Our Thanksgiving celebration last week was a little bit different than past years. This was the first year that our daughters, Christina and Ashley, hosted our Thanksgiving dinner. Our Thanksgiving dinner had always been either at our place or at my mom’s down Hamilton. This year, however, I drove down to pick my mom up and she joined us to see her granddaughters’ new apartment in Harrison for the first time. We are going through a season of change in our lives and for the first time in our marriage Deb and I are truly empty-nesters. I’m thankful for the grace of God that sustains us through many changes. The apostle Paul never ceased to be amazed at the grace that God had shown him, first in saving him and then in using him. Paul writes, “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast,” (Eph. 2:8-9 NIV). While that verse speaks of the grace of God in our salvation, it is also the grace of God that powerfully helps us through all of life’s transitions. The writer of Hebrews states, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many,” (Heb.12:15 NIV). The key in this passage is to make sure that no one misses the grace of God.
With the changing of seasons in our lives comes the daily application of the grace of God. Not only are Deb and I empty-nesters but my mom is alone once again. I make frequent trips down to visit my mom and over the winter time we hope that she’ll be coming up to stay with us during the holidays and perhaps afterwards. My nephew Daniel, who had come out from Iowa to join us for Thanksgiving, also made the decision while he was here to move back to New Jersey. He will be seeking to sublease his apartment in Iowa City, Iowa as soon as possible so he can then move back to New Jersey. He appreciated greatly the time that he was able to spend with family and really has no support system in Iowa. Again, we are reminded of the importance of not falling short of the grace of God but allowing God’s grace and presence to minister to us even in the midst of difficult circumstances. The passage in Hebrews reminds us that it is possible for a bitter root to spring up in our lives and for that root to grow into a great tree. This happens when we allow a disappointment in our lives to grow into resentment and we end up nursing a grudge over some past hurt or hurts. That grudge then becomes bitterness filled with jealousy, dissension and usually ends in immorality. Instead, it is much better for us to allow the grace of God to minister to us through our disappointments.
When we think of Thanksgiving, it’s important for us to always realize that God is working in every situation to bring about our growth and working out of His plan in our lives. Paul again encourages us when he tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” (Rom.8:28 NIV). The key in this passage is to be loving God and to be yielding our lives in allegiance to Him. I hope that your Thanksgiving was filled with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ because He is the one to whom we owe all thanks. Remember that in the seasons of change that you will go through that God’s grace can work to transform you into the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. All praise to our great Savior,
Pastor Rich Sivo