Pastor Page November

For those who have been saved by grace, and therefore recognize that all that they are and all that they have is a gift from God above, grati- tude should be a defining attribute. Our hearts should sing psalms of thanksgiving as well as the lyrics of songs of thanksgiving like “Lord, I Just Want to Thank You,” which goes in part:

For everything You’ve done for me Thank You Lord (Thank You Lord) I just want to Thank You Lord I’d just want to Thank You Lord

Still, there are many times when we forget to give thanks unto Him who has given us so much. In fact, God has given us our everything. Even our faith is a gift from above. And yet, we forever need a time like November when our hearts turn to thanksgiving. Even with this holiday, it is easy to take for granted the blessings bestowed upon us. Thanksgiving itself can be lost in the lore of the Pilgrims at Plymouth.

It was a holiday almost lost to time. In 1789, George Washington, after a request from Congress, pro- claimed a day of thanksgiving more as a harvest festival, and it was celebrated intermittently until presidency of Abraham Lincoln. I am forever grateful to Honest Abe, who guided our nation through dark and turbulent times, and not only maintained his faith but saw it grow as he watched the sovereign hand of God guide our nation through freeing those bond in the peculiar institution of slavery, to vicious civil war, and to the reconciliation afterward.

In fact, it was in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that Lincoln proclaimed a national day “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” How many of us would have been so willing to give thanks in the midst of such violence and vitri- ol let alone call on others to do the same? Yet, Lincoln did.

Perhaps, he had in mind the writing of Thomas Fuller, the 17th century historian: “Gratitude is the least of the virtues, but ingratitude is the worst of vices.” Grati- tude may be the least of the virtues. After all, how hard is it to say, “Thank You”? But it can be the worst of the vices as it allows us to descend into a dark void of narcissism quite quickly.

Where Lincoln felt gratitude even while witnessing death and destruction, many today cannot find joy in the midst of much blessing. Social psychologist Jean Twenge, told New York magazine, “There’s a paradox here that we seem to have so much ease and relative economic prosperity compared to previous centuries, yet there’s this dissatisfaction, there’s this unhappiness, there are these mental health issues in terms of depression and anxiety.”

Dr. Twenge was an author to a 2009 study that appeared in Clinical Psychology Review. The study pointed out that the depression rate among college students has been increasing over the last 50 years. This has occurred while freedoms increased, technology advanced, and economic growth had been sustained. Even Christians are easy prey when they have been fed a distorted gospel. Some people have relied on platitudes, slogans, and pop psychology in the church in- stead of the full counsel of the Word, deep biblical wisdom, and discipleship. People want self-help and personal fulfillment instead of a calling to die to self and to take up one’s cross daily (see Matthew 16:24 and Galatians 5:24). People turn away when they hear that the Christian life is filled with difficulty (John 16:33) and prove Jesus correct when He said, “The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:14).

But those who do can sing a hymn of thanksgiv- ing, and that is what we shall do in the month of November. Each Sunday of worship will center around the songs of the saints. In the first week, the song will be from Revelation while the following weeks will come from the book of Psalms.

Through it all, we will cast our eyes on the Lord and focus our minds on the blessings we have received from His hand. We will drive ourselves toward thankfulness and away from ingratitude. We will turn from self and turn (repent) toward Christ. We will choose the way of Lincoln and discover thanksgiving while others slip into despair.

Through it all, we will sing with conviction the lyrics of songs of praise and thanksgiving like “Lord, I Just Want to Thank You,” which con- cludes:

Thank You Lord

For giving Your life for me On the Cross of Calvary For taking my Place Mercy and Grace

Thank You Lord

I just want to Thank You Lord I’d just want to Thank You Lord

For everything You’ve done for me Thank You Lord (Thank You Lord)

I just want to Thank You Lord I’d just want to Thank You Lord For making me whole

Saving my soul Thank You Lord Thank You Lord!

We can never say to the Lord too many times, “Thank You for all that You have done for me,” so let this be a season of thanksgiving that grows into a perpetual lifestyle.

In Christian love,

Pastor Randall