Archive for the ‘Thanksgiving’ Category

Giving Thanks

November 24, 2008

Title: Giving Thanks

Text: Philippians 4:6-7

Time: November 23rd, 2003

Around Thanksgiving every year we remember the familiar scene of the Pilgrims and the Indians meeting together for the very first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims were thanking God for the many blessings they had received, including the Indians, in their thanksgivings to God, because without the providential help of the Indians it’s doubtful the colonists could have survived that first year. They thanked God for what they had and put aside their complaints about what they didn’t have. As Christians, they were probably aware of this biblical principle — taking stock in what one has, giving thanks for what one has, and not just focusing on one’s problems. We are approaching Thanksgiving Day and it’s a good time to take stock in what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t have. The Pilgrims had to do that, give thanks for what they had, instead of feeling bad about what they didn’t have. Compared to Europe, the early settlers had very little in the way of a standard of living in the New World at the beginning. It was a hostile land, and many, many people died en route and shortly after they landed. It was a hard life, not for the timid at heart. So the Pilgrims got together to celebrate and give thanks for what God had provided for them. It’s a great tradition, and it’s biblical, it’s in the Bible. The Apostle Paul teaches us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. On this first day of Thanksgiving week, I’d like to unpack Paul’s teaching on thanksgiving this morning and demonstrate how we can always be thankful no matter how hard life is or how many problems we face. It’s really the key to contentment in life, thanking God for what we have, refusing to dwell on what we don’t have, or what is wrong or a problem in our life. Learning to give thanks to God can change our lives and revolutionize our spiritual lives. The Pilgrims had to learn how to survive in the wilderness, they had to learn how to face difficulties with patience and faith, they had to learn to ask the Lord for his blessings, but just as important, they had to learn to thank the Lord for his blessings. It’s a pattern for our lives as well. But before we hear what the Apostle Paul has to teach, would you pray with me and ask the Spirit’s inspiration? (pray). Let’s look at three things about thanksgiving. (more…)

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Be Content

November 23, 2008

Title: Be Content

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Text: Hebrews 13:5

Date: November 23rd, 2008

Once again we arrive at the holiday season, beginning in November in just a few days with Thanksgiving, then Christmas in December, and finally, New Year’s in January. I love the holiday season because it’s a reminder of how good God is and how blessed we are again being under his love and care for another year. Today, I’d like to talk about thanksgiving and being content, about thanking God for what we have instead of complaining about what we don’t have. The passage I came across to remind us of this is Hebrews 13:5-6, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” What a great reminder on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day – we need to stop and remember what we have and thank God for his many blessings in our lives. We also need to stop complaining and worrying so much about what we don’t have, or what we could have if we only had more money or a better job, etc. We need to learn contentment in life. Finally, it’s a good time of the year to remember that as we look to God he will provide for all of our needs. The news reports today all say that the U.S. economy is in recession with the possibility of economic depression if one or more of the automakers collapse, if the banks don’t start recovering from all the bad debt that’s still in the banking system, if the housing market doesn’t pick up. Many people today feel that the economy is in shambles or at least that’s the perception. But it’s relative. This Thanksgiving, we need to keep things in perspective. The country we live in is still the greatest economy in the world. When we say we are suffering an economic downturn, we need to remember that our negatives are still a lot better than most of the world’s positive times. I wonder what the rest of the world thinks of Americans complaining about how bad things are when from the rest of the world’s viewpoint things still look pretty rosy for citizens of the U.S. We need to get a perspective on things and thank God for the blessings of our lives instead of focusing on the problems or negative things. That’s what Thanksgiving is for – thanking God for our blessings. What blessings are you experiencing today? Don’t say, “I haven’t any blessings at all, just problems.” No. You’ve got blessings, even if you are suffering disappointments and set backs today. It may take a little review to remember the blessings that you are experiencing, but that’s what Thanksgiving is for, reviewing, remembering, and then rejoicing in our blessings. That’s what the Pilgrims did in the New World. If you remember history, the Pilgrims had very little of the luxuries of life we experience today. Life was very basic for them – survival in the wilderness. Basic housing such as log cabins, simple food cooked over an open fire, warm clothing and shoes, wood heat for the fireplace in the winter, etc. The first Thanksgiving was thanking God for the necessities of life. Can we learn to thank God for the necessities of life instead of worrying about what we don’t have that we want? Let’s hear God’s Word and what it says on the subject of being thankful. (more…)

Don’t Worry, Pray!

November 21, 2008

Title: Don’t Worry, Pray!

Text: Philippians 4:6-7

Time: November 21st, 2004

Every year around this time we celebrate the holiday called Thanksgiving. It started as a remembrance of the early settlers here from Europe who were just thankful to be alive, to survive, after a long voyage by ship over the ocean, and then surviving the wilderness in the New World with the help of the Indians. Well, you know the story. It’s a good holiday because it causes us to think about the many things we have to be thankful for. I know that at times it’s hard to be thankful, especially when everything seems to go wrong in your life, but believe it or not there are plenty of things to be thankful for, no matter how many problems you are experiencing. You may be going through hard times right now, and even if you aren’t, you will in the future face times of difficulties and problems. If you know how to give thanks even in the midst of difficulties you have learned one of the secrets of life. Now thanksgiving is a great time of the year because it teaches us again to give thanks, to count our blessings, to focus on what we have, not what we don’t have. I remember the movie Apollo 13, and how all of a sudden the spaceship and the crew suddenly began to experience problems all at once. There were explosions, parts flying off the spaceship, and well, it was bad, really bad. That’s when one of the astronauts says those famous words, “Houston we have a problem.” Remember that movie? Remember that phrase? But believe it or not those astronauts made it back to earth safely because they began to focus on what they still had and made the best of things rather than focus on all their problems thousands of miles in space. And that’s what Thanksgiving teaches us each year – to focus on what we have, not what we don’t have. In the movie, after all the problems started happening one of the guys said calmly, “Ok, let’s review things. What do we have that is working here?” That’s a good perspective to remember in your life, even when things, especially when things are going wrong, “What do I have that is working in my life?” That is exactly what the Apostle Paul teaches in the New Testament in Philippians 4:6-7, in different words. Let me read it to you: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I’d like to say a few things about this passage because I believe that if we can remember it in whatever circumstances we are facing in life, things will go better. (more…)

Thanksgiving

November 20, 2008

Title: Thanksgiving

Text: Philippians 4:6-7

Time: November 23rd, 2003

This (video clip) is a dramatic scene from the movie Apollo 13 where the spacecraft develops all kinds of problems, thousand and thousands of miles from earth. The scene shows the ground control team working on the problems, and notice what is said, “Work the problem. What is working on the spacecraft? What do we have to work with?” They don’t know it but that is a biblical principle, taking stock in what we have, giving thanks for what we have, and not just focusing on our problems. We are approaching Thanksgiving Day and it’s a good time to take stock in what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t have. The Pilgrims had to do that, give thanks for what they had, instead of feeling bad about what they didn’t have. Compared to Europe, the settlers had very little in the way of a standard of living in the New World at the beginning. It was a hostile land, and many, many people died en route and shortly after they landed. It was a hard life, not for the timid at heart. So the Pilgrims got together to celebrate and give thanks for what God had provided for them. It’s a great tradition, and it’s biblical, it’s in the Bible. The Apostle Paul teaches us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. On this first day of Thanksgiving week, I’d like to unpack Paul’s teaching on thanksgiving this morning and demonstrate how we can always be thankful no matter how hard life is or how many problems we face. It’s really the key to contentment in life, thanking God for what we have, refusing to dwell on what we don’t have, or what is wrong or a problem in our life. Learning to give thanks to God can change our lives and revolutionize our spiritual lives. The crew of Apollo 13 is alive today because the team working on the ground refused to give up hope, but worked to overcome the obstacles of rescuing the spaceship through a combination of building on what they had, that is giving thanks, and working creatively on what they didn’t have. It’s a pattern for our lives as well. But before we hear what Paul has to teach, would you pray with me and ask the Spirit’s inspiration? (pray). Let’s look at three things about thanksgiving. (more…)

Mary’s Song: A Thanksgiving Message

January 26, 2008

Title: Mary’s Song: A Thanksgiving Message

Text: Luke 1:46-55

Date: November 18th, 2007

Today is the Sunday before Thanksgiving 2007, and so I’d like to incorporate Thanksgiving into my Christmas season message series by preaching on what is traditionally called “Mary’s Song” in Luke 1:46-55 (read). This is what the Virgin Mary says after she is told by the angel that she will give birth to the Messiah. It contains a lot of thanksgivings which might help us in giving thanks to God this Thanksgiving season. Every year our nation celebrates Thanksgiving, but it – like Christmas – has become a secular holiday, which is really an oxymoron because “secular” and “holy day or holiday” are opposites. But Thanksgiving has become secularized so that today it’s know for vacation time, big meals, football, family gatherings, etc. just like Christmas is now known for, while the real reason for it has largely been forgotten. Now Thanksgiving never was as spiritual a day as Christmas; it was never meant to celebrate Jesus specifically, but it was established to look to God in thanksgiving by early Americans. So let’s do just that today and this Thanksgiving season – let’s look to God in thanksgiving for all the many blessing He’s given to us in this blessed land. We often focus on the negatives and what we don’t have, but let’s remember this year to thank God for the positives and for what we do have, what God has given us. It amazes me that I’ve been given, and you’ve been given, the great blessing of living in a prosperous land, when most of the world and most of human history shows that people haven’t had it this good. In history, civilizations rise and fall, go up and down. We are blessed that we are living during a time of rising level of prosperity, that we are living in a time of great abundance. That prosperity and abundance might not last for long, we don’t know, but for now at least we are living in a blessed time. We need to stop and give thanks to God for this and not take it for granted. In fact, God has a habit of removing blessings to people who take them for granted. Let us not ever be guilty of that. Now in the passage we are reading today, Mary is told by the angel that she will be the mother of the Messiah, that she is the chosen one to bear the Chosen One. In response to this news, she speaks what is traditionally known as the Magnificat by the traditional, historical church through the ages. What it is is essentially something like a psalm to God and for God. We don’t know exactly, but she may have sung it to some tune that she made up on the spot or that she had heard before, because it fits the form of a song as they sung in ancient times. After the news from the angel, Mary is so overwhelmed by such blessed news that she can’t contain herself and bursts out in song, really almost a prophetic song, inspired by God and by the events of the moment. Let’s look at what she says and apply what she says to thanking God for our blessings during this Thanksgiving season. (more…)