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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

A Thankful Heart in a Thankless Time

 
There’s a rumor going around that Thanksgiving is on it’s way out.  It’s getting  squeezed in a mercenary vice grip between commercially successful Halloween and shopping frenzy Christmas.
 
In commercial terms, Thanksgiving just doesn’t have enough bang for the buck, unless you are selling turkeys.  This is, unfortunately, the way of the world.
 
The movement to lose Thanksgiving began with  the encroachment of Christmas into Thanksgiving territory.  Christmas music is on the radio two weeks before Thanksgiving.  This year, stores announced with a flurry  that they would, in fact, be open Thanksgiving day. 

 -Why wait for Black Friday when you can tear yourself away from the dinner table and zoom to catch the latest bargains?
 
Taking time to give thanks is important, however.  We at Faith beg you to hold fast to a full day celebration of THANKS…Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day of gratitude to God. Please help your children understand this.
 
Here are some tips to keep the “Thanks” in Thanksgiving:
 
___Explore the history of Thanksgiving with your children.  Tell them about the Pilgrims’ first celebration of       thanks.  Read the historic quote by  Gov William Bradford in the original Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1623:
     “All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill there to listen to the pastor and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.” 
 
  ___ Give the children 5 hard kernels of corn, explaining that this was often all the Pilgrims were given in                their daily rations.  Use the kernels to count your blessings.
 
___ Display a “Thanksgiving Basket”  with cards to fill out with what you are thankful for, encouraging the             children to write things down.  Read these notes at Thanksgiving.
 
____Think of ways to give a secret “Thank you” to others.
 
____Invite a lonely person to eat with you.
 
____Keep “Thankful” Bible Verses in a basket and pull one out to read each day.
 
____Go around the table and have each person tell what they are thankful for.
 
The Bible says:  “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”   - 1 Chronicles 16:34 
 
    - Don’t let go of Thanksgiving.  Take this time to teach your child an attitude of gratitude -- for others AND God!

Here are some bits of history you might want to share this Thanksgiving:  


In October 1789, President George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving to be Thursday, the 26th of November that year.  The proclamation declared, in part, that Americans should observe a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

Washington was very dedicated to showing thanks — to Divine Providence, to his wife Martha, to his troops, to the Continental Congress, and to his fellow countrymen.  There are many very positive character traits that we assign to him — unflinching integrity, bold and decisive leadership, undying loyalty, and incredible humility – and perhaps chief among them was his reputation for thanking others and giving credit to those who deserved credit.  

Read and/or print the entire proclamation HERE.

After George Washington authorized the first Thanksgiving Day in 1789, 74 years passed without another such day of thanks. Then, Abraham Lincoln established the holiday as an annual event in America.

Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation should be shared with your children:
 
“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scripture and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” 

-- Abraham Lincoln
 
President Lincoln authorized our annual Thanksgiving Day in 1863 - in the midst of the Civil War.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rebekah... Used by God despite her mistakes!

Rebekah was a strong woman - physically and mentally.  She was decisive, maybe even a bit adventuresome!

I mean, wouldn't it take some guts to follow a servant to a foreign home to marry a guy you've never met?  WOWEE!  Did she trust God or WHAT?

You can read about Rebekah in Genesis 24:1-67 - http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+24&version=NIRV.

Rebekah is the second woman at the well we have studied.  The first, the Samaritan woman, was so different from Rebekah.  The Samaritan woman was considered lower class.  She was full of shame...she was hiding her sin...she was surprised that someone would speak to her. It took an encounter with Jesus to make her bold.

Rebekah was bold from the get-go.  She was from a nice family and, it appears, she was pretty confident.

Enter: Abraham's servant.  Abraham had sent this man to find a wife for his son, Isaac.  The servant wanted to do a good job in his search, so he prayed for God to help him. God helped him to decide -- whatever woman at the well agreed to give him water PLUS water his camels (all 12 of them!) would be the wife for Isaac.

While Abraham's servant was still praying,  Rebekah came forward with her water jar.  Rebekah was ready for action! Look how many times the word "quickly" appears in the following verses:

Genesis 24: 18 - 19 


The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”

“Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.

THEN - Rebekah broke tradition and actually SPOKE to Abraham's servant - offering to do JUST what he wished...give water to the camels! Again, look for the word, "quickly."  Check it out:

Genesis 24: 19 - 21



After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.”  So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels.  Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.

What can we say?   Rebekah is a woman of action and she is NOT shy!  She filled water jars, over and over again, to give to those camels.  She had to be strong and energetic.  This watering job was a BIG one!
Abraham's servant figured his prayers had been answered and immediately asked to go to Rebekah's house to request to take her back to be Isaac's wife.

Again - Rebekah - a woman of action - RAN to tell her folks.  She listened to the proposal.  Could she leave immediately?  Rebekah did not hesitate.  She was ready to go.  She basically packed her bags and left to meet Isaac the next morning!  

I would be scared, I would be quaking in my boots, so to speak.  But - off Rebekah went - to an unknown land and an unknown husband!  SHE was a woman who trusted God.  She could see God "stacking things up" all through this adventure.

Long story short, Rebekah and Isaac hit it off!  

Genesis 24:66-67:


Then the servant told Isaac all he had done.  Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

What a wonderful love story!  If everything ended with Genesis Chapter 24, we would all go "awe" and think we could never be as good as Rebekah. Let's look at the REST of the story.

Rebekah has twin sons with Isaac:  Esau and Jacob.  Esau came out first, so he was considered the first-born, which was a big deal back in Bible times.  Esau was supposed to get the inheritance -- too bad for Jacob.

This is where Rebekah's flaws begin to show through.  The very same traits that blessed her:  decisiveness, boldness, energy.... began to work against her in God's plan.  

Rebekah showed favoritism to her children.  Bottom line: she liked Jacob better.  When Isaac became old and feeble, Rebekah planned a way to deceive her husband, cheat Essau of his inheritance and put Jacob in the number one position.

In the end -- Rebekah's plan worked.  Unfortunately, it caused a big rift in her family. I'm talkin problems here.  Essau was ready to kill Jacob.  Jacob had to run away.  

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO US????

I am headstrong and bold like Rebekah.  God can use those qualities, but so can the devil.  In this case, Rebekah made a mistake by getting ahead of God.  I do this all the time.  

Our good qualities can become bad when we forget to follow God's lead.

BUT -- WAIT -- GOD IS GOOD!

God worked Rebekah's mistakes for good.  In the end, Jacob and his brother made up.  In the end, God used Jacob to form the nation of Israel.

WOWEE !

What's our lesson from Rebekah?  USE your gifts for God AND, when you make a mistake (which we will all do on this side of Heaven) -- ask for forgiveness and let God take over.

God has us covered, as long as we give Him our gifts AND our mistakes!

I am happy God used this great woman to show us we, too, can be blessed, when we follow his lead.

I learned this from Rebekah:


1.  Don't hesitate when everything shows you GOD is calling you to go.
2.  Let go of the things that will keep you from following GOD
3.  Watch out when you are tempted to follow your own plan, not God's
4.  When you make a mistake, GIVE IT TO GOD.
5.  God will use very imperfect people to accomplish His very perfect plan...in spite of our mistakes!