Writings from L. J. Thomas, Pastor
Several thousand years ago, God spoke directly to Moses and instituted a new festival for His people. In Exodus 23:16, according to Moses’s record, God said, “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field.”
Today countries around the world do something similar by celebrating the land’s bounty. In Ghana, the people celebrate the Yam Festival as a harvest event. In Brazil, Dia de Acao de Gracas is a time to be grateful for the crops that yielded their food. In China, there is the Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival. In the United States and Canada: Thanksgiving.
To understand the fitting goal of a harvest celebration, we visit Noah right after the flood. God reminded Noah and his family—and us—of His provision for our flourishing existence on the earth. Earth would have seasons, daylight and darkness and “seedtime and harvest” (Gen. 8:22). Our gratitude for the harvest, which sustains us, goes to God alone.
No matter where you live or how you celebrate your land’s bounty, take time today to express gratitude to God—for we would have no harvest to celebrate without His grand creative design.
Dear Creator God, thank You so much for the wondrous way You fashioned this world—with seasons, with harvest-time, with everything we need to exist. Please accept our gratitude.
Gratitude is the memory of a glad heart.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank You for welcoming me into Your circle of love. May I share Your peace with someone in my community today. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (John 14:27) Although as God’s children we experience hardship, we too have His Spirit living within and flowing out of us. God’s peace can be His witness to everyone we meet—whether at a local market, at school or work, or in the gym.
When we keep our mind on God, His Spirit keeps our mind a peace.
Lord, we will praise You in our difficult times like the psalmist did. You know us, and we turn to You because we know You are good. Doubting God’s goodness is as old as Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). The serpent put that thought in Eve’s mind when he suggested that God was withholding the fruit from her because “God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v.5). In pride, Adam and Eve thought they, rather than God, should determine what was good for them. In times of discouragement, let’s listen well to each other and help each other see the truth that God is good.
The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
Lord, help me to see where help is needed, and help me to provide that help. Thank You for the comfort You give; help me to share it. All around us are people in need, and sometimes we have to set aside our own feelings and agendas to help them. One way we can do that is to remember how God has comforted us in our trials and troubles “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). How easy it is to be engrossed in our own concerns and forget that someone right next to us might need a prayer, a word of comfort, a hug, or gift of mercy in Jesus’ name.
Comfort received should be comfort shared.
Lord, we cannot read about the failures and difficulties of others without being reminded of our own. We bring them all to You, seeking forgiveness and Your power for a fresh start. In many of his difficulties, David turned to the Lord “With your help I can advance against a troop (run through a barricade); with my God I can scale a wall” (2 Samuel 22-30). Perhaps we identify with David’s struggles because he, like us, was far from perfect. Yet he knew that God was greater than the most chaotic parts of his life. With David we can say, “As for God, his way is perfect: the Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him” (v. 31). And that includes us! Life is messy, but God is greater than the mess.
It’s not too late to make a fresh start with God.
Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Your Word. Thank You for its truth, its timelessness, and the guidance You give us by that Word. Help us believe and trust everything You say. The psalmist wrote: “Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89). But it is more than the word of the Lord; it is His very character. That is why the psalmist could also say, “Your faithfulness continues through all generations” (v. 90). As we face devastating experiences, we can define them either in terms of despair or of hope. Because God will not abandon us to our circumstances, we can confidently choose hope. His enduring Word assures us of His unfailing love.
We can trust God’s unchanging Word.