Know that the Lᴏʀᴅ, he is God! (Psalm 100:3).
“We hope this price reduction provides much-needed relief at the pump for our customers as they travel for the Thanksgiving holiday.” This is how Travis Sheetz, president and CEO of the Sheetz gas station chain, explained his decision to drop the price of Unleaded 88 gas at hundreds of stations to $1.99. “Sheetz is a family owned and operated company and at the heart of everything we do is giving back to our customers and the communities we reside in,” he added.
In other good news, Southwest Airlines employees found a novel way to help a traveler. They noticed that a customer left a cell phone behind in a gate area. The flight was already boarded and pushed back from the gate. So they rushed the phone out to the plane; the pilot opened his window, reached down, and took the phone from them to return to its owner.
Such stories illustrate Henry Ward Beecher’s observation, “Let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”
On this Thanksgiving Day, let’s be sure to remember the intended focus of the day.
Theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. observed, “It must be an odd feeling to be thankful to nobody in particular. Christians in public institutions often see this odd thing happening on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone in the institution seems to be thankful ‘in general.’ It’s very strange. It’s a little like being married in general.”
Our first president would have agreed. On November 16, 1789, President George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the government. He called upon Americans to express gratitude to God for the conclusion of their war of independence, declaring “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.”
Psalm 100 frames such gratitude with three empowering descriptions of this God.
First, he is “Lᴏʀᴅ” (v. 3a), a title that translates the Hebrew word YHWH, often spelled “Yahweh.” This is the holiest name in all the Hebrew language. It means “the One who was, is, and is to come.” He is sovereign over all time and eternity, the Lord of your past, present, and future.
Second, he is “God” (v. 3b). This is the Hebrew word Elohim, meaning “one who is great, mighty, and dreadful.” This title points to our God’s creative and universal omnipotence.
Third, “the Lᴏʀᴅ is good” (v. 5). The word translated “good” means that God keeps his promises out of his character and nature. He is righteous, trustworthy, and holy.
Take time today to express your gratitude for who God is.
Next, the psalmist helps us focus on what God does.
First, he considers what God has done for us in the past: “He made us” (v. 3b). He created us, each and every one of us.
Consider that your body is made of one hundred trillion cells, three hundred million of which die every minute. Your brain possesses one hundred billion nerve cells. Each square inch of your skin contains twenty feet of blood vessels; placed end to end, your body’s blood vessels would measure sixty-two thousand miles. That’s how far your blood travels each day.
That same square inch of skin has an average of thirty-two million bacteria on it. And every year, 98 percent of the atoms in your body are replaced. Your God made all of that when he made you. David was right to pray, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
Second, the psalmist calls us to gratitude for what God does for us in the present: “We are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3c).
This means that God knows us intimately and personally, as a shepherd knows his sheep. The shepherd lives with his sheep. He sleeps in their field and walks at their side. He weathers their storms, faces their enemies, and comforts their fears. He knows his sheep intimately.
In John 10 Jesus says of himself, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (v. 3). Jesus knows your name. He knows every detail of your life. And he loves you intimately. Nothing shall ever separate you from his love (Romans 8:35–39).
Let’s close this Thanksgiving Day meditation with a powerful poem of praise:
My heart is overflowing with gratitude and praise,
To him whose loving kindness has followed all my days;
To him who gently leads me by cool and quiet rills
And with their balm of comfort my thirsty spirit fills.
Within the vale of blessing, I walk beneath the light
Reflected from his glory, that shines forever bright.
I feel his constant presence wherever I may be;
How manifold his goodness, how rich his grace to me!
My heart is overflowing with love and joy and song,
As if it heard an echo from yonder ransomed throng.
Its every chord is vocal with music’s sweetest lay,
And to its home of sunshine it longs to fly away.
I feign would tell the story, and yet I know full well
The half was never, never told—the half I cannot tell.
Fanny Crosby wrote these words. Her eyes were blind. But her heart saw God and gave him thanks.
This is a nice short Substack by Aaron Renn on the He Gets Us campaign. He “gets us” not because we ourselves are close to what he’s like, but because we are far away. That Jesus gets us is a profound act of mercy, not coolness. A truncated message that says “Jesus gets you” could easily be taken to mean, “Jesus is you.”With all that said, I understand the point Renn makes in his post too. Projects like He Gets Us or the Keller Center are still in “neutral” gear, meaning they are still operating under the assumption that our main hurdle is a general lack of knowledge.1 month ago Patheos
Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, 5but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. 9Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ 10And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? But Cain’s experience of his offering not having been accepted by the Creator in the same way as his brother’s offering has been accepted has left him angry. After Cain has killed Abel, God asks Cain about his brother’s whereabouts.2 months ago Patheos
Compassion has been at the heart of my interspiritual attempts for years. As I wrote in Co-Human Harmony, I’ve defined compassion as the ability to empathize with others and act accordingly. Trying to appear perfect may save face, but vulnerability can be the better choice if we want to be compassionate. I also attempt to be good to others when I feel bad about myself, but those attempts often feel performative. Interspirituality Has Informed MeOverall, interspirituality has been a valuable tool in my journey toward compassion.2 months ago Patheos
CEASE FROM EVILA Reflection on the First Precept of Zen BuddhismJames Ishmael FordToday we’re inaugurating a series of reflections on Zen’s precepts. As you may know Empty Moon is a hybrid community deriving ultimately through a reform of Japanese Soto Zen. The precepts are part of a three-legged stool of our Zen lives, together with awakening, and our meditation disciplines. So, awakening is found within meditation and the precepts; meditation is found within awakening and the precepts; and the precepts are found within awakening and meditation. There are things, actions and thoughts that become actions, that damage, that wound, that kill.2 months ago Patheos
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Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? *Believe it or not, the question of whether Christians should celebrate Christmas is a very old one. Of course, there are movies made by Christians for Christians who do include those. On the other hand, we, our church and family, had Christmas decorations, listened to both religious and secular Christmas music (but not secular in church), and gave and received “Christmas presents.” Yes, we always had a Christmas tree in our house but not in our church. I have two qualms about the secular “winter holiday” called Christmas that has nothing to do with Christ.3 months ago Patheos
You can listen to or download the New Testament in Context portion of the November 20th broadcast of the Interpreter Radio Show below. The Interpreter Radio Show can be heard Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640, or you can listen live on the Internet at ktalkmedia.com. ***Our viewing habits have changed a bit since the arrival of our granddaughter from South America late on Thursday night. ***I wrote this column for the Deseret News just before Christmas 2020:As we enter into the 2020 Christmas season, most of us will have occasion to revisit the familiar stories from the second chapters of Luke and Matthew about the Nativity and the visit of the Wise Men. How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?” He said: “God is like that.3 months ago Patheos
As you watch O Holy Night: Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir, whether on Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. The First Tabernacle Choir OrganThe next day, back in Salt Lake, we attended an organ recital at the acoustically amazing Tabernacle building in Temple Square, home to the LDS Church’s original organ. The round Tabernacle, completed in 1867, is also home to the famed Tabernacle Choir. And Then, the Tabernacle Choir Concert ItselfThese days, the yearly concert takes place at the massive Conference Center. O Holy Night: Christmas With the Tabernacle Choir marks the 19th annual Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir television special, which has been the No.3 months ago Patheos