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Thanksgiving

Today in countless homes, in all kinds of places people will think about and tell about things for which they are thankful. The list is long for most of us and most of us realize there are even more things than we are aware of.

However, the most intense moments of thankfulness are not found in times of plenty, but when difficulties abound. Think of the Pilgrims that first Thanksgiving. Half their number dead, men without a country, but still there was thanksgiving to God. Their gratitude was not for something but in something. It was that same sense of gratitude that lead Abraham Lincoln to formally establish the first Thanksgiving Day in the midst of national civil war, when the butcher’ s list of casualties seemed to have no end and the very nation  struggled for survival.

It is exactly the type of situation referred to in the Bible: give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thess 5:18) Our list of “fors” might be short. Perhaps in your own life, right now, there is intense hardship. Try following the directions of the Psalmist: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth… Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. -Psalms 100:1a, 4 (NIV)

Praising God, giving thanks won’t change your circumstances but it will change you. True thanksgiving is accompanied by joy. Through grace it is God’s gift to you.

Have a joyful Thanksgiving Day!

P.S. A personal story: Today I started my day with this song that I had not thought about for a long time and I experienced the results of praising God.

It Makes a Difference

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders
that the Most High God has performed for me.
How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.

“For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end.
He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth.

Here are two wonderful testimonies to the wonder and greatness of the God of the Bible. Surely, they come from two of the great believers. However, nothing could be further from the truth. They were made by two pagan kings, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. Why? How did this come to be? In both cases these affirmations of God’s greatness were triggered by the faith of his followers. Nebuchadnezzar had thrown Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the roaring furnace and Darius had thrown Daniel into the Lion’s Den because they would not deny God. After God delivered them, both kings were moved to praise. (Read the stories in Daniel 3 and 6)

What a great reminder that, when we trust God, even non-believers recognize God and can come to praise Him.

 

A New Song

Psalm 40:3- “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

 How much, how often do you praise God?  For most of us (myself included) it’s not nearly enough.  Part of reason for that I suspect is that we see praise as motivated by good things happening to us, things going well for us, etc.  Certainly it is important that we are grateful and express that.  But praise for God goes beyond that.  It is an important part of our discipleship.

It is clear from Scripture that praise pleases God.  Here are just a few examples:

“For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (I Chron.16:25)
Psalm 33:1- “it is fitting for the upright to praise him.”
100:4- “Enter  his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.”
The last 5 psalms begin and end with “Praise the Lord.”
150:6- “let everything that has breath praise the LORD.”
I Peter 4:11- “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ”

Praise has a profound effect on us.  It makes God real and triggers joy in my heart.  Few things so rejuvenates us as to praise God.  When the New Testament describes the church it is this way: “We’ll be praising Christ, enjoying each other.”( Phil 1:26 msg)  Does that sound like the church you know?  What about you personally?

Besides that, it does something to those around us.  It makes Jesus attractive.  I’m not talking about some of the mindless examples—slogans, or trite phrases that seem artificial and forced.  From  Charles Wesley’s first hymnbook (1737) this song was sung:

Let every Land their Tongues employ,
And hymns of Triumph sing.

Release his Praise with awe profound,
Let Knowledge guide the Song.
Nor mock him with a solemn Sound
Upon a thoughtless Tongue.

Phillipians 1:10-11 reads:

You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. (msg)

It has been said, “God is preparing the whole universe to be an orchestra of praise and adoration to his Son.” (FB Meyer)

I read about the conductor of an orchestra of 500 who missed the piccolo and waited for it.

God is waiting for your voice to join in! Praise the Lord.  Let all that have breath praise God.

When God shows up

The priests couldn’t even carry out their duties because of the cloud—the glory of God!—that filled The Temple of God. -Message

When God Shows Up

Don’t you just love discovering stories like this in the Bible?  I’m sure I’ve read this passage numerous times and went right past it like running past a spectacular view without even noticing.  But today, I noticed.

Get the picture: the choir and orchestra with 120 trumpet blowing priests praising God: “God is good! His loyal love goes on forever!”  God’s presence, glory so powerful, tangible as a cloud fills His house and the service stops as the priests “could not stand to minister.”  When God shows up church ritual, routine takes a back seat.  Those leading worship are simply overwhelmed and everything stops as the power of God takes over.  Wow! And I don’t use that word very often, but Wow!

You think the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies were awesome.  That’s nothing compared to the glory of God.  God is present everywhere.  God is especially present when two or three gather in His name.  But there are times when God’s people are praising and worshipping Him that His glory comes.  We don’t know when or where but we look for it.  We long for it.  And we prepare for it.  And we “will never be the same” when we experience it.

The environment  again—God’s people singing God’s praises.  Let’s praise God with all that is within in us—heart, mind, strength.

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.Psalms 103 (NIV)