Psalm 100:1-5, Matthew 6:19-24, 1Thessalonians 5:16-18
SpiritSong Worship Center
November 22, 2009
One day a farmer was sitting in the local diner waiting to be served the breakfast he'd ordered. In the booth across from him sat four teenagers being loud and boisterous. When the farmer's meal arrived he gently bowed his head and clasped his hands together as he silently uttered a prayer of thanks for the meal he was about to consume. The teenagers were giggling amongst themselves about the old man praying over his meal. When the man was finished one of the kids turned to him and said; "hey old man, does everyone on the farm pray before they eat?" The man paused thoughtfully and then responded: "The pigs don't!
What has been recorded as being a celebration of the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors in the seventeenth century was declared a National Holiday by Abraham Lincoln in the 1800's – The annual observance of THANKSGIVING! One day – the opportunity for a nation to stop and give thanks for the gifts that have been given over the past year. For some, it's the opportunity to indulge in gluttonous behaviors; for others to feed the poor, to fellowship with other friends or family. For some it's the opportunity to get away for a long weekend and relax from the rigors of the workplace. For still others it's a reminder of what they don't have, what they haven't received; jobs lost, illnesses endured, relationships broken, loneliness engulfing, changes not made; addictions not defeated. Each of these is an experience steeped with deep feelings. One day set aside for thanksgiving – but Christ gave His life for us to experience an eternity of THANKS-LIVING! Thanksgiving is a day in our life; Thanks-living is His way in our life!
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
So, what does THANKS-LIVING look like?
- Trust God for the outcome each day. Psalms 100 tells us: "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations." From your waking up till your going to sleep – do everything you can to remind yourself that the God of all creation; the redeemer of our souls; the "hound" of heaven that gave His life for you is the one that is with you every moment of every day. This does not mean to act stupidly, make foolish decisions and choices and then expect to receive positive results. That's not trust, that's insanity! Trusting God means that even in the face of stupid decisions on my part or on the part of others that impact me, God is still in control of the outcome to His glory! Romans 8:28 tells us "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." Trusting Him in all circumstances is Thanks-living! THE TRIP TO INDIA STORY… Trusting God is Thanks-living.
- Handing your life over to Him! Anyone here have plans for the rest of the day? How about for this week? Sure we do…without some sense of direction, we tend to travel in a circle, literally losing our way. We tend however to think that these plans are up to us…MY decision, My direction, My schedule, MY, MY, MY… In our reading from Matthew 6 today we hear; "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Handing our life over to Him is living in the knowledge that "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," is a surrender of self will to God's will. In so doing, I need not be anxious that the service is going on a little longer, or someone is taking too much of MY time! A young man told his partner who was preparing a loving meal for the two of them after a particularly trying day that he was going to quickly run to the post office to collect the mail. Two hours later he returned to a somewhat frustrated partner who asked; "well what on earth happened to you? I had dinner ready an hour ago!?" The man responded; "I ran into Mrs. Johnson, our former neighbor at the Post Office." "That was two hours ago," said the partner; "what took you so long?" The man replied; "I asked her how she was doing!" Funny … but the man was an act of love to Mrs. Johnson! Handing your life over to Him is Thanks-Living.
- Allow God to show you the blessing! We're always so focused on the way we want to see things – believing that things should go/happen/be a particular way that we miss the sight of the blessing that God has to reveal to us. The problem with living that way is that more often than not, we are disappointed with the outcome. Proverbs 14:12 states: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." Each of us, if we search our hearts can find the blessings He has hidden there. A fellow from Coastal North Carolina recounted a short mission trip he participated in to the Island of Tobago. He was leading worship at the leper colony where they had gone to minister. There was time for one more song, so he asked for any special request. A woman who had been sitting in the back with her head turned away from the front of the room turned around to face the worship leader. It was the most hideous face the man had ever seen. The woman's nose and ears had been eaten away by leprosy. It was all he could do not to flinch. The woman raised her fingerless right had as she said; "Pastor, can we sing my favorite song…Count Your Many Blessings?" The man's life could never be the same after that! You see the woman looked beyond her circumstance into the blessing God was in her life! Allowing Him to show the blessing is Thanks-living.
- Navigate each day in His light. Jesus said, as recorded in John 8:12; "…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." When we trust God to be competent to be in control, hand our lives over to him and allow Him to show us His blessing, we're better able to navigate each day in His light. Having things our way often puts us in the dark. The Israelites had just been freed from centuries of bondage in Egypt. They had witnessed the plagues, the Passover of their homes and families after following the lead of the Lord; they had witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army in hot pursuit; they had received manna from heaven to meet their needs…yet all they could see was hardship in the desert and the same old same old on the table. They even lamented leaving slavery. Think there was any blindness going on there? We're not much different most of the time. We forget what life was like before Christ delivered us and want to lay on Him the burden to "Have it my way." There was a grandmother who took her grandson to the beach for a fun sharing day together. They were frolicking merrily in the edge of the surf when suddenly a huge wave came crashing in and swept the boy from the grandmother's grip. Startled and amazed, the stunned and frightened grandmother looked to the heavens and cried; "O Lord, please bring my precious boy back to me." Another unexpected huge wave came crashing to shore and deposited the young tyke at his grandmother's feet, chocking but otherwise unscathed. The grandmother grabbed to boy, examined him well and lifted her eyes to heaven. "He had a cap on before!"… Sometimes we miss the point! Navigating in His light is Thanks-living.
- Keep the bucket off the lamp. Anyone here glad to be alive? Anyone here appreciative of the seat you're sitting on? Anyone here thankful for the breath you just took? If you're not, you should be…each of them is a gift, not a right! Jesus told us in Matthew 5:14-15 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a [bucket]. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." When you let your light shine, others can see Him better! 1 Peter 2:12 says; "Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us." It's His light…why buck it? Letting the light shine is Thanks-living!
- Share the joy! We often miss the joy to share from our own lives as well as missing out on the joy that is happening in the lives of others. We're so absorbed in our own ways that we miss true opportunities of sharing in and with others. A preacher was walking down a country road when he happened upon a young boy who was struggling with a load of hay that had fallen off his wagon. The boy was hot and sweaty and seemed upset. "You look hot, young man" said the preacher. "Why don't you rest a while and then I'll give you a hand." "No thanks," he said – "my Daddy wouldn't like it." "Don't be silly," said the preacher, "everybody's entitled to a break! Sit down and have a drink of water." Again the young man refused stating that his daddy would be upset. By this time, the preacher had lost his patience… "Your Daddy must be a real slave driver…tell me where he's at so I can have a word with him!" "Well," said the boy, "he's under this load of hay." Sharing another's or our own joy is Thanks-living.
Trust His control
Hand your life to Him
Allow the blessing to be seen
Navigate the day in His light
Keep the bucket off the lamp
Share the joy