November 24, 2011
Remember … and Give Thanks
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
Psalm 106:1 (NIV) “Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

Friend to Friend
In homes across America, friends and family will gather around beautifully decorated tables filled with warm, scrumptious food to give thanks. It’s Thanksgiving Day. But today will be nothing like holidays of the past for many people.   

Lonely but committed soldiers covered in the dust of battle will patrol foreign borders, fighting for our freedom while their families back home long for word of their safety. The homeless will make their way to the nearest soup kitchen, hoping for a warm meal and a smiling face as so many celebrate this day of abundance. An empty place at the table will be a painful reminder of the loved one lost not long ago. A worried husband and dad will sit at the head of the table, wondering how he is going to tell his family that he just lost his job. The list of wounded hearts and unmet needs is endless. 

We convince ourselves that life will be better when we have more money, when we find the right mate, when we get the kids raised or build the perfect house. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we can afford a nicer car, when we get that promotion, when we are able to go on our dream vacation or when we retire. We keep trying to find joy, contentment and peace in lifeless places and things.

Jesus Christ is life. He is Joy and Love and He took our place on the cross. That’s why we can give thanks when it seems as if there is nothing for which to be thankful. 

One day, a man went to visit a church. He arrived early, parked his car, and got out.  Another car pulled up near him, and the driver told him, "I always park there. You took my place." The visitor went inside for Sunday school, found an empty seat, and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That's my seat. You took my place." The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday school, the visitor went into the church sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, "That's where I always sit. You took my place." The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still said nothing.

Later, as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood, and his appearance began to change. Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?" The visitor replied, "I took your place."

Yes, we live in a broken world and life is filled with pain, challenges, dark times and trials, but today can still be a day of thanksgiving and praise because praise and thanksgiving have little to do with the Thanksgiving holiday and everything to do with our inner attitude toward God. It really doesn’t matter how much we lose here, girlfriend.  I have read the Book and we win … for all of eternity! We just need to take the time to remember … and give thanks.

Let’s Pray
Father, we come to You today, praising You for meeting our needs this year in ways that we may or may not have understood at the time. Looking back, we see Your hand of mercy and love.  We recognize Your presence and Your power and we choose to celebrate You …we celebrate life.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

More from the Girlfriends
Already feeling the stress of the approaching holidays? Get Mary’s book, Escaping the Stress Trap, for practical steps to dealing with and managing stress and check out her MP3, The Secret of a Merry Christmas. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook - or through email. Need help learning how to study the Bible? Join women across the world in Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey, and find out.

"I am flat broke and Christmas is just around the corner!" Do those words sound familiar? Don't let gift-giving become a chore instead of a joy. Check out Mary’s MP3 download - Giving the Perfect Gift- and discover how to give ten wonderful and inexpensive gifts.

Sharon, Gwen and I want to wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, a day of remembering all that God is, all that God has and all that He wants to be in your life. 

We praise Him for allowing us to do life together and want you to know that we are with you … Girlfriends in God. 

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