Thanksgiving Devotionals

Blest be the tie that binds us together as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Under normal circumstances, at this time of year the congregations of Woodmont Hills Church of Christ and Glen Leven Presbyterian Church gather together to worship and give thanks to God for God’s amazing grace and steadfast love. Our gathering and worship has been a cherished tradition over many years. Unfortunately, this year due to a global pandemic, we are clearly not under normal circumstances, and therefore, have determined that it is probably wise to not gather together. However, because we deeply value the relationship that exists between our two faith communities, Jeff and I have decided to each write a “Thanksgiving” devotion to share with you.

We look forward to an opportunity in the near future to worship our Lord together again.


Be Still, Taste and See

by Rev. Mark S. Bryan, Ph.D. 

Throughout the years there have been two verses within the Psalms which have consistently encouraged, empowered, comforted, and strengthened me in my life, and helped to draw me deeper into God’s amazing covenant embrace and glorious communion. 

One of the verses calls upon me to experience the beauty of God, ingesting the very goodness of the Lord God into the depth of my being. The psalmist enthusiastically invites me, exclaiming, “O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8).

Although “taste” is an unusual verb for me as I consider my relationship to and with God, I am confident that it calls upon me to intimately experience God through prayer, fellowship, worship, and service, which in the end allows me the opportunity to know God’s “goodness.”

The practice of trusting God is sustained and bolstered by a deep awareness of this “goodness” of God, a goodness which gives me sufficient reason to be thankful in the midst of a chaotic and often distressful world.  Knowing God’s “goodness” enables me to have a peaceful refuge even in the midst of a global pandemic and social upheaval.

The second verse that I cherish offers an instructing proclamation directly from God, “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).  God wants me to not allow the situations and circumstances of my life, or my often overloaded schedule, to distract me from being attentive to God’s holy and sovereign presence that abides with me.  God calls upon me to do what is often very hard to do, to “be still.”  However, the instruction is not only to be still, but also to “know” that God is God.

Here, God’s word encourages me that in spite of all that may be going on in my life, the God who is “good” holds me faithfully within God’s hand. At no time is God at a distance or absent from me and my life, yet is present, beckoning me to be conscious and attentive to God’s “good” presence.

Therefore, I share these two verses with you in this season of “thanksgiving” as an encouragement to trusting in and experiencing God’s goodness and God’s empowering and peace-giving presence. May we together rejoice with heart and soul and voice, and sincerely be thankful to the Lord God.

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Greetings sisters and brothers from Glen Leven Presbyterian Church,  

 

I look forward to each opportunity we have to worship with you and regret that COVID obstructed our plans for the annual Thanksgiving service we share together.  Because we cherish the partnership between our two churches, Mark and I decided to each write a Thanksgiving devotion to share with you.  May God draw near to you in this season and overwhelm you with the assurance of His provision. 

 

Psalm 126 (CEB) A pilgrimage song.  

126 When the Lord changed Zion’s circumstances for the better,
    it was like we had been dreaming.
Our mouths were suddenly filled with laughter;
    our tongues were filled with joyful shouts.
It was even said, at that time, among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them!”
Yes, the Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are overjoyed.  

Lord, change our circumstances for the better,
    like dry streams in the desert waste!
Let those who plant with tears
    reap the harvest with joyful shouts.
Let those who go out,
    crying and carrying their seed,
    come home with joyful shouts,
    carrying bales of grain!  

 

The Provider will keep Providing

by Jeff Brown, Lead Minister of Woodmont Hills Church

 

I am struck by two postures I see in this psalm.  First, there is gratitude for God’s provision in the past.   The psalmist is quick to credit God as our provider.   Even the nations notice God’s activity among his people.  We do well to remember that God is the giver of all good gifts.  I see in this psalm an invitation to celebrate all the ways God has provided for us.  However, this psalm is not relegated to the past tense.   There is also a present tense plea for provision.  “Lord, change our circumstances for the better!”  This cry resonates with many of us.  Which one of us has not uttered some variation of this plea this year?  

 

Not every story ends with the answered prayer we are looking for.  Yet, we gather week after week because we too believe the Lord has been good to us.  When you think about the phrase, “The Lord has been good to us,” what are some of the things that lead you to this conviction?  Where can you identify places in your own story where God intervened?  I invite you to write them down.  Pray through this list of provision.  Follow the lead of this psalm in praising God for your past tense provision.   Then, in the same prayer keep naming your pleas for God’s present tense provision.  

 

The simple exercise of naming God’s provision in this most trying year of 2020 bolsters my confidence that God has provided in the past, God is providing in the present, and God will continue to provide.  May God overwhelm you with his greatest provision this Thanksgiving – the provision of his presence.

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Jeff Brown

Lead Minister

Woodmont Hills Church