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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Yesterday was a race from the moment my feet hit the floor ‘til I tucked my weary, done-in bones into bed last night. A frantic day, a not-a-moment-to-spare day. A chasing-my-tail day. I know you’ve had them. But as I look back on the sequence of events my anxiousness, my distractions, my unrealistic expectations exacerbated the disappointing chaos.

 
This morning I roused to thoughts of what did you do with Jesus? My mind immediately protested, Why I prayed yesterday morning and I asked God to make my path smooth and help me get everything done I needed to accomplish.

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The silence was deafening.

 
I thought back to yesterday morning and shoving my husband out the door so I could execute my plan for the day. My Martha spirit reasoned, if I missed the first part of Bible study and use it to—yep, that would leave me just enough time to accomplish what needed to be done. I’d just go for the DVD, after all, I did my homework. Yeah, that part worked ‘til the rest of the day did the proverbial leap into the handbag.

 
As I laid there this morning making excuses an old spiritual began to play over and over in my head. In the mornin’ when I rise, in the mornin’ when I rise. In the mornin’ when I rise, I need Jesus.

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And I was ashamed.

 
Those prayers tossed toward heaven were about me, not about Jesus. I had made a plan, dotted the “I’s” and crossed the “T’s”. My plan would be a smashing success. Or so I thought.

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I rolled over and stared at the ceiling as the melody pricked my heart and I whispered my confession to the Lord. My sin of not consulting Him first. My sin of putting everything else before Him. My sin of being distracted with all my preparations. Oh, not bad things, just my things. I hadn’t chosen that “good part” like Jesus told Martha. “Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 11:42 NAS).

 
How many mornings does this scene repeat itself at your house? How many mornings do your eyelids snap open while your feet hit the floor and there’s no looking back to seek Him. How many mornings do we all open the front door to chaos by not beginning the day with Jesus. Thanking Him. Praising Him. Humbling ourselves before Him. Admitting, before we rise, we need Jesus.

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“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42 NAS).

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“Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning. Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to Thee do I pray. In the morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch. For thou art not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with Thee. The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thou doest hate all who do iniquity. Thou does destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. But as for me, by Thine abundant lovingkindness I will enter Thy house, at Thy holy temple I will bow in reverence for Thee” (Psalm 5:1-7 NAS).

From the moment the pilgrims stepped foot on the shores of this continent, there has been church in America. Those courageous men and women sailed across an ocean to find a place to worship God. And this nation was founded on the laws and principles of the Word of God. These first Americans gave their lives so you and I could worship the God of our fathers.

Imagine getting up next Sunday morning and not being able to meet with those of like faith. No sanctuary to worship together. No place to pray and no brothers and sisters to join in singing praises to the Lord .

But during times of God’s judgment, ancient Israel had no temple. He destroyed His temple in Jerusalem in 586 B.C. because His people had desecrated the holy sanctuary with perversion, idol worship, and rebellion. Then in 70 A.D. God again destroyed the temple for the same reason. And for almost two thousand years the Jewish people have had no temple to gather on the Sabbath. No holy place to bow in reverence to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 I’m ashamed to say I often take the privilege and blessing of coming to the sanctuary for granted. Many Sundays I gather the baggage of my heart, with little thought, and get ready for church. I show up, to load up on encouragement and comfort from God and from friends so I can function within the turmoil and stress of the world for another week.

From the beginning God set the Sabbath Day apart and called it holy. He knew I would need a day to shift gears. He knew I would need a day to come aside and contemplate who He is and who I’m not. He knew I would need a day to come together with a body of believers to focus, to praise and worship The Lord God Almighty. El Shaddai and His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.

Scripture tells us, “For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant and praise is becoming” (Psalm 147:1 NAS).

I’ve learned I’m not alone in my journey to the sanctuary. All who come to the altar of our God Jehovah have layers of pain and hurt only Jesus can heal. If we are to live through the whirlwinds and chaos of this world, all of us must come to the sanctuary. To the altar of our God. On a regular basis.

Like me, many stumble in the door wounded, ragged, and bleeding. And if the edges of our hearts were visible, an ambulance would be called and we would be admitted to ICU.  We’ve lost a child, a spouse, or been diagnosed with an inoperable disease. We’ve lost our  means of  income or been told a spouse is leaving. Or worse.

Then there’s the group labeled “Don’t want to be here. Not going to listen to a word.” We sit silent, tight-jawed, arms crossed. Unapproachable. Coming to please spouses, parents, or sweethearts. But still needy. Still coming to the sanctuary.

Some of us creep in unnoticed. Overwhelmed by guilt. Crushed by something Satan has convinced us God will never forgive. We don’t know Satan’s other name—Father of Lies. Deep inside our hearts a stirring begins. A glimmer of hope. Maybe God would…If only He could. We are fragile. Desperate. Then we look around, hear the music and the voices and listen as Satan whispers in our ear, in a first person singular voice, with a southern accent voice—I don’t deserve to be here, my sin is too much to forgive.

Others of us bounce in the door with hearts bulging, brimming with joy over the good things God has poured over us during the past week. Starved for the next serving of God’s Word and we don’t want to miss a syllable or become distracted by wiggly children or those who straggle in late.

However, a greater number of us arrive just plain weary. Weary of the stresses and trials we’ve endured the past week. Weary of injustices and changes occurring in our culture. We’ve stretched our time, money and energy far beyond the breaking point and we need help.

If we’re honest, we’ve been in each one of those groups at some point in our lives. Seeking. Unaware of what we need. Just knowing we’re empty and need refilling. Renewing. A time to bow before our God. A time to worship Him, in an orderly manner, with praise and thanksgiving.

So how can we be helped in those few hours Sunday morning? Who could possibly meet the diverse needs and solve this horde of problems and troubles?

Only the Lord Jesus Christ, our omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, High Priest. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NAS). He alone has the ability to heal us. All of us. If we acknowledge our need and cry for His help.

Why do you come to the sanctuary? To meet God? To a holy place to learn His Word and boldly draw near the Throne of God’s grace? To pray? To worship?  ‘Cause quiet places are few and far between outside the sanctuary.

What do you experience when you stand on holy ground?

What does worship and praise mean to you?

Is there a special way you must come into the House of the Lord?

I hope you will take the time to read the 9th chapter of Daniel, verses 1 through 22. And then turn back and read the 9th chapter of  Ezra, verses 1 through 15 and Ezra 10:1 before next week’s post.

What preparations did these two men make before they prayed? Where were these men when they prayed? And what happened as a result of their prayers?

What happens when you pray?

 

NEXT WEEK:  IN THE SANCTUARY/ PART TWO – What is worship? What is thanksgiving? What is praise?

 

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Trust each one of you had a blessed and thankful Thanksgiving and that family and loved ones filled your heart with abundant joy. Maintaining the tone of this wonderful celebration, thought I share a moment from three years ago when I became serious about writing and found things had changed since my school days. One afternoon in absolute despair I pounded off this dirge to my gypsy-lifestyle (as my mother called my art career) to embrace the title of author. Hope you enjoy my attempt at humor.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Gates family

It’s absolutely thrilling, a feast for my eyes, to see a page filled with dialogue, dressed for the dance in a plethora of punctuation.

I love punctuation! The curls, dots, and squiggles bring symmetry and texture to an otherwise boring page of  border to border black and white.

Perhaps, had I been a writer first and then an artist, life would be easier for me. Artists are rarely minimalists, you see.  We tend to have an outrageous view of all elements of life. Some may consider us extreme; but, I prefer to be identified as a butterfly—flitting here and there, from color to more color, fragrance to more fragrance, and texture to more texture!

When I contemplate the current trend in writing toward minimalism in punctuation, I must confess—I struggle! A little comma here, an exclamation point there,  breaks the monotony. Throw in a dash or a semi-colon and I ‘m in heaven.

Alas, the rules have changed since the ancient decades of my schooling; but, now there springs  a word that zaps spasms of fear and dread into my artist heart—CONFORMITY. Yes, if an artist wishes to write in this market, it is imperative, I’m told, to conform to the current rules of (sigh) punctuation.

I believe my swan song must be a painting of punctuation of every nature and description—stamped, embossed, and engraved on canvas. A montage, with two spaces after each period. Ahhh, the joy that would bring in the depths of my soul—commas, exclamation points, dashes, question marks, italics, parenthesis, et cetera, et cetera—dancing and twirling across the  canvas for all posterity to remember.

Think I’ll take orders for the signed and numbered prints. Anyone interested? Then, I will go peacefully into the marketplace of the writer, still struggling a mite; but, albeit—conforming!

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