crossing the Jordan at the height of its power (and therefore Baal’s power) God was directly challenging that claim to god-hood!

But he was also sending a message to the Israelites. They were shown (once again) just what God could do. They were going to see a major miracle to prove (once again) that God is the God of the amazing, and that nothing was out of his reach.

I can only imagine how I would have responded if I were Joshua.  I would have been right there bargaining with God saying, “isn’t there a better time to do this?  Like, oh, I don’t know…maybe in the middle of a drought?!”  My natural reaction is to find a way to make the problems I face easier for God to solve.  But that’s not how God operates. God is constantly doing what we consider the “impossible.” In fact, you might consider him an expert in the impossible.  He doesn’t want us to be content with just a “normal” crossing, he wants us to know he’s still God when things are at their most difficult!  He wants us to know that our success doesn’t come from ourselves, but from our dependence on him.

God operates in this radical way. He’s not into expectation management.  You’ll never see God under-selling and over-delivering.  God always does the miraculous and amazing.  I hope that some day this lesson will actually stick in my brain, and I won’t try to limit God’s power just because I can’t see how he’s going to solve a problem.