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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Three pelicans (photo by Doug Maxwell)
Our neighbor, Doug, took this photo of three pelicans flying over the Atlantic Ocean near Kitty Hawk, NC.

"Walking In Thankfulness"

Message summary:
Let our walk include a grateful heart and a thankful outlook toward God and toward life in general.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you" (Jeremiah 7:23). "I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord" (Psalm 116:17). "And be thankful" (Colossians 3:15). "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15).

Yesterday as we approached a company
from a distance we saw a lady walking into the entrance. We were unable to see who it was but because of the way she walked we could both tell who she was. Brooksyne said that "You just know some people by their walk". I quipped back that the Bible said "You will know them by their fruit"! (which is true - see Matthew 7:16)

But we are in fact also known by our walk, both physically and spiritually. A simple to understand but lifelong challenge is in Jeremiah 7:23, "Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you."

Today let us consider thankfulness as an aspect of our walk. After all, God has commanded us to give thanks, "And be thankful" (Colossians 3:15).

Whatever your plans are for Thanksgiving Day, in the midst of celebrating family and plenty of food in comfortable surroundings, make sure you are walking in thankfulness and offering to God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

Scripture teaches that our praise glorifies God and we express our contentedness and thankfulness when we earnestly enter into praise. When we praise the Lord we enter into His presence, acknowledge Him as Lord, and give thanks for His steadfast love and care.

Many have wondered, "What is the distinction between praise and thanksgiving?" Though they are often used interchangeably, there is some distinction. Praise (worship) is acknowledging who God is by recognizing His many attributes (characteristics).

Thanksgiving on the other hand, is acknowledging what God has done based upon the ways in which His attributes impact our lives. However we encourage you not to get hung-up on these distinctions as we both praise and thank God! He is worthy of both because in His mercy He saved us when we were lost and without hope.

In our Scripture text we repeatedly see the words; sacrifice, thanksgiving, and praise. A sacrifice is something that is not forced upon us, but we offer from our own free will. The Dictionary.com defines sacrifice as "surrendering something of value as a means of gaining something even more desirable." How does that definition fit into your sacrifice of praise?

The writer of Hebrews ended his letter with a call to praise the Lord. "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name."

We encourage you to rest in the arms of our loving God and express your love to Him as you recall the ancient words of the Psalmist, "I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord." Let us, as His children, offer up our praise and thanksgiving to Him today and every day. Let our walk include a grateful heart and a thankful outlook toward God and toward life in general.

Be encouraged today and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as we give praise to You we are offering our heartfelt thanks for who You are and all that You do on our behalf. As we mature in our Christian walk we realize that there are many occasions when we must offer a sacrifice of praise since it doesn't always come easily nor often enough. It is in those circumstances that we willfully choose to praise You out of obedient hearts desirous of pleasing You and glorifying Your name. May our words be fruitful and our thoughts praiseworthy in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Lancaster County farm 11/26/19
Early yesterday morning we passed this Lancaster County farm on Snyder Road. It's likely that the family in this farmhouse will experience multi-generational blessings tomorrow. The setting reminds me of the Willard farm near Higginsville, MO, friends of my folks when I was growing up. They lived down a long lane like this but it was probably a dirt lane.

Seyfert's fruit barn window 11/26/19
Yesterday we stopped by Seyfert's Orchards fruit barn in Lebanon County to buy some apples. I thought I would take a photo through a window and surprise Brooksyne, but after seeing it I was the one surprised by my reflection!.

Thankful people poster in Sunset Outlet store, Lebanon, PA 11/26/19
Yesterday we saw this poster in a store near Lebanon, PA

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"We Bring The Sacrifice Of Praise"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

"Thanks"  Video  Marshall Hall

"Giving Thanks Is More Than A Holiday" A thought-provoking video

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 USA (November 28).

Thorns"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. (Note: You will need a good reader who should be given the story ahead of time to review so that it's read with expression and clarity.) For many of us 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! Here's an idea for sharing 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 many years ago. (blog post) 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 long-time 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!

Possible Discussion around the table:  July 22, 1620 – The pilgrims set sail for the new world and the setting is described by William Bradford in his journal: “So they left that goodly and pleasant city which had been their resting place for twelve years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and looked not much on those things, but lifted their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirit and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took leave of one another, which proved to the last leave to many of them.”  How would you feel if you were boarding the ship? How would you feel if you were saying good-bye to your loved one?

Suggestions for Present Day Thanksgiving: Preparations for Thanksgiving is time consuming but you might have extra time over the Thanksgiving weekend to enhance your celebration, especially if you have children present, by including some historical foods and activities present on the Mayflower or in Plimouth in the fall of 1621:

Games played by the children during the first harvest festival
– Arm wrestling, broad jump, racing competition, bow and arrow competition. The girls spent most of their time helping moms with food preparation during the three day gathering. If you have a mortar and pestle the girls can mash dried herbs and spices in preparation for seasoning veggies and such.

Food Samples – Some of the food on board the Mayflower was hardtack (ship’s biscuits), dried beef, and hard cheese.

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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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