Thanksgiving Thoughts

 (c) Can Stock Photo / marcelmooij
(c) Can Stock Photo / marcelmooij

“Enter[1] His gates[2] with thanksgiving[3] and His courts[4] with praise[5]. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4)

The Psalms are filled exhortations (encouragement, urging) us to be thankful and to praise God. We can easily gloss over the many examples and frequent reminders that we should give thanks and praise to God. We can easily miss the essence and significance of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is coming up, a special day intended for Thanksgiving, declared a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Significantly, Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in the middle of the Civil War, while it was still raging after one of the bloodiest battles our nation has ever seen.

The decades and generations that have passed may have dulled our memories of the brutal reality of the Civil War. More Americans died in the Civil War than any other war. Anyone who has seen a Civil War surgeon’s tolls can imagine the brutality of it. Beyond the physical toll, Americans experienced the collective anxiety of a nation coming apart at the seams. The Civil War divided a nation, divided families and threatened an uncertain future.

The Psalms were penned (many of them) by King David, who reigned at the height of the glory of the Jewish nation. But David’s life was a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Continue reading

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Why My Hope Is In God

Harrison Wright Falls at Ricketts Glen State Park by Chris Fraley
Harrison Wright Falls at Ricketts Glen State Park by Chris Fraley

The ephemeral existence of man is a theme to which I keep returning these days. From our general perspective, a lifetime seems to go on forever, though that perspective changes over the years.

When I was young, summer days and blue skies seemed to go on forever. Summers seemed to be endless. I could not wait to be older. Old age was a very distant horizon. Continue reading

God Fully Understands Us

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“My God, my God, why have You forsaken[i] [ii]me?” (Psalm 22:1)

These are David’s words, and they are words Jesus spoke when he hung on the cross. Many statements in the Old Testament are predictive and point to Christ, including this verse, which anticipates Christ hanging on the cross taking on Himself the sins of the world and being abandoned by the Father in that moment as a result.

While there is a predictive element, clearly, to this statement, I think there is something else going on. Jesus was undoubtedly harkening back to David’s words, but maybe He had another purpose in doing so. We see many times in the Bible that a single phrase has multiple meanings, more than one application, and both or all of them are instructive. Continue reading

Where Is My Portion?

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The Psalmist, David, asks God to deliver him from “men of the world, whose portion[i] is in this life.”  (Psalm 17:14) David also calls these men, his adversaries, “the wicked who despoil me” (v. 9); “deadly enemies who surround me” (v.9); men with “unfeeling[ii] hearts” who “speak proudly” (v.10). We can understand why David sought God’s deliverance.

But reading on, David’s descriptions take a spin in an odd direction. Continue reading