MEMORABLE THANKSGIVING: HOPE AND GRATITUDE

Thanksgiving Day this year will be memorable for me. Any plan for a traditional holiday has gone by the wayside to accommodate an unplanned need that arose following a major medical event in our family. I never anticipated a hospital as my setting for any holiday much less the day set aside to give thanks for blessings.

However as I am  beside the hospital bed of my spouse of 34 years, I know I can give thanks for much and especially for hope. I am learning that it is possible to have hope at a hospital that was never in my plans.

Hope is not dependent upon my surroundings or situation but upon the One Who resides in my heart. If I have Jesus in my heart, then I have hope in my heart.

Even little things — maybe especially little things — come to mind with gratitude in my heart. I agree with the quote that the most important things in life are not things. The one with whom I am able to share this day is far more important to me than the most bountiful feast or picture-perfect Thanksgiving gathering that I can imagine.

Sometimes our perspectives change after major medical events change our lives or the lives of loved ones. My perspective is changing toward my having more gratitude. Hope brings thankful thinking in my head, and it brings thankful feeling in my heart.

I need to keep letting God’s Word fill both my head and my heart to have gratitude for the place where we are. I don’t mean this hospital location. I refer to being in God’s care, in His shelter of refuge, under His wings. We are loved supremely by Him and in His care. There is no better place to be.

I have hope that He will see us through this challenge. Having this perspective allows me to rest in Him. I can recognize and be thankful for blessings both large and small. I am grateful that our God is an awesome God!

Then you would trust, because there is hope;
And you would look around and rest securely.”
(Job 11: 18)

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;”
(Psalm 46: 1, 2)

“He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”
(Psalm 91:4)

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5: 7)

“O God our help, our Creator, our Saviour- Redeemer, our Guide, our Fortress and our Healer… may we always make You our God, our Focus, our Life.  Amen.”  (Wynona Behling)

[Thank you for prayers. I am praising God for significant improvements in my loved one.]

Search this website for previous Thanksgiving-related posts listed below.

THANKSGIVING: GOD OF HOPE (November 26, 2020)

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS: HOPE IN THANKSGIVING (November 27, 2019)

JAMES MERRITT: GIVE THANKS TO GOD OF HOPE (November 27, 2018)

FIRST THANKSGIVING: A GREAT HOPE, part 3 (November 22, 2018)

FIRST THANKSGIVING: A GREAT HOPE, part 2 (November 21, 2018)

FIRST THANKSGIVING: A GREAT HOPE, part 1 (November 20, 2018)

PILGRIMS: LABORED IN HOPE (November 15, 2018)

MAJOR MEDICAL CHALLENGE: INTENTIONAL HOPE

I do not think that hope happens spontaneously or randomly. I think that hope comes following an intentional decision when I choose to trust God Who is the Source of Hope.

My beloved is in a hospital after a major medical challenge, yet I am blessed with hope for recovery and rehabilitation. Our family and friends are praying from the West Coast of our country to the Caribbean. The common characteristic required to be on this prayer team is hope.

I have chosen to be hopeful, because hopelessness leads to despair. Hope is life-affirming, and that is our need.

Father God Who gives hope is in charge of the medical care plan, God’s Holy Spirit gives comfort and strength as needed, and Jesus the Great Physician is primary care provider. Our loved one is in the most capable loving hands. This is reason to hope!

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  (Psalm 46: 1)

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust!’ He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”  (Psalm 91: 1, 2, 4)

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
(Romans 5: 5)

“Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
(1 Peter 5: 7)

[Please join in praying for my beloved’s recovery and rehabilitation.]

GENERAL COLIN POWELL:   INSPIRATION & HOPE

Today we commemorate Veterans Day in America. I wish to express thanks to our veterans and honor their service. I also want to feature one veteran who was laid to rest last week.

During 84 years of living Colin Powell (1937-2021) was an American Patriot,  politician, diplomat, statesman, US Army veteran, four-star general, national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 65th United States Secretary of State, and first African-American Secretary of State.

Powell was born in Harlem, NY, son of Jamaican immigrants, raised by caring parents in a humble home, educated in public schools, and graduated from high school without any definite life plans. While at City College, he found his calling in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He became commander of his ROTC unit and began an historic military career and gave direction to his life. The rest is history… literally.

After being wounded twice during tours of duty in Vietnam, he was awarded a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and a Soldier’s Medal. Also he served a tour of duty in Korea and received a total of 11 military decorations that included the Legion of Merit.

Gen. Powell served over US Army Forces Command and was appointed by the President as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the US Department of Defense, and was the first African American officer to receive that distinction.

Colin and Alma Johnson Powell were married more than 59 years and raised three children. Together they founded America’s Promise Alliance, because they were dedicated to the well-being of children and youth of all socio-economic levels and committed to young people having the necessary resources for success.

 General Colin Powell was more than a successful veteran. He was a successful man, who was an inspiration for others as they worked to succeed in life. He had a strong faith in God, was active in church, and taught Sunday School where he shared hope. Colin Powell was a rare human example by which following his footsteps would lead others to find inspiration and to live with hope.

I did not know Colin Powell personally, however I did have the privilege of hearing him speak at a motivational business seminar about ten years ago. I was in the audience to be motivated and learn from those who had successfully “been there and done that.” Of the many top speakers on the program he was a memorable personality. He was a man who impacted world leaders as well as an ordinary person like me.

I am thankful to General Colin Powell, for making a difference. I am thankful to God, Who gifted him to be an inspiration and to share hope.

***

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
(Colin Powell)
***

General Powell’s
13 Rules of Leadership:

1.  It ain’t as bad as you think! It will look better in the morning.
2.  Get mad then get over it.
3.  Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
4.  It can be done.
5.  Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
6.  Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
7.  You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
8.  Check small things.
9.  Share credit.
10.  Remain calm. Be kind.
11.  Have a vision. Be demanding.
12.  Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
13.  Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
(Colin Powell, 1937-2021)
***

“LORD, lead me in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straightbefore me.”  (Psalm 5: 8)

“Do not fear for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you,surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  (Isaiah 41: 10)

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'” 
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)

“OVERHEARD IN AN ORCHARD”: HOPE AND CALM ASSURANCE

Below is a poem that has been meaningful to me for several decades. It still reminds me to have hope and calm assurance. The poet used a conversation overheard in an orchard between the robin and the sparrow to express a powerful truth about God’s care for His creations — both birds and humans. Just as He takes care of birds, He takes care of His children.

God’s children who trust and obey Him do not have to be weighted down by worry nor overcome by anxiety. Instead we can live by faith because our heavenly Father is with us always and because He cares for us. Such faith and trust gives hope for daily life and results in calm assurance.

OVERHEARD IN AN ORCHARD

Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.”
(Elizabeth Cheney)

Today’s world has brought pandemic fears, financial strains, racial unrest, and uncertainties regarding nearly every aspect of the life we used to know. We need hope. We need calm assurance that we have a heavenly Father Who cares for us.

Consider the robin’s observation and the sparrow’s conclusion in the little poem by Elizabeth Cheney (1857-1940). Trust the One Who takes care of the birds. He loves you even more and longs to have a relationship with you. He is able and willing to give you hope and calm assurance.

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”  (Matthew 6: 26)

“Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  (Psalm 55: 22)

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow
of the Almighty.”  (Psalm 91: 1)

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”  (Psalm 121: 1-8)

GOD’S NATURE: JOY & HOPE

Have you ever pondered God’s nature? I believe it is a lofty theme and good for us to ponder. We need to realize that God’s ways are higher than our ways. He is infinite while we are finite. We have earthly limitations now, but when we get to heaven we will have a more clear understanding and appreciation of His nature. This glorious thought gives me joy and hope.

“Your Nature” is a Christian song by Kari Jobe and others describing God’s nature. It was inspired by verses from Isaiah 54 that were the focus of a previous blogpost (10/20/21).

The song relates  joy and hope to
attributes of our awesome God. Its lyrics address God: “You bring joy to the broken hearted,
hope to the ones who’ve lost it. God, it’s Your nature.” Read below, then  listen, ponder GOD’S nature, and be blessed.

YOUR NATURE

You bring life
To the barren places,
Light to the darkest spaces.
God, it’s Your nature.

You bring joy
To the broken hearted,
hope to the ones who’ve lost it.
God, it’s Your nature.

There is no desert
That Your streams can’t run to.
There are no ruins
That Your love won’t make new.
You tell the wasteland
That it will bloom again,
‘Cause it’s Your nature.

You will restore the years
That shame has stolen.
You keep the promises
That You have spoken.
I know this wasteland
Will be whole again,
‘Cause it’s Your nature.

You bring peace
To the war inside us.
Speak and all fear is silenced.
God, it’s Your nature.

You bring joy to the broken hearted,
hope to the ones who’ve lost it.
God, it’s Your nature.

There is no desert
That Your streams can’t run to.
There are no ruins
That Your love won’t make new.
You tell the wasteland
That it will bloom again,
‘Cause it’s Your nature.

You will restore the years
That shame has stolen.
You keep the promises
That You have spoken.
I know this wasteland
Will be whole again,
‘Cause it’s Your nature.

Sing out, oh barren woman.
Sing out, oh broken man.
Stretch out your hands believing
This is your promise land.
Break out of disappointment,
Break out of hopelessness.
Stretch out your hands
Believing this is your promise land.

(Writers: Kari Jobe Carnes, Hank Bentley, Charles Starling, Jacob Sooter)

 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

ISAIAH 54: HOPE & BLESSINGS

The Old Testament book of Isaiah gives me hope. According to Isaiah 54, if I believe and trust God, then I am promised these blessings. I will know His faithfulness, experience His love and peace, and enjoy His restoration. I am thankful for my Redeemer Who has compassion on me.

“‘Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman,’ says the LORD.

‘Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities.

‘Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. For the LORD has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,’ says your God.

‘For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD your Redeemer.

‘For this is like the days of Noah to Me when I swore that the waters of Noah would not flood the earth again; So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, nor will I rebuke you. For the mountains may be removed, and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the LORD who has compassion on you.

‘O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies and your gates of crystal and your entire wall of precious stones. All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great. In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression for you will not fear; And from terror for it will not come near you. If anyone fiercely assails you, it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you. Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin. No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,’ declares the LORD.”
(Isaiah 54: 1 – 17)

When the Lord God speaks, I need to listen with my heart not just my ears. When I read verses such as these in Isaiah 54, it blesses my heart. Its message gives hope from a God Who promises lovingkindness and peace.  When I fail to read Scriptures, I miss out on blessings that I need daily such as strength to live in this world.

GRANDCHILD’S BIRTH: HOPE AND NEW LIFE

Some days are more memorable than others. A day may have been so extraordinary and so wonderful that it remains in our hearts and minds. Such is a day of a grandchild’s birth. Few blessings in life are as memorable as this event.

Children and grandchildren are precious gifts. Life is a precious gift — a miracle — and only God gives life. Only He forms the tiny baby that blesses parents and grandparents as nothing else.

Psalm 139 has long been one of my favorite psalms. David, the writer, had an understanding of our God Who created babies, the tiny gifts that bless our lives like no others. This psalm is worth pondering whether considering your own life, a child’s life, a grandchild’s life, or any other life.

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

When I awake, I am still with You.”
(Psalm 139: 13 – 18)

Twelve years ago today was memorable for our family. We received a precious gift, a tiny bundle of joy, that instantly filled our hearts with love. October 13, 2009, brought hope and new life for which I was — and still am — very thankful.

Happy twelfth birthday to our beloved granddaughter!

“THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR THE BLOOD”:  GLORY & HOPE

Charity Gayle recorded and co-wrote a song, “Thank You, Jesus, for the Blood.

It says — because of Jesus —  “For the first time I had hope and gives glory to His name. Also she has written “Amen,” “Enter In (Psalm 100),” “Written Down in Glory,” “Cleansed,” and other songs as well.

Charity has been involved in church worship and ministry since she was a child. Today she and her husband, Ryan Kennedy, lead worship together and minister in the US and other countries as well.

Like Charity, I have hope because of Jesus Christ, and I, too, give glory to His name. Find and listen to the song that is presented below. May it give you hope, and may you give glory to the name of Jesus. May you also be able to say as the song says, “For I have been transformed by the blood of the lamb.”

THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR THE BLOOD

I was a wretch;
I remember who I was.
I was lost, I was blind.
I was running out of time.

Sin separated.
The breach was far too wide,
But from the far side of the chasm
You held me in your sight.

So You made a way
Across the great divide;
Left behind
Heavens throne
To build it here inside.

And there at the cross
You paid the debt I owed,
Broke my chains,
Freed my soul.
For the first time I had hope.

Thank you, Jesus, for the blood applied.
Thank you, Jesus, it has washed me white.
Thank you, Jesus, You have saved my life;
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light.

You took my place
Laid inside my tomb of sin.
You were buried for three days,
And then You walked right out again.

And now death has no sting,
And life has no end
For I have been transformed
By the blood of the lamb.

Thank You, Jesus, for the blood applied (thank You Jesus).
Thank You, Jesus, it has washed me white.
Thank You, Jesus, You have saved my life;
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light.

There is nothing stronger
Than the wonder-working power of the blood,
The blood that calls us sons and daughters.
We are ransomed by our Father through the blood, the blood.

There is nothing stronger
Than the wonder-working power of the blood,
The blood that calls us sons and daughters.
We are ransomed by the Father through the blood,
The blood.

Thank You, Jesus for the blood applied.
Thank You, Jesus, it has washed me white.
Thank You, Jesus, You have saved my life,
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light.

Glory to His name.
Glory to His name.
There to my heart was the blood applied.
Glory to His name.”

(Written by Charity Gayle,  David Gentiles, Ryan Kennedy, Bryan McCleery, Steven Musso)

 

“And on that day you will say, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.’ Praise the LORD in song for He has done glorious things; let this be known throughout the earth.” 

(Isaiah 12: 4 – 5)

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT:  CHOICE & HOPE

Today’s post focuses on the fruit of the Spirit as taught in Scripture.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
(Galatians 5: 22 – 25)

When believers share the fruit of the Spirit by their lives, I think the world gets a glimpse of hope. I consider that living the fruit of the Spirit results from a choice. While choosing may be simple, living it may be less simple and can be done only by Spirit-filled believers in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today I must answer the following questions….

Will I choose Love?

Will I choose Joy?

Will I choose Peace?

Will I choose  Patience?

Will I choose Kindness?

Will I choose Goodness?

Will I choose Faithfulness?

Will I choose Gentleness?

Will I choose Self-Control?

I think intentionally choosing to live by the fruit of the Spirit and yielding to the Holy Spirit will result in those traits becoming evident in my life.  In such days of unrest as we experience all around us, this is worth pondering.  I believe it is God’s will for every believer to share this fruit:

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. 

I want to remember that walking in the Spirit is a daily choice. The good news is I will not be struggling on my own in this worthwhile quest. God’s Holy Spirit will lead and empower me. With His help and strength, may I share hope by demonstrating in my life the fruit of the Spirit:  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

“WHAT A FRIEND”: GRACE & HOPE

Matt Maher is a contemporary Christian singer, musician, songwriter, and worship leader. He has written hundreds of songs and co–authored others that have blessed me by sharing hope.

A five-time GRAMMY nominee, Maher has written and recorded songs that have blessed many including “Lord, I Need You,” “Hold Us Together,” “Christ Is Risen,” “All The People Said Amen” and “Your Grace Is Enough.”

One song Maher co-wrote  that has blessed me is What A Friend. This song reminds us of God’s grace, and that gives me hope. Thanks, Matt Maher, Adam Palmer, Matthew Hein, and Abbie Parker for sharing its truth. Thank You, God, for the truth of its lyrics and for Your grace.

If you need a true best friend forever, read the lyrics below then find and listen to this song. Be touched by grace and hope.

WHAT A FRIEND

Everybody has trials and temptations.
Everybody knows heart break, isolation.
But we can lay our burdens down (our burdens down),
Lay our burdens down.

What a friend we have in Jesus.
East to west my sins are gone.
I see grace on every horizon,
And forever and ever His heart is my home.

Everybody has fears; everybody got worries.
Everybody knows sorrow, devastation.
But we can lay our burdens down (our burdens down),
Lay our burdens down.

What a friend we have in Jesus.
East to west my sins are gone.
I see grace on every horizon,
And forever and ever His heart is my home.

No more betrayal for He is faithful.
He fills me up, and my cup runneth over.
No more betrayal for He is faithful.
How He has proven it over and over.

No more betrayal for He is faithful.
He fills me up, and my cup runneth over.
No more betrayal for He is faithful.
How He has proven it over and over, over and over.

What a friend we have in Jesus.
East to west my sins are gone.
I see grace on every horizon,
And forever and ever His heart is my home.

What a friend we have in Jesus.
East to west my sins are gone, yeah.
I see grace on every horizon,
And forever and ever His heart is my home.

Forever and ever His heart is my home.”
(Written by Maher, Palmer, Hein, and Parker)

What better friend can I find than the One Who brings grace and hope to my heart? He is the One Who forever and ever His heart is my home!

 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
(Psalm 103: 12)

“A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
(Proverbs 18: 24)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1: 14)

being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 3: 24)

And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.'”
(2 Corinthians 12: 9)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope  completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1: 13)