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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Hotel Hershey from Hershey Gardens 11/21/17 (Click to enlarge)
The Hotel Hershey from Hershey Gardens Fountain
(Click on photo to enlarge)

"God Blessed Them" (Part 3)

Note: This is the final message in a three part series based upon God's first words to humans following Creation.

Message summary: Today, especially tomorrow, and everyday let us make it our goal to thank the Lord for His many blessings!

ListenListen to our message on your audio player.

"Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so'" (Genesis 1:29,30). "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth" (Psalm 104:14).

Today supermarkets will be especially busy as people do final preparations for Thanksgiving. My first job was as a bagger at Kroger Supermarket in Independence MO. I enjoyed the busyness of a holiday season when it seems people could just be a bit more friendly and joyful than usual. I still enjoy going into supermarkets and will probably join Brooksyne today as she picks up a few groceries in preparations for our meal tomorrow when my brother and sister-in-law will join us. As she shops I will meander around.

Produce section in supermarket
My favorite supermarket section is the produce department which reveals the vast variety of food God has provided the human race at Creation. This section is often the first one people see when they enter a store and many stores seem to go the extra mile in this section. As one trade article states, "When people first enter into the produce section are they so blown away by your product, merchandising, and marketing efforts that they cannot help but begin shopping?"

This week we have considered God's first words to humans which express His blessings upon them (us). This should result in our thankfulness. Christian songwriter Matt Redman has a song many of us have heard and perhaps sung in our churches with the following stanza:

For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
To bless the Lord O my soul, O my soul
Worship His Holy Name

Actually there are far more than 10,000 reasons to bless the Lord but that's sure a good start! Today let us just consider one; the wide variety of food that the Lord has created as a blessing to the human race. Depending on where we live some have more variety than others and certainly the abundance varies from location to location.* But today we hope all our readers count the blessing of food which God has provided.

Today's first text follows the creation mandate. Genesis 1 gives an overview of all creation while chapter 2 focuses on the creation of the man and woman with more detail. Mandate means "an official order or commission to do something." The Lord commissioned the man and woman to, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

This mandate is followed by our daily text. Today we want to focus on this phrase, "I have given every green plant for food". One of the common characteristics of living things is that we eat. This is one of those Biblical statements that, regardless of where we live on this earth, we can see it being demonstrated. We see cattle in a pasture feeding on the green grass. We see the birds feeding from the flowers or from our feeders. Our pets wait with anticipation for their daily meals. Ultimately all foods are dependent on the plant world. And even plants feed on water, air, receiving nutrition from the soil and energy from the sun.

Psalm 104 has this descriptive heading in the NASV, "The Lord’s Care Over All His Works". It begins and ends with "Bless the Lord, O my soul" (Psalm 104:1,35). In this chapter we find today's second text, "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth" (Psalm 104:14). This brings to mind a song we will close our message with.

There's a roof up above me
I've a good place to sleep
There's food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love, Lord
And a fine family
Thank you Lord, for your blessings on me

Today, especially tomorrow and everyday let us make it our goal to thank the Lord for His many blessings!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, the Psalmist assures us that You provide food to those who fear You, to those who remember Your covenant. Moses admonished the Israelites to follow Your commands so that You would give them rain for their land in its season, the early rain for germination and the latter rain that grows and strengthens the plants. Through all generations You have supplied for all our needs and poured out Your abundance on us. We thank You for it through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

* Of course there are areas of famine, sometimes as a result of natural disasters such as droughts but more often man's sinfulness. The other day we watched a program about the horrific conditions in Yemen.

Yesterday following our chaplaincy visits to several companies we walked through the Hershey Gardens. Although the heavy frost has diminished any floral beauty outside the grounds were still beautiful. They're making preparations to add lots of poinsettias next week!

Hershey Gardens 11/21/17
Most deciduous trees in our area have lost their leaves but this one was still filled with changing leaves.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Hershey Gardens 11/21/17
The red in the Firebush, the evergreen and smaller yellow/green bush combine for a flurry of fall colors.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Black butterfly at Hershey Gardens 11/21/17
Most butterflies have flown to warmer climates but we can still see them at the Butterfly House at the Hershey Gardens.

Jason with t-shirt 11/21/17
Jason works at the first company we visited yesterday morning. He was wearing this thought-provoking t-shirt using the element table as a witness for Christ.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

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

"10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)"  Video  Matt Redman  This is the song mentioned at the beginning of our message.

An old hymn might have prompted the Matt Redman with the theme of 'ten thousand' reasons. The old hymn, "Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy" the following stanza,

"I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms."

Some have criticized the concept of "charms" in the song due to its modern connotations but this word also has the meaning of "pleasing quality" or "blessings". Here's a nice video version by Fernando Ortega.

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).

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.)

A Suggestion for a Family Tradition from our friend Bob Southard: After the turkey, the cranberries, the pie, we all get out our Bibles to read our favorite thanksgiving verse. From the youngest to the oldest we share God’s Word and tell why it is so special to us!

We appreciate 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

"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 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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