Archive for November, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Had a good one. Just me and the Mrs. Went out to eat mid-afternoon and then walked around downtown until dark.

The day before Thanksgiving, I realized I had not written in a few days and also realized I had not read Scripture either. I was somewhat zombie-like the days before Thanksgiving. It is probably because the big conference at work was over and it was time for a let-down after four months or so of manic prep work. Tonight is the first time I have felt like reading or writing.

Even on Thanksgiving day I didn’t concentrate on being thankful. The night before we had worked until 9-ish cleaning and straightening. I slept in Thanksgiving morning and then read the sports page and watched parts of two parades.

Now I sit and I can’t think of any thanks verses. I’ve had a glorious day. The morning was invested with a friend and his family, later joined by another old friend. Then I met up with two other old friends and we ate good food and raced go-carts for three hours followed by a home-cooked meal. Unspeakable thankfulness filled my cup as I drove home.

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… but rather thanksgiving

A funny thing happened this evening. I was interrupted while typing and reading, and something didn’t go my way and, when I was by myself, I swore loudly. I have no idea if anyone heard me because I was in the car with the windows up. I feel awful. I feel stupid. I think God would like me to remember to read slower, pay attention to the words I am typing, pay closer attention to his word and my circumstances, and apply his word and his lessons to my circumstances. It is going to take me awhile to get over these feelings. It is going to take me awhile to get over the fear that someone heard me and it put a stumbling block in their way. Boy, can things turn on a dime. My emotions, too. I remember coming up with a phrase years ago (it used to sit on my desk): "The difference between a good day and a bad day? — One word." Yep. It is still true.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:4)

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Two. Two stations with 24-hour Christmas music. I’m trying to remember to be thankful that I live in a country where Christmas music is allowed. Now that I think about it, maybe this is a good thing. By listening to Christmas music early and often, maybe we will gain a little more perspective, a little more peace, and a little more patience a little bit sooner. Okay. I’m fine now. I just had to think it through.

Psalm 33:1-3Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

Psalm 92:1-2It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.

Psalm 95:1-2Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

Psalm 98:4-8Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the LORD, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 144:9I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,

Psalm 147:1Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

Psalm 147:7Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.

Psalm 149:1Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints.

Psalm 149:3Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.

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Daniel – chapter 1

"The Bible gives no better model of how to live with and serve those who don’t share or respect your beliefs." (From the editors of The Student Bible)

"Ask yourself what Daniel can teach you about faithfulness to God in similarly ‘alien’ circumstances." (From the editors of The Student Bible)

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This is the text of George Washington’s October 3, 1789 national Thanksgiving Proclamation; as printed in The Providence Gazette and Country Journal, on October 17, 1789.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

G. Washington.

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A local radion station has begun playing ’round-the-clock Christmas music. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! You wouldn’t think there would be that many different Christmas tunes or that many versions of the same song, but there are.

I love Christmas. I love the music. I listen to Christmas music randomly throughout the year and have four songs on my regular play list on the ipod. I have Christmas instrumental music on the computer. But a 24-hour Christmas music station already? Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Isn’t there anybody willing to risk the political incorrectness of promoting Thanksgiving? (Christmas is just as PI but apparently more profitable).

Anyway, Lord, I am grateful for Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to the Christmas season, but please jolt your people awake so we may return to a lifestyle of thankfulness and turn from the emptiness of getting stuff. 

Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

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Leviticus 22:29
"When you sacrifice a thank offering to the LORD, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf."

As I try to learn about the "thanksgiving offering" in the OT, this verse sticks out today. I think I have already written about how I haven’t had the feelings of thankfulness these last few days. I realize, with my head, the many things God has done for me, but I wish the feelings would be stronger and consistent. Technically, this goes against what I believe and teach about the role of feelings, but I need to be transparent and wait for God to teach me.

In Hebrews, this is what the writer says about praise:

"For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:14-16)

This passage is so rich in helping explain what sacrifices are pleasing to God. Leviticus 22 presents what is and is not acceptable for sacrifice to God. Essentially, that which has defect or is blemished are unacceptable to fulfill a vow, but God will accept that which is deformed or stunted as a freewill offering. Well, I can definitely say that my offerings of thanksgiving have been deformed and stunted this week! I’ve never thought of giving thanks as fulfilling a vow. I just always assumed it was always a freewill offering.

Why is giving thanks a sacrifice of praise? Because it costs us something. It costs humilty, because we are admitting that we need someone other than ourselves to provide for us and admitting that what we have is not from our own power or wealth, but are gifts from God. It costs brokenness, because we have come to the place where we realize we are empty and powerless without God and his provision.

Praise is described as the fruit of lips that confess his name. Fruit that can be used comes from a healthy tree, planted in healthy soil, well fed and well watered. The tree has life because the seed has died. Dying to self must be the beginning of thanksgiving.

Foundational to being thankful must be this attitude: "For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come." In order to be thankful, our eyes must be focused on God and his stuff and not ourselves.

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