Daily Encouragement Net
The online Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

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

Today's message is especially dedicated to Sabra and her husband David, friends from Texas, who have endured some very prickly thorns.

"Thankful For the Thorns"
Thanksgiving Message

Note: We will not post a message on Thanksgiving Day due to guests coming to our home in the morning and Brooksyne preparing the Thanksgiving meal. We expect to resume on Friday with a message about the contrast between the two Fridays recognized each year that most give special attention to.

Message summary: Today are you living with a healthy outlook, confident of God's love and providential care, even during a season of "difficulty" with lots of thorns? Or are you focusing on the thorns? Some people complain because roses have thorns; let us be thankful that thorns have roses.

Listen to this message on your audio player.

"Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Rose arrangement
For many years Brooksyne has enjoyed creating attractive flower arrangements for our home and friends, as well as the churches we have served through the years. Among the favorite flowers she grows are roses and presently we have several rose bushes, though they stopped blooming a few weeks ago.

Several years ago she prepared a rather unusual arrangement for the Communion Table at a church we served at the time. Rather than a typical rose arrangement as seen to the left she clipped the rose flowers off the stems. Wearing gloves she clipped them low at the base of our rose bushes, cut off the flowers and arranged the stems for display. It was not very pretty to say the least and probably made the congregation wonder if she was losing her senses! But it was a very effective illustration.

How many of you plan to order a Thanksgiving bouquet from the Florist Shop this Thanksgiving? Roses are a perennial favorite. Why not ask the florist to cut off the rose blooms and only purchase the long, thorny stems for your Thanksgiving centerpiece? The florist would think you were nuts.

ThornsSound a little strange? In the Thanksgiving Resources listed below our daily message we feature a story called "Thankful for the Thorns". (link below) When our church presented the story in skit form, the setting was a flower shop where Brooksyne played the florist who would often clip the roses but save the thorny stems.

In the original story the florist cuts off the rose blooms and sells only the long, thorny stems. Included in the packaging is a written prayer thanking God for the thorns in our lives. The thorny "bouquet" serves as a visual reminder to customers to be thankful for the thorns or painful times in their lives.

Whether experiencing the difficult moments personally or within the family, we are motivated to seek God more fervently, which allows Him to bring perspective, healing, cleansing and maturing in our faith. The eventual outcome brings beauty and purpose into our lives, much like the beautiful, fragrant rose that is an outgrowth from the thorn covered green stems.

In past years we kept a small wrapped box in our dining room where we could drop in notes from time to time through the year expressing a way in which God had provided a special blessing. Perhaps we need to also include notes that record the "thorns" that appear in our lives to be reminded of the lessons God has taught us through the difficult times. We can also use it to comfort and encourage others who are being pricked by thorns in their lives.

The apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4, shares four experiences of spiritual and physical thorns he experienced as he and his co-workers followed Christ. In each example God proved His faithfulness in the midst of the severe thorns:

    * "We are hard pressed on every side -- but not crushed."
    * "Perplexed -- but not in despair."
    * "Persecuted -- but not abandoned."
    * "Struck down -- but not destroyed."

Later in chapter 12 he writes of his own personal experience, "I was given a thorn in my flesh". He doesn't specify precisely what this thorn is but in the context describes, "in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties".

Each of us has had various thorns in the flesh just like Paul but for most not nearly as severe! But we've also been challenged by God to trust Him when these "thorns" prick while developing fruit in our lives that can only be produced through these "prickly" experiences. We find enormous consolation as we read and meditate upon the Scriptures, especially the word that Paul received from the Lord, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness". That can be an assuring word from the Lord for all who have placed their faith in Him.

Both in our face to face ministry and through heart-rending calls and emails, we hear from others and the pain they're experiencing from a thorn(s) in their flesh - some that prick and tear at the heart and soul. If you are undergoing some painful pricks may you find the "God of all Comfort" to be your source of strength and hope. "God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the same comfort we ourselves received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:4).

William Law, who lived in the early 1700's, observed, "Whenever you find yourself disposed to uneasiness or murmuring at anything that is the effect of God's providence, look upon yourself as denying either the wisdom or goodness of God."

Today are you living with a healthy outlook, confident of God's love and providential care, even during a season of "difficulty" with lots of thorns? Or are you focusing on the thorns? Some people complain because roses have thorns; let us be thankful that thorns have roses.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: “My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; Teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain; Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”

(Prayer taken from the story, “Thankful for the Thorns”)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Today we want to share music with a theme of Thankfulness

"Thanks To God For My Redeemer"  Video   "Thanks for roses by the wayside, thanks for thorns their stems contain!" We once sang it to the tune of "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus".  It was written in 1891 by August Storm, a Swedish believer. He was stricken with illness 8 years after writing this hymn and was an invalid until his death many years later.  He maintained a thankful spirit to the very end.

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!

Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity!

"My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness"  Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty

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

"Thanksgiving Medley"  Video  Nice selection of grand old thanksgiving hymns.

"Now Thank We All Our God"  Video  Traditional version  Here's a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

"Come We Thankful People Come"  Video  
Traditional version  Here's a bit more contemporary version with same lyrics.

"Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart"  Video  Don Moen

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

"Yes, I Will"   Video  Calvary Church Choir from our service this last Sunday   This is a great newer Thanksgiving song with a great resolve for those in a season with lots of thorns.

Oh, yes I will, lift You high in the lowest valley
Yes I will, bless Your name
Oh, yes I will, sing for joy when my heart is heavy
For all my days, oh yes I will
For all my days, oh yes, I will

Special Thanksgiving Resources

We want to offer these resources to families and church leaders 
to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday.

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). See below for a more lengthy account of how this blessed our home at a family gathering years ago.

"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.)

A Thanksgiving idea for family gatherings

Many years ago we experienced the most memorable and spiritual Thanksgiving celebration that we recall every Thanksgiving season. We want to share it with you and perhaps prompt a similar activity in your home. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United Sates, a wonderful holiday going back to our nation's founding. Although I am aware that other countries may not have a similar "official" holiday we are all called to be thankful regardless of where we live and regardless of our circumstances! "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Brooksyne set a beautiful table with the nice dinnerware, best dishes, and prepared the usual Thanksgiving meal. But instead of a beautiful centerpiece, as in the past, she made a centerpiece of one dozen roses. One major thing that was different about these roses is that the long thorny stems were the only things in the vase. All the flowers were removed. At each person's plate was also a 2" thorny stem. There were strange expressions but the explanation of such an arrangement was saved for after the meal.

Following our meal we read a story called "Thankful for the Thorns" that is readily available on the internet (see below for link to this story).

Each person was then asked to share some experience over the past year that was truly a thorn to them. In other words they were asked to share about a serious trial they endured over the past year. They were then to take the details of the thorn story and turn it into a beautiful rose story. You see, without the thorns, there are no roses.

It turned out to be a very intimate and revealing time as family members shared together. We passed the tissue box around as family members shared about God saving them from very close encounters with death and other such serious stories. It took us beyond mere surface conversation and the usual excitement of a festive Thanksgiving meal. We concluded our time with genuine prayer for each other and a prayer of thanksgiving for the thorns in our lives that God uses to produce beautiful and fragrant "roses."

Note: At this late a date you may not be able to come up with a dozen long stem roses. You can simply get some thorny stems from the woods and set them at the plates to carry out this illustrated time of sharing.

"Thankful for the Thorns"  Basic text (This should print out well if desired.)

Finally today:

Blackhawk Hardware aisle
 Last night, Jeff, a reader from Charlotte NC, sent me this photo from Blackhawk Hardware in his area which has an interesting way of designating their aisles!
He observed, "there's an illustration there somewhere!"

Indeed it illustrates this Biblical truth in Jeremiah 21:8, "Furthermore, tell the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: See, I am setting before you the way (aisle) of life and the way (aisle) of death'".  Which aisle are you on?

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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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