For a number of years, I have sent Billy Graham a card on his birthday (Nov. 7), together with my current "Happenings." Sometimes he sends me an acknowledgment, which I appreciate, even though it is a "form letter." He must get hundreds of cards! This is a part from my latest:
"Dear Friend, I would have never dreamed I would live this long. My wife, Ruth, passed away a little over six years ago, and a little bit of me died with her. I miss her more with each passing day. This was Ruth's favorite time of year. She enjoyed watching the leaves turn and couldn't wait to build a fire at the first hint of autumn.Always joyful, Ruth brightened up the darkest days.
The Bible says, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding" (Ephesians 1:7-8, NIV).
Recently Dr. Mark O'Farrell, president of Trinity College in Florida (where I attended Bible school as a young man), sent me the school's newsletter with a wonderful insight from Scripture. He is graciously allowing me to share this tremendous spiritual application with you as to the state of despair that so many are experiencing today.
The Bible tells of the children of Israel who were enslaved in Egypt. One of their major tasks was to make bricks by an ancient process that required mixing clay and straw. The Egyptian taskmasters stopped providing the necessary straw, ordering the laborers to find their own straw, but with no adjustment in the quota of bricks they were required to produce. What was necessary to accomplish the work was taken away even though the expectation and demands remained the same.
Have you experienced this kind of despair--having to make bricks without straw? The income is no longer there, but the bills keep coming. Resources and workers are cut, but not the workload. Age or health robs strength, but life's duties remain. A wife or husband is gone, yet family responsibilities continue. What is your straw that has been taken away even though you must somehow still complete the task or fulfill the responsibility?
The Bible says, "The people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help...God heard their groaning...God saw the people of Israel--and God knew" (Exodus 2:23-25
ESV). God knows your heartaches! He hears you when you cry to Him. He knows that your straw has been taken away. He knows your hurt, your fear and groaning. He knows! And He is doing something about it. "I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them" (Exodus 3:7). The Deliverer is on the way! How God acts on your behalf may not be exactly the way you envision, and His timing may not be what you prefer, but He knows your situation and He remembers His promises to you.
Going through hardship tends to plow up the surface of our lives to uncover the depths that provide greater strength of purpose. Deeply plowed earth yields bountiful harvests. When difficulties come we must learn to entrust each day into God's hands and express our thanks to the Lord for never leaving us alone. I have talked with many over the years who have fallen on hard times but found light in the darkness while expressing thankfulness to God.
As we approach the Thanksgiving season, I am reminded of the many commands in God's Word to be thankful in all things. "Begin the thanksgiving in prayer" (Nehemiah 11:17);
"Come into His presence with thanksgiving" (Psalm 95:2); and then the Scripture urges us to
"Continue in prayer…with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2);
"For (God's) mercy reaches unto the heavens, and (His) truth unto the clouds" (Psalm 57:10).
Every time our family sits around the table at mealtime, we all bow our heads for prayer spoken by one of us. Then, on Thanksgiving at dinner time, each one expresses our thankfulness …things we are most thankful for. It will be so much fun to hear little Jacob's answer at age 3!
Sometimes, when we have 15 present, we draw letters from "THANKSGIVING DAY" and each person tells everything they are thankful for that begins with their letter! I'm usually the one who makes these suggestions. When folks enter the home, I give them notepaper suggesting they begin thinking of things to say around the dinner table. Sometimes, we tell of most thankful things that happened this present year. We praise God for His blessings and love for us. We humbly thank Jesus for His love and forgiveness of our sins - the only way to the presence of God when we die, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6).
If you haven't done a lot of Bible reading this year, do begin NOW, reading the Book of John. It is filled with the words of Jesus and why God sent Him to earth.
Observing Thanksgiving Day is an annual tradition in America that began almost four centuries ago! Don't let anyone ever take this away. This "Freedom FROM Religion" group is doing all they can think of to take away our National Day of Prayer, of prayer in any public place. We really need to keep our traditions founded by our forefathers when America was discovered -- as a place they could worship God in accordance with His Holy Bible.
The Pilgrims left England on Sept. 6, 1620, braving the harsh elements of a storm tossed sea; finally landing at Plymouth Rock. The first thing they did was hold a prayer service; then hastily began building shelters. They were wholly unprepared for the cold New England winters. Nearly half of them died before the first Spring. Yet, the following summer, they enjoyed a bountiful harvest. It was in December, 1621, that they had a three-day feast with Indian friends, praising God for giving them freedom to worship Him
How far have we, as a nation, strayed from the religious convictions of our forefathers?
Where do YOU stand on the issue of acknowledging God in your life? To WHOM are you grateful for America? Have you prayed to God through Jesus Christ to forgive your sins? Believing is one thing -- but you must come to KNOW Jesus. He explains in the Book of John.
God loves YOU (John 3:16). We are all sinful and separated from God (Isaiah 59:2). Jesus Christ is God's only solution to our sin problem (I Corinthians 15, 3,4). Our choice is whether or not we will accept Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf (Acts 10:43).
GEORGE WASHINGTON: "whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789…that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection."
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: "We often forget the source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come…No human wisdom hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God…I therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States…to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
THOMAS JEFFERSON: "I appoint…a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God…to ask Him that He would…pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would…spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth;… and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue."
"Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done." (I Chronicles 16:8).
I pray that this Thanksgiving season -- and always -- God's abundant love will bring you many blessings.
TILLIE WIER, inspirational writer and employee of Logos Ranch, LLC shares her adventures with God so that others may see Him in their everyday lives.
> November 2013 - Billy Graham