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Happy Thanksgiving 2019

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good!

 

by John Vogt - November 28, 2019

The Pilgrims rejoiced in their first successful corn harvest in 1621. The accomplishment prompted Governor William Bradford to declare a celebratory feast. He invited several Native American friends to join the event, including Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe. Many recall this gathering to be America’s very first Thanksgiving. The festival lasted for three days.

Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrims, wrote this Thanksgiving message. “Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

But long before those Pilgrims and Native American Indians came together to give thanks, the Psalmist King David wrote these inspired words in the year 1000 BC (approximately) PSALM 107.1 Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever. This is a powerful Psalm that highlights the faithfulness and love of God toward us. It also points us in precisely the right direction regarding who we are thanking. We are thanking and praising God for His hand of provision, tender mercies, and loving-kindness.

There are times when life is hard and painful. Having a heart of Thanksgiving may not come easily for some. There can be numerous reasons for bitterness and discouragement if we let our minds wander away from the truth. The loss of a loved one, financial worries, family strife, broken hearts, health challenges can all put us in a downward spiral of discouragement. But, ultimately, we have the promises of God to quiet and comfort us. He promises never to leave us or forsake us. And, for that promise, we can be very thankful. We all have a story to tell. As we continue to examine Psalm 107, we see one account after another of God’s love and faithfulness toward each of us.

Psalm 107
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.[a]
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.
23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.
33 He turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.
37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish.
39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40 he who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste.
41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
but all the wicked shut their mouths.
43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

In 300 BC, Ezra was inspired to write these words found in 1 Chronicles 16:34-35: “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Being thankful has much to do with joy. Joy is a powerful gift for navigating life even during some of our most difficult times. The joy of the Lord is our strength. The Prophet Habakkuk gave us these words in the late 7th century BC. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.—HABAKKUK 3:17–18

A thankful heart and true joy in the Lord changes everything. I am learning to focus on the positive things of life. The foundational vision and mission of The Home Page Network are to highlight the good things that happen in our communities rather than turning our cameras onto pain, human tragedy, and suffering. Rape, murder, robbery, and human suffering rule today’s media. Political discord and hate for one another are continuously stirred up by media outlets. But, with a heart of thanksgiving and joy, the Lord encourages us to focus on and rejoice in good things.

Philippians 4
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

A determination to live life with an attitude of joy and thanksgiving can change and influence our community for good. Each one of us can make a huge difference.

One woman with a thankful heart changed our Country for good. In 1827 Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of many publications including the famous nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” began a campaign to establish a national day of thanksgiving. She was faithful to petition those in governing authority for over 35 years. Here is one of the petitions that she wrote in 1859. “We now have but two days set apart for popular rejoicing. The 22d of February is the Day of National Patriotism [Washington’s birthday]; the Fourth of July is the Jubilee of National Independence. Let the last Thursday in November be consecrated by gratitude to God for His wonderful blessings on our people, the crowning glory of which is our National Union. We shall then have three American Festivals, which our own citizens, wherever they might be, would observe with pride, joy, and thankfulness. … A national feeling of Thanksgiving, putting the bounty, goodness, and love of the Creator before the eyes of the dullest and the hearts of the coldest, would effect incalculable benefits to our Country.”

Then in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln granted Sarah’s request at the peak of our Civil War. Lincoln put forth a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving to be celebrated for the final Thursday in November, and there it stayed until 1939 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week to help boost Christmas sales during the great depression. The opposition was so significant that President Roosevelt later sighed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

This time of year, I miss my Dad and Mom a lot. They have been home with the Lord for many years now. I also miss my brother Jim who we lost at a young age of 44. But, I am making the decision to thank God for those precious years I had with loved ones instead of letting my heart sink into sadness and regret. I have also gone through the challenge of serious illness more than once with both heart and kidney failure. But, looking back, I am very thankful to the Lord not only for bringing me through those difficult times but for helping me see more clearly in the midst of those challenges the essential things of life like my time with Him and my family. For those of us who have given our hearts to the Lord even in death, we can be thankful and rejoice, knowing that life does not end here. This time on earth is only the beginning.

Just before Sara’s (my wife), dad passed away; he told her to be thankful for the good that she has been given. He said that he was never grateful for the good things that he had been given in life. He said that he became angry and bitter about missing out on what he thought he should have received. This resentment left him empty and locked up in the prison of regret. He realized at the very end of his life that this was wrong and encouraged Sara not to make the same mistake.

During this Thanksgiving season, let us remember those numerous things for which we are thankful. And, let us also remember the ONE who is worthy of our gratitude. James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Nehemiah 8:10
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

On behalf of all of us here at The Home Page Network, have a joyful Thanksgiving.

Credits:

Writing: John Vogt

 

Produced by Vogt Media

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