On The Journey, Judy Bowman

“Thanksgiving = Forgiveness”

Thanksgiving is my favorite secular holiday. It doesn’t involve much-overdone commercialism and it’s free from all the consumer-driven anxiety of Christmas.

Thanksgiving is a day to remember and be thankful to God for all the graces and blessings in our lives. We gather together with family and friends and share a meal. Many of us may go to Church as well. We’ll come together before the altar of God and offer our thanks to Him for the precious gift of our salvation: His Son, Jesus Christ. And we’ll ask God to forgive us for our sins. We do this at the beginning of every Mass because there is such a strong connection between forgiveness and thanksgiving. We can’t approach the thankfulness of Holy Communion until we’ve approached the Lord for mercy and forgiveness in the sacrament of Confession. This is God’s plan for us. And so, during this Thanksgiving time as we prepare the pies and the turkey to share with the people we love, let’s also prepare our hearts by forgiving those in our lives who have wronged us.

Forgiveness is at the heart of our salvation. Through Christ, our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled to the Father. Nothing we have ever done is so heinous that God’s mercy is denied us. What a wonderful thing to know! This alone is more than enough to fill our “things I am thankful for” list a thousand times over. Our salvation journey starts when we acknowledge our sinfulness before God and beg His forgiveness. But we grow in our faith when we extend that forgiveness to the people in our lives. This is so important that Jesus included it in the perfect prayer He shared with His friends: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”(Luke 11:4). As we receive God’s mercy we’re called to extend it to other people. We must be conduits of forgiveness. But we also know how difficult it can be to forgive someone, don’t we? Everyone reading this has been hurt by someone and found forgiving them hard, or even impossible to do. We’ve held onto the pain they caused us and maybe we’ve let it simmer like a poison inside us for months, or even years. In fact, the root meaning of the word “grudge” is “to murmur”—isn’t that what unforgiven hurts do in our hearts? They murmur and echo in the small dark closet in our soul where we harbor our secret pains. And it saps the joy out of what God means for us to have. We need to forgive to fully live our redeemed lives.

So forgive somebody. Especially this week. How can we gather in thankfulness if we have those murmuring hurts and angers? Christ says, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins”(Mark 11:26). That’s how important it is for us to let go–we have to forgive so that God can forgive us. In fact, God has only one solution to the problem of our sin and that is forgiveness. “To forgive” means “to be gracious.” We are called to give grace to one another as God has given His grace to us. But what if that other person has been so mean, so hurtful, so awful that you just don’t believe they deserve to be forgiven? Newsflash: none us should hope to get what we really deserve. Mercy is NOT getting what you and I deserve for our sins (i.e. punishment) and grace is getting what we DON”T deserve (i.e. mercy). As Christians we live in the sweet grace of knowing that we NEVER get what we deserve, thanks be to God! None of us deserves forgiveness so it’s mercy when we extend that to someone who has hurt us. Forgiveness isn’t about fairness, it’s about grace. And here’s something else to consider: forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision. If you wait until you feel like doing it, you never will. God doesn’t tell us to forgive them if we feel like it. We read in Hebrews how God forgives: “Their sins and their lawless acts I will remember no more”(10:17). God chooses not to remember our sins. We should imitate Him. We make the choice to forgive and then we pray for God to help us live out that decision.

As you gather to share Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks for God’s great love and mercy in your life. In the end, what we have in this life is each other. The Lord has forgiven your sins and offered you eternal life in Jesus Christ. At the center of that love and grace is the Cross. This Thanksgiving, lay the burden of your un-forgiveness at the foot of that Cross. And be thankful.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace.” — Ephesians 1:7

Glenda Smiley, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church

Pleasant Valley Baptist will have a float in the Ringgold Christmas parade, Friday evening, December 6th. We are excited and eager to work together to present the gospel in this special area event. Pray with us that God will be honored and glorified. Pray some will be touched and reminded that Christ is the reason for this season.

December 15th, PVBC will have local guitar artist, Wesley Crider, present his Christmas music during the morning service. This is and has been a very meaningful time of focusing our hearts on the meaning and joy of Christmas. Christmas dinner will follow with food and fellowship. After dinner, all are invited to join us in visiting area shut-ins with caroling and brief message of encouragement. Services will begin at 10:30AM.

December 22nd, PVBC choir will present their special music program. There will be traditional and special music presented bringing glory to God. Make plans to be with us and join in this season of celebration of the Savior’s birth.

Missionary Josh Ewing will be with us on December 1st. Come and hear what this servant of God is doing and has done for the furtherance of the kingdom of God.

Tremendous message from 1 Samuel 11. This chapter was proving time for the new king of Israel, Saul. He had been chosen of God, but would he be accepted by the people. Never mind God’s standard, would he live up to the people’s expectations. As you read the story, the people find themselves in a difficult situation. Would they trust in themselves or look to God. When we are at our weakest, Satan attacks. The people were just about to give in, but in verse 6 we find the Spirit of God falls upon Saul, their new king. He was angered over the things of God. The people had been few in number and without hope. Saul sent out messengers that the oxen, important in the day, of the men of Israel and Judah would be destroyed should they not come out to fight in behalf of Jabesh-gilead. The fear of the Lord fell upon the people, 330,000, and all were united in this cause. We can take encouragement and hold on, help is on it’s way. We are living in the midnight hour and the future is unknown. Stay true, renew your relationship daily, and don’t trust in the flesh. Don’t trust any president, any political party, no pastor or others, Trust in Christ alone. God will save His people from the wrath to come.

Pray with us for those with physical needs, Jewel Mitchell, Carolyn Denton, Lula Petty, Denise Pitts, Claudette Armstrong, Warren McAllister, and many other of which the Lord knows their name and their need. Many extended family members are in need of prayer and ask for them to remembered in your prayers knowing God knows. Pray for Pastor Flood and his family, for the church and ministries including missionaries, Sunday school, youth, nursing homes and homeless, orphans. Pray for our country/leaders, congress, Israel/America. Pray God’s will be done in impeachment inquiry. Pray for PVBC to grow and spread the gospel in this community. Pray for souls to be saved and for God to send revival.

Services are live streamed on Facebook. Service times are Sunday School 10AM, Worship 11AM, Evening 6PM with prayer at 5:45PM. Wednesday Bible Study and Youth Kid’s Zone meet at 7PM. Call for transportation 706 537-3633.

Come visit us at Pleasant Valley Baptist. Lots going on and we want you to be a part of our family. You are always welcome!

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