Thursday, November 20, 2014

A True Celebration of Thanks—Finding Peace In The Holidays

"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2

We’ll pause next week to give thanks for the multitude of blessings God has bestowed on us throughout the year. No matter what our trials, we can always find the blessings. We’re thankful for family, jobs, health, and friends. Even simple things like clean water and food to eat everyday, which many in our world don’t have, are reasons enough to give thanks. And yes, many of us consume too much food on this day of celebration.
The sad thing is even this one beautiful day that used to be devoted to giving thanks is now being squeezed out by commercialism and greed. Even before the sun sets, people climb into their cars and rush to the early Black Friday sales, which now commence on Thanksgiving.

Hurriedness and greed. Is that what God envisioned when He sent His Son to earth? That civilization would reach the point where the glitter and gift wrap would overshadow His gift to us? Certainly He knew, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t grieved Him.

The Bible says Jesus wept. Since we are made in God’s image, I often wonder if He weeps. Something to ponder. Certainly, Black Friday would be a day that could bring tears to His eyes.

In this hurriedness, Christians can model another view to the world instead of racing to be the first one to put up our Christmas tree. Or the first one in the store on Black Friday or—worse yet—Thursday night before Thanksgiving is even over. Or filling our December calendar with parties and other activities.

Ironically, as we enter into the season of celebrating our Savior’s birth, nowhere in the New Testament do you find Jesus hurrying anyplace. He craved his quiet time.

To truly emulate Christ, the most important thing we can do next Thursday, besides bow our heads and give thanks, is strive to “walk in the way of love” with our fellow man. The neat thing is—it doesn’t require you to go to a department store, run up your credit card debt, or sweat over your holiday to-do list. It starts with our willingness instead to seek quiet time with our Lord.

Close your eyes and meditate for a moment on the phrase “fragrant offering.” A Fragrance that isn’t found in the most beautifully scented potpourri or Christmas candle. The image evokes a peace not present in the hurriedness of shopping and baking, nor in the massive stack of gifts accumulating under the tree.

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16 

Paul’s admonition is well taken. December has become an entity all unto itself where absolutely nothing gets done to move life forward. Instead, it’s a race to the 25th to get everything “Christmas” accomplished and then, suddenly, life resumes January 1. A whole month every year wasted in commercial greed.

"Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:19b-20 

This year as we sit down to turkey dinners across the nation, I challenge you to celebrate an authentic Thanksgiving, “sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” and then spend the rest of the day in family time enjoying those God has blessed you with along with peaceful anticipation of our Lord’s birthday. You might find a more satisfying enjoyment of the holidays you’ve never experienced before.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition, dish, and/or Bible verse?

If you have a prayer request, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or email me confidential requests. Next week, I’ll share another Thanksgiving post, but if you’re traveling on Wednesday, know that you’re included in my prayers for travel mercies and safety.

God bless,

Don’t forget to sign up for my quarterly newsletter, if you want to keep up with my publishing news, read anecdotes, and see pics of of my family’s life, as well as be blessed by devotions and current events that might not be in the mainstream media. I will also give away one FREE copy of my Christmas novella, "A Christmas Chance," in the upcoming December edition. All you have to do to be eligible for the drawing is be a newsletter subscriber.

The winner of last week’s blog giveaway is Christy. Congratulations! I hope you will be blessed by the message of "A Christmas Chance."

©Laura Hodges Poole

“Pumpkin Pie” image courtesy of Apolonia/
“Africa” image courtesy of africa/
“Lady Holding Shopping Bag” image courtesy of imagerymajestic/
“Natural Window” image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/

1 comment:

  1. Your post mirrors mine, Laura.
    I'm sad that our society is so focused on Black Friday and the materialism of Christmas that we're almost completely ignoring Thanksgiving. It's like we'd prefer to go straight from Halloween and into Christmas.
    You're right, I bet it makes God sad.

    I'm so thankful that He's alive in me. He gives me more than I could ever 'deserve' or ask for. He is worthy of praise!