FRIENDS AT THANKSGIVING

A number of years ago, my daughter answered the telephone and took a message for me when I returned home from work. It was from a childhood friend, who found me and reconnected after several decades. We picked up our conversation as if we had been together all along. We subsequently have visited together several times and have laughed and shared experiences. What a joy to have such a friend.

More recently, we were shopping this past week and I heard my name called, only to see a young lady who had worked with me many years previously when she was just starting out on her work career. She has gone on to have a very successful career and I am very proud of what she has done.

As we were speaking, she thanked me for the training that she had received from my partner and me, asserting that her career reflected the work ethic that she received during her time with us at the office. I began thinking of those who I have worked with through the years, and of those who I have taught and ministered to in church and other organizations.

Am I a good teacher for others to learn of my Lord?

Can others say that they saw Christ in me as I lived my life before them even if it is not specifically “church” activities?

Do I give thanks for the people with whom I have worked, for those who encouraged me and taught me, and then for those to whom I passed on those lessons as they too were struggling?

Paul said this in Philippians 4:9:

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Friendship is a beautiful gift. We are admonished to cherish it and to let it grow. Sometimes circumstances will bring distance between friends, but the relationship still is special and of importance to us. Feed friendship just as you feed your body. And then give encouragement and comfort, show constancy and kindness even in pressurized situations.

Live your life so that you, like Paul, can encourage others to practice what you have taught them. Then, give thanks for their life and witness.

Perhaps, as you go through the store, you may be surprised when someone taps your arm and bears testimony as to your influence on their life. Give thanks then too!

Happy Thanksgiving — may gratitude grace your life daily as you seek to show other, even your friends, the love or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Father, may I live my life, every day, so that those who are watching me will see You, will see commitment to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and will see evidence of Your love and care in all my actions and in my conversation. And, may I always give thanks to You for the people you place in my world. Enable me to love them as you have loved me. I ask this in Jesus’ Name.

THE BEAUTY OF HUMILITY

The Christmas Season. A time marked by packages to buy, wrap and send; cards to sign and post; food to prepare for the family and food to take to gatherings of friends; church events to attend; civic concerts of beautiful music hear. Anyone remember the Babe in the manger?
When the world’s focus is on giving and “doing good” during this season, we can even become arrogant in boasting about our busyness; the calls that we have upon our time, talents and finances; and what we have done for others.
Humility has, from the beginning, been difficult to find among mortal men. Adam and Eve turned their back on humility and sinned when they ate the forbidden fruit in their attempt to “be like God”. Genesis 3:5.
But Scripture reveals that we have no basis to be proud or arrogant.

O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
Psalm 144:3-4.

According to Scripture, we are temporal, finite, sinners who have absolutely no standing with God. While we may look good to other sinners here on earth, we have no basis to stand puffed up before God. Anyone remember the Babe in the manger?
When I have forgotten the priority of humility, I have to confess, seek forgiveness, and then refocus on the right attitude before God. For me, the best way to remember just who I am is to look at God’s creation and to read His Word.
• The majesty of the mountains.

Mountains view in Alaska (C)
Alaskan mountain range with Mt. McKinley, now Mt. Denali, in background.

The strength of the hummingbird. Beauty with wings fluttering going so fast we can’t see them with the naked eye!

Hummingbid getting a drink (C)
Hummingbird getting a drink without standing on the feeder, still using wing power even while eating.

The vastness of the ocean.

Ocean waves  (C)
The ocean, continually moving and teeming with life.

The incredible variety of creatures that inhabit the seas.

Fish from Mississippi Marine exhibit 3
Coral animals alive in the Gulf Marine Specimen Lab.
Fish from Mississippi Marine exhibit 8
Are you looking at me? Fish in Gulf Marine Specimen Lab.

 

Fish - Florida Spiny Lobster
Florida spiny lobsters.

 

The detail in a flower.

Flowers at Hotel Alyeska, Alaska,
Flowers in the mountains of Alaska, at Hotel Alyeska.
Flowers (3)
Flowers blooming in brilliant purple.

The beauty of the newborn baby. All the parts of an adult but in miniature.

Newborn baby girl (C)
Newborn baby daughter, alive with all sorts of possibilities ahead of her.

 

God is at work in His creation and in my life on a moment by moment basis. He is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (all over, everywhere), and He has extended His grace to us through Jesus Christ, His Son, and our Savior.
What is the response to this powerful, present Creator God? It certainly is not strutting our stuff before Him, as if we could accomplish anything without Him!
Rather, it should be the response that Abram had when God told him that He was making a covenant with him. Genesis 17:3 says:

 Then Abram fell on his face.

When the people of Israel were standing outside Jericho and Joshua, their leader after Moses’ death, was looking for guidance from the Lord:

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15.

It should be the response that Ezekiel had when he had a vision of the Lord in His heaven.

Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Ezekiel 1:28

When confronted with the holiness of God, we come face to face with the reality that we are sinners and the magnitude of our unrighteousness is directly before us. There is no puffing or grandstanding before God – we bend the knee, we bow our head, we prostrate ourselves and we submit to Him.
We should have the same attitude that Mary expressed to the angel after being told that she would be the mother of Jesus.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:38.

Of course, the ultimate example of humility is found in our own Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Babe in the manger grew up into our Savior. In His teaching, Jesus said:

The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12.

Anyone remember the Babe in the manger?

The one who left heaven to come to earth, not as a king or mighty ruler but as a baby, was found in a manger, the rough feeding trough for the animals. It was not the sterile, washed and well-padded baby bed that we find necessary for our newborn children.  It is this Babe that Paul is talking about in Philippians 2 when he exhorted the Christian believers to have the same attitude as Jesus Christ had when He came to earth … humility.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8.

May this Christmas find us with an attitude of humble thanksgiving for the grace and mercy God has showered upon us through Jesus Christ His Son. The Babe in the manger became the Lamb on the cross who was crucified for our sins and transgressions. The Babe in the manger then rose from the dead and became our resurrected Lord and Savior. Salvation is possible because of that Babe’s obedience to the will of our Sovereign God and Father, and we receive that salvation through faith and trust in that Babe whose name is Jesus Christ.
Let your Christmas be blessed by our Lord as we serve Him with His heart of humility and peace. Humility is the mark of our Lord on His children, and it creates beautiful lives lived in His Spirit for His glory and honor, this Christmas as well as each day that He grants us life.
Father, I pray that I would live my life in humble obedience to your will, as exhibited by Mary upon the angel’s announcement to her. I pray that you would empower me to do that which you direct, and that you would receive honor and glory as we celebrate our Lord’s birth and your work in human history on Christmas Day.