Thanksgiving is a time to show our gratefulness towards God who has, though we are not worthy, provided us with all the necessary things to survive. Throughout the year He has blessed us with clothing, food, homes and jobs for which we need to show our appreciation. And while God calls us to take a leap of faith and leave everything behind; that is mother, father, sister brothers, wives (Lk14:26), he promises us that we do not have to worry because he will provide those things a hundredfold (Mk10:28-30). But, while we are reminded that God supplies all our needs and gives us reasons to be thankful, there are things that we are not so willing to release to him. Things that we hide throughout life that encompass a sense of selfishness for which we will not show any appreciation towards God, we will manifest only until we decide.

Luke 4:26-27  26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy[g] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

Jesus tells these religious leaders that a prophet is not with honor in his own town, when he is addressing how difficult it is for those who love money to enter into God’s kingdom. It does not matter one’s economic status any person can enter into God’s kingdom, as long as the love for money is not prioritized in that person’s life. God sent Naaman the leprod to Elisha be healed. Naaman was the captain of the Syrian army even though he was plagued with leprozy. He along with his army invaded Israel and took captive many people, and for himself took a young girl as a servant to his home. In order for Naaman to lead the army he needed to cover his entire body so that his leprosy would not be seen. This young girl understood that God uses his prophets in might ways to heal, and so she was not shy to recommending Elisha to heal her master (2Kgs5:3). Naaman requested permission from the king to go and see Elisha, and when he went to see him he told him to just wash in the Jordan 7 times and he would be healed(2kgs5:10-11). Naaman did as Elisha told him and was cleansed of his leprozy. He returned to Elisha and was so grateful that he did not have to wear his mask, because he was cleansed that he wanted to bless him with a gift(2Kgs5:15-16). But, Elisha did not want the gift that Naaman brought to him, because all that God wanted was Naaman’s heart. Naaman was released from his mask, and no longer that thing that plagued him under the mask; leprosy, was going to be present. So, thanksgiving is about really giving God thanks for the things that he has set us free from, and not just for the add on blessing he provides.

Expecting God’s rule on earth is what everyone should be doing. We work and live as Christ will come tomorrow even though we do not know the hour or day when he comes (Mt25:13). Even though we are witnessing plenty of signs that something is going to happen; we believe Christ is coming, we do not know when it will happen. It is not entrusted into us to pin point the hour (Mt24:36), it is only in the Father’s time when Christ is coming. But, we do know one thing and that is Christ is coming, and we should be living and working as he was coming today. The bible teaches us that Jesus Christ is coming back to take his church; we call this the rapture (Jh14:1-3). And, after the rapture the bible speaks that a great tribulation will occur. A period of seven years when the earth will experience changes like never before, and men will experience God’s wrath as depicted in the book of Revelations. A brief list of things that will happen on earth that we do not want our family and friends to experience are; one third of man, trees and living things will be wiped away, a giant meteor will fall from the sky, people will be killing people, Christian persecution will escalate to the highest level, diseases like never before will be rising.

Luke 19:15-20

15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

So, the people during this time of Jesus thought that God was just going to come and reign without holding man accountable for their actions. Jesus needed to clarify to this people that, because God has given us so many talents to use we are some day going to give account for them. And, this is called the “Judgement Seat of Christ”(2Cor5:10), where a reward will be given to man for his works. The servants in this parable were given talents according to their abilities (Mt25:15), and immediately there were supposed to get to work. The reward for our work is weighed in heavenly volume and not earthen. All three of the servants were given bags of money to negotiate and for their rewards they were to be placed as rulers of cities. One of the servants chose not engage in making gains with their talent, although he could have had others helped him. Rewards for serving the Lord are great. God has very big rewards for people who engage in serving and making gains on their talents (1Cor3:12-15).

How Americans experience and express their faith

Victory over our enemies is the reward God has for those who seek him. We have a continual battle each day that does not waiver and does not cease. If we are not warring against our mind, we are against family, or friends, and other humans. It seems that our wars never end. The bible teaches us that we have different types of battles, but that the victory is ours (1Cor15:57). Some of our battles happen away from home; at work, school or church, and our enemy is not carnal (Eph6:12). So, no matter the reasons for us engaging in war and battle our enemy is the same. He; the enemy, does not rest. The bible tells us that he lurks around us like a roaring lion seeking to whom he may devour (1Pt5:8). So, how do you know if you are in a battle? There are several signs that identify’s a spiritual battle is going on, and one of them is a sudden feel of lose or troubles. Also, attacks of physical danger, illness, increase temptation, feeling of overwhelm or fear, and deep confusion are signs of war.

1 Chronicles 15:17 17 But the high places were not taken away out of Israel: nevertheless the heart of Asa was perfect all his days.

God promises that we have the victory in Christ and that though we will have troubles in this life we are more then conqueror’s (Ro8:37, Jh16:33). Now, King Asa had just come victorious from battle and was feeling pretty good. But, the battle that he was coming to was going to be more difficult, so God sent him a prophet to encourage him. This battle that he was going to engage in was not like the one he had just finished winning with flesh and blood, it was a spiritual battle in taking down idols at home. His family and friends got involved with idolatry and lifted high places. The people of God knew how God felt about idols because of the 10 commandments; the 2nd commandment in Exodus 20:4, and yet they continued to set them up. King Asa made the decision to bring the idols down at home and went throughout Israel destroying them and he even took down his mother’s idol and removed her from her position as queen. Yet, a high place remained; to which King Asa neglected to bring down, and it is a reminder that high places may still exist in our lives that we may not be ready to bring down. The symbolic significance of high places are those things that the highest place in priority in us; our children, job, relationship, homes and ourselves.

The effects that Christ produce in us is such that produce thanksgiving in both us and those around us. When a life is changed from that of a horrible person with the characteristics of that fairy tail character of the Grinch, to that loving person of Christ it produces a grateful heart. Being thankful is a God thing, and it is something that we do towards God such as bringing sacrifices of thanksgiving before him (ps107.22). We all have something to be thankful for of God, he has comforted us when we needed it the most, he has turned dry moments into enriching ones; It’s what God does, and thanksgiving is the product of such (Is51:3).   

2 Corinthians 9:11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

Paul is working to prepare this church of Corinthians to becoming bountiful givers, for another church; the church of Macedonia, was coming to see their fruit and they needed to be ready. We have been blessed in all things to the point that gratefulness has no other choice but to pour out from us. The scriptures tell us that he shall supply all our needs according to his riches in glory through Christ Jesus (Ph4:19). It also says that God knows all your needs (Lk12:30) and if we seek him he will supply them. When God supplies your needs; whatever they may be say a job, a healing, the effects are to the production of the unspeakable gift through us. When something is unspeakable they are either forbidden to be spoken of, or there is not enough knowledge. But, Christ is the later, we do not have sufficient knowledge to say the things that are his (1Cor2:9). And, that unspeakable gift is Christ in us which produce thanksgiving unto God. In turn, those around us will see your good works and glorify the Father which is in heaven (Mt5:16).

In life we all have losses. Whether we are buying a new car or grocery we find some loses. In fact, as soon as we drive a new car out of the store it depreciates some 20%. We have losses with the value of our homes due to varying factors. The effects of losses have some detrimental effects in our lives such as low self esteem and depression and as children of God we have to learn to over come those feeling of lose. If we do not learn to deal with loses in life it will have hindering effects on our relationship with God. The lose of $100 over weighs the effect of winning it. One thing that God always makes clear in our lives is that we are on the winning team. That we are more then over comers (Ro8:37, 1Jh5:4), and therefore we need to make sure that, because of the losses we face in life like everyone else, that we do not forget our victory. One of the things that Paul teaches us is found in the letter to the Philippians church where he says that he considers all things but a loss for the knowledge of the son of God (ph3:8). We have losses in family, money, health and in every aspect of life. If negative feelings of losses are never going to change, because no one likes to lose.

Obadiah 1:17

17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.

The book of the prophet Obadiah was dedicated against the people of Edom whom were the enemies of God’s people. They hated the people of God, God and everything that included God. And, such behavior against God’s people produced many losses to Israel’s economy and in every aspect of life. But, one thing for sure was that, God sought out a remnant of his people to satisfy his promises with.  God was going to return everything that they had lost to his people. The promise of the Messiah was sure to come and be manifest along with the restoration of that which was lost. Jesus said that everyone who forsake’s all that they have for his name’s sake should receive hundred fold (Mt19:29). Causing a shift in losses to gains in the kingdom, is what happens in the kingdom. But, too often we get so focused in life, that the loss effects make us loose perspective of the kingdom and why we are really in it; we don’t really want to let go. Jesus said “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt6:33). The prophet Isaiah gave us some suggestions to dealing with losses, he said not to focus on yourself and these things will come your way (Is.58:13-14).

Thanksgiving day is about giving thanks and thanks to God for all he has done for us; even though we need to give thanks all the time. But, we have chosen one day of the year to express our gratitude to God for all he has done 365 days of the year. Now, gratefulness is something that one can be abundant in, and display it even unintentionally. You can tell when someone is full of gratefulness, for example, there was this guy who had leprosy and he was walking along other eight fellows who too had leprosy. One day they saw Jesus and they shouted for him to heal them, so Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest and as they walked towards the priest they were healed. And, one of them recognized his healing and returned back to Jesus to give him thanks for his healing (Lk17:15-18). A part of being grateful is recognizing what God has done. Now, people can do many things for you as favors, and one might just forget to show gratitude, but when God does something for you, you cannot ever forget; however, showing gratitude is a different story.

Ephesians 4:4-7

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Gratefulness is something that we can have abundant of unlike other things like hope, God’s Spirit, the body of Christ, faith, baptism and God himself. Paul tells us that the glory of God is a rebound of thanksgiving which is dispersed in more people (2Cor4:15). Our display of gratefulness towards God reaches multitudes of people even the hardest and farthest to reach. There was this lady by the name of Mary whose brother past away, but not for long because Jesus; who was a dear friend, raise him from the dead after 4 days dead. Well, Mary had a jar of alabaster ointment and she came to Jesus and poured it on him without giving a thought of its value. This expression of gratitude got printed in the scriptures for memory of her (Mt26:12-13). A grateful attitude is something that does not rest; it does not forget. We must become thanks givers, the bible tells us “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (ps100:4). The more thanksgiving experiences one has the more gratefulness he/she will be(Lk19:26); and have glory of God sightings.

With Christmas around the corner the worries about gift giving surfaces along with the stress. But, once the time comes to give out those gifts the surprise will come once the gifts are opened. People will either love the gift you gave or hate it and request a gift receipt. Now, when we were born and came out of the womb we were born into a box, a box of unbelief and bondage; at least most of us. We were prisoners of our desires and passions; slaves of sin, in a box. You have heard that we need to step out of the box to see things more clearly and this applies to the religious sect. In order to step out of the box the box needs to be opened and the only way that box can be opened is through faith. Now, faith alone is not enough the bible tells us that faith without works is dead(Jm2:20). The law of sin and death states that if a man sins he will die, and this law is that box of which we were born into. But, when Christ came he provided a way for us to come out of the box and that is through faith in him.

Galatians 3:23-23

23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Being in the faith is freedom to call the things which can not be seen to being seen; the invisible things of God (Ro1:20). So, when we are out of the box we can freely claim things that have not come and with God’s timing they will come (He11:1-3). Being out of the box as living by faith we have justification from sin (Ro5:1-4). Out of the box is freedom from any guilt, low esteem, bondage from sin, It is total freedom. When one is in a box there is only so much space one has to move. Whereas, when one is out of the box all things are possible for him/her (Mk9:23-24).  This father’s son was possessed with a demon which cast him in the fire and tried to destroy him, but because of his unbelief Jesus’ disciples could not cast him out. When he recognized that he was boxed in unbelief he called out to be taken out of the box. It pleases God when we are out of the box (Heb11:6).

One of the things that God seeks is people who are willing to confess who they are in him at all costs. Jesus said that who ever confesses him with their mouths he will confess him to the heavenly father up in heaven (Mt.10:32). Having the audacity to stand up as a child of God has to come from some kind of experience or encounter that had happened at some time in ones life. To confess the name of Jesus; and especially his name a name that of controversy, requires boldness. I mean Jesus’ name is a name that is above any other name. According to the bible there is no name given to man by which one can be save like the name of Jesus (Act4:12). It is a name that comes with gifts and promises. For example, through the name of Jesus we receive the ultimate gift of God, the Holy Spirit (Acts2:38). The early church persecuted those of the way for preaching in the name of Jesus as it happened to Peter and John whom as they were on their way to pray at the temple they healed this lame man in Acts 4:17. They took the two apostles and harassed them not to preach in the name of Jesus but that did not stop them.

John 9:8-9

The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.

It is the name by which every Christian is identified in, Jesus Christ. The title of Christians is given to the followers of Christ. We identify with Christ by what he has done in our lives and we are not afraid of confessing him like this blind guy whom Jesus healed by putting clay on his eyes. Everyone who knew him once Christ healed him questioned if he was that beggar who once stood at the gate begging. But, he stood firm about who he was and what Christ did for him. Even when he was taken to the rulers and was cast out of the temple for his confession he did not waiver from his confession. He became one of the first ones Jesus revealed himself too (Jh9:35-38). Once Christ does something for you nothing stops you from confessing him where ever you go. Like this lame guy whom when Peter and John healed while they were on their way to prayer. Once he was healed he leaped for joy and praised God aloud (Acts 3:8-10). He was not afraid to shout and jump and leap for joy this lame guy once he was healed. Finally, the demon possessed from the Gadarenes who spent a good portion of his life at the graves cutting himself, and hurting himself when Jesus set him free decide to go and publish his experience throughout (Mk5:19-20). Who we are in Christ is based on our experience we have and thus our confession should easily flow from our mouths (Ph2:10).

Being thankful deals with recognizing that God has already satisfied ones needs with what is already there or with what is to come. Acknowledging that God has provided someone’s needs comes from one simple sign, say a piece of bread, or something out of a garbage can. God is able to multiply any substance to satisfy man’s need. And, so, just that very sign of prosperity no matter how small should bring out of us a moment of thanksgiving. Now, we can be those agents that help others to become grateful for what they have, just by modeling thanksgiving; not just sharing of the turkey, but actually giving thanks for the very little things that out of no where appear or those that are just there but are without recognition.

Mark 8:2-8

I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.

A moment of gratefulness sprung out of Jesus was when he saw this people who were with him for three days and had not eaten anything, but knew that his heavenly father could supply their needs with anything. He had compassion on this people. compassion is a virtue that brings out thankfulness. The bible tells us that God is full of compassion and that is why he has not poured his wrath upon us (ps. 78:38, La3:32); lets face it we have not be all that good. When something small appears in the midst of trouble it is a sign of God’s provision as in the time of Elijah, when there was a drought and after he prayed a small hand appeared in the sky; God sent rain (1Kg18:44). Small things are appreciated by even rulers as Zerubbabel who was making sure that every detail was complete (Zac. 4:10).

When one ties the knot, get hitched, or simply gets married he or she becomes one and now belongs to his/hers partner till death separates them; though there has been a escalation of divorces these last days. The bible tells us that the owner of the body is now the person one marries (1Cor. 7:4). Marriage is about pleasing your spouse and dedicating ones self to him/her. We can serve others and help many people, but our primary duty is to our spouse. So, it is within ourselves; we in a sense are married to ourselves. Today, more and more people are dedicating themselves to pampering themselves and dedicating time to the self. The self is becoming the primary focus in life. So, we can serve God and go to church, but not to much else we will commit adultery against ourselves. Unless, we die we cannot commit to Christ one hundred percent as if we were married to him.

Romans 7:2-4

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Before we can become devoted spouses to Christ, we must die; the husband/wife part in us. John said that he must increase and I must decrease, stating that in the relationship between me and me has to lower and between Christ and me has to be at a rise (Jh3:30). Like in a relationship which there is a lot of giving of self, so in Christ there must be a steady increase of self giving, unless we are still married to the self. Paul said that our old man must be crucified with Christ else we will continue to serve him (Ro.6:6). In relationships that have had many years together, character traits and behaviors are adapted by each party. In order to make new relationship work each party have to put away those old behaviors. When we are working on a relationship with Christ Paul tells us that we have to put away those behaviors from the previous relationship (Ep. 4:22). He “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”(2Cor5:17). It is a fruit of marriage to Christ wherewith we are dead to the old and burring those deeds, we bring fruit to God. That is where accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior becomes our engagement to him and baptism is a symbol of marriage (Ro.6:4).