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Thanksgiving and God’s Will

Here in the USA, tomorrow is a holiday devoted to Thanksgiving – at least that was the original intent.  I’ve been meditating on Thanksgiving lately.

I think about the age we’re living in.  I look around at all that’s happening in the society I’m a part of.

Many people seem to have the attitude, “What do I have to be thankful for?”

The truth is that we’ve rewritten history.  If you believe what they teach in most public schools, it started solely from the Pilgrims’ thankfulness to Native Americans for helping them.

That was definitely a big part of the original celebration.  The problem is that we’ve all but erased God from the picture.

The pilgrims arrived at the new world in the winter.  That first year almost half of them died.  Every family lost someone.  Yet, in spite of their hardships, they gave thanks to God for His blessings.

I think about the times we’re living in right now.  The world around us is so uncertain.  People are worried about finances, healthcare, government, crime, terrorists, the weather, and a host of other fears that seem to be hanging over our heads.

Society is on the edge of their seat.  How can we be thankful in a time like this?

But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

As believers, we have the answer in Scripture.  The principle is that He gives us the victory…

That is a comforting thought.  He won the victory and then gives it to us.  How does that work?

It’s all about thankfulness.

…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

The Bible makes it very clear that giving thanks is God’s will.  It doesn’t matter what you’re going through.  You could be facing good or bad situations.  There might even be a cloud of uncertainty looming before you.  It’s always God’s will for us to be thankful.

Notice that He doesn’t say for all things.  He simply wants us to be thankful in all things.  What’s happening around us shouldn’t affect our thankful attitude towards our God.

Remember we’re not moved by the visible.  We must keep our eyes on the eternal.  The ups and downs of society around us are temporary conditions.  Everything is subject to change.

In any situation I find myself in, I can give thanks to God.  When I’m thankful, I know that I’m in the center of the will of God for me.

Be thankful and have a blest Thanksgiving!

Question: What are you thankful for right now?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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A Teaching Testimonial

As we come near the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he begins to give some short exhortations.  I find this next one to be of particular importance.

Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
Galatians 6:6

I’m obviously partial to this one because I’m an instructor in the Word of God.  Many times teachers never find out the effects that they have on someone’s life.

That’s because teaching is a cumulative process.  Changes in those being instructed don’t happen overnight.  Each new concept received, brings a tiny step forward.

Over time, these little pieces add up to a life that’s been brought to a new place in Christ.  That’s why we need to periodically take stock of where we are in our Christian walk.  Then, when we see where we are in our progress, we take note of where we learned these things from.

This verse tells us to communicate the good things we see in our lives with the ones who instructed us.  In that way, the teachers will be encouraged that their work was not in vain.

I remember my Sunday School teachers from when I was young.  One of them, Brother Jerry Citro, had a great impact upon my life.

I had just “graduated” into the Junior High Boys’ class.  We were a group known for always clowning around.  But Bro. Jerry loved us and worked with us.

One Sunday morning, he made an announcement to the class.  He told us that for the next few weeks, he wouldn’t be teaching us.  Instead, we would each take a turn teaching to our peers.  It should go without saying that this got quite a negative reaction from the class, but that’s the way it would be.

For the next few weeks, the class was pretty boring, to say the least.  The students either didn’t remember that it was their turn, or didn’t care.  I remember sitting in class listening to students reading the workbook to us.

Then it came to my turn.  I made a decision that I didn’t want to look foolish by not preparing anything.  So at some point during the week I read the lesson and wrote down some notes.  I also prayed for God’s help, since I had never done anything like this before.

That’s when it happened.  I got up in front of the class to teach.  My stomach was in knots.  But at least I had prepared something.

I don’t remember anything I said or taught that day.  I do remember that Bro. Jerry had a big smile as he thanked me for teaching at the end of the class.  I also remember that a couple of my friends came to me afterward and told me how much they enjoyed my talk.

As I look back on this experience, I realize it was that day when I first had the thought that maybe God wants me to teach.  If Bro Jerry had not made us participate, would I even have made it to where I am today?

Brother Jerry has since gone on to his reward in Heaven.  I have no doubt that he heard the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

But there’s something that brings me joy in all of this.  That’s the fact that on more than one occasion, I was able to communicate to him just how big a role he played in my ministry.  Every life I affected with the Word of God can be traced back to his faithfulness.

We need to be aware of the “Brother Jerry’s” in our lives.  I’ve had many more teachers that changed my life.  All of them should be thanked and made to understand their effect on us.  Don’t neglect this vital part of receiving God’s Word.

Question: Who are the teachers that have affected your life the most?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2017 in Encouragement, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Thanksgiving Bread – The Spirit and the Word #thanksgiving

BreadUnder the Old Testament law, many different types of offerings were to be presented to God.  Some were called Fellowship Offerings because they were given simply out of love for God.  An offering of thanksgiving was one of these Fellowship Offerings.

If he offers it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering he is to offer cakes of bread made without yeast and mixed with oil, wafers made without yeast and spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well-kneaded and mixed with oil.  Along with his fellowship offering of thanksgiving he is to present an offering with cakes of bread made with yeast.
Leviticus 7:12-13

There are four different kinds of bread that were associated with this offering.  The common elements in all of them are flour and oil.  I believe that they correspond to the word and the spirit.  This is central to thanksgiving since everything I receive from God is through the Word and by His Spirit.

The first bread is cakes of bread without yeast and mixed with oil.  The term “unleavened” comes from a root which means to greedily devour because it is sweet.  It was made with flour mixed with oil.  To make these today, we would use shortening or butter.  They would be more like shortbread or butter cookies.

Sometimes the word is sweet to me.  I devour it greedily.  It satisfies my inner longing and refreshes my spirit.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that lifts me up.

The next bread is the wafer – literally, a matzah.  This matzah cracker was to be anointed with oil.  The matzah is very dry and pierced at regular intervals throughout the cracker.

Sometimes the Word pierces me, like a sword.  It’s in times like this that God is doing surgery on me.  The Bible teaches that faithful are the wounds of a friend.  I need it because this is the place of the anointing.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that corrects me.

Another bread is made with fine flour and cooked in oil.  Fine flour is like our bakery flour.  When we cook something in oil, we call it deep fried – like fried dough or donuts.

This one is brought about in the heat of the spirit.  It takes the fire of the Holy Spirit, heating up the Word to produce change in my life.  A prophet said to God that Your Word is like a fire in my bones.  This fire pushes you to action.  Christ has said that He wants you either cold or hot.  Lukewarm just won’t cut it.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that fires me up to action for the Lord.

The last bread of the thanksgiving offering is made with yeast.  Yeast usually speaks of our imperfections.  It amazes me that God will entrust His divine Word to imperfect humans.  The Lord gives me a word to share with others.  If I were God…it would never happen.

But He knows best.  He gives us a word to share, even in our humanity.  This is something that my imperfect life can give to others.  I’m thankful that Christ lets us represent Him by His Spirit.

Thank God.

Question: What are you thankful to God for at this moment?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Encouragement, God's Provision, Word of God

 

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Are You Truly Thankful?

These thoughts on Thanksgiving come from reading Luke 17:11-19.  In this section of Scripture we see an interesting event in the life of Christ.  It caused me to ask myself if I am truly thankful for all God has done for me.

This story from the life of Christ surrounds ten lepers.  These were men who had an incurable skin disease.  They came to Jesus for a miracle and were not disappointed.

In these verses, we see everything needed for obtaining the blessing of God.  There’s faith, obedience, and expectancy.  Jesus’ response to them is simple.

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
Luke 17:14

There was no special religious display.  The Lord didn’t touch them or even pray over them.  He simply gave them a task to complete.

Then, something unexpected happened.  As they were on their way to the priests, their healing was completed.  By the time they got there, the leprosy was totally gone.

But that wasn’t the only unexpected occurrence that day.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.
Luke 17:15

On the way to the priests, one of the men sees what’s happening to him.  As he experiences his healing, he turns around.   He begins to make his way back to Jesus.

As he does so, he starts yelling.  The literal Greek uses the words mega-phone.  This was not a quiet thankfulness of the heart.  His actions must have attracted attention.  And what’s more, he didn’t even care who heard him.  He wanted to praise God because of His blessing.

What this passage taught me is that thankful people live out loud for the Lord.  This is not just a church thing, but a lifestyle of praise to God.

That’s why I believe Thanksgiving is more than just “Turkey Day” or “Football Day.”  It’s about what God has done for us.  Even the disciples of Christ caught hold of this.

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen…
Luke 19:37

This is a normal response to the hand of God at work.  It doesn’t mean you have to yell all the time.  What it does mean, is that God’s work should be abundantly evident in your life.

Question: What are you thankful to God for? Are you willing to let people know about it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Encouragement

 

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All Good Things

2 Samuel 22:31-37
“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the LORD?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.  He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You give me your shield of victory; you stoop down to make me great.  You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”

It is God who blesses us with all good things.  It’s always the right day to give thanks for the beautiful sunrise, for that parking spot close to the door, and for the the large tax refund.  A prayer of thanksgiving is always appropriate when you see the night sky that seems to stretch on and on forever before you, taking your breath away.

Most people are so ungrateful to God.  Something big has got to happen to them in order for them to praise the Lord.  We need to learn to praise Him for all things, big and small.  We need to acknowledge that He is our victory in every problem and situation that arises.  It is the Lord who guides us forward down the clear, broad path at our feet.

All these things and more come from our heavenly Father.  Take the time today to thank Him for some things you don’t usually think of throughout the day.  It will make the day ahead that much more awesome.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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God of Creation

Romans 1:20-23
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

The first part of this passage is why I love the outdoors!  To see the beauty of a mountain vista, fall colors, lake, sky, and wind.  They all combine together to give a sense of awe and wonder.  All of Creation seems to cry out that it is the work of someone vastly more intelligent and powerful than you or I.

This verse reminds us that not everyone credits God for His work.  There are those who see a vastly different picture.  Evolution and chance are the gods of this world.  There are many people who overlook the obvious in order to avoid giving account of themselves to God.  The fact remains that God has revealed Himself in the context of His Creation.

What about God’s people?  How should we respond to the world that we see around us?  One thing I do know is that we must not be found guilty of the sin of ungratefulness.  Never take the majesty of the Lord’s Creation for granted.

Make sure that you give God praise today.  Thank Him for the beauty of His Creation.  Thank Him for allowing us to share it with Him.  And thank Him for His marvelous presence that helps us to enjoy His handiwork all the more.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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The Great Outdoors

Job 38:8-11
“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt?’”

God created the seas, rivers, and lakes all for us.  He made the world a beautiful place for us to enjoy.  Many times I have thought myself blessed as I sat and meditated by a peaceful lake – knowing that only about a hundred people a year even see this sight.  Who was there watching when He established that body of water for His pleasure?

We serve a very creative God.  He loves beauty and variety.  He has made each lake and stream different.  Sometimes we need to just stop and look around at the details that make each scene unique.

I don’t know how close you live to green outdoor areas.  Hopefully there are parks or other type places nearby where you can go from time to time.  In any case, don’t ever get to the point where the outdoors is just a place to play.  Never lose your fascination with the sights, smells, and sounds of the green spaces around you – it speaks volumes to us about who God is.

We must be sensitive to the beauty that is around us.  Don’t just take it for granted.  Even a small garden can be a place of rest and refreshment in your spirit.  Give God thanks today for the glory of His Creation.  Be thankful that He allows us to share in the enjoyment of what His hands have done.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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