To Be Thankful

Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brothers. Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Israel his servant, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. Remember his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed as a statute to Jacob, as an everlasting covenant to Israel. -1 Chronicles 16:7-17 

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them. -Psalm 69:30-34 

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. -Psalm 95:1-7 

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. -Psalm 100:1-5

This Thanksgiving, as you celebrate in whatever way is your custom, may you also take a moment to remember from whom all your blessings come. Give praise and thanks to the Lord God for the sake of His Son Jesus Christ who has redeemed the world to the Father and made us holy in His sight. Give thanks with a grateful heart!

Merciful Father, thank you . . . for everything. Amen.

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When Evil Lashes Out

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
(Deuteronomy 31:6 )

Our hearts again break at the news that innocents tragically lost their lives over the weekend. With the intensity and frequency of such violence increasing, a further tragedy threatens: that we become calloused to the horror of evil. That we become desensitized to the point we no longer have tears to shed, but instead shuffle quickly into the public square with angry words.

Make no mistake, there is a time for necessary engagement with policy in our nation. There will be time for anger. But first, let us grieve this hateful savagery. Let us stand together – yes, you read that right, TOGETHER – and mourn yet another demonstration of pure, unadulterated evil in our nation, against our people.

Someone might say, “what’s the point of grieving? My tears never change anything.”

Please pay close attention here, because the answer is the difference between humanity and antipathy, love and hatred. Take time to grieve because you’re a human being and your fellows have been lost. Take time to grieve because pushing down the sorrow and jumping straight to righteous indignation and bitter castigation is no way to honor the ones who have been lost. Take time to grieve because this really is sad.

Cry to the Lord for mercy. Ask Him to walk you through the chaos of a world unhinged. Pray for the families of the lost. Remember the community that will never be the same. Pray for our nation that continues down the primrose path with each subsequent manifestation of wickedness. Trust the Lord remains Lord, even through our collective pain and anger. Hope in the brighter Day when the Lord will finally bring an end to all that torments.

While we await Christ’s return, make change happen. Pace yourself. Know that the first change must occur in our own hearts. That Christ alone must purify us with His love. Martin Luther gives excellent guidance in the Small Catechism. He states we are to love and cherish our parents and other authorities, protect and support our neighbor’s life, marriage, belongings, and reputation – basically to selflessly look out for the interests of others.

Pie in the sky, right? Wrong! Through the blood and merit of Christ, hearts of ice are melted. Take care of your heart. If you find it’s calloused because of hell repeatedly unleashed, bring it before the Lord who will lovingly massage it back to working order.

One final important component is thoughtful public discussion. The time for refusing to hear each other is long past. We are in this together. Casting blame, although momentarily satisfying, solves nothing. There is no magic pill that addresses all aspects of the sickness. Instead, there are people like you and me who love our neighbors and want evil eradicated. So go to it. Debate. State your points and ideas. Pause. Listen. Ask questions. Listen some more. Then reply. This is what “discussion” used to look like. Perhaps it could look that way again.

But for today, we grieve together.

Dear Jesus, our grieving hearts lay bare before you once again in the wake of unnecessary violence. Calm our troubled hearts. Bring hope as only You can to the many who have lost loved ones in Sutherland Springs, TX. Protect your people and watch over us gracious Lord. Amen.