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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day

Amish farm in Lancaster County, PA
Amish farm in Lancaster County.
(Click on image to enlarge)

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"Give Thanks To The Lord!"

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever" (Psalm 136:1).

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the USA.  Canada has a similar day but we're unaware of how many other countries set aside a day for Thanksgiving. In the course of my chaplain work I inquired of immigrants from several different countries in Eastern Europe and Asia who said they don't have such a holiday in their native lands. Our Thanksgiving day has a very specific historical beginning and the focus of thanks was directed to God as it should always primarily be.

William Bradford voiced the grateful spirit of the Pilgrims in November 1620 as they arrived in the new world after 66 days on board the Mayflower: "Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth...What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace?"

Today we will be spending the day here at our home in Mount Joy enjoying a bountiful meal in the late afternoon. Over the lunch hour Brooksyne will play Thanksgiving hymns at Longwood Manor and Ester will visit among the residents.

Today we consider those who offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving in the midst of hardship:
1) Those still recovering from the ravaging hurricane.
2) The continued turmoil in the Middle East, especially the beleaguered nation of Israel.
3) Those who are unemployed.
4) Those who are lonely on this family holiday.
5) Those who are in the very midst of a fiery trial.

Brooksyne and I give thanks for all our readers (and podcast listeners) and hope our American readers will have a blessed Thanksgiving Day, especially focusing on thanks to God, which was the original intent for the day when it was a solemn day for the Pilgrims along with Indians in 1621.

Today we want to share a Scripture reading from Psalm 136 that is very suitable for responsive reading, even for those with very young children who can simply respond, "His love endures forever."

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

To Him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.

Who by His understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.

Who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.

Who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.

The sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.

The moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

To the One who remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.

And freed us from our enemies,
His love endures forever.

And who gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

Be encouraged today and give thanks to the Lord!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: In thanksgiving we lift our voices of praise from grateful hearts, Father. 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.

Counting and Sharing our Blessings

Over the last several days we have done some remodelling work in our home office where our daily encouragement messages are prepared, as well as other office type work associated with our ministry.
This room had been a bedroom/kitchenette we converted from a single stall garage for Stephen's mother. She resided in it for three years before her death in November 2005. We express thanks to God for the energy and funds to complete this project! We give you a tour from the right corner of our office going clockwise.

Brooksyne's desk with built in bookcase 11/22/12
Our most significant improvement were bookshelves Stephen built over my desk  under the existing cabinets. This was a DIY project and we are pleased it came out well and is certainly functional for our office work. Brooksyne painted this side of the room granited. She painted the other walls a slate gray (quite different than the blue walls with a kitchen type border that we'd had for the past 10 years.)

Stephen's deskview 11/22/12
Apart from the fresh white paint on the doors that had been beige the view from Stephen's desk  didn't change. As you can see we have a beautiful day here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA!

Office wall with couch 11/22/12
Due to the central heat installed last fall we were able to remove the baseboard heat strip and thus move the couch and file cabinet closer to the wall. This room also serves as our occasional guest room with the couch converting to a bed.

Office countertop 11/22/12
Finally this view hasn't changed much either. We chose to keep the fridge and sink area which comes in handy often. Brooksyne provided a special treat this morning - Pecan Pumpkin Muffins to start our day off this Thanksgiving morning. If you're in our area, stop by for a treat. She made an abundant supply.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"He Is Good"
 Video  Steve Green

 Video  Steve Green

"I Have A Song"
 Video  Shannon Wexelberg A song written and beautifully sung by Shannon in combination with "His Eye Is on the Sparrow"

"Be Thou My Vision"
 Video  The Martins

"Praise The King"  Video  Cindy Morgan

As we prepared our message this morning we listened to one of our favorite Thanksgiving programs. "Focus on the Family" has listeners call in with their stories of thanksgiving which are always so touching. Listen here.

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 Thanksgiving Day here in the US (November 22).

We appreciated singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not have heard this season.

"Come Ye Thankful People Come"  Video  Traditional version
Contemporary version but thankfully maintaining same tune and lyrics Video

"Thanksgiving Medley" (We Gather Togather, For The Beauty Of The Earth, Come Ye Thankful People Come)  Video  Studio Musicians

"Give Thanks"  Video  Don Moen

"Thank You Lord"  Video  Community choir at a Lancaster Day of Prayer event in 2008.

"Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul"  Video  Holland Davis

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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