The “Who” of Thanksgiving


9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12)

Today our local newspaper was splattered with Thanksgiving messages, some mentioning God, but many with no mention of God. To whom are we thankful? Upon reflection, it is really odd to be thankful to…nothing, or no one. If you are really thankful for your family, who do you thank? Fate, nature?

Fast forward to eternity future and peek into this scene before God’s throne. The very ground of true thanksgiving is this, ““Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”. Until we acknowledge the majesty of God and that all that sovereign deity is on display in the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ…for us we can hardly be thankful as we ought.

All of the eternal attributes of God demand that his creatures be thankful. This self-sustaining God who needs nothing, who exists by Himself, the One who speaks and things leap into existence, this God loves sinners! He came with the announcement his name will be “God with us” and “He will save His people from their sins”. Each of us and all of us who have bowed the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ have firm ground for being thankful.

Today, on this official day in America of Thanksgiving, don’t neglect to reflect on our mighty God who alone is worthy of our thanksgiving and praise. The sum total of our manifold blessings come to us from His gracious hand, so be thankful to Him!

 

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Thanksgiving like no other…


When King David’s son Solomon decided to build the temple of the Lord and a palace for himself, he made great preparations. The Old Testament book of 2nd Chronicles records the following.

And Solomon assigned 70,000 men to bear burdens and 80,000 to quarry in the hill country, and 3,600 to oversee them. (2 Chronicles 2:2)

A project that requires a 153,600 man workforce is quite an undertaking. In 2 Chronicles chapter 3 you can read about some of the details and size of the building. It would make the TBN headquarters look like a drug flop house. It was not only huge but was adorned with jewels and had gold everywhere. No expense was spared and the furnishings were as magnificent as the building.

Finally, when everything was completed according to specific plans, the Levitical priests brought in the ark of the covenant in which lay the tables of the law. Then the celebration began!

Three praise leaders assembled a choir and the musicians which included cymbals, harps, and lyres. To round it off there were 120 preachers playing trumpets! They started to play and sing in unison and the glory of the God filled the place like a cloud so that the priests were unable to stand to minister.

This is a mega church doing it right! Praise and thanksgiving with singing, and musical instruments, and God give his approval by filling the house with his glory! Is there a lesson for us here? Read the account for yourself, part of it is here.

12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; 13 (and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD,
“For he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever,”

the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:12-14)

One of the marks of the people of God way back in David’s day, and in the days of his son Solomon, was praise and thanksgiving. It was done loudly, by many people, using voices and musical instruments of all sorts. Today I read several passages written by the great apostle Paul who was routinely giving thanks. He give thanks for the faith of those who had put their trust in Jesus, for their holy lives, for their generosity, etc. And he taught others to be always giving thanks as well. An unthankful Christian in the Bible is unthinkable.

So, as we gather with family and friends this Thursday, have a blast! Enjoy the food God has provided, praise God for his grace and goodness, laugh, sing, play music, and be  thankful. It’s a plan God approves.

A Christmas Treat


Yesterday I was peeling a satsuma, my favorite, and I thought of my dad. And, I thought about how easy it is to take almost everything for granted.

My parents grew up in the rugged frontier of the mountains and valleys of Western North Carolina. They were both teens in the late 1930’s and times were quite hard. My grandfather lived off the land and somehow with the help of uncles and aunts and grandparents they raised a total of 12 children, most of them in that primitive lifestyle.

I remembered my dad telling me how he and the other children looked forward to Christmas because that is the one time of year they would get an orange. And you read right, “an” orange. Usually they each got one. A dozen oranges was splurging that one time of year. Were they poor? You have no idea how poor.

So, when I am prone to whine and moan about not having an iPad or a newer car or…whatever, I need to pause and remember that orange. I am very, very blessed to the point that I am very, very spoiled, as are most Americans.

Thankfully,

Royce

Thanksgiving


I am thankful to be an American with freedoms given by the Creator and guaranteed by the blood of Patriots.

I am thankful for my parents and their ancient family from the hills of Scotland, the villages of Ireland, and the farms of Holland.

I am thankful for a mother who prayed for me every day. I am thankful for a father who was a good man by every standard a man is measured.

I am thankful for Clarence Autry, a man who loved me enough to tell me the good news when I was a 15-year-old. I am thankful for Jay Blankenship a great man of God who preached God’s truth fearlessly, who prayed with me when I fell on my face in repentance and faith, and who baptized me in the North Fork River. He prayed that I would become a preacher, he discipled me the best he knew how, and I’ll ever be grateful for this good man who loved me.

I am thankful for the women who loved me and cared about me and shared their lives with me. I am thankful that God rescued me when I thought all was lost when my first marriage ended after 14 years against my will. I am thankful that when my second marriage ended suddenly after 17 years with the death of my Jeanine that in the middle of some of my darkest days I had joy in my soul. I am thankful the resurrection is real and certain. I am thankful for Carol Jane who soon will have been my much better half for 12 years. I am thankful for a Godly wife, devoted mother and grand mother, ministry partner, and best friend. She is my heaven on earth.

I am thankful for my only brother David. He is the last of my family, 18 years my junior. I am thankful for David’s character, so much like my father. A hard worker, one of the most honest men I’ve ever known, and devoted to his family. I am thankful for William my nephew, David’s son, who is presently trying to grow up. He will I’m sure and I’ll be even more thankful when he gets there. And I’m thankful for Christie who has been the love of David’s life for many years. She is a keeper.

I am thankful for a son and a daughter I was sure I’d never have. And I am thankful for their spouses, each with strengths I admire and very good reasons to love them, too. I am especially thankful for their children who by default are my six most excellent grand children. I am thankful that I have had the experience of being Papa to those little people. I know no earth-bound delight, no measure of joy, like being loved by those precious children. I am thankful beyond mere words ability to describe.

I am thankful for a wonderful church family whom I love deeply and who loves me and mine. I am thankful for the many friends I have over the country whom I hold dear. I am thankful for ordinary people who have been blessed to do extraordinary things for God’s kingdom.

I am thankful for Rusty and Sally Westbury who are my best friends next to Carol. We have been through hell and back together, they know me as well as anyone on earth and have loved me unconditionally for many years and will until they can’t love any more. Only a few people in a life time are instantly stamped on your heart forever without regard to circumstances, good times, or bad times, grief or joy, times of proud accomplishment and times of shame. Rusty and Sal have always been there, and for that I am deeply thankful.

While every word ’til this is true they all pale in comparison to the greatest object of my gratitude. I am thankful for Jesus Christ the Lamb of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I am thankful for his perfect plan of redemption. I am thankful for his death as a sinner in my place, for his burial, and for his resurrection, my promise of life eternal. I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who brings to my heart the truth of God’s Word and assures me I am his. I am thankful for the love of God for sinners and for his mercy and grace. And I am thankful for sweet answers to prayer that cheer my heart.

Well, I could go on and on and on.

Just trust me on this one… I am a very thankful man.

Happy Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to really be thankful, you have a lot to be thankful for.

Agape’

Royce