Thanksgiving Prayer

Thanksgivng.jpg

Dear heavenly Father, as we look over the table today and see all the wonderful food that you so graciously have provided for us, we are moved with gratitude and awe.  Who are we that we should be so blessed to have so much prosperity and to live in such a peaceful country with so many people who look out for us?  We know that we did not earn it.  It all comes from your enormous heart of love.

Today we thank you for all the people who work hard in our land to preserve peace and prosperity for us.  We think of the police departments that have staff around the clock in every corner of our nation.  We think of the fire fighters and paramedics who stand ready to rescue us and our property from disaster.  We think of doctors and other medical professionals who study hard and work even harder to help us overcome life threatening illnesses.  All these people are a gift from you.

We also thank you for our church that faithfully holds out to us your words and teaches us your heart.  We thank you for baptism that gives us a clear identity as your child, for the Lord’s Supper that reunites us with you and each other each time we take it and for the Bible that speaks to us from your mind and heart.

Thank you for all the blessings you give us, especially our salvation that cost you and your Son everything.  We dedicate our lives to serving you and each other in honor of your amazing grace.

We ask you to bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.  And bless our hearts with true faith and appreciation for all that you give us. 

AMEN

Ruth 2:14-16

Ruth 2_14-16.jpg

At mealtime Boaz said to Ruth, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”

When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” - Ruth 2:14-16

Dear Heavenly Father,

Up until that time Ruth had experienced one tragedy after another from your hand.  She must have had many moments of doubt.  But here you give her favor above all her peers.  Boaz treated her differently than all the other poor women gleaning in his fields.  Her cup was overflowing.  I'm sure she felt your mercy and grace from his gifts.  She must have had holy wonder as she received protection and grain in abundance.  I have holy wonder too when I think of how you have favored me.  I've received tragedy from your hand but I have also received great blessings.  Of all people, I deserve it the least.  But in mercy you have given me plenty.  Thank you for the blessings you give me though my "Boazes."  When I forget and get grumpy, bring me back to realizing how many blessings I actually receive from your hand. 

AMEN

Pastor Don Patterson

Some blessings are just around the corner.  We only need to learn to wait with a thankful heart.  

Ruth 2:13

Ruth 2_13.jpg

“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” Ruth said to Boaz. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” - Ruth 2:13

Dear Lord,

Good men and women speak kindly to everyone, without regard to status, congeniality or social opinion.  Ruth knew that.  She also wanted Boaz to know she saw his goodness.  Help me to see goodness and to model the same for others.  Make me one who makes everyone feel their worth.  Give me the gift I don't have naturally, that is; the ability to love even my enemies and to show them kindness and respect. I know how kindness blesses me when I receive it.  Help me to bless others by giving it.  

AMEN

Pastor Don Patterson

Kindness is easier to see and feel than it is to describe. 

Ruth 2:10-12

Ruth 2_10-12.jpg

At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” - Ruth 2:10-12

Dear Heavenly Father, 

Boaz was a deeply benevolent man.  He knew what it meant to set aside his own needs to help others.  He heard about Ruth's dedication to her mother in law, Naomi, and he praised you for it.  He wanted to bless Ruth for her sacrificial love to his relative.  It's wonderful to see such virtue in Boaz and Ruth during this very dark time in Israel's history.  I sometimes forget that I do not have to stay disappointed and distressed by the evil in our day.  I can light a match and live like Ruth and Boaz, benevolent, generous, virtuous and free.  Make me a light for family and friends and show me virtuous people I can encourage too.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God loves to introduce his friends to each other.  

Ruth 2:4-9

Ruth 2_4-9.jpg

 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!”

“The Lord bless you!” they answered.

Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”

The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”

So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” - Ruth 2:4-9

Dear Lord,

Thank you for creating men like Boaz who refused to use their position in this world to exploit women.  Instead, they use their power to protect them from lesser men.  Give us more men like Boaz who spread an umbrella over women and children and give them security and peace. By your Holy Spirit strengthen the heart of every leader to fight his own temptations to take from others instead of give. Help me create a safe place around me for every vulnerable soul.  Give me the heart of your Son who forgave and cleansed people and lifted them out of the misery of their jungle.  

AMEN

God made men to provide a shelter for others under the strength of their God given character. 

Ruth 2:1-3

Ruth 2_1--3.jpg

Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz.

And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”

Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek. - Ruth 2:1-3

Dear Lord of all things,

I love how your writer put it in this story, "As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz." It turned out that way because you were guiding her life.  It looked like she and Naomi were in charge making decisions to help themselves survive.  But you were behind it all!  How you must have smiled as your plan unfolded.  How you delight in surprising your children! How you love us so singly!  I smile with happiness for Ruth and Naomi when I read this part of the story because I see their lives turning around even before they do.  I wonder what you are smiling at as you see me gleaning in my neighborhood today.  I wonder what plans you are fulfilling for me and this world because of what you are doing in my life.  I can't wait to see your story envelope mine.  Thank you for being the God who surprises his family. 

AMEN

Pastor Don Patterson

There is always reason to have hope when you know God is orchestrating every turn in your road. 

Ruth 1:19-21

Ruth 1_19-21.jpg

So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.” - Ruth 1:19-21

Dear Lord, 

Trouble is hard to take; especially when I know the idea of it had to pass before your throne.  That means you knew and you allowed it to follow me.  Naomi is an honest, gritty believer.  She was deeply disappointed with you and how you ran her life.  But she felt she could say it as she felt it.  She knew you could take it and would not abandon her.  She trusted that beneath your discipline was a loving plan to make her life have meaning and positive purpose.  So, she gritted her teeth and told her townspeople exactly what was happening.  You had let her husband and sons die long before she thought it necessary.  In her transparent admission that you had dealt her the lowest cards in the deck, she had faith that you were her Savior God.  Lord, give me the same tenacious faith that trusts you even through gritted teeth.  Help me see the cross of your Son when everything below it is mire.  Make me a man of faith even when I am hurting.  Do not let me go just because I complain.  

AMEN

Pastor Don Patterson

God loves us even when we stomp away to our bedroom and slam the door. 

Ruth 1:6-18

Ruth 1_6-18.jpg

When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”

Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”

But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? ... It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye,but Ruth clung to her.

“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. - Ruth 1:6-18

Dear Lord, 

Once you created faith in my heart, you made me closer than family to everyone else who trusts in you.  I now naturally want to be around people who believe in your supreme sacrifice for them, who want to follow you and glorify you in the way they live, who love others unashamedly, who forgive, and study the word and put in a hard day's work.  I want to be with your people wherever they gather.  Everywhere else, even my old family places, are less appealing than the places where your people go.  You made me like Ruth who left everything at home to follow everything you had given her.  Thank you for filling my life with yourself and people like Naomi.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Once we have met and trusted the Lord, his people become our next of kin. 

Ruth 1:1-5

Ruth 1_1-5.jpg

In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband. - Ruth 1:1-5

Dear Lord,

When I focus on the disappointments in my own life I can get so down.  I even wonder if you love me when I think of what you have let happen to me.  Naomi must have felt so confused and disappointed with life as she lost her husband and both of her sons.  Some days she must have wondered what her reason to live was.  But she lived for you, even when she endured huge losses under your oversight.  Your plans for our lives are far, far, past our understanding.  You were bringing a world a Savior through Naomi even by weaving tragedy into her life.  She saw and understood later.  I know I will see and understand later too.  Give me the supernatural faith to trust you even when I do not see or understand now.  Help me to put off knowing and understanding since all wisdom belongs to you.  I will rest secure in forgiveness even though my world crashes around me.    

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Even huge losses are a good thing in the hand of a loving God.  

Psalm 23:5-6

Psalm 23_5-6.jpg

 

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever. - Psalm 23:5-6

Dear Lord, 

Even though you have me in this world where germs chase me down and mad men mow down saints while they gather to worship you, you still protect and bless me right in front of them all.  Nothing happens that does not pass by your throne of grace for approval.  Even death acts as your servant to bring me to my inheritance in heaven.  I have hope for this life and the next.  It comes from you and is sealed with a promise that I can cling to when there's nothing tangible to grip.  Thank you for being the God who makes everything turn out well for your children.

AMEN

Pastor Don Patterson

Promises are handles for our hearts to grip when experiences fail us. 

Psalm 23:4

Psalm 23_4.jpg

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me. - Psalm 23:4

Dear Heavenly Father, 

Whenever I go through some health problem or some threatening experience, I am surprised by how alone I feel.  Even people who live near me seem distant from the emotions and fears I face.  It seems I am alone to face the speechless beast who threatens my life.  That's why I love this verse.  It reminds me that you are with me.  I am not alone.  I am on a journey with you.  I don't see you but you are there.  You are behind every rescue, every relief of symptoms, every moment of understanding.  And if the worst thing on earth happens, I will see you in all your glory as you usher me to my very own room in your very own home.  Oh, God, help me to remember that in the darkest moment, you are living in the light right by me.  

AMEN

Pastor Don Patterson

God is with us whether we see, feel or touch him or not.  

Psalm 23:3

Psalm 23_3.jpg

He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake. - Psalm 23:3

Dear Heavenly Father, 

I know I carry your family name, but I forget too often that I am not giving your name good press.  You lead me to do right things not just for my benefit, but so your name looks so good others are attracted to you. Help me remember that my mission is to give your name all the glory it deserves by the way I live. In that way, I will make music to go with your gospel words. Make my life a love song to you.   

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God's name is on the back of your jersey so play the game for him. 

Psalm 23:2-3a

Psalm 23_2-3a.jpg

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,3 he refreshes my soul. - Psalm 23:2-3a

Dear Heavenly Shepherd, 

When I take the time to peacefully meditate on your precious word, it feels like a mini vacation. You take me to a quiet place where I can relax and think through my life and how you make everything better.  My inner person becomes calm and adjusted.  I understand situations, problems, and solutions better.  My soul is refreshed and my outlook is lifted up.  In these times, I sense that you are the good shepherd tending to my soul as much as my body.  I feel thankful, rested, and contented.  Oh Lord, lead me beside the quiet waters of your word.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Open His word with expectation and God will lead your soul to his quiet peace.

Psalm 23:1

Psalm 23_1.jpg

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. - Psalm 23:1

Dear Lord, 

Having you as my shepherd means I have everything.  I don't have to see where my life is going as long as I know I go with you.  I don't have to see where the next paycheck will come from as long as I know you are sending it.  I don't have to know the future to feel safe as long as I know you hold my future.  You are my shepherd even when I don't feel it or think it.  You are my Savior even when I feel lost.  You are my God even when II worship my own worry.  Today, help me to remember that you are my shepherd and to calm my troubled heart.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Our good shepherd wants us to emotionally enjoy the peace of knowing that he taking care of us. 

Isaiah 55:13

Isaiah 55_13.jpg

Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever. -- Isaiah 55:13

Dear Lord, 

You have given me so many blessings and you deserve the praise for it. It is for your renown that you have done this. I want people to see my gratitude to you for the blessings you have given so when they look at me, it makes them want to find you. I want them to want what I have in you and not what I have from you. Help me rebound the attention to you instead of to the blessings you give. Amen.

Pastor Don Patterson

Give praise to the "Blesser" more than the blessed. 

Isaiah 55:12-13

Isaiah 55_12-13.jpg

You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.   -Isaiah 55:12-13

Dear Lord, 

Peace and joy are two things that make the soul full. I'm tempted to look for peace in relationships absent of conflict or quiet moments in nature. I think of joy that comes because things happen how I hope they will. But you promise a peace and joy that starts inside and works their way out. You promise that it will feel like nature itself is rejoicing with me. When I deeply rooted in your Son I sense the peace and joy. Help me find them today in Jesus and his love. Make me strong to be joyful in the face of every difficulty. Amen

Peace and joy adorn hearts that stare at Christ with understanding. 

Isaiah 55:8-11

Isaiah 55_8-11.jpg

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.          -Isaiah 55:8-11

Dear Lord, 

On this 500th anniversary of the Reformation, when you raised up Luther and his friends to restore your word to your church, I thank you because that word in my language has become spiritual food and life for me. Like your rain, it cannot touch me without producing life. It liberates me from the consequences of sin. It helps me find the reason and the power to live a good life in your eyes. It give me hope and peace. Thank you for revealing yourself to me deep in my soul through the clear spring water of the bible. 

Pastor Don Patterson

Only a word from God himself can save, settle, and grow a sinful heart. 

Isaiah 55:6-7

Isaiah 55-6-7.jpg

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near with the wicked for sake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on them and to our God for he will freely pardon. - Isaiah 55:6-7

Dear Lord,

You are quick to forgive even when you must let us endure the consequences of our actions as discipline. Your grace makes me quicker to return to you in apology. Help me to trust that if I share your forgiveness with people they will have the courage to repent also. You are the God who pardons. Make me the Christian who tells sinners the truth about your prodigal love.

Pastor Don Patterson

The grace of God gives us hope enough to turn ourselves in before his throne.

Isaiah 55:1-5

Isaiah 55-1-5.jpg

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.  See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples.  Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God,  the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” – Isaiah 55:1-5

Dear Lord,

I love the promise you make that you have blessings from grace waiting for me to drop by and pick up from you.  It’s so easy to live with anxious pressure to create my own blessings instead of focusing on trusting you and serving you with my whole heart.  You gave David the special covenant of love that made him an inspired prophet and chosen child while he served as king of your people.  You blessed his life with everything he needed for him and his family with an abundance more to bless many other people.  But more than anything else, you revealed to David your words that showed your gracious heart and loving forgiveness.  You have chosen me to know your grace just like you chose David.  Help me to give joyful witness to everyone that you are the God of the universe who has given us life and then crowned us with eternal life through the sacrifice of your one and only son. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Life is God’s great gift to us.  Eternal life is the life of his son, re-gifted. 

Matthew 5:11-12

Matthew 5-11-12.jpg

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-12

Dear Jesus,

It always feels so lonely to be disliked by someone.  You knew that feeling your entire ministry on earth.  You told us that you were not alone because your Father was with you. (John 8)  Your words here in the last beatitude help me realize that you are with me too.  When people speak against us Christians I can think, “Hey, I am good company.”  Help me keep the goal of glorifying your name in front of others instead of avoiding persecution.  When it’s time to take a stand, give me the strength to rise to my feet.  Make me a bold witness for your gospel and a beacon for truth. Help me to care less about what people think of me and care more about how much they think of you. 

AMEN

When we live for Christ, we will experience the same social challenges he did.