Matthew 18:20 (KJV) “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We did in our home. I had wanted to take our Thanksgiving to a higher level this year and I was so thankful to the Lord when we were able to do it. I’ll explain.
We all know that we go through many seasons of life – no children to babies, then toddlers, then kids running around, teenagers, young adults, empty nests, and grandchildren. (I’ll stop there for now.) Each of these seasons bring a different feel to how Holiday Celebrations happen. When our children were young, we wanted them to have a real spirit of Thanksgiving to God for every good thing in our lives. We would do what I’m sure many of you have done at some point. We’d have them make lists of thing they were thankful for and then at a particular time of the day, we’d sit around and let everyone share their thoughts from their list. It can become very insightful hearing what comes out their mouth. We’d thank God at our thanksgiving meal for all our blessings and then eat till we were as stuffed as the turkey.
As our children got older – in their teens and older, it got harder to peel them from the football games and get everyone to participate in the same way – at least willingly and gladly. They saw themselves as too old to write lists and weren’t always ready to express themselves with any meaningful level of sincerity. We would still do our best but it was becoming more work and starting to feel a little forced. Regardless, we never stopped making the effort. We just didn’t force anyone that didn’t want to verbally participate.
I wanted this year to be different. Our children are all adults with the youngest being 21. They are all in a good place in their lives and heart and Renee and I really wanted to take the time to express our thanks to God in a meaningful way. After dinner we all got around the kitchen table where we had communion all set up for everyone. I didn’t ask anyone to share what they were thankful for. I shared two verses from God’s Word and then just talked to them all about how blessed we were. I then asked each of them to pray letting God know what they were thankful for. What came from each of there mouths was moving to say the least. Everyone, Renee, the kids, Renee’s parents, we all prayed. No one prayed long. Maybe just a minute or two each but the spirit of Thanksgiving to God was there in the most wonderful way. I then reminded them what communion was symbolic of – our Covenant of eternal life and of God’s promised blessings because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. We then all partook of communion together. What happens before God and in the hearts of a family at a time like that can be immeasurable. I know in my heart it will bear fruit in my children’s lives forever.
It brought the entire day into what it was meant to be and it was so wonderful. It made me glad that I have never given up trying to honor God out of frustration just because it didn’t always work out as I had pictured it or hoped it would come out. With kids, it can be a moving target.
If you are a perfectionist, nothing you try to achieve will every measure up to what you want. Perfection isn’t what pleases God. God is blessed by hearts of faith that want to honor Him for who He is. With different age groups and different levels of spiritual maturity involved in these kinds of activities, there are going to be many types of expression of love to God. With the cultural diversity of families now a days, that means there can even be cultural richness brought to those times.
What I want you to take away most from this today is this: godly atmospheres don’t just happen. You have to create them in your life. This isn’t just about Holidays. This is about any time and any place in your life. You might feel that you work at a place that is close to the devil’s pit in atmosphere. Maybe there is swearing and lewd pictures, and dirty jokes going on all the time. Your choices are pray about another job asking God to lead you or create your own atmospheres in your life.
Daniel was taken captive to Babylon. He was surrounded by paganism – pagan people, pagan attitudes, and pagan gods. Yet he would create his own atmosphere. He would kneel before his window and pray to God three times a day. He would get together with his like minded friends to discuss God’s way and pray together. They may have been outnumbered on every side by people that were not like them but they created their own atmospheres where they could keep God alive in their heart and invite Him into their midst. This is what sustained Daniel with spiritual strength in the lions den. It sustained Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego with spiritual strength in the face of being thrown in a fiery furnace.
Today’s Fresh Manna verse says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” When we will work to create atmospheres from a sincere heart where Jesus will be exalted in conversation, in prayer, or in praise, He will be there. His presence will come and when it does, you will be lifted up, strengthened and even miracles never imagined will manifest. You can create and enter into these kinds of atmospheres even in the midst of turmoil and ungodliness happening all around you. Remember, God isn’t looking for the perfect setting or everything happening perfectly in this kind of setting. He comes where our hearts sincerely are to be with Him. It makes for more frequent moments that make your life rich!
In His Love,
Pastor Tim & Renee Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
Copyright© 2007 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.