Archive for the 'Thanksgiving' Category

Thankfulness For Thessalonica

Thankfulness For Thessalonica Sermon Audio Here

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

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How Can We Tell If Thankfulness Is Genuine?

Thankfulness is Seen ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5

  • 1/3 WHAT we do, WHY we do it, and HOW we do it can inspire thankfulness; this means that we’re being WATCHED by others
  • 4/5 Elements of God’s choice: the Word; power; Holy Spirit; conviction. We’re WATCHED by GOD

=> Don’t let the fact that you’re being watched cause you to be self-conscious. Rather, recognize that God’s work in you is WORTH WATCHING.

Thankfulness is Heard ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10

  • 6 Welcome the Word (even though life can be hard, we can still receive God’s good news in bad times)
  • 7 Reveal Your Reception (don’t be scared to show what God is doing in you; people are probably noticing anyway)
  • 8/10 Sound Your Salvation (rang out=only here in NT, sounded like an echo; share what God is doing in your life)

The Thessalonians were faithful, but not too mature in their faith. Paul shares this encouraging thought with them to remind them that God IS among them, doing His work. Our takeaway: we don’t NEED to have Master’s degrees to be used by the Master!

Sharing Our Thankfulness

Last night we had our community Thanksgiving Service. It’s not terribly well attended, but we had three churches represented, so that’s a good thing. My sermon/meditation was on 1 Thes. 5:16-18, and I thought I would share the basic outline here.

From Alicia Lee's Heaven and Soul Connection

The stained glass ceiling of Thanks-giving chapel, downtown Dallas.

vs. 16: Be joyful always;
Being joyful is easy – we often get it confused with being happy, which is our pleased response to random (HAP) events. But JOY is deeper; joy is the recognition that God has your best interests at heart in the long run. Therefore, joy is an act of trust; trust that God knows what is best, and therefore, we don’t have to worry about what the Lord is doing.

Being joyful is easy, but being joyful ALWAYS is much more difficult. Choosing to trust God when we can’t see the outcome can be tough, but worth it.

vs. 17: pray continually;
Praying is easy – people of every religion pray. But praying continually, and maintaining an ongoing, two-way connection to God in prayer is much more difficult. When we pray, we often launch our desires into the air, and hope that God pays attention to them. But prayer also includes listening, and developing the discipline of listening for the Lord to speak back to us can be tough, but is also worth it.

vs. 18: give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Giving thanks is easy – we are taught as children to say “thank you”. But to do so IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES is much more difficult. It is hard to thank God for a cancer diagnoisis, for news of another terrorist attack, for a child’s broken heart. But when we recognize that we are giving thanks to Someone greater than ourselves, we are forced to recognize that we do not run the universe! We are not God; we do not have sovereign power to make everything come out the way we want.

Therefore, when we thank God, we are practicing a spiritual discipline of humility, of admitting to both God and ourselves that we are not on the Throne. And when we do so in all circumstances, we are reminded once again that God has perspective which we do not – and is uniquely qualified to run the universe for the benefit of ALL its citizens, not just our individual selves.

So, this Thanksgiving, we will do more than pause over a hot shared meal; we will admit that we are receivers of blessings beyond our ability to orchestrate… and we will thank the Conductor of all harmony, our great God.

Giving Thankful Thoughts

Deuteronomy 26:1-4; 10-11
When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there.

And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.’ Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God.
(And you will say) “And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.” And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.

It’s natural to respond to the good that God gives to us; thank God for the blessings that are given to others as well.
So…Give Thanks on Others Behalf

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Replace worry with thanksgiving (vs 6), and remember… it takes practice (vs 9)!
So…Give Thanks When You Want to Worry

Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

God blesses us a lot, but sometimes we focus on what we receive, instead of on who gives us the gift
So…Give Thanks As You Notice God’s Presence

Lord, we ask that You would constantly interrupt us with the awareness of Your presence as we move through life. Let this holiday of Thanksgiving be about far more than turkey and stuffing; rather, Lord, stuff US with reminders of how Your steadfast love endures forever. We pray this in the name of our Savior, Jesus the Christ – Amen.

Pastor Ed Backell

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