Thanksgiving Day is the ideal time to “Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.” (I Chronicles 16:8)
Remembering His help, His faithfulness, and His active hand in our life helps shape our own perspectives. It also serves as an organic way to wave faith flags with those you love who have yet to come to know Him in a saving way.
One great way to do this around the Thanksgiving Day table is Gratitude Gab. The link has eleven questions that you can print out and scatter around your table as great conversation starters, or you can come up with your own. Questions like “Describe something that happened last week that you are thankful for and explain why?” are adaptable for everyone, no matter where they are on their faith walk, and help focus our hearts on grateful remembrances.
Another great way to steer conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table toward what we’re thankful for is this simple conversation starter. Scatter slips of paper with a single word/category around the table – mom, dad, brother, sister, pet, neighbor, job, person on the right, friend, God. Throughout dinner, take turns picking up a category and talking about that particular topic by filling in this sentence – “A time you were thankful for…”
What traditions (new or old) will your family enjoy this year? Please share your great ideas in the comments.
O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! – Psalm 34:8
At the beginning of our adventure in home schooling, we took a dip into the homeschool community by attending a potluck dinner for families interested in joining a particular home school group. Wanting our elementary-aged kids to exercise their social muscles, we sent them ahead of us to go through the line while we found a table and got the little ones settled. When our son made his way to our table, he had an entire to-go box of fried rice in his hands and a smile on his face. I asked him what he could possibly have been thinking in taking the entire dish for himself. He replied, “I’m hungry.”
I look back on this story now with a smile on my face instead of the embarrassment I felt in the moment. I question my choices when I feel spiritual hunger. In his hunger, my son went straight for the good stuff, unashamedly taking what was offered at the table, and he found satisfaction.
PONDER: Do I approach my quiet time like my son approached that potluck? What is keeping me from bellying up to God’s table, fork in hand, to feast on His Word today?
PRAYER: Father, I want to take refuge in You in the busy-ness of my days. So many things are vying for my attention. Help me to be ambitious when I open my Bible, ready to feast on Your Word every day. My heart desires to taste and see that you are good today.
I feel closest to God when my life is a catastrophe. While I long for more peaceful times during a crisis, for an immediate end to the struggle, I yearn to experience God’s close, caring presence that seems nearest to me during a catastrophe. It’s like a spiritual Catch-22. It doesn’t seem I can have the nearness without the catastrophe.
James begs to differ.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. – James 4:8a
“This isn’t a God-thing. This is a human-thing,” James says.
When life is easy, I take the driver’s seat. I’m as happy is Dorothy Levitt (pictured above) behind the wheel. Before long, however, I get distracted. At best, I veer off the narrow road. At worst, I crash. Severed steering wheel in hand, I stagger back into His presence, dazed and confused. I draw near to Him more like an accident victim seeking a medic than a child drawn to her loving Father.
With James’ perspective, I can see that it isn’t the catastrophe that brings God’s Presence to me. The catastrophe brings me back into God’s Presence.
PONDER: When do you feel closest to God? What changes would allow you to experience that closeness all of the time?
PRAYER: Father, please forgive me for taking the driver’s seat in my life. I want to give You back Your rightful place behind the wheel. I want to snuggle up next to you on the front seat. Help me to learn to draw near to Your Presence more often in the peaceful times during my journey of life.
An impending lay-off. A broken relationship. Financial distress. Health issues. Car trouble. Simply living life provides us daily with circumstances that can prompt us to cry out to God for help. But what if there was something more we could do? I believe this psalm gives us that something more – praise Him as we cry out for help. Think about it. He is worthy of praise even if His answers to our cries for help don’t align with our expectations. Psalm 66 teaches us to voice our praise even as we cry out in our current circumstances. Praising God redirects our attention from what needs saving, to the One Who saves. We praise Him, not because of the outcome, but because of Who He is, regardless of the outcome.
How our perspectives would change if we praised Him as we cried out to Him instead of waiting to see how He answered!
PONDER: What circumstances keep you crying out to God for help? In those same circumstances, how could you praise Him even as you cried out to Him for help?
Crying Out is one of thirty devotionals I’ve been asked to write this year as part of a friend’s year-long devotional project. You can read more short devotionals like this by clicking here or the Devotionals tab at the top of this page.