A Thanksgiving Day Message
There are so many reasons I have to be thankful for, I couldn’t possibly list them all here. But as I’ve been thinking about those reasons, I realized that I could summarize them all with this:
I am thankful for being loved, and for the ability to give love!
God’s love is the greatest gift of all. It is the beginning of and the reason for all the blessings we receive, including life itself. And because His love is so great, it cannot be contained in one heart alone. It grows, and then we can share it.
So I want to take the time to say THANK YOU to God, for the gift of love! And THANK YOU to all of my family, friends and neighbors, for sharing your love!
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, I pray that every heart on earth be filled with such love and joy, that the whole earth sings a song of praise and thanks.
Always remember, God loves you, and that is worth being thankful for.
Where Is Jesus? He’s In My Heart!
Some people are saying that America was never a Christian nation. Some are saying that it used to be, but is not now. And others are insisting that it still is. I can’t honestly and accurately say what is (or was) in anyone else’s heart or mind but my own. I guess it doesn’t really matter what anyone calls this country. I personally, am a Christian.
The word Christian means to follow Christ, to be Christ-like. It was first used (Acts 11:26) in Antioch (not as the English word we use now) to describe the people that were following the teachings of Jesus Christ and trying to live their lives according to the examples He had given. More accurately, it described the people that had received the Spirit of The Holy Ghost and had given their lives completely to Him. It did not mean to simply believe in Jesus, for even Satan believed, but I’m pretty sure he would not be called a Christian.
In any case, the core nature of being a Christian is not about being in a group where everyone agrees with or goes along with everyone else about all things. It is more about a personal relationship with Christ in our own heart. God made us all individuals, each one of us is unique. In being unique, we are not going to agree with each other on everything. But as Christians, we are all subject to His instructions (the Bible) in loving one another and how we are supposed to work together for His glory.
The Bible says in Romans 12:3-5, “3 For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him. 4 For as in one physical body we have many parts (organs, members) and all of these parts do not have the same function or use, 5 So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another].” (Amplified translation)
In this context we are being instructed to work together for the common goal of what is good for us all, with each contributing his or her own unique gift or talent, but moving in the same direction as a whole in God’s will.
Not including our past history or how this nation was founded, the current percentage of the population claiming to be Christians in America is 73%. (Wikipedia) So I have to wonder, if we are doing what we are supposed to as a whole (living under God’s leadership), how is it that we have allowed so many of (man’s) laws to be passed that are essentially “escorting God right out of our lives”? If the majority of this nation is declaring that we are Christians, why are we condoning these laws with our silence? God’s Word is pretty clear about homosexuality, murder, theft, etc. Yet we continue to allow our own government to pass laws to the contrary, just so long as they call it by a different name or don’t bother us with it.
As an individual with only one voice, I cannot change much. But as a population of 73% of the American public, when we stand together, we can change a lot of things. That is to say, if we stand together and take action. The Bible commands believers in Psalm 94:16 to RISE UP and STAND UP for God against evildoers.
I am not suggesting that we try to force anyone to become a Christian. That is not our business, it’s God’s. What I am saying is that by being too silent and ignoring the direction our politicians and government have taken and the laws they have passed under the pressure of a small minority group, we are allowing the moral fabric of our nation to be destroyed.
Our children are growing up confused and unbalanced. In their hearts they may feel something of a basic sense of what is right or wrong, but they see the examples of what is being allowed or being pushed as “normal and acceptable behavior” plastered all around them. Even in a lot of the Christian homes there is compromising and excusing, instead of truth and obedience.
And then we cry out in wonder at the insanity of a brutal beating of an elderly man for a few dollars. We scream in outrage at the raping and beating of a young teenage girl. And we ask why in the shooting of innocent children. Why would or how could anyone do such horrible things? The answer is simple, because of evil.
It’s not about passing more laws to take people’s guns away. (Cain didn’t use a gun to kill Able.) It’s not about passing laws to allow people to carry guns either. In fact, it’s not really about passing any laws at all. We were already given Ten Laws a long, long time ago, and if those laws were actually observed, there wouldn’t be any other laws needed.
The problem is we can’t obey those laws without God’s help. That is why Jesus came. He lived to teach and show us how to live. Then He died, rose up again, and ascended back up to Heaven to give us the gift of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). It is only with His precious gift that we have the means to live in obedience of His Word.
But what good can His Word do if no one sees it, hears it, or experiences it’s power around them? We need God and His Word to be the center of our lives, because without Him, evil overcomes.
It is not my desire or intention to judge anyone else for what they believe or not, or for what they do. It is just my belief that as a Christian and an American, it is my right and responsibility to stand up for what I believe in, and to live my life accordingly. I believe in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave”. I believe in “the right to keep and bear arms”. I believe in “one nation, under God”. I believe in “God shed His grace on thee”. I believe in “thou shalt have no other gods before me”. I believe in “For God so loved the world…” I believe in “love one another, as I have loved you”. I believe in repentance, being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. And I believe in “…as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord”.
I will live my life and teach my children as Jesus leads me. I will vote as Jesus leads me. I will speak as Jesus leads me. And I will love others, as Jesus leads me. Will you?
My prayer today is that hearts and minds are opened to Jesus’ gift, that eyes will see the truth, and that the people of this country and all around the world will know His great love for us all. May peace and joy surround you, and God bless. – Amber
The Secret Christmas Wish
By Amber Leggette-Aldrich
It was early Christmas morning in 1968. I rushed out to the living room to see if my father was there. I had made a secret Christmas wish that Santa would bring him home that year. It had been so long since I had seen him and I was afraid that he had forgotten me. To know that he still loved me was the only thing I truly wanted for Christmas.
I tried my best not to show my disappointment. My mother did her absolute best to get a few nice gifts for me. But I didn’t tell her about my secret wish. It always made her cry to see how much I missed my father.
Thirty four years went by before my broken heart was healed after a caring soul taught me about Jesus. I was finally able to forgive my father for not being there for me. It was truly one of the most precious gifts I could have received. Without Jesus and the Gospel, that would never have happened.
One of the first things I learned after my own heart was healed was about reaching out to others that are hurting. The book of James has become one of my favorite books of the Bible. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. “
Angel Tree is an organization that applies this biblical truth through reaching out to children of inmates and their parents. They help these inmates to reach out to their children, helping them to stay connected through providing a Christmas gift. Without their help, many of these children will experience a lonely and painful time, instead of sharing in the wonderful love that Christmas is all about.
Angel Tree is a part of the Prison Fellowship Organization. It was started 30 years ago by an ex-inmate, Mary Kay Beard. She started with 1 tree and 100 paper angels. Each angel represented a child of an inmate with a desired gift for that child. People took the angels from the tree and bought the gifts listed on them for the children and gave them on behalf of the incarcerated parent. Today over 9 million children have received an Angel Tree gift.
When I first heard about Angel Tree and what they do, I knew in my heart that God was giving me an opportunity to reach out with His love to help someone else that was hurting. To be able to give a child a simple gift and let them know they are loved is its own reward. To be able to share God’s Truth with them and their family is a priceless treasure. It could very well be the key to changing lives and healing broken hearts.
I now have a new Christmas wish. My wish is that no child will wake up wondering if their father or mother has forgotten them or if they are still loved. Won’t you join me by partnering with Angel Tree to help make this wish come true? Together we can make a difference. Donate now and give a gift of true love.
For more information on Angel Tree and how you can help visit http://www.prisonfellowship.org/programs/angel-tree/