Yes, that’s good enough for me.”
(Old Hymn-Author unknown)
The following Thanksgiving thoughts are partially taken from the devotional book, Streams in the Desert. I chose November 22nd since it was a date close to Thanksgiving, but more so because of its great teaching about God’s ocean of grace that awaits each of us.
I have read this devotional over and over through the years, adding notes here and there. I also wrote on its tiny page some of the events I experienced on this date in my life. My first entry was actually from 1964, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I was in high school at the time, and have never forgotten the heart-wrenching hours surrounding that Thanksgiving. As heart-wrenching as that long ago Thanksgiving was, the opposite is true of this devotional, and hopefully this Thanksgiving too, for it is filled with heart-changing words of intended encouragement.
God constantly deals with what we often consider the improbable and impossible parts of our lives, particularly when it comes to our sinful pasts. According to His declarations, nothing is impossible for Him, not even forgiving and forgetting the worst of what we have done to Him, ourselves, or others. And even if we have lived lives in quiet or outward rebellion, unbelief, sin, and disaster, it is still never too late for God to deal triumphantly with these tragic events. All we need do is repent of what we have done and the tragedy of what we have done or are doing will stop. The term repent may sound a little too religious, but don’t shy away from it, because all it means is to say to God, “I am sorry Lord for what I have done, please forgive me. Fill me with your Spirit, Lord; fill me with your presence.” It’s that simple, that’s repentance. And whether you are a Christian who needs to get things straight, or one who has never believed in God during your whole life, you are forgiven the minute you repent. And what you have done in the far past or recent past, including yesterday if need be, is totally forgotten by God, even if no one else on the earth will.
It is like taking all you’ve done that you know has been wrong, selfish, or hurtful to God and others, and dumping it into the ocean. Where it sinks to the bottom, never to be seen again. That is what God’s grace does with your wrong doings and sins when you admit them to Him, and ask for His forgiveness. He takes them all and buries them in the deepest sea. Then He proceeds to fill you up with His Spirit, love, purpose, and wisdom.
Do you sin again? Oh yes! We all seem to go back and redo a lot of the bad stuff over, but God is always there at the ocean’s edge waiting to receive our repentance again, Eventually we improve, because we’ve learned that it’s a lot better to live with Him in control of our lives then to live according to our old ways that only brought pain, disgust, dissatisfaction, and emptiness. This sinning-less as time goes by is what the Bible calls sanctification in case you were wondering. Sinless living is reserved for heaven, where there is no longer any sinful flesh to be tempted.
In this Teachable Moment with kids, take them to the water’s edge somewhere; the ocean would be ideal. Have them pick up some sand or rocks. With each rock or handful of sand ask them to identify something they know they’ve done wrong in the past. Then have each make a pile of their rocks or handfuls of sand. When everyone is ready, and don’t forget to do yours too, take the rocks or sand and throw them into the water. As you do explain that this is what God does with our wrongdoings and sins when we tell Him we are sorry about what we have done, and ask Him to come back and take control of our hearts.
“Is anything too difficult for the Lord?…” Genesis 18:14
“And he came into the entire district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Luke 3:3
“And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:4
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” II Corinthians 5:17
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 5:23
“For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Hebrews 2: 11
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. “Psalm 103:1
“And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. John 10:28