Monday, November 25, 2013

Great is Thy Faithfulness

I love Thanksgiving!  From my earliest memories of my childhood and now that I’m a grandpa with adult children and nearly adult children the Thanksgiving holiday has always been a special time in the Green household. My parents always made Thanksgiving so special whether they hosted it at our home or we traveled to one of my many aunts’ and uncles’ homes. Cheryl and I have continued that tradition with our kids and I trust they will always guard Thanksgiving for their families as well. I use the term guard purposely because if we allowed it to happen, the retailers and advertisers would just trample over Thanksgiving to get to “Black Friday” and steamroll us flat to a very materialized and hollow Christmas devoid of meaning and significance.
I was taught that Thanksgiving is a specific time to reflect on and thank the Lord for His tremendous blessings. The greatest of which of course is the Lord Jesus Christ who came specifically to die for our sins so we could be forgiven and have a home in Heaven when we die. The older I get, the more Thanksgiving means to me because the Lord has been so faithful through the many twists, turns, drama, trauma, joy, blessings, prosperity and drought life has laid in front of me. Last Sunday while visiting a church in Texas with my family there, we sang one of my favorite hymns written by a guy named Thomas Obediah Chisholm. Some might instantly recognize his name, my guess however is most do not at first glance. You may not know his name, but I’ll bet you know his hymn – “Great is Thy Faithfulness”
Thomas Chisholm was born in a crude log cabin in Franklin Kentucky in 1866. Just before his death in 1960 at the ripe old age of 94, he wrote: “My income has never been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. But I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care which have filled me with astonishing gratefulness.”  Mr. Chisholm’s experience of God’s great faithfulness was an each and every day kind of experience. That is why the chorus of this great hymn says: “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed thy hand hath provided – Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.” Mr. Chisholm was ordained a Methodist minister and over the course of his life wrote more than 1200 sacred poems, many of which have become prominent hymn texts. (“Amazing Grace 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions – Kenneth Osbeck)
As I stood in worship last Sunday and I heard the familiar notes begin to play and I reflected on the Lord’s faithfulness to a preacher named Ralph Green, my eyes started leaking profusely…okay, I’m not ashamed of it, I was crying! Tears just flowed and there was nothing I could do about it. A flood of gratitude welled up in my heart and overflowed down my checks and I stood there and worshipped the Lord with a full heart of gratitude and Thanksgiving.
Oh dear Christian friend, I hope that you will keep a tender and thankful heart to our Lord Jesus Christ particularly at Thanksgiving and guard this sacred holiday feast in your home with your family. Pass on that tradition to generation after generation. I’d also challenge you like Mr. Chisholm found and many believers like him have discovered that God’s faithfulness occurs “morning by morning new mercies I see”…if we take time to look for them! Will you reflect on “the pardon for sin and a peace that endureth?” Reflect on God’s “own dear presence to cheer and to guide.” Be thankful for His provision of “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” and the “blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.”  When we reflect on that, how can we not belt out great is thy faithfulness? I have seen it many times in church through the years where people barely sing or mumble the words to that song which is profoundly sad to me but I can’t do anything about that. What I can do however is worship the Lord with a thankful heart not just at Thanksgiving, but every day I have breath.

Dear friends, God is ever faithful. His faithfulness knows no limits or boundaries. There is nothing going on in your life, in your church, your nation or the world in general where God’s great faithfulness is not found. Truly Thomas Chisholm hit the bulls-eye when out of him flowed “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Wishing you and your family a tremendous time of Thanksgiving, joy and blessing; but most importantly worship of an ever faithful God, from my little corner of the world to yours…