With Thanksgiving To God
By Lois J. Stucky
Herald of His Coming readers outside the U.S.A. may not be aware that in this country, November is inseparably linked with Thanksgiving Day. On most of our calendars, under or above the 4th Thursday of November, in small letters is printed "Thanksgiving Day." Long before November arrives, many are making plans for the Thanksgiving holiday, often extending from Thursday through Sunday. Many families gather home from scattered places across the country, to enjoy a bounty of food and happy fellowship with one another.
Thanksgiving Day has been an official part of American life since the nation’s first president was in office. It can be traced to an even earlier time, to 1621, when the Pilgrims and a few Native Americans gathered for a time of feasting and games following the Pilgrim’s first harvest after they arrived on the shores of this wilderness land which they were adopting as their new home. The Pilgrims had been beset by various troubles and much hard work that first year. A high percentage of their small number had sickened and died. Still it was in the hearts of these devout people to rejoice in the goodness of the God who had brought them safely to the shores of this land where they were free to worship Him according to the dictates of their heart, and He had given them a harvest, as well as friendship with some surrounding natives.
In 1789 two members of the new American government instituted a resolution in Congress asking President George Washington to establish "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God…." President Washington gladly agreed and issued a proclamation assigning Thursday, the 26th day of November 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…." The Proclamation further noted various significant reasons for which to thank our God, including religious liberty.
We sadly acknowledge that far too many Americans today have all but forgotten the original intent of Thanksgiving Day, and they simply excitedly enjoy the festivities and food of the holiday. But fellow American Christians, might our "sincere and humble thanks" to our God and a corresponding gratitude to the founding fathers of this nation, know no bounds as we count the unspeakable privileges and opportunities and favors we enjoy at God’s gracious hand, including religious liberty. Let’s not limit ourselves to voicing our thanksgiving to God now and again. Day by day might we live out our thanksgiving by loving obedience to God in a sincere effort to please Him as fully as we can.
Our great example of living to please God is our precious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who said of Himself: "He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:29).
Christ’s choice was always to put His Father’s will above His own, cost what it may. "I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me" (John 5:30). And this noble captain of our salvation desires followers who will do likewise. He hid nothing of His expectations from His would-be followers. "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:34-35).
That is not an appeal that is popular. At that Word, many turn back. We want the marvelous blessings and benefits that Christ purchased for us. But must we walk the way of the cross? Oh, the sorrowful Garden of Gethsemane, the beatings of the soldiers, the torturous Via Dolorosa through Jerusalem’s streets, the utter agony of the spikes on Calvary – that, of course, is all unique to Christ. Yet, He says, he who would follow Him must "take up his cross." God has a unique cross for each of us. If the cross God asks us to bear seems heavy, think of Christ! Watch with Him in Gethsemane; witness the beatings, trace the bloody trail through the streets of Jerusalem, to the unspeakable spectacle of the loving and gentle Master agonizing on the cross. It will put lovers of Christ on their knees afresh in humility and brokenness. No, God does not ask too much of us. Christ does not expect too much of us in return for what He bore for us. The song says, "The cross that He gave may be heavy, but it ne’er outweighs His grace…." "His grace" – His loving favor – what more could we desire?
Persecuted Christians Know of the Cross
We would remind you that Sunday, November 9, is designated a day of prayer for persecuted Christians. The second item on page 11 lists 30 of the countries where persecution of Christians is most pronounced. There are other items on page 11 that require prayer for persecuted Christians. A simple word denying their faith in Christ may prolong the earthly lives of the persecuted – but what loss in eternity it would be if they fail to take up their cross and follow Jesus! Love bids us stand alongside them in prayer in their crisis hour.
As you observe November 9 as a day of prayer for the persecuted, pray for government and religious leaders in the countries listed on page 11. Ask for God’s grace and comfort to abound to His persecuted children. Intercede that they will be treated mercifully by those who oppose their beliefs. Pray they will receive divine strength to endure to the end. Ask God to perform miraculous deliverances on behalf of the persecuted. Pray persecuted Christians will have wisdom when facing persecutors. Implore God to enable the persecuted to forgive their enemies. Pray that their godly manner and attitudes will speak powerfully to their persecutors and lead them also to bow before this wonderful God who inspires such devotion and character in His followers. Especially remember young persecuted Christians, yet immature in their faith, who find their first trials so fiery as to tempt them to turn back. And thank God for His faithfulness to these noble souls who love Him even unto death.
"Lo, Christ Comes With Clouds Descending!"
As surely as Christ came to earth as a Babe in Bethlehem, so He is coming again in clouds of glory (Luke 21:27)! Think of Anna and Simeon who long looked for and yearned for the Christ before His first coming. There were years of holding on in faith, with expectancy and longing, with fasting and prayers, and perhaps with tears. Then Christ the Savior was born upon this earth! At last, at last – those two long-tested and proven saints were favored to rest their eyes upon the promised Savior, to recognize Him, to proclaim Him and to clasp Him to their bosom. What reward, what ecstasy must have been theirs (Luke 2:21-38)!
Through the ages and until today, there are those believers who long for and cry out for, and strive to be ready for and to prepare the way for Christ’s coming again. "Christ is coming again! Christ is coming again!" they call out to a world much of which pays little heed except to ridicule. But one generation of saints will hear the trumpet and the shout, and will be caught up to meet Christ as He comes in clouds of splendor (1 Thess. 4:16-17)! Then, woe be to the scoffers!
Where does each of us reading this stand in this picture? At Herald of His Coming, for over 60 years we have been one voice among others, humble and unworthy, but striving to be faithful, calling out, "Christ is coming again! Make ready!" Who can put into words the great privilege of us saints living today to give ourselves to the blessed proclamation, "Christ is coming again!" "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" it will occur (1 Cor. 15:51-52). While the faith of some fades, dimmed by the whirl of pleasures and riches and cares of this world, faithful ones must be diligent, watchful and ready.
Herald of His Coming staff is deeply grateful to each of you who helps to keep the Herald of His Coming trumpeting out this needful, urgent call. Your gifts and prayers are essential to maintain Herald mailings. And just now there are extra expenses with the acquiring of property. Read the letters each month on page 12 to see how God is preparing a people to be a "glorious Church" ready for her coming Bridegroom. Be encouraged to see how your gifts and prayers are counting in the here and now, and in preparation for the great events soon to come. Thank you again for the part you take, as together we sound the call, "Christ is coming again! Watch and pray! Make ready!"
"Yea, Amen! Let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the pow’r and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own:
O, come quickly! O come quickly!
Everlasting God come down."
- Charles Wesley
Praise God –
* For the religious liberty which the U.S.A. is privileged to enjoy because of the good hand of God upon us. Praise God this enables American Christians to take a great part in fulfilling His purpose that the Gospel be spread into all the world. Praise God for all American Christians who avail themselves of this opportunity and share generously.
* For Christians in every land who share of the means with which God has blessed them, to fulfil the Gospel opportunities He sets before them. Thank God that together we can zealously pursue God’s desire to go to every creature with the Gospel.
Please Pray –
* That the messages in this issue of the Herald will be anointed of God to bring forth much fruit to God’s glory.
* For safe delivery of Herald papers to readers in countries where there is opposition to Christian literature.
* For increased inflow of finances so mailings can continue and can increase. Ask also for additional funds for the building we have acquired.
* For special wisdom and strength as the move is made into the building at the new location.