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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Virginia backroads 11/23/15
On the way down to Nashville we got off I-81 for a while to view the Virginia backroads off the beaten path of interstate travel.

"The Power of Thankfulness"
(Part 3)

Note: This week we are visiting with Brooksyne's sister and niece, Elaine and Courtney Morgan in Nashville, TN.  We wish each of you a blessed Thanksgiving!  We are following with concern the increased terrorist warnings abd realize we do indeed live in perilous times.

Note: A podcast was not prepared for this message.

In the first part of today's message we each share some memories of Thanksgiving Day. Scroll down for some Bible exposition and teaching.

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations" (Psalm 100:4,5). "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17).

Val-Co turkey feedersThursday is "Thanksgiving Day" here in America. Canadians celebrate a Thanksgiving Day in October, but I'm not sure of the customs in other countries. Our Zimbabwean friends told me they do not have a day like this in their country.

It's a great time of the year to especially be thankful and count our blessings. However we should always be thankful!
Turkey is the traditional meat for the day, and though most of you are completely unaware of this, the turkey many of you will eat was raised in a facility using a product made at Val-Co, one of the companies we visit as chaplains! Although most will eat turkey according to custom I respectfully remind readers that it's not "Turkey Day" as many have come to call it.

Many of us have a lot of great memories of Thanksgiving Day gatherings with extended family. We are now in Nashville and visiting with Brooksyne's sister, Elaine, in her RV. In recalling past Thanksgivings they remembered often gathering with their aunt and uncle's family in Harrison, Arkansas. Not only turkey but ham would be offered since their dad, Brooklyn, refused to eat poultry. Having worked on poultry farms in his younger years he had his fill of cleaning up after the birds and never partook of the delicious meat that others of us enjoy. Not only did Brooklyn refuse to eat the poultry but he didn't even permit the family to say "chicken" at the dinner table. It's a good thing for our poultry farmers, including a number of Brooksyne's relatives, that most people serve chicken and turkey on their dinner table on a regular basis.

Steincross farm

I (Stephen) remember gathering with our immediate family, grandparents, aunts and uncles and many cousins on this day on a farm in southwestern Missouri near Harwood. At times there must have been nearly 50 people gathered in that old farmhouse where my Uncle Gentry and Aunt Dora would host the entire family. My grandparents had a small house that was not suitable for large gatherings. I recall the wonderful aromas coming out of that country kitchen and all the ladies working together to prepare our Thanksgiving feast. I even remember the aprons! The men would often go across the road for some high powered rifle shooting practice. Or they would gather around the small (by today's standards) black and white tv to watch a football game.

Dinner bellSince that was in an age before we had handheld devices to stare at and tinker with most of us kids found plenty to do outside, playing in the barn and fields. Uncle Gentry would often take us on a wagon ride behind his Allis-Chalmers tractor. But the dinner bell signaled us back to the house for a huge meal.

The specific day we call "Thanksgiving" may well have originated here in America at the time of the Pilgrims in 1621, 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 such as this verse, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17).  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 our favorite Scripture verse on the subject of thanksgiving is the majestic call to worship in Psalm 100. This was 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."

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) that would mean we are 90 generations since the time of David. And there's no expiration date! And this will be true all through eternity. His goodness, love and faithfulness endures and will do so forever and through all generations. 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

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

Virginia hay bales 11/24/15
Hay bales on a frosty morning in southern Virginia.

Wrong way concurrence 11/24/15
Can you understand these directions! It's known as wrong way concurrency. See here.

Sunrise 11/25/15
Sunset this morning from the RV park we are staying in near Nashville.

Special Thanksgiving Resources

We offer these resources to families and church leaders
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will leave them up through Thanksgiving.

We appreciate singing the traditional Thanksgiving hymns. Here are several classics that you may or may not hear this season.

"Be Magnified"  Video   Kim Hill

"In Everything Give Him Thanks"
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"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 web page).

"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. (web page) 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.)

 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

"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

"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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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