Summary: A message for the Thanksgiving Holiday aimed at helping those who do not feel thankful.
October 7, 2007
Dakota Community Church
In Everything - Thanksgiving
Welcome everyone to this thanksgiving Sunday morning service!
How do feel about this holiday? Is it one that seems to flow naturally for you, or do you really have to work to enjoy it? Are you thankful to God for the life you have or are you disappointed in how things have gone for you?
If you fall into that latter category, let me begin by briefly adding to your suffering, hopefully before helping to ease the pain. Let’s read:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul didn’t just preach it, he lived what he taught:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
There’s a passage you don’t often hear quoted in context!
Abase: to reduce or lower, as in rank, office, reputation, or estimation; humble; degrade.
I can go through the humbling hard times in life, the times of lack, the times of frustration, the despairing times when dreams fail to materialize, the long waiting periods between promise and manifestation, the battling times, the resisting temptation times, and I can do it with a heart of thanksgiving – not in my own strength – but: through Christ who strengthens me!
We don’t naturally give thanks because a part of the fallen nature is selfishness. We notice what we don’t have and the natural response is to complain about it.
It is a special grace from God that opens our hearts and eyes to contentment in Christ.
Often that grace comes through having endured seasons of lack.
The young man was feeling very proud of himself. As a brand-new college graduate he had taken the C.P.A. Exams & passed with flying colors. Now he was a full-fledged Certified Public Accountant.
His father had been an immigrant to the U.S., & now owned his own little business. Filled with self-importance, the young man began to criticize his father’s way of keeping books. He said, “Dad, you don’t even know how much profit you’ve made. Over here in this drawer is your accounts receivable. Over there are your receipts & you keep all your money in the cash register. You don’t have any idea how much you’ve made.”
The father answered, “Son, when I came to this country the only thing I owned was a pair of pants. Now, your brother is a doctor, your sister is an art teacher, & you are a C.P.A. Your mother & I own our home. We have a car, & we own this little business. Now add that up, subtract the pants, & all the rest is profit.”
Most of us have a great deal to be thankful for, things we take for granted when we get self centered.
How do we get to the place where we are thankful in the hard places? Not for them – in them.
It is a matter of focus.
It is a matter of attitude.
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap; they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
So do not worry, saying, ’What shall we eat?’ or ’What shall we drink?’ or ’What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
When you hear those verses what response is evoked in you?
Do you feel guilty? Do you feel unworthy as a person because of your selfishness? Do you feel alienated from God because clearly he does not relate to your pain?
I want you to know that God does relate, He does care, and he has been where you are and beyond.