A Thanksgiving Parable

One can never pay in Gratitude, one can only pay ‘in kind”somewhere else in life Anne Morrow LindberghA Thanksgiving Parable by M. Stanley Bubien

I draw a distinction between a “story” and a “parable.” Stories should tell the tale, but it’s up to the reader to decipher any (or unintended) meaning. The author seldom explains the story.

A parable, on the other hand, tells a tale, certainly, but one that deserves (if not begs) an explanation—in some ways, the explanation itself is a part of the tale. In the Bible, for example, Jesus told parables, and their significance, their power, grew not just from the telling, but from the explanation and application.

Parables also have one particular meaning, while stories can live and breath meaning, changing with each reader, or with each reading.

There once was a very rich man. He was so rich, he could have owned many cars, but instead he chose to drive a Ford. He was so rich, he could have owned many computers, but instead he chose an Apple Macintosh. He was so rich, he could have owned many homes—even some in Beverly Hills—but instead he chose to live in East LA.

Because this man was rich, many people in his neighborhood knew him. And also because the man was rich, many people from outside of his neighborhood knew him too. Often, his doorbell would ring, and there on his threshold would stand someone who had come to ask for a donation.

Sometimes when the bell rang, it was a neighbor who had fallen into misfortune. The man would smile, embrace his neighbor, and place a generous sum into their hand.

Sometimes when the bell rang, it was a charity representing the starving children of Tijuana. The man would again smile, embrace the charity worker, and write a generous check.

Sometimes when the bell rang, it was a Jehovah’s Witness. Were he like many of us, the man’s first instinct would have been to promptly kick them in the butt and shove them back out onto the street. But instead, he once more smiled and embraced the Jehovah’s Witness as any other guest upon his threshold.

One evening, when his doorbell was particularly quiet, this man decided to take a stroll. He headed off, idling along wherever the road wound; amongst the quaint homes of his neighborhood, past the threadbare trees lining the park, along walls painted with an array of colorful graffiti tags (remember, this was East LA).

Every once in a while, a car passed, thumping out the latest rage in rap hit, and he soon found himself whistling one of these catchy tunes to himself.

Lost in the tune, he came suddenly upon a homeless bum lying in the midst of the sidewalk. The bum wore a tattered sweater and ripped pants. He had shoes, but they didn’t even match. And oh! The smell! I can’t even describe that to you here because it would ruin your Thanksgiving dinner.

Well, this unfortunate soul lying on the street saw the man and knew him. Certainly, the bum said to himself. This is the rich man who lives on the lane. Surely he can help me, for he has money at his disposal. But instead of reaching out his hand, the bum was overcome by a sudden bout of shame and hid his face.

The man stood over this tattered figure. He reached down and touched the bum’s cheek, but the bum shrank away from him even further. The man’s eyes clouded slightly and he cracked a weak smile. Forgetting the tune he once whistled, the man slowly turned and walked back to his home.

Upon hearing the man retreat beyond the corner, the bum opened his eyes and sat up. There at his feet lay a crisp $100.00 dollar bill.

The bum grabbed the money and made a beeline for the nearest 7/11. Like all bums, this one’s first thought was to go blow the money on vodka. What a bum!

But, before he entered the store, he remembered the compassion of the man’s touch. This inspired him, and the bum decided then and there to turn his life around. The bum promptly bummed two dimes off an old lady (pay phones don’t take hundreds). “Well.” the lady replied. “You ain’t gonna spend this on alcohol?” The bum shook his head and stuck the money into the slot of the nearest telephone.

His broker answered and the bum said, “Hundred dollars. Invest it all in that company with the nerdy looking CEO. Microsoft!”

Since this was, as it turns out, the late-1980s, it took only a short while before the stock skyrocketed. Yes, good can come of evil after all—especially when you’re working the stock market—and the bum found himself very well off indeed.

Back in East LA the years passed slowly. The generous man kept to life much as usual—taking evening strolls, whistling rap tunes, answering his door.

One day in particular, his doorbell rang, and there stood a finely dressed gentleman in a three piece suit. Uh oh, the man thought. Jehovah’s Witness. But before he could do anything, his guest spoke.

“You’re the rich man, aren’t you?” his guest asked.

“What can I do for you?” the man responded automatically, so accustomed to being asked for things.

“It is not what you can do for me,” answered his guest. “But what you have already done.”

“What have I done for you?” the man asked in surprise.

“You’ve given me a second chance at life. Why, with your generous gift, I was able to invest the money and pull myself out of my poverty. I no longer wallow in the grime and gutters, but I walk along crowded sidewalks with my head held high. I have you to thank for that.”

Suddenly, the man recognized his guest. It was the old bum who’d been lying in the street. The man replied, “What I gave you, you did not ask for. I gave it simply because I saw you there and loved you. I would have given it to anyone in your position.”

“All the more reason to come and thank you,” his guest said.

“But I am rich,” replied the man. “I have many gifts to give. I don’t expect anything in return.”

“Good,” his guest said with a nod. “Because I don’t have anything to offer in return—whatever I have, you gave to me. All I wanted to do was come and thank you.”

The man stared as his guest reached out and took him into an embrace. It was the same gesture the man had so often offered to those at his door, yet this was the first time someone had offered it back.

Tears filled the man’s eyes as his guest, a lowly bum off the street, held him in the most satisfying embrace he had ever received. 

The Rich Man is God, while the Poor Man is you or me. God has given us everything we have. He created us. He gave us life (and life again). He gave us love. He gave us talents to do things. All we have springs from what He’s given us.

What can we give God back to show our grattitude? What can we return to Him that he hasn’t given us already? There is only one thing. Our thanks. Our thanks is the only gift we can give to God that he hasn’t given us in the first place.

This parable was written by M. Stanley Bubien and is shared from the following website: http://www.storybytes.com/view-stories/1996/parable-thanks.html

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How To Be Thankful in All Things

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has EpictetusAre you thankful no matter what? Perhaps you have lost your job recently, as the economy has continued to struggle. Or you may have lost your health, or a loved one. Such circumstances can be tremendously difficult. But even so, we all have much to be thankful for. Look with me at the story of a man who had every right to be bitter—but wasn’t.

The next footsteps in the corridor, he knew, might be those of the guards taking him away to his execution. His only bed was the hard, cold stone floor of the dank, cramped prison cell. Not an hour passed when he was free from the constant irritation of the chains and the pain of the iron manacles cutting into his wrists and legs.

Separated from friends, unjustly accused, brutally treated—if ever a person had a right to complain, it was this man, languishing almost forgotten in a harsh Roman prison. But instead of complaints, his lips rang with words of praise and thanksgiving!

The man was the Apostle Paul—a man who had learned the meaning of true thanksgiving, even in the midst of great adversity. Earlier, when he had been imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV).

Think of it: Always giving thanks for everything—no matter the circumstances! Thanksgiving for the Apostle Paul was not a once-a-year celebration, but a daily reality that changed his life and made him a joyful person in every situation.

Thanksgiving—the giving of thanks—to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of the believer in Jesus Christ. We must not allow a spirit of ingratitude to harden our heart and chill our relationship with God and with others.

Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.

In the ancient world, leprosy was a terrible disease. It hopelessly disfigured those who had it, and it permanently cut them off from normal society. Without exception, every leper yearned for one thing: To be healed.

One day 10 lepers approached Jesus outside a village, loudly pleading with Him to heal them. In an instant He restored them all to perfect health—but only one came back and thanked Him. All the rest left without a word of thanks, their minds preoccupied only with themselves, gripped with a spirit of ingratitude.

Today, too, ingratitude and thanklessness are far too common. Children forget to thank their parents for all that they do. Common courtesy is scorned. We take for granted the ways that others help us. Above all, we fail to thank God for His blessings.

Ingratitude is a sin, just as surely as is lying or stealing or immorality or any other sin condemned by the Bible. One of the Bible’s indictments against rebellious humanity is that “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Romans 1:21, NIV). An ungrateful heart is a heart that is cold toward God and indifferent to His mercy and love. It is a heart that has forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything.

From one end of the Bible to the other, we are commanded to be thankful. In fact, thankfulness is the natural outflowing of a heart that is attuned to God. The psalmist declared, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” (Psalm 147:7, NIV). Paul wrote, “Be thankful” (Colossians 3:15, NIV). A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.

Why should we be thankful? Because God has blessed us, and we should be thankful for each blessing.

Thank God for the Material Blessings That He Gives You

We seem never to be satisfied with what we have—rich or poor, healthy or sick. But what a difference it makes when we realize that everything we have has been given to us by God! King David prayed, “Wealth and honor come from you … We give you thanks, and praise your glorious name … Everything comes from you” (1 Chronicles 29:12-14, NIV).

Some years ago I visited a man who was wealthy and successful. He was the envy of all his friends and business associates. But as we talked, he broke down in tears, confessing that he was miserable inside. Wealth had not been able to fill the empty place in his heart.

A few hours later I visited another man only a short distance away. His cottage was humble, and he had almost nothing in the way of this world’s possessions. And yet his face was radiant as he told me about the work he was doing for Christ and how Christ had filled his life with meaning and purpose. I am convinced that the second man was really the rich man. Although he didn’t have much, he had learned to be thankful for everything that God had given him. Paul declared, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12, NIV). A spirit of thankfulness makes all the difference.

Are you constantly preoccupied with what you do not have? Or have you learned to thank God for what you do have?

Thank God for the People in Your Life

It is so easy to take people for granted, or even to complain and become angry because they do not meet our every wish. But we need to give thanks for those around us—our spouses, our children, our relatives, our friends and others who help us in some way.

I once received a letter from a woman who began by telling me how fortunate she was to have a kind, considerate husband. She then used four pages to list all his faults! How many marriages and other relationships grow cold and eventually are shattered because of the sin of ingratitude?

Do you let others know that you appreciate them and are thankful for them? The Christians in Corinth were far from perfect, but Paul began his first letter to them by saying, “I always thank God for you” (1 Corinthians 1:4, NIV). When a group of believers (whom Paul had never met) came out to greet him as he approached Rome, we read that “at the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged” (Acts 28:15, NIV). Thank God for those who touch your life.

Thank God in the Midst of Trials and Even Persecution

We draw back from difficulties, yet not one of us is exempt from some kind of trouble. In many parts of the world it is dangerous even to be a Christian because of persecution.

And yet in the midst of those trials we can thank God, because we know that He has promised to be with us and that He will help us. We know that He can use times of suffering to draw us closer to Himself: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV).

When the prophet Daniel learned that evil men were plotting against him to destroy him, “he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10, NIV). The Bible commands, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV). Paul declared, “You will even be able to thank God in the midst of pain and distress because you are privileged to share the lot of those who are living in the light” (Colossians 1:12, Phillips).

I don’t know what trials you may be facing right now, but God does, and He loves you and is with you by His Holy Spirit. Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness even in the midst of trials and heartaches.

“God has given us the greatest Gift of all—His Son, who died on the cross and rose again so that we can know Him personally and spend eternity with Him in heaven.”

Thank God Especially for His Salvation in Jesus Christ

God has given us the greatest Gift of all—His Son, who died on the cross and rose again so that we can know Him personally and spend eternity with Him in heaven: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NIV).

The Bible tells us that we are separated from God because we have sinned. But God loves us—He loves you, He loves me—and He wants us to be part of His family forever. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to die as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. All we need to do is reach out in faith and accept Christ as our Savior and Lord: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV).

Have you opened your heart to Jesus Christ? If not, turn to Him with a simple prayer of repentance and faith, and thank Him for what He has done for you. And if you do know Christ, how long has it been since you thanked God for your salvation? We should not let a day go by without thanking God for His mercy and His grace to us in Jesus Christ.

Thank God for His Continued Presence and Power in Your Life

When we come to Christ, it is not the end but the beginning of a whole new life! He is with us, and He wants to help us follow Him and His Word.

In ourselves we do not have the strength that we need to live the way God wants us to live. But when we turn to Him, we discover that “it is God who works in [us] to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13, NIV). Jesus promised His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18, 20, NIV).

In many countries a special day is set aside each year for thanksgiving. But for the Christian every day can be a day of thanksgiving, as we are “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, NIV).

Do you know the joy of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ? If you’ll turn to God, He can take away your bitterness and give you the spirit of true thankfulness.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://billygraham.org/story/how-to-be-thankful-in-all-things/

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The Power of a Thankful Heart

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them John F. Kennedy

Thanksgiving: The Power of a Thankful Heart

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It is not always easy to give thanks, but this is the very thing we must do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. This is how we move into higher realms of faith for ourselves, for our city, and for our nation.

Thanksgiving has great power to bring joy and break the power of the enemy. Whenever you give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in your life. When you give thanks in the midst of difficulty, you bring pleasure to God’s heart. He is looking for Christians who live in a realm of praise and thanksgiving where the enemy no longer has an ability to hold or manipulate that person. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice pleasing to God.

Are you thankful? Are you thankful for your present circumstances?  Are you thankful for your salvation, your friendships, and your job? Thankfulness is a key to your life. It is the key that turns your situation around because it changes you, your outlook, and your attitude. There is power in a thankful heart.

This story was written by Debbie Przybylski and is shared from the following website: https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-the-power-of-a-thankful-heart-11616835.html

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For God So Loved the World…John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

I have made a few sacrifices in my life but nothing that I can brag was significant.

Even with my near-death experience, I am in awe of God’s ability to sacrifice his only begotten son. I cannot fathom how a being who is mortal or immortal could stand by and watch while the greatest eternal sacrifice was taking place.

I am so very thankful for the gift of everlasting life. It is one of my goals to never take it for granted. I hope that not only at Easter time, but every day that I live, that I find some way of expressing my gratitude for the incredible gift that has been given to me through Jesus Christ.

Today’s story reminds me a little of my experience with my granddaughter while she remained in PICU and under heavy sedation. I hope everyone will forgive me providing a story that pulled at my personal heart strings! Enjoy!:

An Easter Sunday Miracle

Sometimes a miracle doesn’t come in the form that we expect it to. Instead of a burning bush, we experience a gentle nudge. Or a quiet voice. Or, in the case of Ken Trush, a poke.

Back in 1997, Ken’s 12-year-old son, Daniel, suddenly collapsed on-court at a basketball game in his school’s gym. Doctors discovered five aneurysms in his brain, one of which had burst. He was in a coma for more than 30 days. Every night, Ken kept watch by Daniel’s bed at the hospital, hoping and praying for a miracle–some sign that he would wake up. But weeks passed and nothing happened. The doctors prepared Ken and his wife, Nancy, for the worst: Daniel might never come back.

Though all appeared hopeless, Ken refused to give up. And on Easter Sunday, he finally got the sign he’d so desperately prayed for…

Danny was still not showing any signs of life. It was coming up to Easter. I just had this feeling that Easter was going to be special. I kept thinking, This is the holiest of holy days. This is what our faith revolves around. What better day than Easter Sunday to see something? Any kind of sign.

I left the hospital for 9 o’clock Easter mass. I didn’t tell anyone my hopes. It felt like it was just between me and God. Nobody else knew. I went back to the hospital after church hoping to find a miracle. I was waiting, looking for a sign. But there was no sign.

Everyone in our family was going to celebrate Easter at the hospital with us. I was sitting in the chair with Nancy next to Danny’s bed. My brother-in-law Steve and sister-in-law Debbie came to visit. We didn’t have enough chairs in the room, so I sat at the foot of the bed by Danny. At that point, no miracle had happened and I was starting to feel like nothing would.

And then, all of a sudden, I got this little poke… from Danny. I turned around, looked at him and said something a little outrageous for me: “Did you just kick me in the butt?” Danny gave the faintest of smiles. Everyone saw it. Nancy, Debbie and Steve. We all saw it.

Danny has always had a really good sense of humor. He was still in a coma, but that little poke was a sign that Danny was still in there. The doctors said it was impossible, that the smile was just reflexes. That Danny was too deep in a coma. But I knew my prayers were answered. I knew what I saw. And I knew that smile–a reassuring, “I’m here.”

It was the most beautiful Easter. And two weeks later, against all the doctors’ predictions, Danny woke up.

Story shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/health-and-wellness/healing/an-easter-sunday-miracle

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Thankfulness vs Gratitude…

Thankfulness is measured by the number of words. Gratitude is measured by the nature of our actions.  David O. McKayWe understand that the human experience is filled with emotions. Emotions are the spice that give the cake flavor.

What we don’t always understand is the power of our emotions for both good and bad.

I often see the powerful effect of emotions. As a result of those experiences, I believe that our emotions may be the single most important factor in regards to our health.

There are two things that I believe can redeem our health (all areas) more dramatically than anything else: The emotion of Gratitude and the Act of Forgiveness.

When we read in the scriptures about becoming as a small child, I think of Gratitude and Forgiveness. A small child is naturally grateful and naturally forgiving. As we grow into adulthood those tendencies often become less and less automatic. Often, the gift of gratitude and forgiving must be cultivated deliberately.

Take some time to reflect today. If all areas of your health were dependent on your ability to have gratitude and to give forgiveness, how well can you realistically expect to be? Do you feel good about where you are or do you need to do some work? (I always need to do some work but that’s okay as long as I keep working at it!)

I share today’s story because even though it does not directly address forgiving or thankfulness – underlying the story I believe is a complete foundation of thankfulness and gratitude! I hope you enjoy!:

Thanks For Taking Care of Me

— Author Unknown

Like most elementary schools, it was typical to have a parade of students in and out of the health clinic throughout the day. We dispensed ice for bumps and bruises, Band-Aids for cuts, and liberal doses of sympathy and hugs. As principal, my office was right next door to the clinic, so I often dropped in to lend a hand and help out with the hugs. I knew that for some kids, mine might be the only one they got all day.

One morning I was putting a Band-Aid on a little girl’s scraped knee. Her blonde hair was matted, and I noticed that she was shivering in her thin little sleeveless blouse. I found her a warm sweatshirt and helped her pull it on. “Thanks for taking care of me,” she whispered as she climbed into my lap and snuggled up against me.

It wasn’t long after that when I ran across an unfamiliar lump under my arm. Cancer, an aggressively spreading kind, had already invaded thirteen of my lymph nodes. I pondered whether or not to tell the students about my diagnosis. The word breast seemed so hard to say out loud to them, and the word cancer seemed so frightening.

When it became evident that the children were going to find out one way or another, either the straight scoop from me or possibly a garbled version from someone else, I decided to tell them myself. It wasn’t easy to get the words out, but the empathy and concern I saw in their faces as I explained it to them told me I had made the right decision. When I gave them a chance to ask questions, they mostly wanted to know how they could help. I told them that what I would like best would be their letters, pictures and prayers.

I stood by the gym door as the children solemnly filed out. My little blonde friend darted out of line and threw herself into my arms. Then she stepped back to look up into my face. “Don’t be afraid, Dr. Perry,” she said earnestly, “I know you’ll be back because now it’s our turn to take care of you.”

No one could have ever done a better job. The kids sent me off to my first chemotherapy session with a hilarious book of nausea remedies that they had written. A video of every class in the school singing get-well songs accompanied me to the next chemotherapy appointment. By the third visit, the nurses were waiting at the door to find out what I would bring next. It was a delicate music box that played “I Will Always Love You.”

Even when I went into isolation at the hospital for a bone marrow transplant, the letters and pictures kept coming until they covered every wall of my room.

Then the kids traced their hands onto colored paper, cut them out and glued them together to make a freestanding rainbow of helping hands. “I feel like I’ve stepped into Disneyland every time I walk into this room,” my doctor laughed. That was even before the six-foot apple blossom tree arrived adorned with messages written on paper apples from the students and teachers. What healing comfort I found in being surrounded by these tokens of their caring.

At long last I was well enough to return to work. As I headed up the road to the school, I was suddenly overcome by doubts. What if the kids have forgotten all about me? I wondered, What if they don’t want a skinny bald principal? What if I caught sight of the school marquee as I rounded the bend. “Welcome Back, Dr. Perry,” it read. As I drew closer, everywhere I looked were pink ribbons – ribbons in the windows, tied on the doorknobs, even up in the trees. The children and staff wore pink ribbons, too.

My blonde buddy was first in line to greet me. “You’re back, Dr. Perry, you’re back!” she called. “See, I told you we’d take care of you!”

As I hugged her tight, in the back of my mind I faintly heard my music box playing… “I will always love you.”

Story shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/truestories/thanksfortakingcareofme

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