Thankful for God-Given Abilities

Last night, Charley Andersonas my husband was channel surfing, he happened upon the end of the movie Shenandoah.  Jimmy Stewart’s character, Charlie Anderson, has just returned home from a futile search to find his youngest son who was captured by the Union Army.  On the way home, his oldest son is killed by a frightened young soldier. He arrives home bereft and learns that another son and daughter-in-law have been murdered in his absence.  Mr. Anderson has staunchly maintained throughout the war, that it doesn’t concern them.  Now, he has to face the reality that he can’t control many aspects of life–he can’t hide from the war and he can’t always protect his family from life.

As they sit down to breakfast the next morning, Mr. Anderson tries to say his normal ‘grace’ before they eat.  In the past, he has grudgingly thanked God for food which he doesn’t feel God provided:

Lord,
We cleared this land;
We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it.
We cooked the harvest.
It wouldn’t be here—we wouldn’t be eating it—if we hadn’t done it all ourselves.
We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel
But we thank you just the same anyway, Lord, for this food we’re about to eat.
Amen.

 

This time, he chokes on the words, as he realizes for the first time that all of his blessings have indeed come from God.  Yes, he and his children have worked hard to grow their food and  provide for the family, but it was God who instilled them with the strength and ability to plow the land and plant seeds, to harvest their crops, and to cook meals.

God expects us to work hard and use the talents He has endued in each of us.  But, He also expects us to recognize that those talents come from Him.  As we read in Deuteronomy 8:17 – 18, “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

These verses follow a passage in which Moses warns the Israelites against the same type of pride and arrogance that Mr. Anderson displays.  He tells them to (1) remember how God brought them to this land (v. 2), revere God and obey Him (v. 6), and praise God when they have eaten and are satisfied (v. 10).  He reminds them of all the terrible tragedies that did not befall them as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. And, he concludes by reminding them that God has given them the abilities to grow food, build homes, and live comfortable lives.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we all have much for which to give thanks.  As you thank God for your family, health, home, and other materials blessings, also take a moment to reflect on the abilities God has given you to allow you to produce wealth and to be a blessing to others.

 

 

 

 

 

Hymns of Thanksgiving

As we gather with family and friends today to remember with gratitude the blessings of the past year, let us remember to thank the One who made these blessings possible.  Without God’s help, none of us would enjoy the blessings of good health, family, liberty, and and freedom.  America was formed as a nation under God, and we need to remember to thank Him for his mercy and favor on our great nation.

I’d like to share two old hymns that I grew up singing during the Thanksgiving season.  They are reminders to me that all good things come from God.  Let’s offer up grateful prayers of thanksgiving to God today and everyday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Come, Ye Thankful People
 Henry Alford
 
Come, ye thankful people come, Raise the song of harvest home:
All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide, For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come, Raise the song of harvest home.
 
We Gather Together
 Theodore Baker
 
We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing,
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
The wicked oppressing cease them from distressing.
Sing praises to His names, He forgets not His own.
 
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side,all glory be Thine!
 
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader in battle,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
Let thy congregation escape tribulation:
Thy name be ever praised!  O Lord, make us free!
 

We Thank Thee

For mother-love and father-care,
For brothers strong and sisters fair,
For love at home and here each day,
For guidance lest we go astray,
    Father,in Heaven, we thank thee.
 
For this new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For ev’rything His goodness sends,
   Father in Heaven, we thank Thee.
 

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

Many people take time on Thanksgiving to count their blessings and give thanks, yet they forget to thank the One from whom they have received their blessings.  Thanksgiving is a day to thank God for the blessings He has bestowed on us and our nation.  As you gather around your Thanksgiving feast today, I encourage you to take a moment to thank God for all He has done for you.

I’d like to share a few of the many, many blessings God has bestowed on me.

1) My large, wonderful family.  I am blessed with an amazing family.  We currently number 39 with two babies on the way.

This is most of my family at the time of Jon and Ashley's wedding.
 
 

2) A wonderful church family.  We are members of a spirit-filled, God-loving congregation.  Each week we hear an inspired message from God’s word, and I have the opportunity to minister to children through Girls Ministries and children’s church.

Some of the beautiful girls in Girls Ministries
 
 

 3) A great job that I love.  In a time when so many, including my husband, have been unemployed for long periods of time, I am thankful that I have a job with great benefits that I enjoy.  I am rewarded each day as I help individuals desiring to start a business to assess their options, evaluate the opportunities, and navigate the requirements for opening a business.

4)  The freedoms afforded us in our great nation.  It’s true that our nation is facing many challenges and that many of our religious freedoms have been restricted in recent years.   However, America is still “the land of the free and the home of the brave” and I am proud to be a citizen of this great nation.

5) All the comforts of a middle-class lifestyle.  We aren’t rich, but in comparison to most of the world, we are extremely wealthy.  I am thankful to have a warm home, plenty of food, and more clothing than I really need.  All of my necessities are met and most of my wants. 

6) The ability to share my blessings with others.  Opportunities present themselves each day to share the blessings God has bestowed on me and my family with others who have not been blessed as much materially.  It is a privilege and a joy to sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic, to donate food to locate food distribution ministries, to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, and to take advantages of other opportunites to bring hope and joy to those from whom life is more challenging.

When you count your blessings this day, I pray that you will be filled with joy, hope, and thankfulness and that you will remember to thank the One who has so blessed you.

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving.”  Psalm 95:2

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise Him all creatures here below

Praise Him above ye heavenly host

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

 What blessings are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?