Ben Franklin wanted the Turkey to be the bird used as our national symbol, but folks agreed that the turkey’s place was on the table, not on the official seal of the United States. We’ll leave that place for the Eagle, thank you very much.
Thanksgiving means different things to different folks…. To some it is football… to others it is stuffing yourself like you were the turkey…. To others it is “how to burn off all the calories you just swallowed (there’ll be a lot of folks jogging and walking that off, and others who just lay back down on the couch!!!…. Some look forward to the family get together, some to time off, or parades, or parties and picknicks at the beach…
But here’s Paul’s approach to Thanksgiving…..
Colossians 1:12 “Giving thanks (that means a perpetual, never ending stream of thanksgiving) to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. v13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son”.
Giving thanks, as Colossians says here, is about building a culture or a way of living. A culture is how a certain people group, has chosen to live their lives. In that culture, they have developed traditions and customs that identify them as unique from other cultures. Christianity by it’s very name is a Eucharistic culture!
The Greek word for “Giving Thanks” is (Eucharist) or the actionof giving thanks... Eucharist loses it’s power when we make it a noun that describes a religious service. Its true power is only released as a verb of action .. “giving thanks”.
1st Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.
So, we also see here that when we set up a continual process of praise, and thanksgiving, we are staying in the will of God, because He has clearly told us that this is His will.
With this never ending stream of giving thanks, we thank Him in the storms, we thank Him in the valleys, and we thank Him no matter what the circumstances because…
Romans 8:28 tells us that “all things will work together for the good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose (will and plan)” We can grieve and still be thankful. We can hurt and still be thankful. We can be confused and still be thankful we can be broke and still be thankful…
It has been said that people can't wait to grow up and then they long for their childhood days again, They lose their health making money, then lose all their money trying to restore their health. They're so anxious about the future that they don't fully live in the present, They think they will only be happy in another time and place and are never hoppy where they are. They live as if they will never die and they die as though they have never really lived.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you and my strength is made perfect in your weakness”.
Giving thanks prevents us from living our lives from a position of what we don’t have and what we aren’t able to do…It changes our perspective and focuses on what we do have and how much we are blessed. It’s the guard rail that keeps us from becoming the train wreck of greed and covetousness….
So today we’re in search of the Eucharist in our Thanksgiving .
T.H.A.N.K.S.G.I.V.I.N.G. There it is, and in that acrostic are some words that extract the meaning of “Eucharista” in some form and at some level in our lives. Here we go…..
We begin with T. which is for Truth … When Pontius Pilate interrogated Jesus, he asked the question, “What is truth”? Every true Hindu, values all life, because it may be the incarnation of a family member. A science teacher showed a Hindu student that they were destroying life every time they took a drink of water. They were horrified and when they looked thru a microscope and saw the microscopic life forms, they pulled out a hammer and destroyed the microscope. I find it interesting that people demand truth in the physical realm but try to undermine and explain away God’s absolute truth which lays the foundation for all truth.
John 17:17 Jesus said: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” The evidence of a life of truth and the freedom it brings, is a life of thanksgiving and gratitude. Many have sought to produce research which would disprove and deny the truth of God’s word and discredit who Jesus was, only to have that very truth lead them to faith in Him. Thousands are turning to faith in Christ in the Muslim countries as they open themselves to the truth.
H. Is For The Harvest….In the natural, Thanksgiving is acelebration which declares that it is harvest time.
John 4:35 “Say not, there are four months, and then comes theharvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are now white and ready to harvest.”
We can certainly be grateful that wherever we are, whatever we are doing, it’s the right time for the harvest of souls. Crops won’t put themselves in the barn. God gets it ready and we discern that it is the right time and we work with Him to bring in the harvest.
If we could truly understand John 4:35, this building could not contain us. Scripture tells us they went forth rejoicing in the harvest. Nothing is more contagious than a grateful heart and a spirit of rejoicing.
Mark 1:16, To fishermen he said, “Come follow me” –
Mark 2:14, To Levi the tax collector, he said, “Follow me – We follow Him as we help and assist others to do the same, no more excuses, no more comparing our goodness with others, simply following Jesus….
A. Is For Agreement…. The Greek word for agree, is "sumphoneo", which in English, is "symphony." In a symphony orchestra, this is when a large number of instruments work together to fulfill the composer’s plan. It’s a beautiful thing when grateful hearts truly walk in agreement and work together to allow God to produce a symphony!!.
We find this word in Ephesians 4:16 “The body of Christ is fitly joined together or is “working in symphony”, that all it’s parts may be supplied, causing the body to grow and mature in the love of Christ.”
N. Is For No Compromise… (that’s 2 words, I know) But If you compromise your values, you are valueless. If you compromise your convictions, you are without conviction. If you compromise your faith, you are faithless. (those are dangerous places to be) If you’re riding a two seater bike, make sure they’re not applying the brakes while you’re doing the peddling.
Charles Finney said, “Great sermons lead the people to praise the preacher, but great preaching leads the people to praise the Savior”.
A woman approached the pastor after the sermon, and thanked him for the great sermon. "I found it so helpful," she said.
The minister responded "Sister, I hope it wasn’t as great as the last sermon you heard me preach."
"What do you mean?" asked the astonished woman.
"Well," said the minister said, "that sermon lasted you for three months" before we saw you again…..
K. Is For Kindness…. This is kindness we don’t deserve and can never earn. It is poured out to all who are unworthy, because it’ssource is God’s love, and it is based on Jesus taking our place and loving us before we were even able to love Him.
Psalm 103:2 “Oh give thanks to the Lord and forget not all His benefits. v3 Who forgives all of your transgressions, Who heals all your diseases, v4 Who redeems your life from death and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy”.
My granddaughter Zoe and her friends decided to go to the city park and just ask people if they had something they could pray with them about. One young man told them he had come to the park to spend his last day before committing suicide. They talked and prayed with him, and saved a life last week. K is for kindness!
S. Is For Sincerity…. Thankfulness with sincerity, keeps our hearts in right relationship with the Father and to one another. Without it, we become arrogant and self-centered. We cannot offer sincere praise and worship unto God without a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving. Sometimes you just want to ask… “Where did sincerity go in our culture”? Insincerity is referred to as double mindedness… or hypocrisy.
James 1:6 “He that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. v7 For let not that man think that he shall be able to receive any thing of the Lord”. v8 For a double minded man is unstable in all his ways”.
We begin to believe that we have achieved everything on our own.How many times have we told someone, “I’ll be praying with you about that”… and we walk away and never pray or think of it again, so we leave them struggling uphill, and alone, because of our lack of sincerity. Hmmmmm..
G. Is for Generosity. A thankful person is a generous person. What we give is not as important as the spirit with which we giveit. If the little boy’s lunch which Jesus multiplied had only been 2 hot pockets, it would have still been enough. If it had only been 2 crumbs and a fish tail, there would have been the same results.
God has never gotten to the register and discovered that he doesn’t have enough money. But He offers us the privilege of being part of the miracle. At the heart and core of the gospel is “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE”. That giving never stops and every living creature receives their supplyon a constant basis.
I like the way Paul puts it… 1 Corinthians 11:23 “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you.” What an honor to be God’s delivery system of blessing in the lives of others. God will keep pouring it in when He finds those who will keep pouring it out….(Keep on Pouring)
I. Is For Integrity. This word comes from the word ''integrate.'' It is the ability to integrate the values of ''honesty,'' ''faithfulness,'' ''sincerity,'' and ''innocence” into our daily actions and relationships. 1 Chronicles 29:17 “I know, my God, that you test the heart and you are pleased with integrity. All these things, you have given willingly and with honest intent.”
No one just accidentally falls into integrity with a big “OOOOPS!”, because integrity is intentional.
Warren Buffet said “there are three things I look for in hiring someone. Integrity, Intelligence, and Energy. If Integrity isn’t there, then intelligence and Energy will undermine everything else”.
A college student needed a job for the summer. Two jobs were coming up and she really liked one but the other job called herfirst, so rather than take a chance, she grabbed it. 2 weeks later the other job called her. She called her dad and told him the situation. Her Dad asked her, “When you took the job you have, did you tell them you would work for the summer” The daughter said “Yes I did”. Her dad said “Then why are we even having this conversation?”… (INTEGRITY!)
Do we expect God to keep His word, even though we don’t keep ours? Someone suggested there are three types of people in the world, believers, unbelievers, and make-believers. Are we people who can be counted on to be on time, to fulfill our promises, to do the right thing even when others don’t.
V. is for Vida… (Or Fullness of Life)…. Doctor Robert Emmons,a psychology professor, did research at the University of California, which shows that thankful people had less depression and stress, lower blood pressure, more energy, and greater optimism about life. He calls it
“The forgotten factor in the science of wholeness and well-being." His research also found that a grateful outlook slowsdown the aging clock!! (so it can become our true fountain of youth)
Jesus said in John 10:10. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
A woman stepped into the ice cream shop and after paying for her ice cream, she turned and there was Elvis, who had decided to get an ice cream on the spur of the moment. She was overwhelmed as she went out the door in a star struck haze and realized she had forgotten her ice cream. She turned around and Elvis was coming out. He said, “Ma’am, If you’re looking for your ice cream, you put it in your hand bag with the change you got back”. She got overwhelmed by Elvis!
When is the last time you have been so caught up by the presence of God that you forget what was going on around you? You forgot the dinner cooking at home… You forgot what you planned for this afternoon… You forgot the problems of the week… You forgot what the folks around you might think if you just freely worshiped God… When did you last enjoy being with God so much that nothing else really mattered?
I. The Second I, Is For Insightful. Insight Is what allows a blind person to see and a deaf person to hear. At the same time, a hearing person is deaf without it, and a seeing person is blind. Ezekiel 12:2 God tells his people "They have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear." Seeing without insight is seeing without understanding and hearing without insight is hearing w/o understanding. It is hidden in plain sight…
Two old friends met one day after many years. One was very successful. The other never had much ambition. The successful man said, "How has everything been going?" the other guy said "Well, one day I opened the Bible at random, and dropped my finger on a word and it was oil. So, I invested in oil, and boy, did the oil wells gush. Then another day I dropped my finger on another word and it was gold. So, I invested in gold and those mines really produced. Overnight, I was as rich as Rockefeller."
The following day, the braggart was in his hotel room, grabbed a Gideon Bible, flipped it open, and dropped his finger on a page to see what was next in store for him. But when he opened his eyes, his finger pointed to the words, "Chapter Eleven."
Luck will take you no further than good sense can keep you.
Ephesians 1:18 Paul prayed for the Ephesian church…"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope to which God has called you, to receive the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints"
N. The Second N, Is For Naked…(oh, you weren’t expecting that one were you) It means to be open and transparent.. Another way of saying transparency is “Thru me you see”… What you see is what you get. No hidden agendas, no double talk, and no manipulation.
Have you ever seen someone that was “too good to be true” and you think to yourself, “What are they really like?” Jesus was transparent in everything that He did. His goal was that we would look through Him and see the Father. Jesus is one of the few things too good to be true that is better than everything you’ve heard!!!
John 14:8 “Philip said unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it will be enough for us. v9 Jesus said unto him, Have I been this long with you, and still you have not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how do you say then, Show us the Father”? (If you have Jesus, you have enough)
G. The Second G, Is For “Go Ye”… That’s what Jesus said… When your heart is filled with gratitude, you will want to Go everywhere you can with the good news.
When we became Christians, we became gratitude driven…
We get the “Go Ye” when we have good news to share like when we got engaged, then married, we had to share the good news…. We got the “Go Ye” when we were expecting a baby to be added to our family…we wanted to tell everyone…. We got the “Go Ye” when we got our driver’s license and our first car… We told everybody… Our gratitude drove us to tell somebody, anybody, everybody!
But what greater news could there be, than that Jesus came to give us eternal life, power over death, a free ticket to heaven, to be with Him forever.
To know Christ and to make Him known is the highest calling given unto man…
I want us to come together and pray over every family member, every church, every pastor, every prayer team, every witnessing team. And especially for the Franklin Graham team as they make Christ known to this community….