Monday, November 28, 2011


   “These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.  For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, with the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival” (Psa. 42:4).
   David spent a lot of time in exile away from Jerusalem , and he wasn’t able to be at the temple worshiping God.  He really missed it.  His soul was thirsting for God, like a deer pants for water (Psa. 42:1), and he was longing to be in worship again.  He remembered how great it was to be in worship and rejoiced when he could get back.  When we make our lives around worshiping the Lord, the loss of worship time will leave a big hole in our lives.  Let’s not fill that hole with something else.  Let’s get back to God before it is too late.

- Grace for Your Spirit ,via
THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: 

Lean On Me

As the road ahead seems rugged
and the path is getting steep,
I feel that I can't make it
so my heart begins to weep.

Then I turn to see who's coming

to join me on my way.
I see it is my Lord
and He slowly turns to say,

"Lean on me.....

when you have no strength to stand.
When you feel you're going under,
hold tighter to my hand.

Lean on me......

when your heart begins to bleed.
When you know I'm all you have,
then you'll find I'm all you need."

Then when I felt that no one cared

if I lived or died,
and no one bothered asking why
I'd go alone to cry.

When the burden got so heavy

I could barely face the day,
I felt His arms around me
as I gently heard Him say,

"Lean on me......

when you have no strength to stand.
When you feel you're going under,
hold tighter to my hand.

Lean on me......

when your heart begins to bleed.
When you come to know I'm all you have,
then you'll find I'm all you need."

- Author Unknown 

Oh, Taste and See

By Mike Baker
    The leaves are falling, the days are shorter and time is nearing to gather with family and loved ones to have a period of thanksgiving.  All  school  children learn the story of our American Thanksgiving, complete with the Indians, Pilgrims, and bountiful harvest of food. We also soon learn to associate Thanksgiving with many other things‑turkey, football, parades, visits to grandparents, time off from work, etc.
    Having been so blessed to live in such a country, we sometimes overlook or fail to fully appreciate all that we have. Having a time of the year when everyone pauses to be thankful is a good thing. But the commercialism of this time of year also seems to overshadow the basic concept of the holiday. That is, of course, to thank God.
    David wrote in Ps. 34:1‑2, "I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad."
    For the faithful child of God, thanksgiving is always on his lips as he praises God. Knowing that we have been forgiven from our sins, we learn to humble ourselves and thank God frequently each day.
    Later in the same Psalm, David writes, "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh fear the LORD, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing." Ps. 34:8‑10.
    Let us resolve to be thankful to God each and every day for all that we have‑our health, our families, our friends, our employment, our relationship with God through Jesus, etc.   Let us also resolve to encourage others around us  to do so as well.
    Paul writes in 2 Cor. 9:10‑11, "now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God."
    "Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together." Ps. 34:3. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"  2 Cor. 9:15.

‑ Mike Baker,  Lewisburg, TN; via
The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:


By Gerald Cowan
     Thanksgiving is gratitude in action. In return for your own good fortune, give something to others that will give them cause for joy and will lead them to thank God too. Here are a few ways to do it.
     THANK GOD for the gift of life by living it triumphantly, as a channel of blessings from God to others.
     THANK GOD for your abilities and talents by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good.
     THANK GOD for opportunities by accepting them as challenges to achieve.
     THANK GOD for your health and strength by care and respect for your body.
     THANK GOD for inspiration and encouragement by giving encouragement to others.
     THANK GOD for comforts received by calming and comforting others in their times of trouble and stress.
     THANK GOD for your happiness by trying to make others happy.
     THANK GOD for contributions made by others by adding your own creative contributions to the stream of human progress.
     THANK GOD for your humanity by practicing true brotherhood, without prejudice or malice against those who are not of "your kind."
     THANK GOD for friendship by being friendly, being a friend.
     THANK GOD for love by loving - by unselfish giving of yourself and by unselfish receiving from others who give to you.
     THANK GOD for each new day by living it to the fullest.
     THANK GOD!  Thank Him by giving hands, arms, legs, and voice to your thankful spirit. Thank Him by adding you your prayers of thanksgiving some works, some acts of thanks-living. Thank Him for all your yesterdays. Thank Him for today. Thank Him for tomorrow - as long as there is a tomorrow -“ and then thank Him in eternity.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at

Turkey Poem

   When I was a young turkey, new to the coop,
   My big brother Tom took me out on the stoop,
   Then he sat me down, and he spoke real slow,
   And he told me there was something that I just had to know.
   His look and his tone I will always remember,
   When he told me of the horrors of, well...... Black November!
   Come about August,  now listen to me,
   Each day you'll get six meals  instead of your three.
   And soon you'll be thick, where once you were thin,
   and you'll grow a big rubbery thing under your chin;
   And then one morning, when you're warm in your bed,
   In comes the farmer's wife, to hack off your head;
   Then she'll pluck out all your feathers until you're bald 'n pink,
   And scoop out your insides and leave you in the sink;
   And then comes the worst part he said not bluffing,
   She'll spread your hind quarters and pack your bottom with  stuffing!
   Well, the rest of his words were too grim to repeat,
   I sat on the stoop like a winged piece of meat,
   And decided on the spot that to avoid being cooked,
   I'd have to lay low to remain overlooked.
   I began a new diet of nuts and granola,
   High roughage salads, juice and diet cola;
   And as they ate pastries, chocolates and crepes,
   I stayed in my room doing Jane Fonda tapes.
   I maintained my weight of two pounds and a half,
   And tried not to notice when the bigger birds laughed;
   But it was I who was laughing, under my breath,
   As they chomped and they chewed, ever closer to death.
   And sure enough when Black November rolled around,
   I was the last turkey left in the Turkey compound;
   So now I'm a pet in the farmer's wife's lap;
   I haven't a worry, so I eat and I nap.
   She held me today, while sewing and humming,
   And smiled at me and said "Christmas is coming." 


‘Twas the night of Thanksgiving, but I just couldn’t sleep.
I tried counting backwards, I tried counting sheep.
The leftovers beckoned—the dark meat and white,
But I fought the temptation with all of my might.
Tossing and turning with anticipation,
The thought of a snack became infatuation.
I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door
And gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.
I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.
I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,
‘Til all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.
I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky
With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.
But I managed to yell as I soared past the trees...
Happy eating to all – Pass the cranberries, please.
May your stuffing be tasty.  May your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes ‘n gravy have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize.
May your thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs.

May your Thanksgiving be blessed!!

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website: 

Thanksgiving: the Gratitude Attitude Should be Present Every Day

A Sermon Outlione by Gerald Cowan

1. Thanksgiving Day is not in the same class as some other religious and pseudo-religious holidays. But surely nobody thinks being grateful on one day is enough.
2. A true gratitude attitude is enhanced by knowledge of our own history and heritage.
+ Israel learned how to be grateful to God by remembering their history.
+ We may learn something about gratitude from the pilgrims. Perhaps we should fast rather than feast, to enter into their spirit.
3. We can improve the experience and expression of gratitude.
+ Avoid materialism as the basis for gratitude.
+ Do not assume material well-being is evidence of God’s approval.
+ Focusing on the giver and not just the gift will help us evaluate the gift properly and receive it properly.
+ What it meant to the giver is more important than benefit to receivers.
4. Results of focusing on both the giver and the gift.
+ A sense of obligation – a debt of gratitude – a desire to reciprocate.
+ The supreme gift of all time was from God. "For God so loved...that He gave His only begotten Son."
+ Though Jesus was and is a gift, the one who agrees to receive him is placed under a great obligation.
5. Everyone of us is a debtor.
+ ...To those who prepared the way and secured for us the freedoms and blessings we now enjoy.
+ ...To those who work with us now and are giving to us now.
+ ...To God for His blessings and gifts, especially for Jesus.
Only when we are grateful and show it do we have the right to ask for the good things to continue.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are You a Saint?

By Winford Claiborne

    Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, I am not a sinner and I am not a saint.” Is there some position between a sinner and a saint? Did you know that the words “holy,” “saint,” and “sanctified” all come from the same Greek word? If you are not a sinner, then you are a saint. There is no third category. But are Christians saints? If you mean by the word “saint” someone who is without flaw, then obviously, no one belongs in that category.  But that is not the meaning of the Greek word hagios. You know that is true if you have carefully read 1 Corinthians. Paul referred to the Corinthians as “saints.” You know how many sins are outlined in this great letter. The Corinthians were not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
    Peter explains what it means to be obedient children. We are not to fashion ourselves according to the
former lusts of our ignorance (1 Peter 1:14). Then he adds: “But as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all manner of conversation” (1:15). God is the one who has called us into His service. His character is the standard of holiness. Since God is holy, He wants us to be holy. In fact, if we are not holy, that is, set apart for His service - set apart from the world - we cannot be His faithful followers. Fortunately, He has given us the means by which we can become holy, that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we obey the gospel of Christ, our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16) and we become holy in God’s sight.
We are urged to be “holy in all manner of conversation.” One who has not studied the Bible carefully may think Peter was speaking about our tongue—keeping our speech clean and pure. Holiness certainly includes that, but it is much more than that. The word, “conversation,” means manner of life. James asks, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13).
    Every day—and not just on Sunday, we are to keep our hearts and our lives pure. Jesus said, Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

- Winford Claiborne (From the chapter with the above title, in his book, Divine Relationships, 155 Five-Minute Sermons on First Peter); via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Thanksgiving Outlook

By Alan Smith
     With Thanksgiving approaching in a couple of weeks, I thought you would enjoy this excerpt from a book entitled, "Weather Prognosticators and the Media: Fallacies, Facts, and Fun in Forecasting" by Norm MacDonald:
    "Turkeys will thaw in the morning, then warm in the oven to an afternoon high near 190 F.  The kitchen will turn hot and humid, and if you bother the cook, be ready for a severe squall or cold shoulder.
     "During the late afternoon and evening, the cold front of a knife will slice through the turkey, causing an accumulation of one to two inches on plates.  Mashed potatoes will drift across one side while cranberry sauce creates slippery spots on the other.  Please pass the gravy.
     "A weight watch and indigestion warning have been issued for the entire area, with increased stuffiness around the beltway.  During the evening, the turkey will diminish and taper off to leftovers, dropping to a low of 34 F in the refrigerator.
     "Looking ahead to Friday and Saturday, high pressure to eat sandwiches will be established.  Flurries of leftovers can be expected both days with a 50 percent chance of scattered soup late in the day.  We expect a warming trend where soup develops.  By early next week, eating pressure will be low as the only wish left will be the bone."
     While many of us in the United States will be enjoying a delicious feast in a couple of weeks, may our outlook truly be one of thanksgiving.  May we be reminded once again of the source of our bountiful blessings.  I love the cartoon that shows a bewildered-looking fellow sitting at a Thanksgiving table loaded down with turkey, dressing, hot rolls, and all the trimmings. The caption reads: "Alvin the atheist realized he was at his lowest point, for he felt grateful but had no one to thank."
     We do have someone to thank.  May we do it not only on Thanksgiving but every day with hearts overflowing with gratitude.
     "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." (James 1:17)
     "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving..." (Psalm 95:2)
     Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Helen Street church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at

What Gratitude Can Do

By Bill McFarland
     Some form of the word "thanks" appears in the English Bible 140 times. Obviously, God's people are to be known for their thankful hearts. Have you ever thought about why it is so necessary that we give thanks to God? It's certainly not because God needs it! The Scriptures teach that we need to give thanks because of what gratitude will do for our own lives.
     Gratitude can give us the desire to serve God. Those who genuinely appreciate what the Lord has done for them gladly obey His will. The apostle Paul, for example, was so thankful for the Lord's grace and mercy that he was willing to do anything for the Lord's cause (1 Tim. 1:12). Thankfulness destroys lukewarmness.
     Gratitude can give us peace of mind. Someone said, "it is not the happy people who are thankful. It is the thankful people who are happy." Thanksgiving helps us to fix our eyes on the brighter side and erase the anxiety which stands in the way of peace (Phil. 4:6-7). The peace of God can rule in hearts which are thankful (Col. 3:15).
     Gratitude can contribute to spiritual strength. It is not easy to face the temptations and trials which come our way in life. The inner strength required to be patient and longsuffering is inevitably linked to the giving of thanks (Col. 1:11-12). People who are strong in the faith will be found "abounding in thanksgiving" (Col. 2:6-7).
     Gratitude can increase harmony among brethren. Thankful people are not as likely to struggle with envy and hurt feelings. Those who are "giving thanks in all things," have no trouble submitting themselves to one another (Eph. 5:20-21). A grateful spirit opens the heart to others.
     Gratitude can keep us from the path of sin. For example, the 1st chapter of Romans shows how people sink through uncleanness to vileness and finally reach the level of a reprobate. Paul says that this tragic process begins when people are unthankful (Rom. 1:21). A thankful heart can prevent this sad fall.
     No wonder the Scriptures so often call for the giving of thanks! A sincere spirit of gratitude is a giant step toward a better life.

- Bill McFarland; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.


By Gerald Cowan
     The preacher is too often given credit, or  takes it for himself, whenever a person makes a positive response to the gospel,  either to become a Christian or to correct and improve his relationship to the  Lord, or grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. It is not likely that such  credit is ever deserved. Many factors combine to produce the response, and it is  inappropriate to single out any factor or person as being “the one” to which  credit is due. We should learn to attribute all positive responses to the work  of God (1 Cor. 3:6).
     This lesson is drawn out  clearly in 1 Cor. 3:5-9. Paul was the first to proclaim the gospel of Christ to  the Corinthians.  He planted (compare 1 Cor. 2:1-5). Apollos watered (1  Cor. 3:6). He exhorted, encouraged, and otherwise built upon the foundation Paul  laid (1 Cor. 3:10). There are often a great number who do the watering. Not only  by teaching and exhortation, but also by praying for each other (1 Tim. 4:12, 1  Cor. 11:1, Mt. 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12). But the planting and the watering will  accomplish very little without God who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-7). The  one who plants and those who water are one, one in purpose and desire (1 Cor.  3:8), and are workers together with God. The final product, building, fruit,  etc. is the result of God’s work. God is at work in and through those who preach  and teach, and those who admonish and exhort (Rom. 10:15, 2 Cor. 5:20, 1 Cor.  3:9), and so God is to be thanked for the  increase.
     Some may claim to be “self-made”  Christians. They see their conversion to Christ and their growth in Christ as  the result of their own study and application of God’s word, and their own  obedience to it. But they should not forget the debt they owe to those human  instruments inspired by God to record and preserve the gospel in written form.  Nor should they discount the evidence of faith in others which reinforces their  own desire to find the Lord. All of us should heed the admonition to “work out  your own salvation,” but do not forget that “it is God who works in you both  will and do of his good pleasure” (Phil.  2:12-13).
     Let us not discount any of the  contribution factors to conversion and growth in Christian faith. We should  certainly be grateful for all who have a part, however small. But do not forget  that it is God the Father who is above all, through all, and in all (Eph. 4:6).  He is ultimately responsible for the increase and He is to be thanked for  it.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Finding Thankfulness

By Rick Woodall
   Traveling down through the South over Thanksgiving made reality set in. Hundreds of trucks pulling FEMA trailers were on the road for destinations of the homeless. We had the opportunity to listen to reports on the continued work to provide needed supplies and housing to the thousands who were misplaced after the hurricanes. It truly set in motion a different attitude toward the cheerful season.  The sermons and talks that I heard did not hide the sadness that exists through the loss of lives, homes and personal belongings. Yet, people were not left hung out to dry.
   The main focus of the season was in the message that one can be thankful through hard times. My gift reminds me we can experience great revival in troubled times through hearts filled with thanksgiving.
   “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.  This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the LORD hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.”  –Psalm 69:30 34
   In the emptiness of all the stories of tragedy there is a  detailed description of people who are starting over. Total strangers came to the rescue of many of the misplaced. This companionship directed new beginnings.
   So at church services in the heart of all this turmoil the Lord was praised by thankful hearts filled with renewal.  When God’s people pull together something good is going to always prevail.
   So, thanksgiving was celebrated in a different light this year. Grieving, troubled, injured and depressed people found hope in hearts filled with thanks.
   For all those surrounded by good friends, relatives and prosperity, survey your piece of good fortune.  Many this Thanksgiving must find another way to be thankful.
   Have a great week.
- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Yorktown Road church of Christ in Logansport Indiana. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be found through this address:

Happy Thanksgiving

By Johnny Hester

    On the fourth Thursday of November each year, most families all across the United States gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving. For some, it is a day for naps, parades, turkey, maps, kinsfolk, naps, fanfare and football. (Did I mention naps?) I stand convicted, but recently have come  to blame the turkey. This bird, so I'm told, has an extremely high concentration of tryptophan - a chemical known to make people (especially the male of the species) feel sleepy. While I have seen no actual scientific data, I suspect that the additional mounds of mashed potatoes, homemade noodles, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie might tend to enhance the effects of the culprit, tryptophan. Would you like to volunteer for an experiment? Never mind, I'll be the guinea pig myself.
    On a more earnest note, while we enjoy our bountiful blessings, Thanksgiving should be a time of true reflection and introspection. It should be a day of heartfelt appreciation for the blessings received over the past year; and an occasion to acknowledge and give thanks to the origin of every blessing, our Father in Heaven. Should you need a Bible verse to use as a springboard for your devotions, allow me to suggest James 1:17. Note the following information: "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." So, as we count our blessings let's remember our Heavenly Father who is the Giver of those blessings!
    Of all the "good and perfect" gifts that God has given, which is the best - the greatest? It is Jesus Christ, God's Son. Only in Him can one find unlimited access to every spiritual gift that God has provided. Paul declared in Ephesians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."
    Closing questions: (1) As you enjoy your feast this Thanksgiving, were you to discover that the family next door is destitute and hungry, would you share? I know your answer. Of course you would. Beloved, we all have friends and relatives who are starving spiritually because they have not yet partaken of the "bread of life" (John 6:30-59). (2) Will you share Him with others that they too might "live forever" (verse 51)?
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving. And may we all become a blessing to many others as we share our bounty with them.
    I am thankful for you - my spiritual family. I love you in Christ and look forward to being with you in worship this Sunday.

- Johnny Hester preaches for the Shady Acres church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO.  He may be contacted through the church's website at


By Gerald Cowan

     People in this country have more to be thankful for than any others on earth. Not only in material possessions and opportunities for advancement. Not only in the quality and quantity of food. Not only in social freedom.  Not only in spiritual freedom to worship God as one sees fit – or not to worship Him at all, if that is one’s choice.  There’s all of that and much, much more. So what do we do about it? Maybe not you, and not me. But generally, as a nation of people, we complain because some of our neighbors still have more that we do. We complain that others want to limit our freedom, maybe even take away some liberties we have had in the past.
     We spend a lot of time in the complaint department. Mike Yates tells the following story. Upon entering a department store a certain lady was startled when a band began to play and a dignified executive pinned an orchid on her lapel and handed her a check for a thousand dollars. She was the store’s one millionth customer. A television camera was focused on her and a reporter wanted to interview her. “Tell us,” he asked, “What did you come in the store for today?”  She hesitated for a minute, then said: “I’m on my way to the Complaint Department.”
     Aren’t we just like that? Rather than be thankful we can express our preference by voting, we complain because the wrong person got elected. Rather than be thankful that we have the best medical facilities, best medicines, and best medical practitioners in the world, we complain about how long we have to wait at the doctor’s office, and how expensive the medicine is that the doctor prescribes for us. Rather than be thankful to have a job, we complain about having to work at all when what we really want is a free ride to prosperity – a guaranteed income whether we work or not. There seems to be no end to our ingratitude.
     And when it comes to religion we aren’t much better. Rather than thank God that He cared enough to sacrifice His Son for our salvation we complain about how hard it is live the Christian life. Rather than thank God that we have freedom of religion, we complain. People complain that the sermons are too long or too complex or too shallow or too dull. The songs are too slow, too fast, too sad, too dreary, too frivolous and too emotional. There isn’t enough excitement, things are not serious enough, worship is not entertaining enough, everything is too dull. Beside that, the church makes  too many rules. There ought to be more freedom of mind and less legalism, less interference in one’s personal life. Is there no end to our ingratitude?
     Maybe, just for a little while – we wouldn’t want it to last very long – but maybe if we had to do absolutely everything for ourselves, couldn’t do anything for others or have anything done for us by others, and only got exactly what we really deserved for whatever we had done, maybe then we might learn to be grateful.
     If you can’t be grateful for what you have received, be grateful for what you have escaped. If you can’t be grateful because you haven’t received some good things you think you deserve, be grateful that you haven’t received many of the bad things that have come to others, whether deserved or not.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at

Monday, November 7, 2011


By Joe Chesser

    Thanksgiving is a great holiday.  It’s a time when families can get together to do things families should be doing: eating together, laughing and telling stories you’ve heard a hundred times, watching the Lions and Cowboys lose, playing games, and then eating some more.  You cook and clean and travel.  You get too full, too tired and extend yourself too much, but it’s all worth it. It’s Thanksgiving.  That’s what people do at Thanksgiving.  At least it’s a part of it.
    But let’s back up for just a moment.  Let’s not forget that the reason we have so much food and fun on Thanksgiving is because we have been so richly blessed by God. We have been blessed to live in a nation that allows us the religious freedom to have a holiday called Thanksgiving.  We have been blessed with the financial resources to travel and to feast.  We have been blessed with people in our past who have taught us about God and how He loves to give to us.  We have been blessed with people, both past and present, who take seriously the need to protect our freedoms.
    So, perhaps this Thanksgiving we can take advantage of time off from work and time with family and friends to set aside a special time to truly give thanks to God for the countless ways He has blessed us.  Our God is a God who gives.  Giving is a part of what makes Him God.  Everything we have has come from God because He owns it all. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father …” (James 1:17).  If you have turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving dinner it’s because God has given you the turkey and dressing.  If you spend time with friends and family on Thanksgiving it’s because God has given you the time, the people, and the means to get together.  If you get some great bargains at the stores next week, thank God for those bargains.  When it comes to thanking God, nothing is too trivial, even the peas and carrots.  It has all come from Him, and we all need to give thanks to Him for it.  When we do, we are blessed even more.
    When it comes to thanksgiving, there are two parts.  The first is to recognize that it is God who has given us what we have.  Our hearts respond with gratitude because our heads know the source of our blessings.  We know the love that gave them, and we appreciate what He has done for us.  But thanksgiving involves more than just knowing and appreciating, it requires a tangible response.  We give to God praise and thanks for what He has given us.  We can speak it, sing it or pray it alone or with others.  Certainly we are to live a life of thanksgiving.  But there’s no thanksgiving without the giving. 
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (Ps. 118:1).

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

I’m Thankful For…

By Jim Faughn
     The first chapter of the book of Romans describes a disgusting and disastrous descent of mankind into some sins/lifestyles that would almost defy our imagination. That is, the descriptions of some of the sins would have defied our imaginations a few generations ago. Unfortunately, when one reads this chapter now, it is almost as though we are opening up the morning paper or turning on the evening news.
     Among the sad things that can be said about this passage is that it begins by describing people who, at one time, “…knew God…” (Rom. 1:21). The first steps on their downhill slide are found in that same verse: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him” (Rom. 1:21, ESV).
     Thanksgiving, to a true child of God, is much more than a national holiday. As much as many of us like to gather with family and friends on a special day, thanksgiving (or gratitude) is more of a mindset or disposition than it is a day on a calendar. Each one of us should be able to produce our own individual lists of things for which we are thankful. Some of them may have to do with our health, our financial situation, the relationship we have with our family members, the privilege of living in this country, and many other things.
     While there would be some differences in our individual lists, there would also be some things in common on some of the lists. It is my opinion that each of us who is a Christian ought to have the same thing at the very top of each of our lists. It might be worded a little differently as each of us expresses it in our own way, but the message would be essentially the same.
     Here’s one version of what I have in mind. See if it’s not close to what you’d put at the top of your list:

“I am thankful for the fact that the God of heaven loved me enough to
send His son to die for my sins, allow me to be a part of His family on earth,
and to live with Him for all eternity.”
Can you think of anything better than that?

- Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.centralchurchofchrist.orgCentral church of Christ

A Time For Thanksgiving

By Gerald Cowan
Col. 3:15, Eph. 3:20, Phil. 4:4-7


          An Orthodox Jew reportedly prayed, "God I thank you that you did not make me a Gentile, a slave, a woman, or an animal." This is wrong on all counts! First, God does not "make" anybody in that creative, directive, or manipulative sense. Species is determined by parents, each after its own kind (Gen. 1:21). Gender is determined by the male of the species. Jew and Gentile are determined by the birth parents, and so is nationality. Social distinctions are determined by society, or by the person himself.


          It is not uncommon for some to claim that God chooses and rules in certain governments of men. It has probably been said of many presidents in our own country by someone at the time or later that it was the will of God that he be president at that time. If asked if that meant God chose the particular man to be president, to be consistent one would have to say yes. But it may be difficult to convince some that God actually chose leaders who turned out to be inept or, worse than that, immoral and corrupt. The United States of America is not the only nation in the world, and certainly not the only nation for whom the claim has been made that it is blessed by God and is established by God’s grace. If God chooses national leaders – kings, presidents, or dictators – please explain why He wanted the past or current rulers in any of the hundreds of trouble spots and oppressive regimes in the world. The whole concept is wrong on several counts. God does not choose individuals (although He once did He does not now) as rulers, political or spiritual leaders. Governments are necessary, and God’s intention is that they serve Him and His purpose, actually function as administrators of His will (Rom. 13:1-4, 1 Peter 2:17-19). Probably none has ever done so, at least not perfectly. God has not chosen or preferred a certain form of government – He does not prefer the "American way of democracy" over other forms and He does not tell us we should Americanize the world. God does not choose nations. He certainly has not chosen and does not rule the USA. The founders of the nation may have had their eyes and hearts on God, as they understood Him, and may have tried to implement what they thought was His will. But the fact is, they were uninspired and so their concepts and their efforts were imperfect. Succeeding officials have not perfected the will of God in their efforts either, and it is unlikely that anyone ever will. The point: God has not chosen us or any other nation to be His nation; God does not rule the nation; it does not exist by the will and grace of God . Do not blame God for anything that is wrong with it, or with us, or with yourself.
          A certain Christian woman of advanced years had been diagnosed with cancer. She went through a period of blaming God for her condition. "I have been a faithful Christian for many years and have served you to the best of my ability in many ways. I’ve been a faithful wife and always tried to be a good mother. I have tried to be kind and helpful to others. I can’t think of anything I’ve done to deserve cancer. God, why did you do this to me?" This is also wrong on several counts. God does not inflict diseases and death upon individuals (although He once did, He does not do so now). Disease and death from "natural causes" are the common lot of mankind. Nobody is exempt or immune. God does not grant good health, wealth, or other rewards, benefits and blessings on earth for faithfulness or service rendered in His kingdom. He promises spiritual strength and grace so that His people need not give up or be destroyed spiritually by what society or the natural world may do to them (1 Cor. 10:13, Phil. 4:13 and 19).


1. Be thankful to be alive, to have strength, presence of mind and ability not only to serve God but to keep faith with Him through Jesus Christ.
2. Be thankful that no matter how difficult life in this world may be, we have hope of a better life in a place infinitely better than this world can provide.
3. We can learn lessons from circumstances and events – good and bad – that improve life for ourselves and others.
4. We can learn to thank God no matter what our condition may be, no matter what our nation or who our rulers may be, no matter what our health, wealth, or social station may be.
5. We can teach others by our attitudes and actions, and by our interpersonal relationships that being faithful people of God is worth the struggle, both now and forevermore.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL.  He may be contacted at

What Are You Willing To Commit?

By Alan Smith

     The story is told of a man in a fancy restaurant who started to choke on a bone.  A doctor rushed over, identified himself as a doctor, and reassured the man that he was going to be all right.  He performed the Heimlich maneuver and the bone popped out.
     As the man's breath and voice returned he said, "I'm ever so grateful, doctor, how can I ever repay you?"
     The doctor smiled and said, "I'll settle for one-tenth of what you were willing to pay while you were choking."
     It's true, isn't it, that when you're facing a crisis (especially a life-threatening crisis), you would give everything you have to get through it.  Money is no object!
     We do the same thing on a spiritual level.  How many times have you faced hardship and prayed, "Lord, if you'll just see me through this, I'll serve you faithfully the rest of my life!" or something similar?  But what happens when the crisis passes?  Those feelings of urgency about serving God pass as well.  If we could commit ourselves to doing one-tenth of what we're willing to do in those moments, most of us would ascend to a new level of commitment.
     Paul wrote, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
     Father, there are moments in my life when I am reminded of how much I need you and how urgent it is that I commit my life to you.  All too often, though, those feelings disappear, and I quickly revert back to a less-than-satisfactory level of commitment.  Please forgive me and strengthen me in my resolve to reach the point where I can say with the apostle Paul, "To me, to live is Christ."  In Jesus' name, amen.
     Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the Fayetteville church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC, may be contacted at