I have shared this message from Grace Thru Faith before, but it is so good that it bears repeating. May you all enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!
A Thanksgiving Message by Jack Kelley
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
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)
Each year on the 4th Thursday of November we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the US. It’s a holiday begun by the early settlers to express their gratitude to God for a bountiful harvest, and it’s patterned after the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles.
After the harvest Israelites from all over the country would gather in Jerusalem for a week-long celebration. This was to commemorate the time God had spent with them in the wilderness and to give thanks for another good harvest. All year they saved up their tithes, the first-born of their flocks and herds, the first sheaves of grain, the first grapes, figs, olives and other fruit and vegetables and brought it all to Jerusalem in the fall where they cooked and ate everything in a national celebration of praise (Deut. 12:5-7).
After surviving a very difficult year in the new world, the Pilgrims of New England instituted a similar, though much smaller, thanksgiving feast, again with the intent of praising God. This event finally became a national holiday in the US in 1863, but it took until 1941 to settle on the 4th Thursday of November as its official observance.
My parents made sure we never forgot that it was the Lord who provided for us and so Thanksgiving was a religious observance in our house. Prayers were offered and each family member gave thanks to the Lord for all the good things we had received.
Read the rest here.
It’s been awhile since I shared one of my devotionals that were published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Since Thanksgiving is this week, I think this one is particularly appropriate. It is included in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving.
I have so much to be JOYFUL and THANKFUL for. Each day God provides me with exactly enough of everything I need. This year is special to me because He is using a new-to-me medication to keep my migraines away. Since mid-August, I have not had one migraine, and that in itself is cause for much celebration and thanksgiving.
Beloved, what blessings from God are you especially thankful for today?
When I want to thank God
for His generosity . . .
To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask
or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church.
Generous to a fault,
you [God] lavish your favor on all creatures.
—Psalm 145:16 MSG
All sunshine and sovereign is GOD,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
—Psalm 84:11 MSG
Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial.
—Psalm 111:3-4 MSG
. . . I will pray.
How can I look at my life and not be thankful for everything You have given me? I’m not referring to material possessions, although I am grateful for all those blessings. I’m thinking of the magnificent ways You help me get through each day.
When I need patience, I reach out to You—and You’re there. When I need courage—I reach out and You’re there. When I need hope, joy, faith—You’re there. You’re always there with all I need to face each day with dignity.
Some people would say that You are generous to a fault! I know You don’t have any faults, Lord, but it’s partly true. You give me so much more than I could ever even imagine, far more than I could ever ask for.
Thank You, Lord, for opening Your generous arms and bestowing on me so many blessings. Thanks for meeting my every need. Show me ways to be generous with others in return. I want to be like You in every way, but especially in this way—I want to be called “generous to a fault” in honor of my heavenly Father.
Accustom yourself to the wonderful thought
that God loves you with a tenderness, a generosity,
and an intimacy that surpasses all your dreams.
—Abbe Henri de Tourville
[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]
Is it really possible to be depressed or in mourning and still be praising God? This might sound like a paradox but it is indeed possible. We can mourn or be depressed about a situation and yet praise God because of who He is and how He is always with us. If we have trusted Him in the past we can trust Him again and again because we know that He will see us through this particular storm. And because He has been faithful to us before, we can count on that faithfulness every single day.
Beloved, please read on. I believe you will be blessed by this as much as I am.
My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.
Ten years ago, Chuck and Lynette’s daughter Joy died of complications from epilepsy. She was 28 years old. Joy was a vibrant Christian who had lived up to her name—everyone who knew her testified to her sweet spirit. “I miss her so much every day,” Lynette said. “We used to sing together in church, and I have so many special memories of singing and laughing together. When I sing those songs today, sometimes I cry instead of laugh, but I know that one day we’ll be reunited at the feet of Jesus.”
Lynette’s statement beautifully captures the paradoxical tension within biblical lament. We can feel loss and hope at the same time. We can sing hymns of praise even while we weep and mourn.Our reading for today, Psalm 42, concludes our focus this month on lament. Unlike some of the other lament psalms, this one does not move in a straight line from lament over circumstances to trust in God’s character. Throughout the psalm, the poet describes how desperation and faith wrestle with one another.
In the first four verses, the psalmist articulates his loneliness, torment, grief, and longing. The opening image of the deer panting for water vividly conveys the psalmist’s desperate yearning. Verses 5 and 6 serve as both a summary of the psalm and a hinge between its two sections. The psalmist indicates that he is both downcast and trusting God. He has hope that the time for praise will come.
But the psalm doesn’t end there. Expressions of trust in God don’t end the experience of suffering and sorrow. The psalmist experiences God’s love (v. 8) and also feels abandoned by God (v. 9). The psalmist persists in biblical lament—he is downcast and disturbed, but he also trusts in God and looks forward to praise (v. 11).
Apply the Word
Biblical lament defies our cultural expectations to process grief in certain ways or to just get on with things. You don’t have to feel better before you praise God. Coming to Him with your desperation and suffering is itself an act of trust. Make verse 11 your own personal prayer and statement of faith that you will one day praise God at the feet of Jesus.
Brief update: I’m back from Florida after seeing Dad with my sisters. I wrote a prayer request about this here. It was a difficult trip because I don’t travel well any more, and dealing with overcrowded airports and airplanes piles on a lot of stress. However, through it all, I felt God’s presence as He filled me with a calm and peace I sorely needed. I’m convinced that was only because of the prayers of His faithful, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers on behalf of me and my family.
It was so good to see Dad again. He has changed so much in the several years since I was last able to see him, and it is evident that soon God will call him home. It was difficult saying goodbye but I know I’ll see him in heaven, and that’s soothing to me.
1 O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
3 For the Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
4 In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7 For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
9 “When your fathers tested Me,
They tried Me, though they had seen My work.
10 “For forty years I loathed that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
11 “Therefore I swore in My anger,
Truly they shall not enter into My rest.”
I am thankful for so much, sometimes even for things that God is not allowing in my life. I know that sounds strange, but from past experience I have learned that when we pray for certain things and rush ahead of God’s timing on them, we might get what we pray for but it may not necessarily be God’s plan for us, therefore not good for us. I can tell you from personal experience that’s a hard place to be in!
I believe without a shadow of doubt that God desires His very best for each and every one of us. And sometimes that “best” is something so small and seemingly insignificant that it may escape our notice. Let’s try to remember to notice every single thing with which God has blessed us and “come before His presence with thanksgiving.” And then let’s share our joy and thanks with others. We live in a fallen world and all of us sometimes forget those little things in our daily struggles.
Beloved, it is my prayer that all of you enjoy a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!