How Must We In All Things Give Thanks?

Scripture: James 5.11
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Reflection: How Must We In All Things Give Thanks?
By William Cooper (fl. 1653)

St. Augustine inaugurated that ancient custom among Christians, in whose mouths you should always hear these words: Deo gratias, “Thanks be to God!” When they met and saluted one another, Deo gratias, “God be thanked.” When they heard any tidings of persecution or protection, favor or frown, gain or loss, cross or comfort — still Deo gratias.

“What,” said Augustine, “shall brothers in Christ not give God thanks when they see one another? What better thing can we speak, or think, or write, than this? God be thanked! Nothing can be more compendiously spoken, nor more gladly heard, nor more solemnly understood, nor more profitably acted, than this; God be thanked!”

Such a frame of heart had holy Job: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

And such a one was in the sweet singer of Israel: “I will bless the Lord at all times.” Notable is that of Chrysostom: “There is nothing, nothing we can study, more pleasing to God than to be thankful — not only in good days, but also when things fall cross. This is the best sacrifice and oblation we offer God.”

This made Jerome say, “It is peculiar to Christians to give thanks in adversity. To praise God for benefits, this [anyone] can do. To give God thanks in dangers according to the apostle’s sense, and in miseries — to always to say, ‘Blessed be God’ — this is the highest pitch of virtue. Here is your Christian; such a one takes up his cross, and follows his Savior: no loss or cross can dishearten him.”

To give God thanks for crosses and afflictions is to be numbered among those singular things which Christians are bound to excel in. We ought excel beyond [those who do not believe] in loving our enemies and blessing those that curse — which our Savior exhorts and commands.

We must thank the Lord for afflicting us, and for laying the cross upon us, because it is so far below what we deserve at his hands. To drink as He drank it we cannot — we need not. Thank God, then, that you have such a little share of it — when all was your portion by right and justice. This is worthy of our thanks.

The Call to Prayer
Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand… — Psalm 95.6-7

– From 
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 18 (Listen – 2:36)
James 5 (Listen – 3:01)

Prayer of Devotion from the USA :: Worldwide Prayer

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 17.16
“Who am I, Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” — King David.

This week is Thanksgiving week in the United States. As we focus on giving thanks, we will look at ancient and modern poetry and prayers, offering praise and thankfulness to our God. — John

Reflection: Prayer of Devotion from the USA :: Worldwide Prayer

My cup overflows! My cup overflows! Lord God you have blessed me so abundantly! You have lifted me up, and loved me, and forgiven me, and blessed me so richly.

O loving Lord God, continue to bless me, that I might continue to bless others.

O compassionate Lord God, as my cup overflows with love and kindness and all kinds of riches, help me to see how I might share these blessings and your love with the rest of your children.

O Gracious Lord God, help me to see how extravagantly my cup overflows, and to see how I can direct that overflow to do your work.

Oh Mighty Lord God, give me the courage and strength to follow Christ’s example, and to share the abundance of my blessings, now and forever.

My cup overflows! Praise God! Praise the Son whose life shows us the true meaning of grace, servanthood and loving stewardship.

Psalm 23.6
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.

The Request for Presence
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling;
That I may go to the altar of God, to the God of my joy and gladness; and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God. — Psalm 43.3-4

– From 
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 17 (Listen – 4:14)
James 4 (Listen – 2:25)

A Thanksgiving

Scripture: James 3.17
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

This week is Thanksgiving week in the United States. As we focus on giving thanks, we will look at ancient and modern poetry and prayers, offering praise and thankfulness to our God. — John

Reflection: A Thanksgiving
By John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

Lord, in this dust Thy sovereign voice
First quicken’d love divine;
I am all Thine—Thy care and choice,
My very praise is Thine.

I praise Thee, while Thy providence
In childhood frail I trace,
For blessings given, ere dawning sense
Could seek of scan Thy grace;

Yet, Lord, in memory’s fondest place
I shrine those seasons sad
When, looking up, I saw Thy face
In kind austereness clad

And such Thy tender force be still,
When self would swerve or stray,
Shaping to truth the froward will
Along Thy narrow way.

Deny me wealth, fear, far remove
The love of power or name;
Hope thrives in straits, in weakness love,
And faith in the world’s shame.

The Call to Prayer
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for me. — Psalm 66.14

– From 
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 16 (Listen – 5:21)
James 3 (Listen – 2:38)

Te Deum Laudamus

Scripture: James 2.13b
Mercy triumphs over judgment.

This week is Thanksgiving week in the United States. As we focus on giving thanks, we will look at ancient and modern poetry and prayers, offering praise and thankfulness to our God. — John

Reflection: Te Deum Laudamus
By Nicetas of Remesiana (5th Century)
Translated by John Dryden (1631–1700)

Thee, Sovereign God, our grateful accents praise;
We own Thee Lord, and bless Thy wondrous ways;
To Thee, eternal Father, earth’s whole frame,
With loudest trumpets sounds immortal fame.

Lord God of Hosts! For Thee the heavenly powers
With sounding anthems fill the vaulted towers.
Thy Cherubim thrice, Holy, Holy, Holy, cry;
Thrice, Holy, all the Seraphim reply,
And thrice returning echoes endless songs supply.

Both heaven and earth Thy majesty display;
They owe their beauty to Thy glorious ray.
Thy praises fill the loud Apostles’ choir;
The train of prophets in the song conspire.

Legions of martyrs in the chorus shine,
And vocal blood with vocal music join.
By these Thy church, inspired by heavenly art,
Around the world maintains a second part;
And turns her sweetest notes, O God, to Thee,
The Father of unbounded majesty;
The Son adored co-partner of thy seat,
And equal everlasting Paraclete.

Thou King of Glory, Christ of the More-High,
Thou co-eternal filial Deity;
Thou who to save the world’s impending doom
Vouchsaf’st to dwell within a Virgin’s womb.

Old tyrant death disarmed, before Thee flew
The bolts of heaven, and back the foldings drew,
To give access, and make Thy faithful way,
From God’s right hand Thy filial beams display.

Thou art to judge the living and the dead;
Then spare those souls for whom Thy veins have bled.
O take us up among Thy blessed above,
To share with them Thy everlasting love.

Preserve, O Lord, Thy people and enhance
Thy blessing on Thine own inheritance.
Forever raise their hearts, and rule their ways
Each day we bless Thee and proclaim Thy praise;
No age shall fail to celebrate thy name,
No hour neglect Thy everlasting fame.

Preserve our souls, O Lord, this day from ill;
Have mercy, Lord, have mercy still;
As we have hoped, do Thou reward our pain;
We’ve hoped in Thee—let not our hope be vain.

The Refrain
Blessed be the Lord! For he has shown me the wonders of his love in a besieged city. — Psalm 31.21

– From 
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 15 (Listen – 4:48)
James 2 (Listen – 3:32)

Finishing Well

Scripture: Hebrews 12.1b-2
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Reflection: Finishing Well
By Jon Polk

In 1968, John Stephen Akhwari, a long-distance runner, was one of four athletes sent from the East African nation of Tanzania to the Olympic Games in Mexico City.

Unaccustomed to the high altitude, Akhwari began to cramp up during the marathon event. He was also involved in a collision with other runners and dislocated his right knee. Encouraged to drop out, he instead received medical treatment and continued on with the race.

Over an hour after the winning time, Akhwari finally entered the stadium, where only a handful of spectators remained. Struggling to put one foot in front of the other, he limped across the finish line, coming in dead last among the 57 who completed the race (18 others had quit along the way).

When interviewed afterwards, Akhwari was asked why he persevered through such a painful experience. He replied, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race.”

Athletic imagery is a common New Testament analogy for the Christian life. For a faith focused on the ideals of selflessness and sacrifice, it seems odd that biblical writers draw parallels with sports events focused on individual winners. A closer look at a few of these passages, however, reveals that there is more at stake in our spiritual life than winning.

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul emphasizes an athlete’s need for training and rigorous discipline. In Philippians 3, Paul talks about pressing on, or persevering, toward the goal. Reflecting back on his own life in 2 Timothy 4, Paul does not mention winning, but states that he is one of many who has finished the race.

The author of Hebrews also discusses training through strengthening of arms and knees, stresses running the race with perseverance, and encourages us to follow the example of Jesus who finished the task God set before him and now sits at God’s right hand, the ultimate finish line.

Our spiritual goal is not to win (as if we could somehow “win” the Christian life), but to finish the race set before us and to finish well because we’ve trained properly and persevered through difficulties and trials.

To do this, we must keep our eyes on the example of Jesus, who ran the race before us and endured great suffering on our behalf so that we might follow him on a lifelong journey of putting one foot in front of the other along the path of faith.

I want to thank Jon Polk for this wonderful step by step, two week, race through Hebrews he has taken us on. Hebrews is dense and each chapter could be a marathon of study. Solus Christus; Fully Human, Fully Saved; A Cautionary Tale of Unbelief; A High Priest Like No Other; No Spiritual Fast Food; New And Improved; Divine Will And Testament; Compelled Toward Community; Faith of the Flawed; and now the aptly named, Finishing Well, have been a joy for me to read and to bring to you.

There will be more where that came from. For now, we prepare for Thanksgiving week by closing with the prayer from Hebrews 13: Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Call to Prayer
Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doings toward all people. — Psalm 66.4

– From 
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 9-10 (Listen – 7:48)
Hebrews 12 (Listen – 4:36)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Chronicles 11-12 (Listen – 11:59) Hebrews 13 (Listen – 3:31)
1 Chronicles 13-14 (Listen – 4:13) James 1 (Listen – 3:26)

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