Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Seventh Dunk

Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed." But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana an Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage. Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!" So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel..."
2 Kings 5:10-15a

This story gets me every time. Our kids and I read it together yesterday morning during our Bible time and we discussed some of the very things I want to share with you.

After reading the passage above, do you think Naaman believed he would be healed by dipping himself seven times in the Jordan River? I doubt it. He went off in a rage and mentioned that the rivers in Damascus were better than the Jordan. I have heard that the Jordan River was not necessarily a pretty river and was actually pretty gross. Did his servants believe? We don't know, but they seemed to care about Naaman. They called him "father." He must have treated them kindly. I think they were at least more hopeful. They convinced Naaman to give the Jordan River a try. How far do you think he stormed down the road before they convinced him to turn back?

The thing that gets me every time in this story is that God chose to reveal His power and heal Naaman in spite of his unbelief! God cares about everyone, not just those who go to church and call themselves Christians! I have heard that from a worldly perspective seeing is believing, but from a Christian perspective, believing is seeing. Did you catch that? Christianity is based on faith. Faith is required. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). For we live by faith, not be sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Once you believe, then you start to see how God is working in you and around you.

But that was not the case here. Maybe Naaman had an inkling of hope. He was definitely desirous of a cure, so maybe once his anger subsided, he was more hopeful and believed it might work. I don't know, though. I still lean toward the idea that he was more like, "Fine, I'll try it. It won't work, but I'll go in the Jordan just to prove it to you." I've always wondered if the healing came little by little, or not until the seventh dunk...Similar to the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests. They were all healed but only one came back thanking Jesus and praising God. Were they healed somewhere along the road as they walked to the temple, or not until they took the last step into the temple? I could imagine faith would increase in increments if the healing began early in the process and came in portions, but that's not how God always works - sometimes it's not until the seventh dunk.

Here are a couple verses that came to mind:
Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29).

Sometimes God lets the seeing come before the believing. Like Naaman. Like Paul, who used to be known as Saul of Tarsus. Like Muslims who dream about Isa (Jesus) calling them away from Islam before they have much, if any, thought of the sort - even if they are leaders in their religion. Like the disciple John when he went to Jesus' empty tomb: "Finally the other disciple [John], who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed" (John 20:8).

God's ways don't always make sense to us. God doesn't always answer the way we want Him to answer us. Does that sway your belief in Him? 

I know there are times I pray, knowing the He is completely capable to answer my prayer the way I want, but not sure that He will - not sure that He wants the same thing I do. I wonder if my will really matches His will, so sometimes I have doubts about whether He will act in a certain situation. I see the trees; He sees the forest. Seriously, He sees the whole universe, not just the forest! He sees all of space and time, so He knows how His answer will affect not only the people here and now, in the local vicinity, but the further reaches across this current generation and future generations. Anyhow, back to the point, do I have faith enough that He will answer? I believe that yes, I do, but sometimes I'm with the father above, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" My faith grows after the seeing. 

That's not unusual, though. Yes, believing leads to seeing...and then seeing leads to believing more...which leads to seeing more...which -- you get the point. Our faith grows. We "...continue to work out [our] salvation..." (Philippians 2:12). 

" your faith continues to grow..." (2 Corinthians 10:15)
"...your faith is growing more and more..." (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
" that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good," (1 Peter 2:2b-3)

Naaman's servants convinced him to follow Elisha's directions, to go into the Jordan and dip seven times. How many were with him? How many witnessed his miraculous healing and his new faith in the God of Israel? How many of his servants also began to believe at that moment? How many faith journeys began after the seventh dunk?

Sometimes believing is seeing...but occasionally, God allows us to see, and then believe.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

How's the Lighting?

Houses! I enjoy looking at houses. I like to see the color and material choices inside and out, the landscaping, the different elements chosen (arches, beams, flooring, etc.), the floorplans, the yard - it's interesting to me. Old houses and new houses - they all hold their own intrigue. Yesterday, while driving, I was admiring some of the houses I passed. I noticed one with four or five small, square windows way up high and I thought it would be interesting to see what the lighting was like in that house.

God hit me immediately with the thought that that was what is important in people, too! Yes, the outside might look nice. I might wonder about what a person likes to eat, how they like to dress, what kind of shampoo or toothpaste they use, or any sort of thing like that...

...but what I really want to know is "How's the lighting?"

Have they opened the windows of their soul to allow God to pour His life-giving gifts into their lives? Or have they pulled down the blinds and shut the black-out curtains? Do they open up their Bibles daily to allow Him to speak to them and direct their lives day-by-day and decision-by-decision? Do they have lots of windows, so the light that is inside can also be seen on the outside? Do they walk in the light that He provides or stumble in artificial light? You know, artificial light can be dim, like a candle or single lamp, or blindingly bright, but it simply doesn't compare to His light. It can come from other religious thoughts, the beliefs of one's culture, intellectual media, anything from a perspective other than God's. 

I want to know what is inside a person. Have they decorated the walls of their minds with Scripture? Are there pictures hanging in their heart of people for whom they pray, people for whom they get on their knees, either literally or figuratively, and weep for their salvation, healing, or other needs? Are they allowing God to prepare the meals with which they feed their family, friends, and those with whom they come into contact each day? Do they have a quiet sitting room in which they wait on the Lord, listening for Him to speak? Oh, that still, small voice that can shake the foundations of the house by it's amazing power and yet has the strength to restrain itself when He speaks to the heart of one of His beloved children!

I want to know if they know, love, and follow after Jesus with everything that is in them. That is what is important.

How is the lighting in your life? Is it time to throw open some curtains and raise some blinds, to turn off the lamps and let the true light flow in? Is it time to scoot the piles out of the way so you can sit in quietly in God's presence, so you can hear Him speak? I'm praying for you.

"...The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart," (1 Samuel 16:7).

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight (1 Peter 3:3-4).

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven," (Matthew 5:14-16).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Changing Goal Focus

As we approach the end of the year, I think about new year resolutions. I used to write these each year. My mom taught classes on goal-setting. She taught me, and I, in turn, taught others in college and later. I made goals in different life categories, that were SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and timely). Check out Goal-Setting and you can get an idea of what I mean. This link includes many Bible verses related to setting goals, too. (If you are really interested, here is a copy of my 2013 resolutions.)

I find value in goal-setting. I think it is important to have goals, so you have an idea of where you are going. But life has changed and has gotten busier. I found a few years ago that I was not doing well on meeting the goals I set any more. I would stumble across my list after months of not even remembering I had one, which means I was not working effectively toward my goals.

Oh sure, I have a lot of dreams or wishes about what I'd like to write down as my resolutions for 2018. I'd love to sew (hand and machine sewing), play the piano and oboe more, do more personal reading, do arts and crafts, play board and card games more often with the kids, learn how to knit and crochet better, exercise more regularly, declutter the house, get chores done more consistently...

But over the years, I've learned that I have not realistically worked on any of those well. The last couple years, I even changed the sewing one to "complete at least one sewing project this year." (I still have not accomplished even that one.) Yesterday, I started to contemplate about why this is the way things are going.

I started to think about my priorities and my life goals, not just my yearly ones. What is it that I want to accomplish in the long run? Here are the ones I've come up with so far:

  1. I want to raise my children to know, love, and follow hard after Jesus.
  2. I want to raise my children to be respectful, kind, generous individuals who care for the needs of others.
  3. I want to educate my children well - academically and in other life skills (cooking, etc.)
  4. I want to grow ever closer to God and live my life more fully for Him.
  5. I want to grow closer to my husband, being a good helper for him and showing him more love and affection.
  6. I want to show love to others and serve them in their times of need.
  7. I want to see people grow in their relationships with Christ - for those who don't know Him to turn to Him and be saved, for those who do know Him to love and obey Him more - for everyone to know, love, and follow hard after Jesus.
So, at my stage in life, I'm going to find ways to work on these. Forgive the roughness of these, but I'm formulating them as I type this morning, and they don't follow the SMART design. I have another couple days to work on them, right?
  1. I will continue morning devotionals with the children - at least five days a week, most weeks.
  2. I will continue to encourage personal devotions for all family members and support them in their efforts.
  3. I will be intentional about praying aloud with the kids throughout the day, and letting them see/hear me pray on my own as well.
  4. I will continue to seek and provide opportunities for the children to serve beside my husband and me. I know they love the Caleb Luncheon, Fill-a-Backpack, Operation Christmas Child, handing out Mother's Day roses at church, etc. so we will plan to be involved in those kinds of activities in 2018.
  5. I will continue to help the children learn respect and kindness through their interactions with each other, other family members, and those outside our family.
  6. I will continue to educate them however the Lord leads us, being focused and diligent, showing interest in the learning and not just a check-list mentality.
  7. I want to further develop spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible study, fasting, etc.) to deeper my relationship with my heavenly Father, my Savior Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
  8. I want to be able to push aside my busyness so that I may spend better time with my husband in the evenings and on weekends, giving him more of my attention and affection. I want him to know without a doubt how much I truly do adore him!
  9. I want to continue taking meals to people, caring for babies, visiting church members who are home-bound, and serving in other ways to show the love of Christ to people.
  10. I want to pray more consistently for specific people to turn to the Lord.
  11. I want to help others deepen their relationship with God, increasing their spiritual disciplines and obedience to Him - living their lives more fully for Him as well.
  12. I want to encourage my children to be creative and try new things - sew, build, sell/trade, etc.
  13. I want to go to bed by 11:00 p.m. at least five nights a week.
How do I plan to accomplish all these? What are the specifics? Well, maybe I'll get more specific with them in the next couple days - but maybe I won't. As much as I value goal-setting, I also remember that I am not in control, God is, and I'm not going to allow myself to get upset or frazzled because everything doesn't go according to my plans.

Proverbs 19:21 - Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.

Matthew 6:34 - Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

James 4:13-15 - Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Mark 13:32 - "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (This refers to the second coming of Jesus, but I think it is a good reminder that we do not know the time limits set on our earthly futures.)

2 Corinthians 9:7 - Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (Whatever goals you set, work at them cheerfully.)

Colossians 3:17 - And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Make goals that will honor God.)

Galatians 6:8 - The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Again, make goals that will honor God.)

Galatians 6:9 - Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Make goals you won't give up on. Keep going!)

James 1:4 - Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  (Persevere!)

As much as this post has been about backing off some of my dream goals and resolutions, I want to issue a challenge that I made in the Goal-Setting post. If you are making goals/resolutions, consider making a goal you can't do on your own, without God revealing His power. What a testimony that would be, right?

Would you share some of your goals with me? I'd love to know what you are aiming for in this new year, and how I might be able to pray for you. Are you willing to make an only-with-God goal? If so, I want to know!

Blessings prayed for you in the new year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Poems

Occasionally I write some poetry. I wanted to share a couple Christmas poems with you. If you read the last post, you know that I've been wanting to share these for a few weeks, but didn't sense God giving me the 'green light' yet. This week, He did.

Where is the Christ Child?
by Christa Shuman
December 2016

Where is the Christ child?
Is he under the tree?
Is he hiding among
All the presents I see?

Is he over there
Sitting upon the hearth,
Nestled amid the stockings
Full of treats that bring mirth?

Is he in the kitchen
Nibbling a turkey thigh,
Sneaking bites of stuffing,
Smelling all the pies?

Is he at the parties,
In the songs and games?
Does he really care
If we know the reindeers’ names?

Is he in our quiet times,
In Bible-reading and prayer,
The pageants and services?
We should find him there.

Where is the Christ child,
In which Christmas part?
No matter where I look
He’s always in my heart.

He is a babe no longer;
He grew to be a man.
He did amazing things
And fulfilled his Father’s plan.

And not only did he grow –
He died and lives again!

He died and paid the price
For my wrongs – I could not pay
And that is wh+y I live for Him
Every single day.

So where is the Christ child?
Why, He’s in heaven above
Wanting you to join Him
Waiting patiently, with love.

(If you didn't get a chance to read "Where Was Jesus" from September, I invite you to read it now. It contains a similar theme.)

Here is a couple more short poems.

A cookie, a carol,
A card from a friend
These are all nice, it's true.
But the best Christmas treat
Has all of these beat
It's God's son, sent to earth - for you!
(Christa Shuman, Dec. 2017)

May we remember
That O holy night
When joy came to the world
And the star was shining bright

When angels sang triumphantly
And beckoned shepherds come
To a stable in Bethlehem
To see a babe - God’s Son.
(Christa Shuman, Dec. 2013)

I like this Christmas version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah song. Check it out!

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 15, 2017

It Just Takes One

Sometimes, I get a story stuck in my head, and I can't seem to let it go until I've worked it out to its end. Some of them, like the most recent one, start with a dream.

The night before last, I had a dream that there was a large organization of young men who were rallied together and had kidnapped several young women with plans to gouge out their eyes. (Maybe the history lessons that afternoon about jihad and the Armenian genocide during World War One didn't help...) There was an escape attempt by some of the women that was unsuccessful, and then I don't remember dreaming anything else about it.

But it was not a dream I could let end at that point. The story seemed to need to play out, so throughout the day, more would be added until it has finally almost reached it's culmination, and is definitely at a much better point. To skim through it for you, one young woman was strong in the Lord and found peace in the midst of the situation. She continued to pray and sing praises to the Lord. This made an impression on at least one of the captors and on the other women.

At a turning point in the story, when she was in trouble, women all over the compound were on their knees in prayer. She was also in prayer. The one captor on which she'd made a big impression asked her to speak her thoughts out loud. Her thoughts were prayers for all the captors, many of whom were in the room with her, and she prayed for them each by name. A change came over all of them. They ended up releasing her from the room, and later, releasing all the women from the compound, as well as any men who no longer wanted to stay, since their plans had now ceased and they no longer knew what was going to happen. The one woman, however, chose to stay.

She ended up leading two men, the one captor (James) and the leader of the organization of young men (Collin), to Christ and a relationship with God through Him. For a short time before the men turned themselves over to the police, she helped them grow through songs, prayers, and Bible studies. A pastor even came to visit and pray with them, amazed by the changed lives.

The men peacefully went to prison, willing to own up for their sins. Sister, as they now called her, promised to visit them. The transformation in the men led to them sharing Christ with others in the prison system. Visits from Sister and her pastor led to even more changes.

When the men were released from prison, James and Collin went to work at a company owned by Mr. Brian, (James' former employer). He was willing to hire James back, as well as hiring Collin, because he had heard of their changed lives and said, "Behind every great man is a great woman," recognizing the impact that Sister had made. As it goes on, because of the men's new lives for Christ, they had a huge, positive impact on the company's morale, production, etc.

It was at this point in the story, that God led me to a message: It Just Takes One.

It just took one woman who was faithful to the Lord, who would not let her peace be stolen from her, to make an impact and create change. Her impact changed the bad situation, an organization's plans of harm, a prison system, a major company, and many lives. Extended family members, and others who heard about it in the news, also came to seek Christ.

So what? It's just a made up story and doesn't mean anything, right? That kind of thing could never happen, right? Wrong!

I have read and heard a number of missionary stories with my children and I will tell you, every single one of them is about an individual who decided to step out on faith. There are some of them who were alone in their ministries. George Muller, Mary Slessor, David Livingstone, Gladys Aylward - these are just a few. Many of the individuals we consider Bible heroes (Joseph, Moses, Noah, and Paul, just to name a few) were really just ordinary individuals who loved God and followed Him. There are many more modern-day missionaries doing the same.

Not only that, there are people right around us in our local communities, every day, stepping out in faith and making a difference for Christ in the relationships around them. That's all it takes - stepping out in faith. Listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit and go where He leads. Help that person you see in need. Give a smile and a kind word to the grouchy-looking cashier or waiter/waitress. Offer to pray for - and with - people.

For the past couple weeks, I've been wanting to share some of my Christmas poetry with you, but God never hit the "Go" button on that. Last night, He hit the "Go" button on this story. Is He hitting a "Go" button in your life today? What is He prompting you to do? Be the change. Make an impact. God can use even you.

It just takes one.

Isaiah 6:8  Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

More Than Thankful

Last night, our daughter said how excited she was for all the yummy food we would have for Thanksgiving, but that she knew it was about more than the food, because some people won't have all the food.

She and I talked about the first Thanksgiving. Yes, the Pilgrims were thankful that the native Americans helped them. Yes, they were thankful that their crops did well. Ultimately, they were thankful for God's provision. God provided friendly neighbors to help them and teach them. God provided the good weather conditions for their crops. God provided for their survival in the new land.

This conversation strengthened my resolve to remember those less fortunate than us.

Be thankful for your family. Remember widows, orphans, and those estranged or otherwise separated from family. Be thankful for your parents. Remember those who have lost their parents. Be thankful for your children. Remember those unable to have children, who have lost children, who have children with challenging behavioral, emotional, developmental, academic, or other issues that make life/parenting hard.

Be thankful for your health. Remember those with pain or illness (chronic or otherwise), long-term or life-threatening health conditions, or other physical or emotional health issues.

Be thankful for your food. Remember those who are hungry or even starving. Remember those who battle with eating disorders.

Be thankful for your home. Remember those who are homeless, or live in inadequate shelters. Remember those without proper heating/cooling, pest control, furnishings, or safety. Remember refugees. Remember those affected by hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, mold, theft, etc.

Be thankful for your safety. Remember those who live in constant fear, abusive situations, war zones.

Be thankful for your freedoms. We are relatively free in speech, religion, right to bear arms, pursue careers of our choice, etc. Remember those without these freedoms. Many countries are not as open. Remember the Christians around the world persecuted and killed just for accepting Jesus. Remember women and others in other cultures who lack many rights. Remember those persecuted just for believing differently or for being compassionate to people who believe differently.

Be thankful for rest, relaxation, comfort, and entertainment. Remember those who do not have access to such luxuries.

Yes, be thankful. But more than thankful, be mindful. Be concerned. Be prayerful. Be active in improving the lives of others as you are led by the Lord.

Do not be like the Pharisee in the temple who prayed, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get," (Luke 18:11‭-‬12 NIV, That's the wrong kind of thanks.

Here is a link to a video that goes with this topic:

Be thankful for God's blessings in your life, but don't let them end with you. May your cup overflow.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God," (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What Can I Do for You Today?

Ask not what God can do for you today, but what you can do for God today.

This thought came to my mind the night before last. I had read a post from someone on Facebook who said she didn't believe in God (or thought if he did exist, he was pretty horrible [but she used stronger terminology]) because her grandmother died from cancer ten and a half years ago and she lost a newborn child in the last year. She definitely has reasons for her heart to hurt, but I'm sad that she has turned away from God instead of toward Him. I have lost family and gone through hard times, but my relationship with God has made those times easier to get through.

I looked at the person's personal page as I sought ways to pray for her. I wondered if she was someone whose heart was prepared for discussion about God or if she was too closed off at this time. I got the impression that she would want a God who would give her what she wants, and turn away from him if she didn't get her way. She is not alone. There are many who see God (and other humans) this way. If someone is not useful in helping them reach their personal goals, then they have no desire to interact with them. Sometimes, after some introspection, someone with the best intentions may find this true of themselves. I know I have. Consider your prayers and how they sound. Are they filled with requests like "Please help me to ____" or "Please _____ for me"?

That made me think of our Sunday school discussion this past Sunday. (Questions taken from The Gospel Project Chronological: Jesus Saves, Volume 9, Fall 2017 Personal Study Guide.)

  • How does our perspective of earthly promises impact how we view God's promises? We can view God's promises as we view people-made promises. If we have people in our lives who break promises, then we might also expect God to not keep his promises.  The opposite can be true, too. Then again, we might see how great our God is that we can trust Him to fulfill His promises even when we cannot trust others to fulfill their promises.

  • What can get in the way of your belief in God to be faithful to His promises? When we don't get what we want or think we need, that sense of entitlement can lead to distrust of the one(s) who did not meet our expectations. Also, God's timing may not be what we hope, and God may not answer in the way that we think He would or should.

Sometimes we have a tendency of seeing our relationship with God as one-sided. What can He do for us? What blessings will He give to us? How will He get us out of the trouble into which we got ourselves? How will He protect us from the (deserved) consequences for our choices? If something goes wrong, why did He allow that to happen to us? How could He do that to us? 

So, that brings me back to the beginning: ask not what God can do for you today, but what you can do for God today. It should not be about us. It should be about God. How can we know what God wants? By spending time with Him! For any relationship to grow, it takes a commitment of time to get to know the other person. We need to build our relationship with God through quiet times in prayer and Bible reading/study so we will know what God wants. 

One thing we know God wants is our thanks and gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Psalm 100 is also a good passage to read about giving thanks. These are just two of several places in the Bible that refer to giving thanks. This past Sunday our pastor, Jared Allen, mentioned keeping a record of what you are grateful for each day. I used to keep a gratitude journal, initiated, I think, by a 1000 Gifts (by Ann Voskamp) book study of which I was a part. It definitely led to a more grateful outlook as I began looking for things for which to thank God each day. I also was a part of a study (Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer, I think) that mentioned fingerprints of God. That is what I look for nowadays - ways that I notice God touching or acting in my life or the lives of others. Those are definitely things for which I can be thankful!

Our pastor also said, "The giver of the blessings deserves the thanks." How can you show thanks to God today? How can you share His love with someone else who desperately needs it? How can you shine His light and show His glory? Are you willing to be obedient so He can work through you and touch the lives of others?

Isaiah 1:17 - Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

James 1:27 - Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Matthew 28:19-20 - Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Philippians 2:3-4 - Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Joshua 24:15 - But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Here are a couple interesting reads you might like:

  • Since the wording of my question is similar to what was said in this inaugural speech, I felt compelled to read it. "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You" John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.
  • My daughter found a book at Barnes and Noble yesterday called The Book of Amazing Stories: 90 Devotions on Seeing God's Hand in Unlikely Places. I have a feeling that would be a really powerful book to read.
  • Check out Bobi Ann Allen's website ( and look her up on Facebook or Instagram. She has a couple posts about being thankful on her website and has been doing daily posts lately on Facebook and Instragram about thankfulness and gratitude. They are great reminders and prompts to be thankful.

Now is the time, if you haven't already done so - go ahead and ask the question:

"Lord, what can I do for you today?"