Preparing the Table

(Images provided by Pixabay.)

Today is the day before Thanksgiving in the United States of America. Many of us are busy preparing food for our dinner and all of us should be preparing our hearts for the holiday. Thanksgiving provides us the opportunity to set aside a particular day to focus upon those things for which we are especially thankful. While food will fill our stomachs, gratitude to the Lord will fill our souls for His ample provision and protection. Today, I want to combine thoughts of preparing food and preparing our hearts.  Let’s focus upon the table the Lord prepares for us. While I may be busy preparing physical food for a special day, the Lord prepares spiritual food for us every day.

You (the Lord) prepare a table before me . . . .
Psalm 23:5

What does the table the Lord prepares look like? I think of the table as being the communion table. When Jesus shared the Passover meal with His disciples, He instituted the Last Supper known today as the sacrament of communion. Matthew 26:26-28 says, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.’” The table and elements of communion portray Jesus’ broken body and spilled blood (the bread and wine/grape juice) upon the cross (the table). 

In comparison to the dinner table, the communion table has greater significance.  While gathering with His disciples for the Passover meal, Jesus showed us an example of gratitude. He gave thanks for the bread and the wine before He shared it with His disciples. We must make it a priority to give thanks to God for our blessings before we eat the food on our Thanksgiving table tomorrow.

Does the Lord offer additional “food” at His table? The bread and the wine/grape juice of the communion table are the best “food” because they symbolize Jesus.  However, I want to consider some additional spiritual food. First, there is milk and meat. Hebrews 5:12-13 says, “by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the nature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.Some Bible translations say “solid food” but the King James Version says “meat.”  Meat is the word I want to consider. Milk and meat can refer to physical food, but  what does the writer of Hebrews mean? According to translations of the Greek language, “milk” is gala meaning the basic teachings of true Christianity and “meat” is broma describing the deeper spiritual doctrine of the Gospel. Fruit is also available. Galatians 5:22-23 describes this fruit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

 Now I want to compare the  food I am preparing for Thanksgiving dinner to spiritual food. The Lord’s milk is not the same as the milk in the refrigerator.  Neither is spiritual meat like the turkey I am preparing to put in the oven. God’s milk and meat fill a spiritual hunger while my milk and turkey only curb physical hunger for a few hours. Although my cranberries and apples are tasty fruits, they are not nearly as life-giving as the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus, as the Bread of Life, is more satisfying than the yeast rolls I am baking.

What does the Lord ask of us regarding the table He has prepared?  Psalm 34:8 invites us to “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”  We can be refreshed and satisfied when we are in His presence. Also, the foods placed upon His holy table allow us to savor spiritual food.  Psalm 119:103 says, How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!What a delightful table the Lord prepares for us! His bountiful table is available 365 days a year while my Thanksgiving table is prepared only one day of the year.

Today is the day of preparing food and hearts for the Thanksgiving holiday. Tomorrow our family will gather around the table to eat the food I have prepared. Before we eat, we will take time to bow our heads and offer a prayer of thanksgiving. We will continue to express gratitude throughout our conversation during the meal. We willGive thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” according to Psalm 107:1. We will also be thankful for the spiritual table where we can gather throughout the year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Advertisements

Your Thanksgiving Feast

thanksgiving-dinner-2thanksgiving-dinner-1pumpkin-pie-2While planning and preparing the Thanksgiving meal for our family, I realize not everyone will eat everything that is served. That is OK because everyone is allowed to have their likes and dislikes regarding food. I also know that everyone will still have thankful hearts whether or not they help themselves to every dish. I wonder if this is not true for us spiritually as well. God prepares many types of food and experiences that are placed before us on our table of life. We may not like the taste of every situation we encounter but these are still things for which we are to be thankful. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Let’s develop a thankfulness in our hearts as we look at this verse from two different perspectives.

First, Paul tells us in this verse to give thanks IN all circumstances, not FOR all circumstances. Even though we walk through difficult situations in our lives, we are to keep a perspective of thankfulness. It helps us get though tough times when we remember who God is and that He is with us. We can be thankful for this fact. The assurance of the Lord’s presence is recorded in early times of the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Another way to look at the concept of thankfulness in all circumstances is found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” This is harder to understand but I think it has some validity. Our testimony of how the Lord helps us through difficult times can be an encouragement to others who are struggling. God does not CAUSE these difficulties but He can USE them if we allow Him to do so. We never know how or when He will be able to use our not so pleasant crises for the benefit of others as well as for ourselves.

My Readers, take time to give thanks, especially on Thanksgiving Day. I encourage you to not forget the difficult times you have experienced. It is OK that you may not have liked everything that has happened but you can be thankful for the Lord’s presence with you through the good and the bad and the miraculous. The turkey on your banquet table may look as delicious to you as the joy you feel for your job that provides financial security for your family or you may feel stuffed with unpaid bills. You can still be thankful for God being Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider, because He will provide in some way that may yet be unknown. We all know that we should eat our vegetables. Some of us may eat the green bean casserole with thankfulness for health while another person is served a helping of a different vegetable. The person sitting next to you may feel squashed by upcoming surgery or cancer treatments. When it comes to the type of potatoes, one person at your table may feel sweet by the presence of a newborn baby while another person may feel their thankfulness mashed by the empty chair at the table since a family member has passed on to be with the Lord. As a relish plate is passed, some may identify with the sour dill pickles while others may like the crispness of a carrot stick. Likes and dislikes will abound around the table. However, I presume everyone will like dessert. The final course of the meal ends with a tantalizing tastiness. The final bit of physical hunger can be filled with a sugary treat while the spiritual hunger can be satisfied with thankfulness. I want to offer each of My Readers an ample piece of Thanksgiving pie in the form of scripture cut from the Biblical pie. It is my prayer that you will thankfully chew and meditate upon who God is within your life on Thanksgiving Day.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
His love endures forever.
I Chronicles 16:34

I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.
Psalm 7:17

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD,
for He is good; His love endures forever.
Psalm 106:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks
to God the Father through Him.
Colossians 3:17

Happy Thanksgiving!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Thanksgiving – Giving Thanks

 

thanksgiving-2Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day for us in America. The event we commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in this country. Their feast lasted three days, and it was attended by both Native Americans and Pilgrims. However, celebrations of feasts and times of giving thanks go back further in time than the 1600s. Throughout the Bible, we find references to feasts being observed in honor of what the Lord had done for His people. According to the Jewish faith, there are seven feasts they observe. The Israelites enjoyed special food at these feasts, but more importantly they celebrated how the Lord intervened in their lives. Honoring the workings of the hand of God is the most important reason for thanksgiving feasts whether the times be observed by the Israelites, the Native Americans and Pilgrims, or us today. I want to give the Lord a prominent place on Thanksgiving Day. I want to honor Jesus as the unseen but not uninvited guest at our Thanksgiving table.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving celebrations include a feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, squash, cranberries, pumpkin pie etc. While I think about loading my plate with the Thanksgiving dinner and all of its trimmings, I am reminded of Psalm 68:19 NJKV, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” On this special day, I want to take time to give thanks to the Lord for the benefits He loads upon my life every day as well as to give Him thanks for the food I  load upon my plate. Thanksgiving Day is a special day to focus upon being thankful but I desire to give thanks to the Lord daily just as He daily pours out blessings upon me.

As I look upon my full plate of food tomorrow, I want to think about Psalm 34:8 NIV, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him.” As I taste the delicious foods, I also want to take time to tantalize my spiritual taste buds to experience the goodness of the Lord. A full gravy boat is always found on our Thanksgiving dinner table. Pouring out the gravy on my potatoes reminds me of the grace God pours upon my life. His grace is my gravy! I must admit that my soul will be contented longer with the goodness of the Lord than my stomach will be satisfied because of the turkey and stuffing I will eat.

I predict that by the time I have eaten all the food that I put on my dinner plate, I will be very full. I will declare that everything was delicious and I will thank everyone who has helped to prepare the meal. This fact reminds me of the scripture found in I Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” My attitude of gratitude must extend beyond thankfulness for food. It is polite to thank others for what they have done, but I also want to perceive them as vessels God has used to orchestrate the blessings I receive. I want to direct my thankfulness first and foremost to the Lord. On Thanksgiving Day I especially want to take time to verbally thank God for specific blessings He has bestowed upon me during the past year.

As I conclude, I think back to the Pilgrims and the Israelites. The early colonists regularly celebrated “thanksgivings” by setting aside days of prayer to thank God for His blessings. The Bible reveals that the Lord instructed the Israelites to celebrate and give thanks more than one day a year. Yes, as Americans, we still celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. However, I believe every day should be a day of giving thanks based upon Psalm 118:1 NIV, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Let us follow the advice of Paul in Ephesians 5:20 NIV, “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Thanksgiving Popcorn

popcorn kernerl mfThanksgiving lind pdpopcorn popped mf

Tomorrow, we as Americans will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  I wonder what really is in the forefront of our minds.  Will the majority of us make “giving thanks” a priority or will we be consumed with preparing food for family and friends to consume?  Our family will eat its share of turkey, but we will also have one item on our table that will not be part of most Thanksgiving feasts.  We have unpopped kernels of popcorn!  Above each family member’s dinner plate will be a small paper cup of popcorn kernels.  After all the dishes of food have been passed around, I will begin to pass around an empty dish. Into this dish, I place one kernel of popcorn while mentioning a specific thing I am thankful for.  Each family member shares something for which he or she is thankful and places a kernel in the bowl as it is passed around the table numerous times.  Some of our sharings are serious or sacred while others may be silly. However, one rule is that there are no repeats.  Every person has to be creative about their thankfulness.  After the dish has been passed around several times, someone will usually say he or she is thankful for everything and dumps all of their remaining kernels into the dish.  Everyone concurs and all paper cups are emptied into the dish. Our popcorn platitudes of thankfulness are concluded, but we are not finished with our popcorn activities.  Later in the day, the grandchildren pop the corn and string it on thread to make a garland. This garland of popcorn will become a decoration upon our Christmas tree to remind our family to be thankful during all seasons.

Our kernels of popcorn help our family focus upon the true meaning of Thanksgiving, but now I want to look at some spiritual symbolism regarding our popping of the corn with my old air popcorn popper.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Matthew 12:34

Our popcorn kernels are representatives of the thankfulness in our hearts that became spoken words at the dinner table.  Now we place approximately one-fourth cup of the golden kernels into the air popper. The popcorn popper represents our hearts that are filled with kernels of thankfulness.  The popper has the ability to spill out the kernels of corn just as we have the ability to speak out the words within our hearts.

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven
and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed
to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:1-3

In this scripture, the Holy Spirit is referred to as being wind and fire that can be compared to the air and heat in the popper.  When the heat and air generated by electricity are applied to the small kernels of corn, changes take place just as the form of our words may change when the fire and wind of the Holy Spirit are at work within us.  When the Holy Spirit warms our hearts amazing things begin to happen!  The popcorn will exude from the popcorn popper just like words will flow from our mouths.

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
1 Chronicles 29:13
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.”
Psalm 100:4

The actions of thanksgiving and praise are often linked together in scripture.   Thanking God for what He has done is like golden popcorn kernels.  However when the fire and wind of the Holy Spirit are applied to our thanks, we not only thank God for what He has done, but praise Him for who He is.  For example, I give thanks for how God has helped heal my arm this year, and this will cause me to praise God for being Jehovah-Rapha, my Healer.  My giving thanks evolves into praise with the help of the Spirit of God within me.   Both thanks and praise erupt from the words of my mouth originating in my heart – similar yet different.  The same is true with the popcorn. After the heat and air of the popper are applied, the hard little golden kernels burst into white fluffy blossoms of popped corn – same yet different.  The volume of the popped corn is much larger than the small amount of kernels we started with.  In a sense, I believe praise is greater than giving thanks even though both originate in the same heart.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;  His love endures forever.”
Psalm 107:1

While celebrating the national holiday of Thanksgiving tomorrow, may we all take time to fill our hearts with thanks as well as fill our stomachs with food.  Just as little golden popcorn kernels have the potential to become larger white, fluffy, edible masses of grain, so do our words of thanks have praise possibilities.  Popcorn may not be on your Thanksgiving feast menu, but I pray you will share thankfulness as you gather around the table.  And, if your hearts swell with praise, do not restrain it, be willing to express praise as well as thanks. Scripture tells us to thank God because He is good.  In addition, we can praise Him for His the goodness of His nature.

Happy Thanksgiving!   

 Joyfully,gold apple (MF)
Cheryl