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Summary: A Thanksgiving message

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Dakota Community Church

October 12, 2008

How Can I Thank Him?

Here at Dakota we have been in the midst of a re-examination of the fundamentals of our faith. We have examined the validity of the scriptures, the beauty of grace and faith and the wonder of what God has done in presenting the free gift of our salvation. I suppose for many of us it may seem like a lengthy review, however; I must confess that even though I am your pastor, this has been a much need and extremely refreshing time for me. I hope you share that sentiment.

It seems somehow extraordinarily appropriate to me that our thanksgiving holiday should fall right in the middle of this season. I find myself humbled before Him as I consider and reconsider in my preparations the mind blowing thing that God has done for me/us in Christ. Grace, freedom, and laughter, have never been more dear to me. I find myself asking repeated; “How can I thank Him?” and that question has become the title to this message.

Let’s begin today by reading Psalm 116.

When you “count your blessings”, what does the list consist of?

This morning I want us to think about God, I want you to think about what we have “in Christ”. I want us to escape from our cultural definitions of blessing and think about eternal issues.

Reflecting on Psalm 116:

1. Note what is thankworthy.

Is it possible that we have been placing thanks in the wrong place for the wrong things?

This week I read a time magazine article on CNN.com that was titled; “Maybe We Should Blame God for the Sub-prime Mess”.

For sure we should not blame God, but has bad theology and Christian greed played a role? These are questions we need to seriously consider.

Look at the things the Psalmist is grateful for:

Psalm 116:8-9

For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

As we face the possibility of a long and hard economic crisis… all of these things remain constant.

Changing economic conditions do not effect what God has done in delivering our souls from death, if the economy tanks it does not change or at least it should not change our degree of joy, of having our eyes delivered from tears. Why not?

Real joy does not come from things purchased or accumulated, from temporary things that are passing away.

Changing economic circumstances do not affect our stability, our security, our ability to stand and walk sure footed knowing we are delivered from stumbling.

Our security in this life does not come from solid investing and well stocked retirement portfolios.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is a sin to have things and enjoy them, I’m not saying it is wrong to invest and plan for retirement.

I am saying that you MUST NOT give these earthly things a place in your life that belongs to God alone.

Jesus is the one who said it is hard for the rich to enter heaven… not because heaven is anti-rich folk, but because it is hard not to trust in your riches instead of trusting in God.

Proverbs 18:10-12

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.

Matthew 6:19-21

"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.

Think about what you are thankful for this morning and reflect on what that says about your heart, about where your treasure is, and about whether it is stored safely or vulnerable to loss.

In times of economic prosperity it easy to identify worldly wealth as an identifier of Godly blessing, to equate monetary hardship with a lacking of God’s blessing; but this is not the truth.

Let’s be thankful for what matters, for what is eternal, let’s give thanks for salvation, for grace, freedom and laughter, for the cross and the sacrificial lamb. Let’s be thankful this morning that although Jesus could have called 10,000 angels and stopped the crucifixion; for our sake, He did not! Let’s be thankful that God has given us the Holy Spirit, filled us with His presence, welcomed us into sweet fellowship, and told us to come boldly to the throne of grace in our time of need. Let’s rejoice this morning in the fact that He has removed the stain of sin from us and taken its required penalty for us. Let’s be thankful for the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control, absolutely none of which have any dependence whatsoever on earthly markets or economies.

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