Wednesday, November 25, 2015

To Whom Are You Thankful?

I was thinking the other day that, going into this Thanksgiving holiday many people talk about being thankful. We often emphasize, and rightfully so, the necessity of taking an assessment of the blessings of our lives and developing a heart of gratitude. We ask the question, “For what are you thankful?”  What is missing, however, is the object of their gratitude.  We fail to ask, “To whom are you thankful?” Thus, our gratitude is sometimes misdirected or not directed towards anyone at all!

I picture it this way:  If I give my child a gift, I would expect some sort of expression of gratitude—at least a, “thanks, Dad!”  If they would go and thank other people for the gift I have given them, I’d feel as if something was wrong. The same would be true if they simply said, “I’m so thankful,” yet never express any sort of gratitude towards me personally. 

All of that to say, to whom is your gratitude directed?  I’m afraid that too often we are thankful in some generic way, having no real object of our gratitude. And, sometimes we direct our gratitude towards the wrong person or people.  Yes, we want to be thankful towards those around us when it is appropriate. But, is it possible that we sometimes fail direct our thanks towards the One who ought to be the ultimate object of our gratitude? Do we fail to say “thank you” to the One from whom ultimately all blessings flow? 

Over and over again, the Psalmist wrote, “Give thanks to the Lord….”  David said, Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:13 – NIV)  The Apostle Paul at one point wrote, “But thanks be to God!” (1 Corinthians 15:57 – NIV) 

This Thanksgiving let’s make sure we have hearts of true gratitude for all that we have and all that we are. Let’s say, “thank you” to those around us who have blessed us.  But most of all, let’s be sure to direct our thanksgiving towards God, the One who is our creator, sustainer, savior, and give of all good gifts!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, November 13, 2015

Unreachable Apples

The home we recently moved into is on “Applebey Street.”  And believe it or not, we have two apple trees on the property.  (I guess it only makes sense!)  At first we thought that they were crab apples, which are inedible. But after moving in and seeing the apples grow, we realized that these apples are “real” apples—that they are actually edible apples.  The problem is, however, most of what appear to be the good apples have all been out of our reach.  They are at the higher parts of the tree beyond where I can reach, even with a ladder. 

Eventually, the apples fall off the tree and become food for the deer that live nearby, rather than for us. But, here is what we have found. Most of the apples that have fallen are really not all that attractive once we see them up close. Most of them are somewhat diseased or have insects or are just very, very ugly and hard.  The apples that were once beyond our reach and so tempting, no longer have the same appeal once we actually get them in hand. In fact, they are very disappointing.  

Isn’t that the way it is with so many things in life?  We are often tempted by those things that seem out of our reach—e.g. a different job, certain possessions and pleasures, a particular relationship, etc.  And, as long as that thing is out of reach, it is so appealing.  When, however, we are able to attain what we have longed for, reality sets in. Once in hand, that which was once so appealing can become so disappointing.  The flaws are revealed. The true nature of what once tempted us is uncovered.  The once shiny apple is actually a rotten apple for it cannot deliver the satisfaction for which we were hoping. 

Jesus said, “But, seek first his (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (Matthew 6:33 – NIV)  That is, don’t allow yourself to spend your life running after things that in the end will most likely disappoint (and which will one day disappear). Rather, spend your life striving after that which belongs to God’s kingdom—that which is spiritual and eternal.  And, God will take care of all of your other needs.  That which is part of God’s kingdom, once in hand, will never disappoint. 

So, let’s not strive after the unreachable apples of this world. Instead, let’s pursue the Kingdom of God!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris