Summary: In all things, whether good or bad, we are to be thankful for what God has given us OR what God can make of our bad situation.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 107
Basic Sermon Outline:
I. Good Times
-----A. Times of Blessing
-----B. Times of the Miraculous
-----C. Times of Realization of God’s Character
II. Bad Times
-----A. Times of Discipline
-----B. Times of Trial
-----C. Times of Temptation
-----D. Times of Perceived Hopelessness
To commemorate Thanksgiving, we will go over another set of short verses. Last week, we talked about Jesus’ compassion for us.
Here is some background on the holiday that we know as ’Thanksgiving’:
The Pilgrims were a group of Christians who wanted freedom to worship the Lord. They initially left England for (Amsterdam) Holland since Holland was much more free, but after seeing the corruption of the culture, and the undesired results of the culture on their children and for extra reason of lack of funds, many decided to return to England, and yet others still wanted freedom.
The Pilgrims took a long journey from Holland to America in 1620. It took 66 days, and 102 passengers, with a crew of about 25, set sail for Virginia. It was an extremely grueling journey, and 2 died on the way. They landed in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and did not begin in Virginia -- the seas were much too threatening.
In 1621, likely what we think of most when we think of Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims as well as 90 Wompanoag Indians (whom the Pilgrims befriended and vice versa -- both benefited from each others’ services) took part in a feast of thanksgiving on the plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The Pilgrims were gathering to celebrate in thanksgiving to God for a good harvest. They didn’t call this ’Thanksgiving’, though it was declared much later in the century as an official commemoration. It is a little different today in commonplace American celebration, but at the very least, we need to focus on thanking God for what He has done this year.
The Pilgrims gave up everything they knew and took an extremely long and risky journey in order to have freedom to worship the Lord freely.
Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrim leaders who served as governor for several terms, wrote in 1621:
"Our Corne did proue well, & God be praysed, we had a good increase of Indian Corne, and our Barly indifferent good, but our Pease not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sowne, they came vp very well, and blossomed, but the Sunne parched them in the blossome; … And although it be not alwayes so plentifull, as it was at this time with vs, yet by the goodneses of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty." (Winslow, 60-61)
In 1623, another feast was taken in thanksgiving after a notable drought occurred and yet ended up with enough food harvested for the people. These were feasts of celebration.
These were very thankful men and women who had gone through insane circumstances and risks in order to pursue freedom in areas yet to be obtained -- they wanted to praise the Lord freely.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
We are commanded to give thanks. In all things, whether good or bad, we are to be thankful for what God has given us OR what God can make of our bad situation. Does this mean that we can’t ever work to correct fixable situations, or that we can never be angry about anything? No -- there are things that God does give us that we are to take action on. God’s Sovereignty never rules out man’s responsibility.
But in all things, regardless of whether it’s a situation that tries us or whether it’s one that blesses us dramatically, we are called to give thanks.
Before we discuss further, let’s pray.
(Part I: The Good Times)
We need to give thanks to God in the Good Times:
(Times of Blessing)
He is the source of all good things:
James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
He blesses us with good things. He doesn’t spoil us, and He sees that often what we want would not be a blessing to us. We know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord from Romans 8:28. This doesn’t mean that everything that happens here will be pie in the sky. However, it does mean that God has a purpose for His chosen, and that He will bring all things together for our ultimate benefit. In addition to that, as Paul states in Ephesians: