Great Plains Daily Devotional for 11/18/2021

Today please be in prayer for

Banner UMC
Brady UMC
Gateway District
Broken Bow UMC
Gateway District
Burwell UMC
Taylor Calvary UMC
Gateway District
Atlanta, NE UMC
Ragan UMC
Wilcox UMC
Gateway District

Today's Lectionary Text

1 Chronicles 16:34

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Today's Devotional

Thankfulness remains a daily word within our vocabulary. The spirit of gratitude is ingrained in us because it is a biblical mandate. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.” I ponder on this verse often and find myself writing lists upon lists of things I thank God for. First, I acknowledge the spirit of thanksgiving which has filled so many people around our nation. The time has come to gather around our family dinner tables to break bread together this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I assume in the turkey world there are whispers of fear as many of them will be slaughtered for such a glorious occasion, “Thanksgiving.” If these turkeys would speak, they would cry out loud, spare us please! But they cannot because Thanksgiving has lived longer than these turkeys. It is an American tradition to have “turkey day.” A belief cherished and passed on from generation to generation. Therefore, the turkeys must fall prey to our traditions, or must they?

On a more serious note, why do we gather for “Thanksgiving?” As we fight COVID-19 pandemic one would give a shout on, “Thank God for the gift of life.” As I write this, I am reminded of my ordeal with COVID-19 pandemic. I was badly affected by COVID-19 in November 2020. It was not fun to combat the giant monster. I remember calling the name of Jesus without much prayer because I lacked strength to pray. I named my Lord, “Jesus the Storm Chaser.” “Heal me Lord, I cried to him in pain.”

I was desperate in the middle of a storm. The pandemic caught me unaware. God heard my cry and revitalized my immune system, and here am I preaching and writing again. It could have gone otherwise; I could have died, being on oxygen, ventilator or hospitalized. I never entered the hospital nor was I rushed to the Emergency Room. Jesus the Storm Chaser healed me. This is indeed one thing I can raise my hands to Him in thanksgiving. Many people have died because of the deadly pandemic, and we are still here alive and kicking. I agree with the writer of Chronicles on giving thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.

The gathering of saints in worship touches my heart. Within our Great Plains Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, we have maximized in-person worship services. Indeed, we must give thanks to God because we are back in our Father’s business again. Many of our members are braving the challenges of this pandemic and holding onto the covenant and commitments in serving God. The various churches gather around in meetings, the organizations are soldiering on in their missions and fulfilment of set goals. The church has been meeting in person and is thriving to fulfill its mission. Some Christians in China and other parts of the world cannot meet openly to worship God. We are so privileged and divinely protected that we gather in worship every Sunday. We must give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.

Gratitude glorifies God within his sovereignty. There is no other God besides our God. He holds the entire universe in his hands. Some of us can testify to this notion as we perceive the beauty around us and the beauty we have seen around the world. This alone causes us to vertically look up saying, “Thank you God for the beauty of the earth we experience.” “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.” 

The other thing within gratitude is that it brings peace within the soul. Have you been around grateful people? They count their blessings naming them one by one and gratify God in all things. When they count and acknowledge God’s gifts to them, they see God at work in their lives. If it was not God, we would not have been a people. Gratitude helps us see God’s hands in every aspect and circumstances of our lives. We count our blessings, not sheep we are told to get rid of the worry keeping us bound and unhealthy. When we are grateful God gives supernatural peace. The military families gather around the dinner tables reflecting on the power of protection in their serving of the beloved nation. Give thanks to God for he is good, his love endures forever

Throughout the years, I have learned that gratitude brings contentment. It is said that gratitude makes us have enough, satisfies our needs. If one is not grateful for what God has given, we end up striving for more without satisfaction. Apostle Paul understood the power of gratitude and wrote these profound words to his beloved church at Philippi: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how-to live-in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having the abundance and suffering needed. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13) 

To embrace the spirit of gratitude as we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, I want to challenge you to write at least two things per day for which you thank God. This can be something that happened a long time ago, recent or on the day you write it down. Make it a family exercise. There are millions and trillions of things we can list in our gratitude moments. On Thanksgiving Day, perhaps you can have family members share some of the things on their lists. I guarantee you will be a warm hearted by the gratitude you hear from family and friends. Above all, “Give thanks to God because he is good, his love endures forever.”

--Rev. Ever V. Mudambanuki
Nebraska City First UMC
EMudambanuki@greatplainsumc.org

Prayer for Reflection

O God teach us to give thanks in all things. May the Thanksgiving season fill our hearts with joy and gratitude despite our life circumstances. Amen

 

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