Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thankful For What?

“Praise the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:2)

This upcoming Thursday the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a day typically celebrated with family and friends. Many will watch the famed Macy’s Day Parade on television, or they will watch football later in the day. Some will see loved ones they haven’t seen for a long time. Most will enjoy a gut-busting meal of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

During the meal, many families take the time to share with one another what they are most thankful for. Unfortunately, there are too many people who never take the time to think about what they are thankful for, much less say a prayer of thanks before the meal.

Our scripture verse today comes from a psalm written by King David. Some call Psalm 103 David’s great “Song of Thanksgiving.” In it he encourages himself to give thanks for daily blessings and he reminds himself of the many benefits God has given him.

The Pilgrims also remembered God’s benefits. They arrived November 11, 1620, on the rocky coast of Cape Cod. They came to the New World to seek a place to worship in freedom. Little did they know of the struggles they would experience. They suffered many hardships the first winter, including the death of many of them. However, in spite of all their many problems, they are credited with established the first Thanksgiving.

David and the Pilgrims had learned to be thankful for the blessings and benefits God had given them. The question for today is, “For what should we be thankful?”

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Hem of His Garment

“And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
And had suffered many things of many physicians,
and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind,
and touched his garment. For she said, if I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.”
(Mark 5:25-28)

Do you believe that faith heals?

In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians, 99% of doctors questioned believe a relationship exists between faith and physical healing.

Doctors’ faith in faith was also supported by a California study on the effect of prayer on people recovering from heart problems. About 200 heart patients were assigned to Christians who prayed for them, while an equal number, a control group, received no known prayers. Neither group knew about the prayers, yet those who received prayer developed half the complications that were experienced by those in the control group.

A similar study by the Dartmouth Medical School examined the effect of prayer on healing when the patients prayed for themselves. The death rate six months after bypass surgery was 9 percent for the general population but only 5 percent for those who prayed for their own healing. The study also indicated that none of the deeply religious patients died during the period of the study (The Associated Press, quoted in “Religion in the News,” Signs of the Times, March 1997, p. 4).

The Bible gives us many examples of how faith heals, however there is one in particular that stands out.

In the book of Mark, chapter 5, we learn of a woman who was in great distress. She was a woman who risked everything to find a cure to a seemingly incurable disease. This is the story of her desperation, determination, deliverance, and declaration.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Multiplied Bread

"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" John 6:9

There once was a man who fell off a cliff, but managed to grab a tree limb on the way down.
The man yelled, "Is anyone up there?"
"I’m here. I’m the Lord. Do you believe me?"
"Yes, Lord, I believe. I really believe, but I can't hang on much longer."
"That's all right; if you really believe you have nothing to worry about. I will save you. Just let go of the branch."
There was a moment of silence, and then the man asked, "Is anyone else up there?"

How many of us are like that man? God is right there just waiting to lift us out of our troubles and we pull our hand away. What it comes down to is faith. Do we really believe that God can help us when we have problems?

The biblical account of the feeding of the five thousand with the multiplied bread and fishes is an example of how God came through when there was a seemingly impossible problem. This is more than just a story about a miracle. It is actually part of a great lesson on the Bread of Life.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What Color Are Your Leaves?

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

There is a tree that grows mainly in the southwest United States, but also in other parts of the world. It’s called a mesquite tree. Those of you who like to grill may have heard of it, because its wood provides a wonderful flavor to barbequed meat.

When I was around 10 years old, my family lived in Tucson, Arizona. There were plenty of mesquite trees growing near my home, and I loved to climb up in the branches of the trees, or seek shade under their branches when the heat of the day got over 100 degrees.

The mesquite is a fascinating tree. In fact, let me read you a couple of excerpts from a book entitled, The Magnificent Mesquite, by Ken Rogers.

“Over the past several centuries, probably no one plant has played a greater and more vital role in the lives of humankind in the southwestern United States than the short, crooked mesquite. Relying on mesquite for a myriad of necessities such as food, weapons, shelter, and medicine, early southwestern Indian drew upon it in almost every aspect of their lives, even giving it a position of honor in their religious ceremonies … Many travelers crossing the plains of the Southwest survived on the mesquite bean. When the 320-man Texas-Santa Fe Expedition sent by the Republic of Texas to annex New Mexico crossed the Texas Panhandle in the summer of 1841, they found the mesquite bean and called it "manna from heaven.”

Let me return to Jeremiah 17:7-8, "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green …"

My question to you is, “What color are your leaves?”