Psalm 103:1-2 tells us, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” That’s a good reminder for me since I sometimes have problems remembering things. We should praise the Lord with our soul (our thoughts, actions, plans, dreams, etc.) and don’t forget all His benefits.
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One of the first recorded Thanksgiving Day observances in North America was held in Newfoundland in 1578 by Sir Martin Frobisher of the Frobisher Expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Another early thanksgiving observance was led by Captain John Woodlief on Dec. 4, 1619, who instructed that the day of his ship’s arrival “be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to almighty God.”
Are You Generous?
As an Episcopalian growing up in an old river town (Pt. Pleasant, W. Va.), I was a rare commodity indeed, because there were so few of us. Truth be known, there are not a superabundance of Episcopalians anywhere in the United States. However, if you look at the Anglican Communion [our world-wide denomination, which includes our “Mother Church,” The Church of England] there are about 80 million adherents. I have found that in many cases, even in large cities, the experience of having a large church building and a sparse membership is not uncommon in our branch of the Christian faith.
So many marriages today are ending in divorce. But yours doesn’t have to! As a marriage counselor, I’ve heard every reason in the world while couples are separating. The most common reason is there is usually someone else in the picture. Maybe it’s just thoughts or flirting (which are both still wrong), but that person is thinking the grass is greener on the other side. Let me say this: appearances can be deceiving. What looks better somewhere else usually isn’t. Sometimes it’s greener because it’s built over a septic tank. Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox.” If you’re going to have oxen, you’re going to have oxen poop. You will have some mess in your marriage. You just have to clean up the mess along the way and not let it pile up.
As a young clergyman, I was paid a stipend of $1,200 a month, no insurance or pension, all the farm eggs and deer meat I could eat, and frequent kind invitations to dinner in the homes of my parishioners.
“I know God forgives me, but I just can’t forgive myself.” I’ve heard it 1,000 times. Sometimes people are paralyzed by their past actions because they simply cannot forgive themselves. Here is some good news – you can’t forgive yourself. Only the Lord can forgive you. Once you have received His forgiveness you must live in His forgiveness. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” God does not hold sins against you any longer once you have confessed them. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive our sins and purify us of all unrighteousness.” This means Jesus will forgive you of your sin and Jesus will help you change your life so you don’t commit that sin again.
“…Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place…” (Luke 16:25-26a)
As a kid I memorized Psalm 23, and it has been a blessing to my life ever since. It is a very recognized portion of Scripture and is almost as famous as verses like John 3:16. These short six verses bring comfort as they describe God as our Shepherd. David used the relationship of a shepherd and his sheep to relay the love and care between God and His people. David was very qualified to write about this since he had tended sheep as a shepherd since his childhood. So, what does this classic chapter in the Bible say to us today? LOTS!
Years ago as we were beginning our family, and my wife was adjusting to being married to an Episcopal priest, she was diagnosed with an illness, one contracted during her first pregnancy. This was an illness that threatened her life, and the lives of our two young children. The diagnoses came as we entered into a new community, and a new parish. We lived under great pressure and fear while it was all unfolding — at the time, to be honest, it seemed a death sentence. Still, for our children, and those around us, we were trying to create a “normal” home life — and I was trying to be about the duties associated with my new position.