Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.
What an incredible Psalm of Thanksgiving! Take some time this week as Thanksgiving is coming close and lift up thanks before the Creator of the Universe our Shepherd and Savior.
Read through Psalm 100 this week and if you have time take a look at some of these other Psalms that lead us into Thanksgiving.
Psalm 136 is a powerful list describing the powerful acts God has done and the way they reveal His enduring love. Psalm 139 is an intimate time of thanks as we encounter the God who knows us and created us fearfully and wonderfully. Psalm 107 is long and easy to get lost in but has some great statements of Thankfulness. Psalm 118 declares thanks in a prophetic way that even looks towards Jesus Christ in vs. 22-24. And Psalm 34 lifts up thanks to the Lord we find refuge in; the Lord who fights for us and protects us.
If you want to find some more inspiration read through 1 and 2 Thessalonians and make a list of everything Paul is thankful for on their behalf.
Lead your family in times of Thanksgiving this season and lift up all those things we tend to take for granted before the throne of our Lord and Savior from whom all blessings flow!
Adam and Eve might be one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. The creation of the first two people, life in a paradise, and then the terrible consequences of the fall makes for an extremely memorable moment that we look back on as a relatable experience we all go through as we choose sin over obedience and relationship with God. Adam and Eve are kicked out of the garden, receive several curses that will make life extremely challenging, and are torn away from their relationship with God. But the devastation doesn’t end there. They have 2 children: Cain and his younger brother Abel. I want to focus on Abel because of the incredible example he sets but also because of the way it clearly presents the destructive power of sin. Abel is a great example. He works hard caring for his flocks and shows us what it looks like to care for this world that God has blessed us with. When we work hard for what we have we develop great pride in our hard work and labor. We see the fruit of OUR labor, we see how WE did a good job, and we begin to feel prideful and entitled. I DESERVE what I have. We see this attitude and it’s results in Cain as he is driven to jealousy, hatred, and murder. What is really impressive to me is Abel’s perspective on his hard work. He brings the fat portions from the firstborn of his flock before God. He offers God the BEST of what he has. He makes the clear statement that his success is not because of anything he did but because of what God has done. He gives back to God what God has given to him. And so God looks with favor on Abel’s sacrifice.
Samuel was an incredible man. Prophet, priest, and judge. He led the Israelites from the age of being led by judges to a king and prophesied over the Israelites what would happen if they didn’t allow God to be their leader. Samuel even anointed the first two kings God appointed over Israel. There are many incredible stories of Samuel but one of my favorites involves his birth and infancy.
Samuel’s mother, Hannah, is an amazing woman that we can gather a lot of wisdom and insight from. She is one of two wives of Elkanah who struggles with being barren and unable to have children while her “rival”, Elkanah’s other wife, provokes her to tears. Hannah in her misery travels to the Lord’s Temple and has an intimate time of prayer where she promises to dedicate her firstborn son if the Lord will bless her. This prayer is answered and Hannah makes good on her promise. Read more about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-2:11 where we can learn many things. I want to focus on how Hannah sets the example of fulfilling our commitments to God. Her example convicts me of the incredible vow we make in baptism. A vow that devotes our life in service of God. A vow that proclaims Christ’s victory over death. A vow that leads us to a new and transformed life. When I look at the inspiring life of Samuel I immediately look at the incredible obedience of 1 woman who placed herself at God’s feet and gave Him full ownership over her life. God did AMAZING THINGS through this devotion.
Genesis is full of challenging stories as we hear about God’s interactions and relationship with humans. We hear about the Garden of Eden and the way God walked with Adam and Eve. We are given examples of how God speaks to people like Joseph and Jacob through dreams and audibly to Abraham. These stories intrigue me because my relationship with God is how I define everything I do. I chose Youth Ministry out of my passion to share my relationship with God with teens. I love being able to teach or preach as it gives me opportunity to reflect on and then communicate why my relationship with God is so important. I love considering what this relationship looks like and how God reveals Himself in the Bible. We don’t hear a whole lot about a man named Enoch. But in just a few short verses: Genesis 5:21-24 and Hebrews 11:5, we hear about a man who “Walked with God” and then “was no more”. I don’t know why God chose to take Enoch to heaven without dying but I love the idea that a man had such an intimate relationship with God that God couldn’t stand to be separated any longer and instead removed him from this life. What makes Enoch even more of a minor character with a major impact is to see the obvious impact he made on his great grandson, Noah, who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” and was saved. Consider these ideas this week and how you can pursue an intimate relationship with God.