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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cade's Cove water mill 11/21/16
An old gristmill in Cades Cove, Smoky Mountain National Park

"Give Thanks To The God Of Heaven!"

Grasp, grace, glory
Last night this sign in a gift shop in Gatlinburg caught our attention.

Message Summary: Give thanks to the God of heaven, His steadfast love endures forever!

Note: We are in Tennessee in the Smoky Mountains and will be travelling to Nashville today to visit Brooksyne's sister and niece for Thanksgiving. Due to travel and limitations we will not be preparing audio messages this week and will not be able to post messages daily. We also may not have internet access in Nashville where we will be staying in Brooksyne's sister's RV in an RV park!

"Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever" (Psalm 136:26).

Tomorrow 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.

Here in the USA our Thanksgiving Day has a very specific historical beginning, October of 1621, and the focus of thanks was directed to God as it should always primarily be.

Governor 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 treacherous Mayflower voyage: "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..." The only thing that could now sustain them was the Spirit of God and His grace, especially as nearly half of the men, women, and children would soon perish in their new world.

We give thanks for all our readers 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 their Indian friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who made the great lights—
His steadfast love endures forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be encouraged today and give thanks to the God of heaven, whose steadfast love endures forever!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: In thanksgiving we lift our voices of praise from grateful hearts, Father. We truly give thanks to the God of heaven whose steadfast love endures forever. 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. We thank You, faithful Father!  Amen.

We have been in the Great Smoky Mountain region the last several days and would like to share some photos from our visit.

Cade's Cove view 11/21/16
Cades Cove is a beautiful isolated valley in the park.

Cade's Cove split rail fence 11/21/16
Split rail fencing is seen all through the park.

Cade's Cove home 11/21/16
The first frame house in the cove.

Cade's Cove trail 11/21/16
We saw lots of wildlife but especially catching our attention was this inviting walking trail.

Cade's Cove family photo 11/21/16
Ester, the "pro selfie" photographer took this photo at a historic non-working  mill.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

We appreciate 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 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. (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.)

Finally today:
Poultry house, Joe Ulicny
Many of you will enjoy a turkey dinner tomorrow but we wonder how many will give any thought or thanks for the many people who got that bird to your table. This photo actually shows young chickens in a broiler house, eating and drinking from equipment made by the Val-Co company, one of the companies we have served as chaplains for over nine years. Our friend, Joe Ulicny, took this photo at a farm in Pennsylvania. (Click on photo to enlarge)
Here's a question hosts can ask at the Thanksgiving dinner:  Which side of the turkey has the most feathers? (Answer will be posted in the next message)

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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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