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Archive for November, 2019

USA THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION

The first formal National proclamation of Thanksgiving was given in the United States by President George Washington who declared Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. He proclaimed a second day of Thanksgiving in 1795, following the defeat of the Whiskey Rebellion.

After Washington left office, John Adams, James Madison, and others intermediately declared days of Thanksgiving. Several presidents actually opposed days of national thanksgiving, with Thomas Jefferson openly denouncing such a proclamation. By 1855, 16 states celebrated Thanksgiving (14 on the fourth Thursday of November, and two on the third).

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln established observing specific days of national thanksgiving. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving from the fourth to the third Thursday in November!

In 1941, to end any confusion, President FDR and Congress established Thanksgiving as a United States federal holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, which is how it stands today. (Read the First Proclamation below.)

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The First National Thanksgiving Proclamation

By President George Washington

26 November 1789

 

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, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these 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 all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also 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, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

-President George Washington

 

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Source: Wikipedia and various sites on the internet.

 

 

My Thanksgiving Reflections Outside America

On Thanksgiving Day in November 2002, after teaching my three classes at the Bible College from 8am to 3pm, a taxi took me about 45 minutes across the city to join missionaries who were celebrating American Thanksgiving, complete with turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie.

Although not my first time in Africa, it was my first time to celebrate Thanksgiving outside America. I was overwhelmed that day by the sight and smell of familiar food but also by the gratitude those missionaries expressed for blessings. I was thankful the missionaries were able to join together and celebrate the Thanksgiving of their homeland—one of the few days each year they had such a bountiful spread. It was a special privilege for me to be included as a member of their team and family.

That American Thanksgiving dinner at the missionary’s home was perhaps the most significant Thanksgiving I’ve celebrated in my life. We ate at a table of plenty in the midst of a people in the village who had neither a table nor plenty. We sat on chairs whose legs rested on a tiled floor in the midst of a people who lived in huts with dirt for floors. Electricity was intermittent. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Most huts had one bare bulb hanging down in the middle of the room. Temperatures in the tropics were always hot and air conditioning to ease perspiration was virtually non-existent. Termite mounds were as tall as the huts.

There was an obvious contrast to be seen between American prosperity and the lack among nearby residents, many who did not have an indoor toilet or running water. In most areas, a water pump could be found, but there was no choice of hot or cold water. Pumped water was poured into a large tub outside the hut in full view of passers-by, and the children in the family were immersed and washed one after the other. For sure, they had not experienced a table spread with an abundance and variety of foods from which they could eat until there was no room to take another bite.

Many developing countries have struggled to empower their people across all socioeconomic groups. There are those of higher rank who live well and shop freely, yet a large percentage of their citizens live below poverty level. On every trip I’ve made to one of these countries,  I came back to the comfort of my home in America with an overwhelming feeling of God’s mercy and provision. Why us?

I think this question was answered several years ago by a visiting teacher from Nigeria. I asked what made him want to come to the USA, to which he responded: “I read about America and their God and how He was blessing them. The more I read, the more I determined to come to America and meet their God. I thought perhaps I could convince Him to come back to Africa with me and prosper my country.”

Those of us in America would do well to ponder the Nigerian brother’s words. The American holiday of Thanksgiving traces its roots all the way back to 1621, when colonists held a harvest feast with local natives. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln declared an official Thanksgiving Day in late November. In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt consented to make it an official holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November. Over the years, due to financial prosperity and advanced technology, specific traditions and customs associated with the holiday have evolved from watching afternoon football games to marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The basic components of the holiday, celebrating food and the fall harvest and giving thanks with family, have remained over time.

My research came up nine other countries of the world that celebrate a National Thanksgiving Day: Canada, China, Germany, Grenada, Japan, Norfolk Island, South Korea, Liberia, and Viet Nam.* In all due respect, neither the United States or any other country can lay claim to “thanksgiving.” Verses are scattered throughout the bible reminding us to be thankful, to come to God with thanksgiving in our hearts, to give thanks for all of His wonderful gifts. Whether poor or rich with wealth, whether sick or ill in health, our hearts should be full of thanksgiving to our God for giving His Son with thanksgiving so that we might have life abundantly here and now: A life that carries us into life eternally with no distinctions between us and any other of His children who inherit eternal life.

Reflect on His grace and mercy and express thanksgiving to Him! Here are a few scriptures to fuel your thanksgiving:

With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD. –Ezra 3:11

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. – Psa. 69:30

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. -Psa. 95:2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. –Psa.100:4

From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. –Jer. 30:19

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. – 2 Cor. 4:15

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. -2 Cor. 9:11

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. –Eph.5:4 3

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. –Phil.4:6

 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl, Reprinted 11/14/19 from The Alabaster Box, Vol. 25 No. 11.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

God Gave us Voices!

VOICES FOR SPEAKING. Some are low, some are high. Some are deep, some are shrill. Some are loud, some are soft. Some are happy, some are sad. Some sound sweet, some sound sharp. I’ve often complained about the pitch of my voice. Since God called me to teach, why didn’t He give me a deep, commanding, soothing voice—the kind that causes people to want to listen?  I’m not sure, but we all have to overcome our dislike for what He gives us and use what we have to His honor and glory and the blessing of others.

Different voices are appealing to different folks. Some people like quiet teaching and praying. Others don’t feel like they’ve been to church if the sermon isn’t delivered in loud, forceful tones. In fact, some people confuse loud with anointing. But most of us know that volume doesn’t measure the presence of Almighty God for sometimes He chooses to manifest Himself in a “still small voice.”

VOICES FOR SINGING. I am an eclectic when it comes to music. I like all styles. I enjoy the old hymns and the new ones, the old choruses and the contemporary ones. I enjoy opera as well as guitar led praise and worship.  I’ve heard many wonderful singers with all kinds of voices that are a blessing to many in the body of Christ. I used to listen to Billy Graham crusades just to hear Ethel Waters sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” And I can still listen for hours to the singing of Luciano Pavarotti.

As to the voice used for singing there are many varieties and preferences. Known and unknown. Whether it is David Phelps or Jessy Dixon or Cece Winans or Vestal Goodman or Bernice Byrd or Frances Dunn, or my niece, Jennifer—all are identified with the sound of their voice.  When they sing, something happens in my mind, in my emotions, and in my Spirit. In fact, I can trace victory over a certain circumstance in my life to a moment some years ago when Cissy was singing “My Anchor Holds…in spite of the storm!”

Last year at a family gathering, my brother, sister, and I got together and sang the night away. Some precious friends had gifted my sister with a beautiful new ivory baby grand digital piano so we all took turns playing to initiate it, then our daughters invited us to sing. Memories were flowing along with the laughter as we tried to recall the lyrics of the songs we had sung so frequently when we were kids. For two or three years when we were young, we went with our dad to sing in a number of country churches. I still have the receipt for the accordion my parents bought for me to accompany our little trio. As we reminisced we realized our brother was only four to six years old during that time. No wonder the people seemed to enjoy our singing—they were obviously taken with that cute little guy singing lead at the top of his lungs. 

As I got older, I sang with friends, church groups, choirs, duets, trios, and quartets, always aware of the fact that I was NOT a good singer—I just loved to sing. It didn’t take much for me to realize that singing was not my gift. In the Bloomington Church I attended, the choir director assigned me a five-word solo part—a bridge—in the cantata, and I botched it. I know that God gives us all a “new song” and I still love to sing—in the congregation, in the choir, or in my private worship time but prefer to leave the “special singing” to others more gifted.

JOYFUL NOISE. One of my favorite scriptures on this matter is Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. In fact, six out of the seven times this command occurs in the Psalms it refers to singing:  Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands (Psa 66:1). Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob (Psa 81:1). O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation (Psa 95:1). Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms (Psa 95:2). Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise (Psa 98:4). With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King (Psa 98:6). Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands (Psa 100:1). It must be that God’s heavenly filter of love processes our off key singing so that when our joyful noise rises, He only hears beautiful music.

Before I was married, I lived alone and was accustomed to singing as loudly as I wished in the privacy of my own home. I was making a joyful noise! However, soon after our marriage, my husband asked me one day to please not sing. I was offended and asked how could I release my joy if not in song? He was serious about his request; my singing played on his nerves. Soon I learned why. Before he met me, he had kept company with an opera singer. I knew there was no way I could compete with that voice! I would just have to save my singing for times he was out of the house.

However, after a year or two of married life, we began to get out the old hymnals at home and sing through songs together—in German and in English—but it caught me by utter surprise when my husband started asking me to sing in church. By then he had grown to like my twangy voice and nasal tones—or more likely his love for me produced deafness to them! I was thankful the Lord kept our congregation supplied with many talented and capable musicians so I was simply not needed. He disagreed and began asking me to sing solos.

I suppose he became weary of my excuses so he stopped asking me in advance. Instead, after we arrived at the church for a service, he would come to me and say “I’d like you to sing this song this morning.” In obedience to my pastor-husband, I would sing (mostly not to embarrass myself or him by arguing). However, when we got home, I would say, (occasionally prefaced with “please”), “Don’t do that to me again.” He obviously didn’t hear. Before long, he was asking me to make a loose leaf folder of his favorite songs and keep them at my seat to sing on a moment’s notice. “Lord,” I prayed, “I want to be obedient to my husband, but You and I both know I’m not called to sing!” The Lord ignored my prayer. He did not deliver me from my internal conflict. My husband disregarded all my protests in spite of the many times I explained to him why “I” shouldn’t sing and preference should be given to others. The longer and the better my husband knew me, the more he seemed to like my voice.

Reluctantly I acquiesced to his requests knowing the Lord could not bless the people through a wife who held anger and resentment toward her husband. I realized it was a pride issue and gave it to the Lord. My desire to be in harmony with my husband was stronger than my desire not to sing. Sometime later, we visited another church and the pastor asked if we had a musical selection to share. You guessed it! My husband volunteered me! I nearly slid under the pew. To sing in the comfort of my own congregation who knew and loved me was very different from singing in front of people I’d never met. However, it would do no good nor would it be appropriate for me to protest. The Lord was strengthening me to respond without anger or resentment—to sing, not only as unto the Lord, but also as a gift to my husband. A few times in recent years, I have actually volunteered to sing. That’s victory!

THE VOICE OF THE HEART. Years ago I heard a story about a group of monks who every year at Easter time got together and sang the Gospel story in what was called a cantata. Because they lived in a very remote region, it was most unusual for any visitors to come by. However, one year they invited a specially trained choir to come sing the Gospel story for them. The voices were wonderful and they were thrilled with the rendition. After the visitors left and the monks went back to prayer, they heard the Lord say, “Where was my choir this year?” “Why Lord,” they said, “we brought in the best this year. Their voices were clear. They sang in tune. Their harmonies were exhilarating.” To this the Lord answered, “But I’m not looking for the best voices; I’m looking for pure hearts.” In other words, man hears the voice but God hears the heart.

In three different passages, David said: I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah (Psa.3:4). I cried unto God with my voice, [even] unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me (Psa.77:1). Both times he says, God heard him. And when he was hiding in the cave, David said: I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication (Psa.142.1). Hundreds of years later, the Apostle Paul recounted the story of David and commented that God gave this testimony: I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after mine own heart (Acts 13:22). When God heard David’s prayers, he heard them through the condition of his heart, not the tone or quality of his voice.

The Apostle Peter writes, For the eyes of the Lord [are] over the righteous, and His ears [are open] unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord [is] against them that do evil (1 Pe.3:12).  Again, we see that God hears the prayers of those whose hearts are in the right condition. This begins with a prayer of repentance. Many testimonies are given by people who were selfish, did not honor or worship God, yet when a calamity arose and they cried out to Him, a miracle happened. At that moment, their heart so earnestly desired to know God, that He heard their prayer.  It’s not the words we say, nor the tone or volume of the voice that moves God, rather it is the condition of our heart.

THE VOICE OF JESUS. When we sing in the congregation, we are never singing solos. Jesus sings with us! For both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto You [God] (Heb.2:11-12). Furthermore, He says we will recognize His voice! Jesus says, My sheep hear my voice; and I know them and they follow me (John 10:27). The Greek word used here is akouo which means more than just listen; it means to hear with understanding

The Pharisees contended that they were the religious leaders and as such were the ones who “called the shots.” Jesus, however, neither submitted to them nor to their law. This angered the Pharisees who continually opposed Him and demanded that the people align with them and ignore Jesus.  It was in this context that Jesus describes them as false shepherds and pointed out: My sheep hear my voice. They hear their master and understand what He is saying. He calls His own sheep by name, and They know His voice and can distinguish it from that of a stranger and a stranger will they not follow. Anyone who has a pet animal understands the simplicity of this statement. The dog knows the voice of his master—how much more do we as human beings with developed mental faculties discern the various voices in our lives—including the voice of Jesus. Most of us do not hear an audible sound, but deep down inside we KNOW what He’s saying. The times we aren’t sure, it’s usually because we want Him to be saying a certain thing to us and He is not confirming it. 

It’s interesting to me that a friend I haven’t talked with for twenty or thirty years can call me on the phone, and the minute I hear the voice, I recognize it!  Voices are so unique that they are stamped indelibly in our mind. Even when we can’t immediately put a name with the voice, we remember it. Adam and Eve knew God’s voice:  they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden (Gen.3:8).

VOICE OF JOY. In Jeremiah’s day, he prophesied that the voice of praise would cease because of the iniquities and idolatries of God’s people. The voice of God’s prophets was neither heard nor heeded and therefore no longer did they hear the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride, or of the songs that used to grace the weddings. Although these are voices we love to hear, it is threatened here that there will be nothing to rejoice in as a result of disobedience on the part of God’s people. There will be no joy of weddings; no celebrations. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth (joy) and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate (Jer.7:34; 16:9).

Isn’t it still true today that the comforts of life are abandoned and everything that makes us happy and joyful disappears whenever unrighteousness prevails. Just as in Jeremiah’s time, there is no joy of prosperity when sinful acts have swallowed up our profits. As a result, people look around and see no reason to rejoice. This unfolds quickly right before our eyes. Our disobedience, and that of others, mars the joy of even the most cheerful. 

The wonderful thing about our relationship with the Lord is how quickly situations can be reversed. God intervened then, and still intervenes today, on behalf of His people: Thus says the LORD…Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know…I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me…and …Again there shall be heard in this place…the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say:  Praise the LORD of hosts, For the LORD is good, For His mercy endures forever and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD…(Jer.33:1-12).

Our voice interprets our emotions.

VOICES. Whether soft or loud, timid or bold, sweet or brash, soprano or tenor, we identify with voices. Voice inflection varies from language to language but those fluent in the language identify the spoken tones and pitches with various emotions of joy, sorrow, despair, panic, relief. Whether or not we hear God speak to us in an audible voice as He did to Paul or in a still small voice as He did to Elijah, He does speak to us. We recognize His voice—it brings conviction of sin or commendation for faithfulness such as “Enter into the joy of the Lord.” 

It is with our heart that we hear His voice, the voice of love, peace, and joy. It is with our voice that we give Him praise from our heart. And it is with joy that He hears our voice giving Him praise and worship.

Reprinted from (c) The Alabaster Box, Vol 18 No 05 1993, by C. Yvonne Karl.   yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

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