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Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thanksgiving Day

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

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"Magnify Him With Thanksgiving"

"I will praise the Name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving" (Psalm 69:30).

Thanksgiving dinner table

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA. Some friends are joining us for this designated day of thankfulness and a wonderful extra large meal.  Brooksyne has been preparing since last night and we are cleaning the house extra well!

It's a special day; with origins going back as early as 1621 at the time of the Pilgrims. In the course of our chaplain work we see a lot of folks that immigrated to America as adults primarily from Southeast Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. I am blessed by the strong work ethic and drive to succeed commonly seen in many of them.

During my recent visit I asked these folks about the Thanksgiving customs they practice from their original homeland. Each one indicated that having a specific day dedicated to Thankfulness was introduced to them after arriving in America. In fact only two countries actually celebrate Thanksgiving; the United States and Canada.

I asked further, "Do you celebrate Thanksgiving as a special day now that you're living in the USA?"  Not really surprisingly they do, including the custom for many of roasting a turkey!  In fact, yesterday we learned from our Bosnian friends that turkey will be at the center of their feast today.

I especially consider Milan, a Bosnian friend, who left his home country in the late nineties when he was 49. He and his wife and two daughters came to America not knowing English and wearing only the clothes they had on (their baggage was lost in transit!!!)

Several weeks ago we had dinner with Milan, Zakira and their daughters in their beautiful new home. They have worked hard and done very well. What a blessing to offer thanks prior to our meal. They recounted the extreme difficulty of living through the war that wracked their country in the mid-nineties. They saw people, some of them friends, die in bombings. They had their home bombed out and all the windows shattered. Milan is just a few years older than I, yet he has experienced desperate living conditions where stability and comfort were foreign to their circumstances. "It is a special time for my family to participate in the custom of Thanksgiving here in America" he told me in a very solemn tone.

We all have so much to be thankful for, although our "blessings" vary from one person to the next.  Yet even as the world has denigrated the true meaning of Christmas, it seems the same is happening to Thanksgiving.  This began with a subtle change of the object of our thanksgiving being attributed to others rather than God. 

Today I'm so thankful for my salvation, my family and friends, and my church. I have also been mightily blessed with much of the good things this world has to offer relative to so many. (Most all of you reading this have as well!)

Many songs have been written that express thanks to God. Today's verse is taken from a Psalm of David and expresses an interesting way to "magnify" the Lord.  The Hebrew word for magnify is "gadal" and is translated throughout the Old Testament with words like advance, lift up, promote, increase, and boast.

I remember in my earliest days as a Christian singing a gospel chorus with the line "O, magnify the Lord with me." It was my first pastor, James O. Howard's, favorite chorus as I recall. It's so old now I can't even find it on YouTube but it went like this. Maybe this will stir up some old memories!

Magnify the Lord with me!
Blessed Lamb of Calvary!
For His Grace so rich and free,
Magnify the Lord with me!

Magnify the Lord with me!
Blessed Lamb of Calvary!
Jesus gave us liberty,
So Magnify the Lord with me!

I like the word "magnify" and here we are told "we magnify Him with thanksgiving."  Let us indeed magnify the Lord by our thankfulness and remember; God's call to a life of thankfulness is not limited to this day, it's not seasonal, but should be a daily expression!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Today we want to share a prayer we earnestly pray for our family, friends and readers. It is from Colossians 1:3-14 with slight adaptation.

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We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus

and of the love you have for all the saints

the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven

and that you have already heard about in the Word of Truth,

the gospel that has come to you.

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing,

just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it

and understood God's grace in all its truth.

You learned it from faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you

and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord

and may please Him in every way:

bearing fruit in every good work,

growing in the knowledge of God,

being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might

so that you may have great endurance and patience,

and joyfully giving thanks to the Father,

who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness

and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves,

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Today we complete our selection of music we've been sharing with a theme of Thankfulness.

"Be Magnified"  Video   Kim Hill

"In Everything Give Thanks"
 Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter

 Video  Marshall Hall and the Homecoming Singers

"I Want To Thank You"
 Video  Karen Peck and New River  This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith.  From the Gaither Homecoming series.

"Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me"  Video  Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb

"Thanksgiving Medley"  Video  Nice selection of grand old thanksgiving hymns.

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Video  Traditional version  Here's a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

"Come We Thankful People Come"  Video  
Traditional version  Here's a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

"I'm Forever Grateful"  Video  Willow Creek

"Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart"  Video  Don Moen

"When I Thank Him For What He Has Done"  Video  The Cathedrals

A highly recommended read:

Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing WellNearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
By Billy Graham / Thomas Nelson
Many people, even Christians, fear growing older. We don't like to think about losing independence and control in our lives, but perhaps learning to accept these changes is the first step in dealing with them. After 93 years of living and decades of Christian service, renowned evangelist Billy Graham writes to encourage people of all ages to live with purpose and grace in Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well. Graham also discusses the importance of building strong foundations in relationships, facing life's transitions with trust, and understanding our glorious hope in Jesus. Join Billy as he shares the challenges of fading strength, but still standing strong in his commitment to finishing life well.

Special Thanksgiving Resources

We want to offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through this Thanksgiving Day here in the US (Thursday, November 24).

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented 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"
(printable webpage).

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

A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (printable 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.)

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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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