I AM BLESSED TO LIVE IN THIS IDYLLIC VILLAGE OF EPHRAIM.
IT WAS FOUNDED BY BELIEVERS IN 1853,
WHO IN MANY WAYS REMIND ME OF THE PILGRIMS
WHO LANDED AT PLYMOUTH, TWO CENTURIES BEFORE.
LIKE THEM THEY LOST SO MANY THEIR OWN IN THEIR EARLY YEARS.
IN THE CEMETERY WHERE MY HUSBAND IS BURIED,
I AM MOVED BY THESE THREE LITTLE MARKERS,
OF THREE CHILDREN OF ANDREAS IVERSON,
THE FIRST PASTOR OF THE FIRST CHURCH IN DOOR COUNTY.
WHAT MUST IT BE LIKE TO BURY ONE CHILD AFTER ANOTHER?
THAT’S HOW IT WAS, INDEED, FOR THE PILGRIMS.
HERE IS A CHART OF THOSE WHO CAME OVER ON THE MAYFLOWER.
THE ONES WHO SURVIVED THE FIRST WINTER ARE IN BLACK.
YET THE REST, DESPITE BURYING SO MANY LOVED ONES,
GATHERED TO GIVE THANKS TO GOD THAT FIRST THANKSGIVING.
MAY WE DO THE SAME,
WHETHER WE ARE IN PLENTY OR IN WANT,
IN SICKNESS OR IN HEALTH,
WITH FAMILY OR WITHOUT.
FOR WHEN WE GIVE THANKS FROM OUR HEARTS, WHATEVER OUR LOT,
IT WILL ALLOW GOD TO MAKE US “FRUITFUL IN THE LAND OF OUR SUFFERING.”
This week we will use 7 of the songs of Korah from the psalms we have just studied,
as a springboard for our prayer, for as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:
It is a dangerous error, certainly very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself. Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. If we wish to pray with confidence and gladness, whether the heart is full or empty, then the words of Holy Scripture will have to be the solid basis of our prayer. For this we need the psalms…
I will keep it fairly simple this week so that you can enter in, despite all you may have to do.
Share freely for this is a different kind of week.
You may also find help from this week for sharing at your Thanksgiving tables, particularly Thursday and Friday.
Let me say how thankful I am for you, and how your fellowship gives me joy.
Next week Advent begins and I’m excited for the journey I believe He is taking us on!
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
Monday: Psalms 42/43
Prepare your heart:
When God shakes the foundations of our world, the way he shattered this dock next to my home in a storm this fall, instead of falling apart with it, we can give thanks, as Hebrews says, that we have an unshakeable Kingdom, whose builder and architect is God.
In psalms 42 and 43, the psalmist’s world has been shaken. He cannot find God, he is isolated, and he is depressed. But he is talking to his soul, telling her repeatedly “to put your hope in God.” The enemy as well, is whispering, “Where is your God?”
2. What do you remember about Psalms 42 and 43?
3. Take Psalm 42 and pray it, telling your soul reasons to be thankful, even in the midst of want and trouble and loneliness, because you have a salvation and an eternal Kingdom and a God who is good. Make it as personal as you can. I’m going to pray it first — and then you do it. Our lives are all different, but there is power in using Scripture to guide us.
Father, I am driving to Iowa to see Beth and Seth, who are experiencing unemployment, want, fear, and discouragement. How I pray that they would remember they have a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, and help them look forward to the city that You have built. Please make them fruitful in the land of their suffering. I have heard Seth express despair in You, and how I pray that instead of backing away from You, that he would seek you, as this psalmist does, for this psalmist finally hears your deep voice speaking deep into his soul. I want to thank you for a few unshakeable truths so that I too might put my hope in You:
- Death is the final enemy — but one day we who are yours, my parents, my husband, my friends who have died will be raised as You were raised.
- I love love love how you turned in sympathy to your disciples and promised that you were preparing a place for them, and if it were not true, you would have told them.
- One day Beth will have her arm restored — for you are going to make all things new.
Read Psalm 42:5 and pray it for your own life circumstances.
Tuesday: Psalm 44
Prepare your heart for this psalm by singing along with this:
Our God is so mysterious, sometimes it feels like He is sleeping. His ways are not our ways, He allows some of His best to die terrible deaths.
How do we use a psalm like this that actually ends with “Why are sleeping, Lord?” during Thanksgiving week? We see Jesus in this psalm and give thanks for the time when he was taunted, on the cross, by his enemies, when it seemed His Father was sleeping. For He did it for us.
4. What do you remember about Psalm 44?
5. Take Psalm 44:13-24 and, remembering what Jesus endured for us, give thanks to Him for that, being specific.
Prepare your heart with this:
6. You can actually pray Psalm 45:1-9 as a thanksgiving praise to our fair Lord. Read a verse and then come here and let it lead you to praise. It may lead you to questions too, which is fine — if you have questions, so your sisters can better see them, CAPITALIZE THEM. Go for it!
THANKSGIVING DAY: PSALM 45:10-17
The bride, the body of Christ, is beautiful because she is joined to Christ. This is the tie that binds. This is what makes us love as well as we do. Prepare your heart with this:
6. If you are at a Thanksgiving table with others, even if they are unbelievers, you can have a time of thanksgiving for qualities you see and admire in each. For even if they do not know Him, they are made in the image of God, and you should be able to find something beautiful in them. (Tomorrow’s lesson would also work around the table) Think ahead what you might say, and if you do not have a chance to express it, send them an e-mail or a note expressing why you are thankful for them. I encourage you to do this today and report back how it went!
Friday: Psalm 46
Prepare your heart with:
7. What do you remember about psalm 46?
8. Praise God for ways He has been your refuge and strength in times of trouble. Be specific.
9. In the midst of turmoil, the Lord of host is with us. Share a way He has been mindful of you this year.
10. What is your take-a-way and why?