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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving clipart

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"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name" (Psalm 100:4).

Today is "Thanksgiving Day" here in America.  Although many will have turkey as is the custom I respectfully remind readers that it's not "Turkey Day" as many have come to call it.  I know Canadians celebrate a Thanksgiving Day in October, but I'm not sure of the customs in other countries.  It's a wonderful day in which many of us have a lot of great memories. Brooksyne and I especially remember gathering with our grandparents, aunts and uncles and many cousins on this day while growing up. I am sure many of you have similar memories and for you this will be a special day of making more memories.

The specific day we call "Thanksgiving" may well have been established here in America, but God's call for His people to be thankful goes back deep into the Bible period.  In the various offerings ordained in the Law of Moses we find "thank offerings" commanded. Throughout Israel's long history recorded in the Bible we read of special periods of thanksgiving.

In the New Testament being thankful is commanded again and again.  And in a heavenly glimpse found in Revelation we find the twenty-four elders, who are seated on their thrones before God, falling on their faces and worshipping God, saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign"  (Revelation 11:17). 

But probably my favorite Scripture verse on the subject is the majestic call to worship in Psalm 100.  I consider that this was likely written about three thousand years ago and yet absolutely remains the call for God's people today and every day.  "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name."  Notice the repetition for emphasis: thanksgiving, praise, thanks, praise.  (This is known as Hebrew parallelism.)

Notice also the focal point of thankfulness is directed to the Lord.  In increasingly secular America there is a vague focus on being thankful without specifying to whom. The Scripture says, "Be thankful to Him and praise His name." 

Brooksyne and Ester enjoy watching the classic Christmas movies at this time of year.  Last night they watched the remake of "Miracle on 34th Street."  When a prayer was offered before the Thanksgiving meal Brooksyne noticed the prayer began; "We give thanks for the food before us and the closeness of the people we love…"  But there was no mention of divinity in the entire prayer.  Another example of our generation moving away from this essential truth is an idea being purported through recent books that says the Pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving to give thanks to the Indians, rather than their Maker of heaven and earth.  The historical record is clear that they unambiguously gave thanks to God!

The basis for our praise and thanksgiving should bless us as much as it did the initial worshippers. The very next verse states, "For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."  Based on a 33 year generation cycle (easy math for me!) that would be 90 generations since the time of David.
His goodness, love and faithfulness endures and will do so through all generations and forever.  And there's no expiration date!  This will be true all through eternity.    We rejoice in that truth today and welcome you to join Brooksyne and me in thanks-living!

Be encouraged and thankful today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: In thanksgiving we lift our voices of praise from grateful hearts, Father, as we sing songs of praise and adoration to You, our blessed King.  Whether in seasons of prosperity or in seasons of want we find Your grace sufficient to meet each one of our needs.  You guide us, protect us, and You provide for us as we journey here below.  Every good and perfect gift comes from Your hand.  Thank You, faithful Father!  Amen.

A Thanksgiving Idea for Family Gatherings
Yesterday we shared a great idea for having a meaningful time of sharing around the table as a family or with friends. Here's a page with that idea called "Thankful For The Thorns"

Today's song of praise and thanksgiving is "Forever" Audio mp3  Video  

(This music is from worship services at the Willington church in British Columbia, Canada and is posted on their website.)

Pilgrim History Presentation - In Monday's message we referred to a presentation that Brookysne makes concerning the history of the Pilgrims and their coming to America.  Here's a link to her presentation notes that several requested. These include resources recommended by her for further study on this subject which can be ordered by clicking on the link or image.

Personal note: We are aware as we prepare today's message that many regular readers are off schedule and will probably never see or read this devotional. As an email post it will be among the scores of email to sort through next week here in America when people return to work and college students return to school. Many are connected today with family and close friends and will share a big meal together. That's wonderful.

However we do prepare and share today's message with a couple of people groups particularly on our hearts.

1) We consider many in other countries where this is not a holiday and you've come to expect a daily encouragement. Surely this a day where a call to thankfulness is always appropriate regardless of where we live and whether or not it's a "holiday". Some are in places where many of the material and temporal things that we will express thanks for here in America are just not known. Yet we share in common the infinitely more valuable spiritual blessings in Christ, which so many here in America have not experienced and will never even consider today.

2) I also consider hurting, lonely people that are on the email list or who may come across this encouragement message on a web search.* You may not feel connected today. You have faced loss and even despair. You wonder if you are loved and cared about, since God so often uses other humans as an expression of His own love and care. In the caring aspect of our face to face ministry Brooksyne and I consider those who just recently have expressed their hurts to us. Last night we gathered around the hospital bedside of an older man struggling with cancer, along with his family. Many readers have written about the tremendous trials they face. We pray and sometimes weep as we read these emails. May any of you in this category truly find true encouragement and renewed hope as you read this perspective on thankfulness today.

* The mere word "encouragement" is a key search word in which many come across the website. In fact in it is listed near the top when one types in "encouragement" as a search word in many search engines. It's interesting to get emails from those who found the site in this way, including one we received just last week from a Middle Eastern country.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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