Once Upon a Time…

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thanksgiving Thursday! Lynn and I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving today. We have much to be thankful for! Allow me to read to you from the 105th Psalm today. I am only going to read the first 5 verses but I would strongly encourage you to read the rest of it for yourselves sometime yet today.

Psalm 105:1-5 (NKJV)

Oh, give thanks to the Lord!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,

This Psalm is one of several that recount the story of How God brought the people out of Egypt and into the promised land. I chose this particular one because it makes specific note of how God placed Joseph in Egypt prior to the famine by which he was able to keep the family of Israel fed and cared for. It also makes note of some of the difficulties Joseph had to endure in order for God to place him in the right place, in the right position, at just the right time. It goes on to speak of the difficulty the Israelite people suffered under the rule of the Egyptians after the time of Joseph. Finally, it makes mention of God sending Moses to lead the people out of the bondage of Egypt and ultimately into the promised land. There are several other Psalms that also tell of the same story.

Why were these written? What was their purpose? Certainly they have historic value, but that exists in abundance in multiple chapters of the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. So why Psalm 105,106,107, 114 and others like them? I believe the beginning of this Psalm points out they were expressly written to remind the people of what God had done for them in the past. How He had brought them out of the difficulties they had endured and provided for them completely along their journey. How He fed them daily, always with enough. How He gave them water in the dry places from rocks that lacked any promise of being able to do so. Though they were in the wilderness for 40 years their shoes did not wear out and their clothes did not tatter by His mighty hand of preservation. They traveled safely through the lands of enemies and were not defeated or consumed. This Psalm and the others like it reminded the Hebrews that though they might go through difficult times, though life might not always be what they wanted it to be…Their God was mighty to save! As they sang Psalms like 105 from memory, they would find strength and encouragement for the present as they gave thanks for the past, and this allowed them the greatest opportunity to move confidently in faith toward their future.

Did they get it right all the time? Nope, and neither do we. Did possessing these Psalms alone make the difference? Not at all, A God who has historically been all that was needed doesn’t seem to move in the present without people exhibiting faith. Mark wrote of this when He stated that Jesus was unable to heal very many people in His hometown because of their lack of faith. These Psalms were intended to grow and develop faith in the people of God as they told and retold the stories of what God has done for them.

At our Thanksgiving table we have kept a tradition held by many Americans. Everyone seated at the feast takes a turn telling of something they are thankful for that year. Some years such as last year at the family dinner there was much laughter as we all took our turns. Other years the thankfulness has elicited tears amid the smiles. This year we will probably continue to do just that. However, this year I am going to propose another new tradition begin. I invite you and yours to do the same. I will propose that someone or multiple someone’s tell the story of how we arrived where we are as a family today. I suggest that as the story is recounted the difficult times not be glossed over in order that we might also tell specifically how God brought us through. Our story will give us 20 years to look back at and see all that God has done. If you join us in this ‘new’ tradition, started by the Israelites of old, your story may have fewer or many more years to cover. My wife Lynn noted as I mentioned this idea to her that the oral tradition of passing family stories down from generation to generation is a dying practice. That is unfortunate on many levels, but most of all because the faith building stories of God’s provision could be lost in the shuffle. I want my children and grandchildren to be able to tell what God has done for us as a family long after I have gone home to be with Jesus, so this year at the Brown household we are going to get that started. Won’t you join with me in that around your thanksgiving tables too?

God is good…all the time…and all the time…God is good…let’s all tell the story of how…Shall we?

So now, with a heart of thanksgiving go tell your family how God has been awesome!