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Wednesday November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving clipart
A local community paper places a Thanksgiving proclamation on their front page.

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"The Highest Thanks"

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Layer house
The other day I stopped by to visit my friend Ken who packs eggs in a large chicken house.  His work for most would have an element of drudgery but Ken has a contagious attitude of gratitude. He's likely to greet you by rejoicing that his heart is pumping steadily and after he draws in a deep breath he expresses thanks for the freshly oxygenated air. He tends to elaborate on the often unconsidered gifts from God. This gives him a joyful outlook which spreads to those around him.

This week in our encouragement series we have been focusing on the topic of thanksgiving.  May we be full of gratitude to our Lord Jesus knowing that all we are and all we have is a gift from Him.

Many of us will give and receive gifts at Christmas, a custom that for so many is the main thing. The origin of giving gifts (at least in the Christian sense) probably goes back to the gifts the Magi presented to the baby Jesus. 

What is our response to these gifts? Some will likely be returned. They didn't fit, wouldn't work or weren't what we liked. Others will soon be forgotten. Others are appreciated but will wear out or break in a relatively short time. And there will be a few that we will cherish for many years, perhaps our entire life. It might even be passed down to our children and be meaningful to them.

PaPa's cane
I have my PaPa's old wooden cane. It might have been a gift he received at one time but for him it was also a practical aid in his walking. In fact I never recall seeing him without it.  My Mom used it some and now it is a sentimental treasure in my possession.  Who knows – someday it may not just serve as a warm memory of my PaPa but it may be a functional aid to assist me in walking as well!

But no gift we receive on this earth even remotely compares to the spiritual gift of our Lord Jesus Christ, the gift we can all receive and share regardless of where we live or how much of this world's possessions we have or don't have. Jesus Christ is certainly the greatest Gift and deserving of our highest thanks!

Paul concludes a section in his second letter to the Corinthian believers by expressing appreciation to them for abounding in good works and for their generosity in supplying the financial gifts needed by the Jerusalem believers. He concludes his expression of thanks with today's marvelous exclamation, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"  Many years earlier Paul had been converted and had moved from an attitude of hateful rejection to grateful acceptance of God's gift of salvation through Christ. Through the years his gratitude to God grew and that's the way it should be for all of us.

In his grateful burst of praise he uses a very interesting Greek word to describe the gift.  Linguists use the term hapax legomenon to describe a word or phrase that appears only once in a manuscript.  The Greek word translated indescribable is used only once by Paul in all his writings.  It essentially means, "not expounded in full."  Other versions use phrases such as "beyond telling", "inexpressible", and "unspeakable". One words it this way; "a gift too wonderful for words!"

Indeed that is the case with God's greatest gift; a gift too wonderful for words but deserving of our highest thanks.  Today and each day let us join with Paul in thanking God for His truly indescribable gift of salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, You gave first and foremost as you selflessly gave of Yourself through the person of Jesus Christ. Your gift of grace exceeds human description, for the far-reaching effects in our lives is truly indescribable. It's too wonderful for words, but it brings unspeakable joy and glorious hope that makes our spiritual journey so worthwhile.  We receive Your indescribable gift that brings forgiveness for our sins and reserves for us a home in heaven for all eternity.  Thank You, Father!  Amen.

Technical note: Today the email list is sent using a new listserver. If I set things up correctly you should not see any difference at all! Hopefully it will improve deliverability to several domains, specifically Comcast.

Some people we are thankful for:
Oberholser FamilyJason and Rebekah Oberholser are serving among the Navajo Indians in New Mexico. Rebekah was in our church in northern Pennsylvania as a little girl and her parents Greg and Linda Burns remain friends.  It is a great joy to see a young couple establishing their home for Christ based on Biblical principles and seeking to serve Him.

Here's their Life Mission
statement - We were created to worship and glorify the Lord through our whole lives. We desire to be a reflection of Christ by sharing His love with others. God desires to be glorified among all People Groups of the world, including the Navajo People of the Southwestern USA. That is why we have moved our family to New Mexico. Our desire is to live and work among the Navajo People. Through the witness of Christ living in us and through our love for one another, we're praying that many Navajo will come to know and worship the true, living God!!

Today's suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to open and play)

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Audio hymnstory prepared and read by Brooksyne with an instrumental background.

"Thanksgiving Medley"  Video  A beautiful arrangement of several classic Thanksgiving hymns.

"Thank You Lord"  Video  Don Moen

Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these ideas to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.
(We'll be posting these resources all week.)

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns" - A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thankgiving Table (webpage) Most every year our Thanksgiving celebration is first and foremost the turkey and trimmings. Lots of food with little meaningful conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" or the questionnaire we've provided in the link below.  Perhaps you could just use it as a discussion guide to provide stimulus for other's reflections.

CD label for "Stories of Great Hymns""Hymns of Hope" Brooksyne has compiled eleven hymns that deal with the recurring theme of loss and ongoing trial and titled it "Hymns of Hope" based on Romans 12:12,  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer." Amber Martin plays the hymns on the keyboard and Lauren Gingrich accompanies her on six of the hymns with the viola. Tracks 12-22 play each hymn softly in the background while Brooksyne shares a personal devotional thought, the biographical setting of the hymn text, and an intercessory prayer. We recorded this in the very modest and limited computerized recording studio of Daily Encouragement so that we could make this ministry project available to all who are in need of such encouragement without huge overhead expense.  Thus we realize the audio quality is not what most are accustomed to. You can go to this site to listen to the songs. You can download one song at a time if you find this to be of special blessing or know someone whose spirit might be lifted by listening to these meditative hymns.

A Thankgiving prayer - (written by Joe Sherer, pastor of the Mount Joy Mennonite Church, and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service last year.)  Webpage  For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.

A Thanksgiving Scripture reading -
A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)

A Thanksgiving family exercise - We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.  (pdf)

A Day of Rest in Plimouth Colony - This is a summary of a chapter in the lives of the pilgrims that Brooksyne uses to teach about their Sunday worship.  (pdf)

"ThanksLiving" Bob Southard  shares a weekly online sermon. Here's a pdf version of his thanksgiving sermon.

Resources used in Brooksyne's research on the Pilgrims:
Saints & Strangers  By Vision Video
Three Young Pilgrims  By Cheryl Harness / Simon & Schuster

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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