Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

How Soon They Forget!

Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: (Deuteronomy 8:11)

Forgetfulness gets us in trouble many times, like when you forget some special someone’s birthday or anniversary. Forgetfulness can be annoying, like when you walk into a room and wonder why you entered. Someone once said that “The only thing faster than the speed of thought is the speed of forgetfulness. Good thing we have other people to help us remember.”[1] Some kinds of forgetfulness are worse than others. When you forget a special day, you can always make it up and get forgiveness. When you walk into a room and forget why you entered, you can always walk back out and remember when you get busy doing something else. However, forgetting God and the blessings He has bestowed on us, well, that just makes us ingrates, but worse, it raises up a barrier to our relationship with Him.

Reading through the biblical history of Israel, the characteristic that stands out above all others is forgetfulness, which often manifests in the spirit of ingratitude. When God led them out of Egypt, they soon forgot the hardship of their bondage and started complaining about the manna God provided for them in the desert. After God audibly spoke to them at Mount Sinai and gave them His Ten Commandments, they soon forgot the first one and built a golden calf to worship.

That pattern followed them throughout their history until God finally had enough and sent the Assyrians first to punish Israel (the northern kingdom) then, 100 years later, He sent the Babylonians to punish Judah. The northern kingdom, Israel, was deported to the region that we know today as northeastern Iraq,[2] and they assimilated with the Assyrian culture gaining the moniker of the “Ten Lost Tribes.” Nebuchadnezzar carried off the Jews[3] in three waves, 597 BC, 586 BC, and finally 581 BC, but the Judah Jews retained their identity throughout their captivity (as they have to this day).

The Babylonian captivity for the Jews lasted only 70 years as God had determined for them.[4] Daniel records the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC[5] by Cyrus as predicted by Isaiah the prophet.[6] After conquering Babylon, Cyrus issued a decree[7] that allowed the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild Jerusalem and their Temple. It took the Jews about 23 years to rebuild the Temple razed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. “And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king” (Ezra 6:15).[8]

Fifty-six years (by my calculations) after the completion of the Temple, Ezra, priest and scribe,[9] left Babylon to assess the Temple situation. This was during the seventh year of Artaxerxes I’s (465-425 BC) reign; this would have been around 458 BC. In the interim, between the completion of the Temple and Ezra’s arrival in Jerusalem, the enemies of the Jerusalem Jews had been carrying on a letter-writing campaign with the Persian kings to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem.[10] Therefore, all building (except for the Temple which was completed) had ceased.

At about this same time, (20th year of Artaxerxes I, 445 BC) Nehemiah heard about the battered condition of Jerusalem and how the city walls were broken down. This caused him great grief and from his position as the “king’s cupbearer,” he requested permission to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. Ezra was already in Jerusalem. So Nehemiah took charge, and against much opposition, rebuilt the walls in just 52 days.[11]

I have a reason for providing all that detail. I began by reciting Israel’s forgetfulness and unfaithfulness to the LORD their God. Finally, after 70 years of captivity, God worked through pagan kings to allow them to return to their homeland. With the blessing of the Persian kings, beginning with Cyrus, God provided the way and the resources for them to rebuild their Temple and the walls of the city in record time. All of this was God’s doing, and God’s hand can be clearly seen over all of it. One would think that after all of that, they would remember their God.

They did, briefly. Once the walls were completed and Ezra had the priests and Levites all organized, they had a dedication for the Temple and the City walls. The scene recorded in Nehemiah 8 and 9 harkens back to a similar gathering when King Josiah read the Book of the Law that had been found in Solomon’s Temple.[12] On this occasion, Ezra stood on a “pulpit” and read Scripture from morning until noon. And the people stood and listened, and the Levites “taught the people” and they “read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8, emphasis mine). The clarity given to God’s word was necessary because the people had been speaking Aramaic in their captivity and probably lost a lot of their use and understanding of Hebrew – the language of the Scripture.

As a result, there was a great “revival” among the people. They discovered that it displeased God for them to intermarry with pagans, so all those who married pagan wives divorced them. They committed to follow God completely. So, for the twelve years that Nehemiah governed,[13] they were faithful to their commitment. However, Nehemiah had to return to his post at the side of Artaxerxes[14] and was there for “certain days.” In his brief absence, things (spiritually) fell into disarray once again. Eliashib, the priest, arranged an apartment inside the Temple for Tobia the Ammonite, the mortal enemy of Nehemiah, violating the Law of God.[15] Nehemiah observed many Jews violating the Sabbath and foreign merchants peddling their goods inside the city gates on the Sabbath. All these things from which they “repented” were taking place as normal. They also started marrying pagan wives again. How soon they forget!

It is no wonder that God stopped speaking to them after this for the next 400 years. Then Jesus came, and they failed to recognize Him because they forgot what Scripture foretold about Him. We should not be too critical, though. We have the complete canon of God’s Word, and we still forget.

I have stated before, when I read the history of Israel, I see a striking parallel with our nation, the U.S.A. We have forgotten God too, and if God stopped dealing with His “chosen people” what makes us think that we should get preferential treatment? I think we have gone too far in our forgetfulness.

There is hope for the U.S.A., for Israel, and for the whole world. Soon, and very soon, Jesus will return and set up His kingdom on Earth, and all things will be made right. Are you prepared to meet Him? See my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration, (Norilana Books, http://www.norilana.com/, 2010).

[2]  2 Kings 17:6

[3]  Name derived from “Judah”

[4]  Jeremiah 25:11-12

[5]  Daniel 5:30

[6]  Isaiah 44:28; 45:1

[7]  Ezra 5:13

[8]  Darius reigned between 522-486 BC

[9]  Ezra 7:6

[10] Ezra 4:8-22 (is a “sample” letter that is out of sequence with the narrative)

[11] Nehemiah 6:15

[12]  “Too Good, Too Late” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/05/17/too-good-too-late/

[13]  Nehemiah 5:14-15

[14]  Nehemiah 13:6

[15]  Deuteronomy 23:3

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Give Thanks

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Without question, we live in the richest nation in the world. In terms of material possessions, even our poor own more stuff than many of the “well-off” in the world. Poverty, in the rest of the world, means that people have only one meal a day if that. They have no clean water to drink, no shoes to wear, and perhaps only one change of clothes. Their children are diseased and dying with little or no hope for medical care. That is real poverty.

America knows no such poverty. During my time as a bilingual elementary school teacher in Dallas and Garland, I visited in the homes of some of my students. All of them, as far as I know (it was not my place to ask), were children of illegal immigrant parents. All of them were considered “poor” and usually received assistance for their normal school supplies. I do not recall a single home I visited that did not have large flat-screen TVs, usually more than one, and the children had some kind of electronic devices including video games. The parents drove late-model cars often decked out with expensive custom wheels (“rims”). I do not say this to criticize, but only to point out that our “poor” are not really poor compared to the poor in the rest of the world. This explains why millions attempt to breach our borders to leave the poverty of their countries for the “poverty” in ours.

America has been richly blessed by God, yet the voices from the left grow louder by the day denigrating America as evil, intolerant, and bigoted. What God has blessed, they curse. Paul warned that these days would come (2 Timothy 3:1-7), so we should not be surprised by this. Rather than succumb to the venomous rhetoric of the loud left by retreating into a shell of depression, we should cast our light on the darkness though our proclamation of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Day comes once a year, but our attitude of thanksgiving should be voiced daily. We have much for which to be thankful, and the Bible says much about giving thanks to God. “Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence” (Psalm 140:13). The “righteous” are those who have been made righteous by the blood of Christ forever; therefore our thanksgiving should be forever. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). I have much for which to be thankful. Every breath I take and every beat of my heart is a gift from God. I thank God for all those He orchestrated in my lineage, going all the way back to Adam so that I might have life. God has blessed me with good health for which I am thankful. I thank God for Jesus Christ who shed His blood on the cross so that I might receive His righteousness. I thank God for Jesus rising from the dead so that I might also have eternal life with Him. I thank God for my first wife through whom God gave me my two sons, their wives, and my four grandchildren. I thank God for June my wife of almost 32 years, with whom I have shared the best years of my life, and I thank God for her family who in every way has become my family. I thank God for my siblings and their families and the double bond we share in Christ. I thank God for my church family and the fellowship we share that will last throughout eternity. I thank God for my work and the talents and abilities God has given me with which I can make a living. I thank God for my job at the Institute for Creation Research and the privilege I have to work among fellow believers; they too are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Through my work – all the skills and talents God has given me – God has provided a home, “stuff” to fill our home, food, clothing, vehicles for going to work, church, and anywhere we want to go. God provides more than just our basic needs so that we are able to bless others from the overflow.

My list is short. If I were to provide an itemized list of everything with which God has blessed me, it would fill a book. I am sure my readers could say the same. The hypocrites on the left want to stir up envy against the “rich” one percent by making the rest of us feel deprived because we do not have what they have. Such envy stirs up hate and is divisive for our nation. Nowhere does the Bible promote the kind of egalitarianism promoted by the left. It is a lie of the devil and the only way to combat that perverse philosophy is by adopting an attitude of gratitude. “In everything, give thanks.”

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Thank You, Lord Jesus!

Thank You, Lord Jesus!

You have preserved my life for 67 years and You have blessed me with a good, strong body and excellent health. And even though I have not escaped “the curse,” I still do pretty well, for an “old man.”

A couple of months ago I thought I was fit enough to run, and, while You kept whispering to me not to do it, I thought I could, and did. The next day, my right knee loudly complained that I should have listened to You.

Thank You for a good physical trainer that understands the anatomy that You designed and assembled enough to take it easy on my whining knee, and who encouraged me to have a doctor take a closer look. This time I listened, and I went to see my familiar orthopedist, Dr. Medlock. Thank You for the knowledge You have revealed to men and women in the medical field. Thank You for the desire You have instilled in them to devote their lives to the care of others.

Dr. Medlock started with conservative means – a cortisone shot to the knee. That did not help, so he ordered an MRI. Thank You for such wonderful technology You have allowed humans to develop that see inside the human body to help doctors pinpoint physical injuries. Dr. Medlock saw that I had, for the second time in one year, torn the medial meniscus in my right knee, and it would require surgery to repair.

Last Friday, May 26, 2017, I went to the Ambulatory Surgery Center at Medical City, Dallas to get the work done. Thank You, Jesus that You have allowed me to live in the United States of America where we have an abundance of good public and private hospitals staffed with talented and well-trained medical personnel that are efficiently run without oppressive government meddling. Dr. Medlock is an excellent doctor.  With the use of an arthroscope (again, thank You for technology) and the skill of an excellent surgeon (thank You for Dr. Medlock), I was out of the operating room in less than an hour.

Thank You for my wonderful wife, June, who drove me home in the car You gave us. Thank You for an abundance of food at every corner. June bought me a double-double Whataburger for my first meal with money You have provided through the ability You have given us and by the good employment You have provided. You have even provided the insurance to cover most of the medical expenses through the employment You have provided.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for a church family, and a choir and Sunday school family and all the many Christian brothers and sisters You have blessed us with that care for us, and pray for us, and encourage us as we go through the down parts of life. You have not left us alone!

Today, I am four days out of surgery. So far, You have given me the strength to walk eight blocks around the neighborhood, and I plan to walk at least four more before the day is done. Tomorrow, I will drive the pickup You gave me to the place of service You have provided for me.

Thank You, my Lord Jesus, most of all because I am Yours.

Lord, I feel sorry for all those who are so richly blessed by You, and they do not even realize from Whom their blessings flow. Open their eyes, Lord. All things come from Your hand, dear Lord Jesus. Thank You.

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A Day to Give Thanks

horn-of-plenty

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

In the “Jaywalking” segment of the “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno posed some Thanksgiving Day trivia questions to passersby, and the results were humorous and sad at the same time. Here is a sample of questions asked and the responses:

  1. What year was the first Thanks giving? 1966, 1492
  2. Pilgrims are often shown wearing what on their shoes and their hats? Moccasins
  3. What is a male turkey called? Fred, Richard
  4. 280 Million Americans will cook turkey on Thanksgiving. How many Americans are there in our country? 8 Million
  5. Where did the first Pilgrims land? Hawaii, the East Coast
  6. What President declared Thanksgiving a national holiday? Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin
  7. How many days did the first Thanksgiving last? Three: one day for breakfast, one day for lunch, and one day for dinner
  8. What is the name of the ship the Pilgrims came over on? the Nina
  9. Where did the Pilgrims come from? Spain

This may be good for a belly laugh, but it is really tragic that Americans today are so ignorant of our nation’s history and traditions. In today’s culture, Thanksgiving Day is just a good excuse to have a day (or two) off of work, indulge in gluttonous behavior, and worship before the luminous god of football followed by the giving of alms to the god of materialism the next day all the while in complete ignorance of the significance of the day.

It does not have to be that way. The psalmist said, “Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name” (Psalm 18:49). The “heathen,” in this case, were the gôyim, Hebrew for the “nations” or the “Gentiles,” and by implication, the “godless.” Our attitude of thanksgiving should be a testimony to those that are without God not just on Thanksgiving Day, but everyday of our lives. In these “last days” we should live in contrast to those who are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy (2 Timothy 3:2).

C. S. Lewis once said, “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is ‘good,’ because it is good, if ‘bad’ because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” Paul expressed this same idea when he said, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12). We assimilate this attitude when “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). “Them who are the called according to His purpose” do not live their lives like the “heathen” who are ungrateful or “unthankful” in their life conduct.

Perhaps the reason the “heathen” are unthankful is because they do not know to whom they should be thankful. That, of course, presupposes that in every other respect they are caring of others beyond themselves. If expressed at all, we often hear such empty platitudes as: I’m thankful for my job; I’m thankful for my family; I’m thankful for good friends, etc. That is fine, but thankful to whom?

When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620, they arrived in the face of a harsh New England winter. They were without food and without shelter. Of the 121 souls that departed England to escape religious persecution and “for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country,” only 47 of the original colonists survived that brutal winter. With the help of neighboring Indian tribes, the colonists learned to cultivate and enjoy the bounty of the land. At the harvest that followed, they celebrated a season of thanksgiving to God for His providence and protection. The third year after having landed, William Bradford officially proclaimed November 29, 1623 a day of thanksgiving.

In as much as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest … and in as much as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three … there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

Our nation, from its beginning, has always set aside a special day to give thanks to God, but not always on a consistent basis. George Washington declared a national day of thanksgiving on November 26, 1789 with these words:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor … Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is or that will be … that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions …

Would that our current national leaders adopt that attitude!

Finally, Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed an annual national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. He said:

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy … I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens … [it is] announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord … It has seemed fit to me and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.

This Thanksgiving Day, amid all the festivities and family gatherings, try to devote at least some time to “Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 30:4). “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

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Thankful to Whom?

thankful2

Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:13)

It is that time of year again where almost everyone says they are thankful for something. At least, we are expected to be thankful. I enjoy browsing through my Facebook newsfeed and reading all the things for which my “friends” are thankful. I read comments like:

  • I am thankful for my husband/wife.
  • I am thankful for my family.
  • I am thankful for my kids.
  • I am thankful for my home.
  • I am thankful for my friends.
  • I am thankful for my health.
  • I am thankful for my job.

Of course, there is always the spiritual one that will remember to be thankful for Jesus, or for their salvation.

Whenever I receive something from someone, whether a gift or simply a kind gesture, I say “thank you” to that individual – the giver. I don’t say, “I am thankful for the gift” or “I am thankful that the door was held open for me.” No, I thank the person.

To be thankful for something one must recognize the originator of the benefit. Who gave you that husband or wife? Who gave you that family, children, home, friends, health or job? After giving that some thought, some may conclude that all those things came about through their own effort. After all one has to attract and win the affections of a good mate. Or they may surmise that their children are the “product” of their marital union. Home, job, friends, are all products of one’s own effort. Good health? Well maybe that is just the luck of the draw or the result of good genes. So, for what does one have to be grateful? To whom must one give thanks? To self or to dumb luck? To thank yourself or dumb luck would be silly!

If we are to be thankful, we must recognize the originator of the gifts or “blessings.” Ultimately that is God. Without God, there is really nothing for which to be thankful. For starters, without God to give you life, you are nothing more than a leech on the planet sucking out of it all that you can get in order to survive. Who is there to thank? The Doxology exhorts:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
 

If you are truly thankful for what you have, the thanks must go to the Giver. I thank God for giving me life, and for the blessing of good health. I thank God for giving me a loving wife. I thank God for giving me sons and grandchildren. I thank God for my extended family, especially those who are “twice” family. I thank God for giving me the ability to work and earn a living and for providing a job where I can exercise those abilities. I thank God for my home and all the material blessings that fill it. I thank God for surrounding me with good friends and for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I thank God for Jesus, my Savior, and for the sure promise of an eternal home in Glory. I thank God.

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