Tag Archives: thanksgiving

We Gather Together

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Words and Music by Adrianus Valerius, 1597

 


For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:20

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37 – 39


 

Among my most cherished memories from growing up are family gatherings. Be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, a wedding or whatever, there are few times in my life that stand-up in comparison.

Now I don’t come from the largest family I know, but on the other hand, I certainly don’t come from a small one either. I remember getting together at my Grandparents house for Thanksgiving. We would have two full size tables set, when it came time to eat we would gather around, cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents and sometimes second and third cousins, great aunts, great uncles, even great grandparents. Yes, we were a very close family and still are. To this day, my closest and dearest friends are family.

The added gift to our family is that we were believers. As a result the ties that bound us together went beyond blood, and into our very spirit. As we would gather around the table, my grandfather would lead us in prayer. While he was a simple man, his prayers stand out as some of the most heartfelt I have ever heard. Genuine, moving and from the heart.

So he would pray thanking God for our being together. Thanking Him for the blessings he had bestowed on us. And praying that God would continue to bless us. This is the theme found in Adrianus Valerius’s hymn/prayer, “We Gather Together.”

The first line we see is, “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.” Valerius reminds us that we have been called to gather together, for this is where we will see the power of God manifested. Jesus told us in Matthew 20:18 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” In addition, the writer of Hebrews instructs us in 10:25 to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.” Gathering together is foundational to what it means to be a believer.

But as we come together, we each come from our own unique struggles. This prayer now turns to remind us that God will not leave us. It reads, “The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.” Alone, we begin to feel worn down with attacks that may come, but as we gather together we are refreshed and reminded that God is there with us. We can therefore cease from distressing for He is, “Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining.”

But not only is God with us, in Him we can know victory. Valerius calls Him, “Thou Leader Triumphant.” Our “Leader Triumphant” then shares that victory with us so that we are, as Paul says, “More than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37)

God has called us together to worship Him, to refresh our souls and to build up one another. Let us not forsake coming together, rather may we join our hearts as one, praying for His blessings, thanking Him that He will not leave us and declaring His praise to all who will hear. And so we pray, Lord “Thy name be ever praised.”

 

 

Read more about “We Gather Together.”

Count Your Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Words by Johnson Oatman Jr., 1897
Music by Edwin O. Excell,

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Ephesians 1:3 – 6

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. . .
The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies . . .
The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” . . .
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 118: 1, 7, 14 – 16, 29

but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Matthew 6:20

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s
Psalm 103:2 – 5

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
Psalm 105:1 – 5

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:29 – 30

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you. “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, And your foundations I will lay in sapphires. “Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, And your gates of crystal, And your entire wall of precious stones.…
Isaiah 54:10-12


 

Anyone who has ever worked a job in retail, purchasing or a stock room is probably familiar with the idea of inventory.  I used to maintain a parts room for a maintenance shop and part of my job included verifying how many items we had on the shelf and tracking what went in and out.

Now as much work as that may have seemed, it was nothing when compared to one of my wife’s previous jobs.  She worked for a truck dealership and once a year they would set aside days to physically count every part in stock, no matter how small or insignificant. And this was not simply those who dealt with the parts, but it included everyone who worked for the company.  They did this because they realized it was important.  It was the only way to know what they really had

Taking inventory is key to knowing what you have and is the theme of Johnson Oatman Jr.”s “Count Your Blessings.”  Now most of us have probably heard this hymn, and yes the tune can seem a little dated/cheesy (especially when done at a higher tempo) but the theme is solid.

The first stanza reads, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there.  Those times when everything seems to be going wrong.  Times when you don’t know what to do and it seems you can not keep your head above water. I have found that it is at these times when this theme can be pivotal in standing against the storm. To know that you have someone to fall back onto.

He goes on to write in the second Stanza, “Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?” The reality is that the tempest come in many forms. Sometime they come not simply through your hardships, but in your responsibilities.  Who has not hit that wall before in their life.  Working hard and doing your job the best you can, just to get worn thin and find yourself at the point of saying, “I can’t do it anymore. It’s just too much.”   It is at this point that counting our blessing can remind us that we are not alone, that Christ is right there with us.

In the third stanza he writes, “When you look at others with their lands and gold.” Envy is a dangerous thing.  You see when we simply look at how much everyone else has, it is so easy for us to forget what we have.  We should not have our focus on others, but on the blessings God has given us.  When our focus is on our blessings, then the things others have begin to seem not so shiny.

Now, whether you believe it or not, God has given blessings to both you and me.  Ephesians 1:3 tells us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Now I can not begin to list all these blessings, and many of them are different for each of us. They might be friends, they might family, they might be physical, they might be spiritual. As I said, this list could go on and on.

If we look at Psalm 103:2 – 5 we read, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  Understand that I am certainly not saying that this is and exhaustive or definitive list.  Rather, it list some of the basic blessing God grants to those who follow him.

Yes, if we are truly honest we will see that we have been blessed in so many different ways. We need not surrender to despair.  So the hymn reminds us that “amid the conflict whether great or small, Do not be disheartened, God is over all.” So take some time to “Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

 

Read more about “Count Your Blessings.”