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Thanksgiving is CHURCH

David Gentiles

Friday 28th - THANKSGIVING is CHURCH

Psalm 111:1 - I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

 It’s Black Friday and for most of America, Thanksgiving is over and Christmas has begun!  At least the shopping for Christmas… It is amazing how in just a few years stores are now opening on Thanksgiving to provide the rush of shoppers an opportunity to grab their gifts before the day is finished!  Some families have fun traditions of staying up late or waking early to beat the crowds and knock out their entire gift list in one day.  I personally have refrained from that new tradition. I think all of the carb loading has something do with that!

 At any rate, whether you’re sleeping in or shopping hard, the majority of our hearts have moved on from Thanksgiving to Christmas overnight. 

 I wonder though if we might for one more day consider all that God is doing and prepare our hearts for Sunday morning as we gather together to give thanks as a body for the faithfulness of God.

 Over and over again the Psalms call us as a family of God to give thanks in the corporate setting.  Consider these verses:

 

I will tell of your name to my bro­thers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you. 22:22

I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you. 35:18

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. 40:9-10

 I love most those last two verses from chapter 40.  In essence the psalmist exclaims: “God has been so faithful to me! I can’t hold it in; I have to express my heart to him with my family!”

 We have the most powerful opportunity coming in two days to recount together the blessing of God in our lives.  How beautiful the sounds of thousands of voices lifted to God in song and prayer.  There is something unique that happens in us when we lift our voices in worship together. I believe with all my heart that God grafts our hearts to be one when we worship in His presence.  I believe that when we seek His face collectively, He is found.  I believe that when we humble ourselves before almighty God He draws near to us in a special way. 

 If God has already shown us that when we’re gathered, he will speak, encourage, convict, heal, comfort, draw near, give clarity, strengthen hearts, save the lost, win the wayward, and enlighten the dark paths before us, let’s then in response …  Come into his presence with singing and his courts with praise … Let’s give thanks to him and bless his name! WE ARE HIS … HE HAS MADE US!” Psalm 100.

 With those verses in mind, I am looking forward to meeting God with you my church family this weekend. My prayer for each one of us is that we will be ready to not withhold anything, but pour forth the praises of Almighty God.  He is worthy of our thanksgiving.  He is worthy of our songs.  He is worthy of our prayers.  He is Worthy!

Thanksgiving is MEAL TIME

David Gentiles

We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds.
— Psalm 75:1

 HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Today we fill our tummies to the brim with turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, boudin, green beans, hash brown casserole, pumpkin pie, and countless family traditional dishes that send us head long into afternoon football naps and glorious leftover dinner buffets.

 And yet it is at the Thanksgiving table that families share meals together.  It is at this table that siblings who haven’t seen each other in years share again a family meal. At this table friends become family and the wayward find their way home.

 What happens at this table can shape us.  These are moments that can change the trajectory of our families. Husbands, don’t let this table pass without telling your wives how dear she is to you. Fathers and mothers, tell your kids how proud you are of them and that you will always be there for them.  All us kids can pour out appreciation to our parents and grandparents.  They’ve sacrificed so much for us.

 For me … the challenge is set in my mind and I can’t escape or ignore it.  Both Emily’s family and my parents will be in our home for Thanksgiving this year.  I can either do one of two things: 1. Let the day happen and let everyone else bear the responsibility of making moments, or 2: I can intentionally create moments for my family that will encourage and bless them.  I can initiate conversations with my mother and father in law that will grow our relationship. I can ask Emily’s sisters questions about what’s going on in their lives and listen.  I can tell jokes, wash dishes, turn the TV off and engage in conversation.  I can go for a walk with Mr. Sam (Emily’s dad) because I know he really loves personal time with each of us.  I can give my mom really long hugs (she’s a hug extender hugger) and tell her that I love her.  I can cuddle Huey (the cat) a little longer and maybe give him some turkey this year.  I can lead us in a time of prayer and thanksgiving for all that God has done in our family.

 SELAH (Deep Breath)

 If someone means something to you, don’t be passive. Tell them. Let’s not wait for someone to initiate with us, but let us take steps further and create windows to love, shepherd, and guide those closest to us to the safest place of God’s grace and affection. 

 The reality is… There is a ton I can do to make this Thanksgiving magical.  What’s comforting is that I don’t have to do much except open my mouth and speak words of love and affirmation. There are consequences to passivity and intentionality.  The beautiful thing is that my intentional investment on this day will echo into the future intimacy of our family.  Every small step today cultivates health and joy for tomorrow.

 So… I just laid out my own challenge on the page:) Big goals I know, but I have to.  Friends we have to! The heart of my family is at stake today.  The heart of every family is at stake today.

 So let’s make moments.  I’ll make ours and you make yours and let’s see how God blesses the table this year.

 With Great Affection,

 David Gentiles

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Is An S.O.S.

David Gentiles

Asaph, in Psalm 50, gives account God’s call to give thanks as a sacrifice in the midst of his distress.  What? I thought thanksgiving was something that happened when you felt good about life, your material blessings, your health, etc. How could giving thanks be a sacrifice? Or, how could a sacrifice possibly be thanksgiving? Honestly, this is a hard one for me to wrap my brain around.

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