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Being thankful…

We are entering the month of November with our holiday coming up here in the United States of Thanksgiving, where we gather with our families and we sit around and overindulge on foods we probably shouldn’t eat and then sleep on couches as we “watch” football games. Now don’t get me wrong I will be doing all of this. But why do we do this?

We do this because we are thankful.

But what does it mean to be thankful?

I looked up thankful on Merriam-Webster.com and it means conscious of benefit received.

It means when I am thankful that I understand the benefits I have received.

And benefits may or may not be tangible. Meaning I may not be able to hold those benefits in my hands.

For instance, I am oh so thankful for the people of St. John;s and the benefit I have received from you. You are open and welcoming and you go out of your way to help others, it is a truly thankful job to be your pastor.

I am oh so thankful for the blessing and benefit I get from my 3 beautiful daughters. They are a joy and wonder as I watch them grow into wonderful young ladies who will take on the world and continue to bring joy and blessing to my life.

And I am so thankful for the blessing God gave me in my wife. She is a rock that keeps me grounded and a magnificent companion in this life. I am blessed and thankful beyond imagination!

So always remember that no matter what is happening in your life there is always something to be thankful for.

So be thankful, conscious of the benefit of your life and blessings, and thank God for that.

 

 

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Posted by on 2017/11/01 in Newsletter Article

 

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Samuel’s Birth and Dedication

There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.” As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer. They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.” The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there forever; I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.” Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only—may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him. When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” She left him there for the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:1-28, NRSV)

Can you imagine being taunted over something for as long as you can remember and then when the thing you have prayed for happens, you give away the blessing you received?

You see that is what Hannah did. She prayed for a blessing from God, was taunted by Peninnah, and Eli who said she was filled with wine and needed to stop imbibing.

But she did not stop praying and asking God to bless her. And He did. And in doing that she returned Samuel to Eli at the temple and gave him over to God.

She dedicated Samuel’s life to service of God.

And isn’t that really what all of us should do with all of our blessings? Return them to the Lord!

 
 

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follow after God

If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully, I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and the vintage shall overtake the sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and live securely in your land. And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid; I will remove dangerous animals from the land, and no sword shall go through your land. You shall give chase to your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. I will look with favor upon you and make you fruitful and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you. You shall eat old grain long stored, and you shall have to clear out the old to make way for the new. I will place my dwelling in your midst, and I shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be their slaves no more; I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. But if you will not obey me, and do not observe all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes, and abhor my ordinances, so that you will not observe all my commandments, and you break my covenant, I in turn will do this to you: I will bring terror on you; consumption and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away. You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down by your enemies; your foes shall rule over you, and you shall flee though no one pursues you. And if in spite of this you will not obey me, I will continue to punish you sevenfold for your sins. I will break your proud glory, and I will make your sky like iron and your earth like copper. Your strength shall be spent to no purpose: your land shall not yield its produce, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit. (Leviticus 26:3-20, NRSV)

Why do we follow after God?

Is it to get something?

Here we read about those who faithfully keep the commandments and follow you will be blessed, but if you don’t obey and follow you will receive terror.

We are usually hard pressed to do something for long because of a reward, but all parents know that a reward will work. But is that the real reason we should follow, because we get something?

No, but does it hurt?

 

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repay evil with love

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. For “Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-12, NRSV)

Retribution is normal.

We all want to get back at those who do us harm.

Yet God calls us to a higher standard.

God does not want us to repay evil with evil. God calls us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.

So step above the world and be the blessing that God needs us to be for His love to be made known!

 

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for free…

170302Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:1-7, NRSV)

Why do we spend most of our lives amassing treasures that we can not take with us?

We spend our money and our time on acquiring things that we think will make us happy but really take up space and usually take us away from the things that really make us happy. Think for a moment if you have a family, and you spend overtime working for what? To make money to buy something bigger and better? When you could be spending that overtime time with your family and making memories which do not cost extra and show them your love.

Focus your life on the things that God gives you that are important. His love and the blessings of family and friends.

Treasures of this world will pass away, but if we follow after Christ we will see our treasure multiply in heaven.

So labor for your treasure from God and worry not about the treasures of this world.

 

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Blessed? Really!

170129When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:1-12, NRSV)

These are not the things that I want to be when I think I am blessed.

Poor in money or spirit doesn’t make me blessed.

Mourning doesn’t make me blessed.

Being hungry doesn’t make me blessed.

Being persecuted doesn’t make me blessed.

But like most things Jesus touches, it is turned upside down. Because when the world thinks you are blessed, you have received your reward, but when you are mocked by the world, that is when God lifts you up.

So look for God’s blessing, not the blessing of the world!

 

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blessing

161209Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the LORD; say to him, “Take away all guilt; accept that which is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; we will say no more, ‘Our God, to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.” I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily, he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon. His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like that of Lebanon. They shall again live beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom like the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon. O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; your faithfulness comes from me. Those who are wise understand these things; those who are discerning know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. (Hosea 14, NRSV)

Sometimes when we do something wrong we are worried that turning around and admitting what we have done will warrant us punishment. We are worried about a loss of love and eternal rejection.

But here in Hosea, we see that God is waiting with arms wide open for us to turn around and admit our short comings. To tell God all of our faults. And in that, God will love us and bless us. He will not turn away from us or reject us. But God will love us. His love knows no bounds and can not be contained.

So turn to God and know that He will always bless you!

 

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