Thursday, November 26, 2009

11/26/09- Thanksgiving- Give thanks to the Lord

(Jean Louis Ferris rendering)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

11/26- Thanksgiving- Psalm 118:1-9, 13,14, 25-29
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let Israel say: "His love endures forever."
3 Let the house of Aaron say: "His love endures forever." 4 Let those who fear the LORD say: "His love endures forever." 5 When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. 6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can human beings do to me? 7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. 8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in human beings. 9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. 13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. 14 The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. 25 LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Calvin abridged: David doesn’t just give thanks to God privately, but loudly summons the people to join together in a joint exercise in piety. So he encourages them to magnify the grace of God, under whose kind protection re-establishes them in safety. He praises God for His mercy and goodness- not just his power and justice. We will never quickly and heartily praise God until we are won over by the sweetness of his goodness (cf. Ps. 51:17). 5 “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord”- David was applying to the Church what had happened in his own life- that God provided and lifted him up. He was encouraging the faithful not to give up in the day of adversity. The times of sad adversity are the times we should abound in prayer which is a consolation and antidote for all our ills. 6- “The Lord is with me I will not be afraid”- Since we are defended by God, all the schemes of human beings are worthless. When all the power of the universe is deemed as nothing, in comparison to God’s power, then God is honored properly. In saying this he rebukes the unbelief of almost everyone who spontaneously alarm themselves with groundless fears. All desire peace of mind; but because they rob God of the praise due to his power, their own ingratitude keeps them from realizing the blessing of His peace. But when we pay more attention to the mischievous attempts of human beings than to the help which God can give us, we deserve to tremble at the falling of a leaf. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in human beings”- When we compare God to human beings, He must be viewed as infinitely exalted above them. The comparison is improper, however, because we should not transfer to others the smallest portion of our confidence which must be placed in God alone. The Psalmist ridicules the illusory hopes of people by which they are tossed here and there; In the 9th verse he substitutes “princes” for “men”, indicating that even those who confide in the greatest earthly powers act foolishly. The trust that is put in earthly things shall be cursed in the end, but the enjoyment of God’s favor will convert even death into life. 27 “The Lord is God”- God out of compassion to His Church, dissipates the darkness, and introduces the light of His grace. God as the author of our deliverance, shows Himself to be truly God. The Church was reduced almost to the brink of despair; and the ungodly imagined that God had forsaken them. So David again acknowledges God’s grace. “procession to the horns of the altar”- legally they could not render solemn thanks to God without sacrifices. It remains to us that we should offer to God our thanksgiving through Christ who sanctifies us by his own immaculate offering. Giving thanks helps to not miss the promises and the hope of receiving sure and immediate assistance from his hand.
Thoughts: To whom do we give thanks? Some of our retailers are giving thanks this year for the first time in centuries by opening up and making their employees miss their rest. The whole idea of stopping to give thanks or to worship is missing from our society. We are so worried about missing a dollar that we even open on Thanksgiving. Two years ago stores that weren’t open on Christmas Eve opened up to get that last minute shopper. In the meantime, there is less time with family, with God, and with thanks and more time shopping, spending, and working. Ironically the dollar we are working so hard for is not worth as much. Seven years ago the dollar was worth more than the Euro. Today it takes about $1.58 to equal one Euro. The reason gold is up to record levels is the dollar is down. Yet, instead of turning to God in repentance- we turn to our work. Isaiah (30:15) says “In repentance and rest is your strength.” Okay, okay- enough of looking at how the world messes up Thanksgiving by doing the opposite of this Psalm- putting trust in princes and riches. There is definitely a positive side here- that we NEED to hear.
I enjoy thanksgiving so very much, because I am truly grateful to God for His many benefits. Though the world may forget, we can rejoice that God is good and merciful- even when things look bleak. That God delivers the faithful is a promise we need to hold onto in a recession. We can put our trust in Him and pray that God will save us and grant us success, as He has done in the past. It is such an important thing to give thanks to God- for this shows we acknowledge Him as our help and our hope.

Prayer: We give thanks to you, O Lord, for you are good! Your mercies endure forever! Thank you for the opportunity to give thanks.

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