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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thankfulness quote (photo by Sabra Penley (Click to enlarge)
The answer is ... We should!
Photo by Sabra Penley

Note: We have  travel plans the rest of this week and are not certain when we will be able to publish a fresh daily encouragement based upon access to the internet and whether I can get my old sluggish laptop computer I rarely use working again. We hope all our readers have a blessed Thanksgiving regardless of where you may live!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"In All Things"

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). "In all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

As we approach Thanksgiving here in the US, though this message applies everyday and everywhere, we look back over the year for the many things in which we are thankful. For many of you it's been a routine year, but for some of you an "impact event" has brought about changes you hadn't anticipated. I recently heard a speaker talk about impact events. On a national level an "impact event" is something like 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination over 50 years ago when we were children. For our parents it was an event like the Pearl Harbor attack.

But we all have personal "impact events" that vary among us. The death of a loved one, a serious accident, the diagnosis of a serious disease. Most of you can identify such events in your own life.

John and Faithe KeeferWe are blessed by our pastor John and his wife Faithe. They had an impact event this year. Several months ago they entered a hard journey they would not have anticipated. Faithe received a cancer diagnosis and after major surgery is now undergoing chemotherapy. They are very transparent and well-loved among our church family. With heavy hearts we stand with them in prayer as they go through this ordeal. As a committed couple they are applying the very Scriptures Pastor John preached from this past Sunday: "Love...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (I Corinthians 13:7).

David and Sabra Penley 5/4/14 (click to enlarge)This last spring when we visited San Antonio we visited with our friends, David and Sabra Penley. David connected with us several years ago when he came across Daily Encouragement while looking for photos of Pennsylvania. Many years ago he pastored in the northeast part of Pennsylvania prior to getting his doctorate and teaching at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. In early 2013 he had a significant impact event, a severe health crisis which forced him to retire from his teaching position.

When we met over lunch David and Sabra expressed a desire to continue ministry together. Sabra began blogging and more recently they began their "Simply One In Marriage"* blog together with a goal of providing online teaching to instruct and encourage others. I was reading the blog the other day and was struck by the question in our opening photo.

The phrase, "If God is working for our good in all things" is based on Romans 8:28, one of the great verses in the Bible that many have memorized. Paul declared,
"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him." When I preach or allude to this text I often ask, "Do we really know and believe this?"

Sabra then asks, "If God is working for our good in all things, should we not be thankful in all things?" The answer is "Of course we should!" In fact elsewhere Paul wrote,
"In all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Our third daily Scripture provides a familiar but much needed perspective on life and trials: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Thankfulness quote (photo by Sabra Penley (Click to enlarge)

Today some of you have had an impact event this year and some are even now in the midst of an impacting trial. The Greek word for "trial" that James uses is very interesting. "Peirasmos" conveys a "putting to proof" or by implication, "adversity". These times of testing are difficult but necessary in proving our faith in God to be genuine and effective. James tells us that our proper response when encountering trials is this: "Consider it all joy". The world would say, "That's preposterous!" But when we genuinely seek God's perspective on this subject, we realize He is working for our good, which enables us to give Him thanks, even as the storm rages. 

Just as the rings on a tree prove its endurance in the years of ease and years of difficulty, our enduring faith proves our walk with God to be genuine and mature, developing in us godly character. We faithfully serve Him during times of ease and during times of trial. Let us indeed realize that
God is working for our good in all things and thus be thankful in all things.

When troubles trouble you and you think life's not fair,
when you need someone and there's no one there;          
Remember all the times that you feel alone are the times
He'll use to make you strong

In everything give thanks, with all your heart give praise,
for the Lord we serve will never let you down.
In everything give thanks, with all your heart believe
that the Lord can take a circumstance and turn it all around.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we pray that we will continue to mature in our Christian walk. Scripture, repeatedly, indicates that spiritual maturity is a result of enduring trials of various kinds. In the midst of these trials Your faithful promptings and guidance through Scripture, other believers, and the circumstances we face can be ignored or silenced when self gets in the way. Today we make every effort to add to our faith those characteristics that will sustain and grow us in our Christian walk. In doing so we will be effective and productive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, during times of ease but even more so during times of difficulty. Keep us faithful and growing, and expressing thanks in everything, according to the Scripture, "In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward You." In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

* David and Sabra's blog is called "Simply One In Marriage"

Children singing (photo by Ester Weber)
On Sunday the younger children sang several Thanksgiving songs and recited prayers. I (Brooksyne) was so impressed with the two year old (far left) who kept up with the older ones, both in hand motions and words thanks to a loving mommy who helped him learn his music and sat down on the floor in front of the children keeping him on track.  I enjoy working with children during the holidays. You never know just what they'll say or do, but this time they really came through especially with the following hymn in which I share some amazing historical background:

Now Thank We All God: German pastor Martin Rinkart served in the walled town of Eilenburg, Germany during the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. Eilenburg became an overcrowded refuge for the surrounding area where fugitives suffered from epidemic and famine. At the beginning of 1637, the year of the Great Pestilence, there were four ministers in Eilenburg. But one abandoned his post for healthier areas and could not be persuaded to return. Pastor Rinkhart officiated at the funerals of the other two.

As the only pastor left, he often conducted services for as many as 40 to 50 persons a day– nearly 5000 in all. In May of that year, his own wife died. By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.

Yet, while living in a world dominated by sorrow, loss, and death, Rinkart wrote this timeless prayer of thanksgiving for his children:

Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom the world rejoices.
Who from our mother's arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Special Thanksgiving Resources

We 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 27).

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

"In Everything Give Thanks"  Video   Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter  This song will bring joy to your heart!

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Video  Best Loved Hymns

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

"Thanksgiving Medley" (We Gather Together, 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. (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.)

Today and all through this week we will share a selection of Thanksgiving music.

"Be Magnified"  Video   Kim Hill

 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

"I'm Forever Grateful"  Video  Willow Creek

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

"Worthy Is The Lamb, Crown Him, Crown Him With Many Crowns"  Video  Travis Cottrell

"Thank You, Lord"  Video  Dennis Jernigan

"Thank You For Loving Me"  Video  Tommy Walker

"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)"  Video  Matt Redman

"For These Reasons"  Video  Lincoln Brewster

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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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