Archive for the ‘ Thanksgiving ’ Category

Sermon: Psalm 100 – Reasons To Be Thankful

I was not scheduled to preach today. But we are living in the times of a pandemic and precautionary actions.

In other words, I had to cover with less than a day’s notice. But our one, true God is good. 😉

Below are my notes. (And a link to the audio and video may later be on The Church Next Door AZ YouTube page)

Psalm 100: Thanksgiving

Read v. 1-2
First week of Advent! Christmas season has officially started! Christmas carols everywhere!
Also, it is Thanksgiving weekend.

Read v. 4
Why do we thank God? What reasons do we have to give Thanksgiving?
• v. 3: Because He is God.
• v. 5: Because He is good.
• v. 2: Because of His gifts.

v. 3: God is God.
God deserves our praise and Thanksgiving because He is our Creator and Lord.
• Revelation 4:11: [the 24 elders around God’s throne fell down and said] “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
o We can’t even get our electronics, let alone governments, to run right. Could we handle all of Creation?
• Exodus 20:2-3: “I am the Lord your God . . . You shall have no other gods before Me.”
o Not “I am to be your favorite god,” but “There is no other.”
• Colossians 1:15-20: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
o God is in control. Of everything. He holds it all together, sustaining and replenishing, and leading His Church to reconcile the world to Himself.

v. 5: God is good.
• Luke 18:18-19: And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
• Psalm 34:8: Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
• Psalm 145:9: The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
• James 1:16-17: Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
• Romans 8:28: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
o God is good and the source of all that is good, and He does not change.
o God’s mercy extends to all people (Matthew 5:45: “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”), but His grace and ultimate good are reserved for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. So we are thankful that He is good and …
o Therefore …

v. 2: God’s gifts.
As stated, God gives good gifts. What are these?
• We have His Word.
o Just read Psalm 119. It is long, but it is all about God’s Law/Word/Scripture.
o Ephesians 2:20: We are ”built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.”
• We may get health and wealth in this life, but that is not our guarantee.
o John 14:33: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
o We have His peace.
• Ephesians 2:8-10: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
o We have His grace and forgiveness.
o We also were created for good works.
• What are our good works?
o We get to help those in need.
 Galatians 6:10: So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
 James 1:27: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
[Isaiah 58, Micah 6:8]
o We get to share the gospel.
 Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.

We are told by God’s Word that we who believe have received His peace through His grace and forgiveness, being His master workmanship to do His work of reconciling a lost world to Him through good works and sharing the good news of His coming!

So … how do we live a life of thanksgiving?
• In Luke 19:1-10, we read of Zacchaeus, a tax collector whom Jesus visited. Merely being shown kindness by Jesus led this small man to change his ways – to repent – and repay any wrongdoing he had done.
o We show thankfulness by repenting of our sins and trusting in Jesus’ work of salvation through the cross.
• In Luke 17:12-18, we read of the 10 lepers who were healed. How many came back to worship Jesus? Just 1.
o We show thankfulness by worshiping our God who has cleansed us of our sins and possibly even healed our physical/mental afflictions.
• [Giving Tuesday this week 😉] In Luke 21:1-4, we read about the poor widow who gave 2 copper coins as a gift to God, which was all she had to live on.
o We show thankfulness by giving to God, not out obligation or our excess but in gratitude and sacrificially, especially to help spread the gospel (see 2 Corinthians 9).
• Colossians 3:12-17: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
o In all things we are thankful. Even when doing the dishes, cleaning up after our pets/siblings/kids/spouses/friends, paying bills, going to work, being at work, listening to the news, driving in traffic, being stuck at home during a pandemic . . . and when watching our favorite show/movie, listening to our favorite song, driving down an open road, going to a game or other event, buying a new car or video game or toy or tool . . .

In all things.

One more reason to be thankful, and a reminder on this first Sunday of Advent, of Hope:
I can hear the complaints: But if God is good, why does He allow evil? Why does He let bad things happen to good people?
• Firstly, let us remember what Jesus told us: No one is good but God alone. As Isaiah reminded, even our good works are like filthy rags. We have all sinned and deserve punishment.
• So why does God allow evil things? (Yep. Trigger warning.)
o The first part of this answer is that He gave us free will. If He simply stopped us from doing evil, we would no longer have free will.
o Second part, we look at Revelation 8:1-5 (the seventh of the 7 Judgment Seals):
When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings,[a] flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
 Jesus shows John here that in the midst of all of the suffering we cause each other, God is listening to our prayers. He hears all of our cries for help. Sometimes, yes, He steps in and stops the evil. However, at the same time, He is right there, holding His chosen child and saying, “It’s okay. I’m here. I hear you. Their punishment is certain.” He is right there, looking at the abuser, the mocker, the murder, the liar, saying “Repent, for punishment is certain.”
Hurting loved one of God: He hears you, and He has promised His judgment and wrath on all evildoers.
If you are the abuser, the mocker, the murderer, the liar: He says, “Turn to me, for I have taken the wrath you deserve on myself when I was pierced and hung on a cross. Repent of your sin, and receive my grace.”
• All of God’s promises come true. 2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

We give thanks to our One True and Good God for the gifts of His promises: His grace and forgiveness and dealing with sin and evil once and for all.

[READ PSALM 100]

VerseD: 1 Chronicles 16:34

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
1 Chronicles 16:34, ESV

God’s love is enough reason to be thankful everyday.

VerseD: Psalm 100:4

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Psalm 100:4, ESV

Always give thanks to God, for everything all the time, praising Him for His love and good works.

It is the fastest route to God’s heart.

Thanksgiving

The Psalmist says “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.” Some scholars have deemed this “The protocol of heaven,” that is to say, that if one were visiting royalty in another country (England for example) there is a protocol for what you do and say when meeting with them. It is similar when meeting with God Almighty. Similar, but not the same. Why, because God generally meets you where YOU are. He is wonderfully personal and too many people don’t understand that. He wants to meet with YOU, He wants to talk to YOU! You don’t need to go to a pastor or priest in order to hear the voice of God. There is one simple thing that you must do – be real with God.

God knows your heart anyway so why try to hide anything? He knows your thoughts, fears, worries, concerns, hopes, pride, and yes, even your sins. You see, “thanksgiving and praise” are not the protocol of heaven, but are evidence of the condition of your heart. No matter where on earth you are, you can connect with the God of eternity if you are simply real and honest with Him, because “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” “Real” people are humble people because their self-perception and world view are grounded in reality and the way things actually are. People who are proud or haughty are generally putting on a facade in order to present themselves as better than others. But as we know “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So as a humble person, you will recognize that we all (including yourself) need a Savior.

Humility unlocks the gate and then thanksgiving can begin. Otherwise we become like the Pharisee in Luke 18:10-14 who thanks God that he is more righteous than other men, obviously his prayer of thanksgiving was wrought with pride (which God opposes) and the gate of thanksgiving that he was trying to enter remained locked. But there was another man there who was humble when he prayed to God, and we’re told that he went away justified by God.

So humility unlocks the gate and you enter the gate by thanking God. This Thanksgiving, lets remember to be humble and real with God and others so that our thanksgiving is not in vain, and perhaps we can draw even closer to Jesus.

About Jesse Walker

VerseD: Psalm 9:1

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1, ESV

God has done amazing things.

If you are saved by grace, give Him thanks and share it with the world!

Is there any more reason more worthy of thankfulness than this?

Giving Thanks to the King – Jingle Bells and Over the River and Through the Woods

Be wise and give thanks by increasing your wisdom by reading the thoughts at Proverbial Thought!

So far this month we have looked at some of my favorite Christmas carols. However, this being the week of Thanksgiving here, I will take a moment to look at a couple of songs often confused as Christmas carols but in fact are Thanksgiving songs.

Both songs today were written about the same time, the mid-1850’s, and both in the area of Medford, Massachusetts!

First is “Over the River and Through the Woods”, originally written in 1844 as a poem by Lydia Maria Child as “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day”. Here are the original words:

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow

Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”

Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

Here is a modern singing for your enjoyment:

Here are some updated lyrics, as well:

Over the river and through the woods
To Grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
Through white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the woods,
Oh, how the wind does blow.
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the woods
To have a full day of play.
Oh, hear the bells ringing ting-a-ling-ling,
For it is Christmas Day.

Over the river and through the woods,
Trot fast my dapple gray;
Spring o’er the ground just like a hound,
For this is Christmas Day.

Over the river and through the woods
And straight through the barnyard gate.
It seems that we go so dreadfully slow;
It is so hard to wait.

Over the river and through the woods,
Now Grandma’s cap I spy.
Hurrah for fun; the pudding’s done;
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie.

Jingle Bells was written around 1850 by James Lord Pierpont as “One Horse Open Sleigh”. It has become one of the most famous Christmas songs in the world!

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtail ring’
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

[chorus]
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.

[chorus]

A day or two ago
The story I must tel
I went out on the snow
And on my back I fell
A gent was riding b
In a one-horse open sleigh
He laughed as there I sprawling lie
But quickly drove away.

[chorus]

Now the ground is white
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight
and sing this sleighing song
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you’ll take the lead.

[chorus]

Why I Enjoy These Songs:

These songs are a reminder to be light-hearted during this season.

At this time of the year we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace. And we should admit it, when we are at peace we enjoy life more.

What I like about the lyrics of Jingle Bells is evidenced in the third and fourth verses: the sleigh tips over, and someone laughs at them struggling in the snow before riding off!

Why is that so great?

The final verse brings us full-circle and reminds us to HAVE FUN!

My take on that is that things happen in this life that are out of our control. Our reaction can either be to wallow in our misery or to take things as they come and realize God is in control.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4, NIV

With “Over the River” we are reminded of the importance of loved ones, that we should do what it takes to be with them and bypass distractions to ensure our time with them.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrew 10:24-25, NIV

And of course, may we always remember this:

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:18b-20, NIV

Sing joyfully! Give thanks to God always!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Our Pursuit of Happiness

This is your regular reminder to find some wisdom over at Proverbial Thought!

Pursuing Happiness

I am sure will be happy to hear (er … read) that this post will not be too long today!

That being said, the video below is about seven minutes long.

WARNING: There are a few non-child-friendly words in the video. I discovered the video through a politically left-leaning (read: liberal) website (because every now and then, both sides come up with some good stuff!)

Watch the video, and then we shall continue.

Do you know why I found this video so interesting?

Firstly, it is always inspiring seeing people do things that make them happy!

Secondly, this study revealed something … THAT THE BIBLE HAS BEEN SAYING ALL ALONG!

Here are a few examples (NIV):

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
Psalm 95:2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalm 100:4

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:19-20

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 2:6-7

Obviously, being thankful is important. Again, I only listed a few occasions of the Bible talking about being thankful.

If our fallen world keeps finding biblical truths (outside of the Bible), how much more should we be in our Bibles and applying those truths in our lives?

Here is a fun activity for you: open up the Bible app on your mobile device or go to www.biblegateway.com, and do a search for “thanks”, “thankful”, “thankfulness”, or “thanksgiving”, and just read some (or all) of the passages you find.

Then read more!

Misplaced Thankfulness

This is a period of the year when happy stories gain prominence in the public sphere. This past week was Thanksgiving, that time when we express our thankfulness for what we have.

Unfortunately, there are still stories abounding that are less than happy (downright sad most of the time). On Wednesday night (11/23), I read a news story that was less than happy. If you do not have time to read through the article, here is a brief synopsis:

A South Korean couple wanted a baby, and they gave birth to a girl a few months ago. She was born prematurely, and they did not have jobs. This led them to feel inadequate for the job of raising a child, therefore they would spend many hours a day at internet cafes playing a game called “Prius Online” (a lot like The Sims and Second Life, if you know what that is). In this game, they began to raise a virtual baby named Anima. They would go home every so often to feed their real baby powdered milk (I am assuming they added water so that it was not just powder). This past September they came home from a 12-hour session of their game to find their daughter had died from malnourishment. The father said, “I am sorry for what I did and hope that my daughter does not suffer any more in heaven.”

Here is my take on this situation: the parents had a misplaced thankfulness.

We see this kind of thing all the time. People have something great or even perfect for them in their possession, yet all they think about are the things they can get. They are not focused on what they do not have, just what they can get. We know this is the case with these people, because they do not complain about not having something. In fact, this kind of people brag about what they do have and want to have (and plan on getting).

In the case of this child’s death, we can see that the parents wanted a child. We can see that they wanted to care for a child. Their problem was that they were not able to cope with their situation. While they wanted a child, to care for a child, they felt they were inadequate given their circumstances. Therefore, they shifted their thinking from being focused on their real child to being focused on their virtual baby. They misplaced their thankfulness.

  • It is just like the man who works 80 hours per week to provide for his family.
  • It is just like the child at school who bullies others because he does not know how to show affection.
  • It is just like the woman who gives gifts she can not afford to find acceptance.
  • It is just like the church who focuses on programs instead of people while trying to be hip and inviting.
  • It is just like the Christian who avoids “sinners” because of the desire for purity.

In all of these scenarios, people substitute something in place of real relationships. They want people around and to have things “perfect,” but they do not connect with others (at least not in a way that is good).

There is really only one answer for all people: Jesus Christ.

As I posted last week, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:15-16)

Also, read Hebrews 12 and 13 … and the rest of the Bible!

Why I Am Thankful

I am thankful when I have had a long day at work putting children in time out, reprimanding and coercing them for not and into doing their work, and as they are leaving having them hug me and laugh. Each child’s laughter is the voice of God saying “I love you and am proud of you.”

I am thankful when I can ride to work in the morning with the radio on and sing along with songs praising God. I can almost hear the angels singing along, as well.

I am thankful when I go to church and talk and sing with my family in Christ. I get a little taste of eternity with our Father.

I am thankful when I can wake up every morning next to my best friend. Seeing that face as the first thing reminds me that God wants to give me the desires of my heart, even after I have disobeyed. This moment is a reminder that His grace is amazing and His love limitless.

I am thankful when I look at my life and realize my God saved me by His grace through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I am thankful, because God is I Am.

Thanksgiving 2011 Message

Here is a good message for you for Thanksgiving:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is yourlife, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 3:1-17, 4:2-6

Remember Who deserves all of our thanks this week. Remember to honor Him by sharing your love and thanks with your friends and family … All of them!

Love, peace, and grace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Daniel