Nov 24 2013

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Thanksgiving Devotion

God’s Open Invitation

by Marilyn Murphree

Thanksgiving is almost here.  You probably have certain traditions and special ways you celebrate with family and friends.  More than likely you will have turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry salad, and pumpkin pies with many, many other things as well.  You may gather together to reconnect with people you haven’t seen all year, or you may travel to other places to visit.  It’s not only a time to stuff ourselves with all kinds of delicious food and watch football games, but it is also a time to take inventory of what we have to be thankful for.

STORY:  A college professor tells about his very first job in a general store.  When he was 13 he was hired to do odd jobs around the store—sweep the store, stock the shelves, and bag groceries for customers.  One day the owner said, “It’s that time of the year again—time to take inventory.”

He was not familiar with that term so he wrote it down; and when an opportune time came, he asked, “What is an inventory?”

The boss explained that it was time to make a list of everything that you had from groceries on the shelves to wrapping paper and string.

The boy said, “Why?”

The owner patiently answered, “Well, it’s easy to forget how much you have each year.  Every now and then you have to take inventory just to see what all you have.”

That little story sums up what Thanksgiving is all about.  It is a time when each of us needs to ask the question:  “Have I taken inventory of my life lately?  Have I made an effort to count all the things that I DO have instead of complaining about the things I DON’T have?”

You might say, “I can’t think of much to be thankful for.  This hasn’t been the greatest year for me.”

I realize that some years are not as good as others jobwise, healthwise, or in lots of other ways.
If you can’t think of anything, here are a few things to be thankful for:

1.      for smoke alarms—they let you know when the turkey’s done.
2.      for teenagers.  They give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.
3.      for gardening.  It’s a relief to deal with dirt outside the house for a change.
4.      for automatic dishwashers.  They make it possible to get out of the kitchen before the family comes in for their after-dinner snacks.

When we think of being thankful, sometimes we tend to get bogged down by being too SOMBER and SERIOUS when it comes to our religion.  Jesus said, “I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).  Another translation says, “I have come that you may have life more abundantly.”

A scripture from Isaiah speaks of this abundant life.

In Isaiah 25:6-9 the salvation of the Lord is referred to as a feast or a banquet.  A feast is made up of good things to nourish and refresh.  The Old Testament prophets looked forward to the time that Jesus would come into the world and lift the darkness of sin.  In Isaiah’s time the people needed the hope of a better day.  In this prophecy he said, “On this mountain the Lord will prepare a feast of rich foods for all people—a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.”

At that point the people only had a future hope of what God was going to do.  Isaiah was looking down to New Testament times when the gospel message would be open to both the Jews AND the Gentiles alike.

The people of Isaiah’s time might have wondered, “What do I have to be thankful for?  I don’t have the reality of these promises and prophecy yet, but they did have the HOPE of the coming of Jesus long before it happened.  Sometimes HOPE is all we need to make a difference in our lives.  We can be thankful as we are WAITING on God.  We can be thankful that He cares about us and knows where we are living.  He meets us at our point of need.

Isaiah tells the people, “In that day they will say, Surely this is our God, we trusted in him and he saved us.  This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation” (verse 9).

I believe this Old Testament prophecy was enough to cause the people to look up and to realize that God was going to prepare the very best for them.

The Lord has prepared the best for us, and we are fortunate to live at this time in history.  Even though we are surrounded by the overwhelming problems in our society—the terrorism, wars, and natural disasters on the earth, we are each one given the open invitation to come to the Lord and “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) also referring to a feast or a banquet.

What is our response to the invitation?



Dr. Marilyn Murphree

Dr. Marilyn Murphree

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