Summary: The peace of God comes from knowing that He is in control. This sermon provides examples and a prayer map for disciples who desire to stop worrying and trust God with a thankful heart.
Thank God! ...Praying in Spirit of Thanksgiving
This last Monday we had some torrential rain and wind come through the Houston area. The Houston metro area received over five inches of rain and some tornadic activity as well. On Tuesday, Roger and I went down to the Wesley Community Center to check out some work opportunities for the youth. Afterward we decided to call on a friend of ours that has a warehouse close to downtown. As we rounded the corner on Lyons Street we notice that something was out of place. Right there in front of our eyes we stared at twisted red metal I-beams and crumpled corrugated metal. That was Tom’s business; it had been almost completely destroyed. We found Tom, my friend in the middle of what used to be his warehouse for his business. He explained that they had been hit late Monday afternoon and the damage occurred in about ten seconds. Tom’s first words were, “If people want to see how powerful God is, just bring ‘em out here and let them look for themselves. We serve an awesome God!” The next thing he said to me was, “I am so thankful that no one was hurt”. Tom’s son-in-law, John Boone and two other workers were in the warehouse when the tornado hit. His account goes like this,” I was in the business office located in the middle of the warehouse when I noticed that the rain had considerately pick-up in intensity and the wind too. I walked out into the warehouse and just as I had taken a few steps out … the roof of the main building began to peel back and the loading dock wall just blew out. I began to run for the adjacent warehouse that was connected and dove into a well in one of the service bays. A twenty foot tall brick wall next to the bays fell out as I was jumping in. If that wall would have fallen in I may have been crushed. Marco, my co-worker, was in the parking lot trying to move his car to higher ground. He said at the same time of the warehouse was being demolished before his eyes …all the windows in his car exploded outwards and a rush of wind blew through the car. But the car did not move.”
John has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. John told me that he rejoices in God’s sovereignty over his life. John could feel the presence of God. He felt His protection, His provision as he wandered out into the parking lot after the tornado had left. As John told me the story, I could hear the awe and wonder in his voice of how truly great God is.
How do you express your thankfulness to God?
Our scripture this week allows us to peek in 1950 years ago as we read a portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul was under house arrest in Rome. He was writing this letter about the year 60 to the first church founded by him in what we now know as Europe. The believers of the Philippian church were suffering from problems that are not to uncommon for any community to suffer from being religious or otherwise. The issues were harmony, purity and purpose.
To be a thankful people we must understand who and who’s we are. Paul’s statement helps us understand our attitude as we face the challenges of being thankful Christians. He says,” Rejoice, in the Lord always, I will say again: rejoice!” We are to rejoice, even when your business has been destroyed by His sovereign power. We are to rejoice; when our world is not going the way we think it should go. We are to rejoice, when challenges in ministry, family, school, relationships, and business come. Why, why are we instructed to rejoice? Because the Lord is near. We tend to forget that the Lord is present with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. He is ever present and always with us. Isn’t that a reason to rejoice? Back up now. How is this rejoicing to be presented? . Verse 5 begins with, “Let your gentleness be known to all.” Paul addresses gentleness in his letter to the Galatians and notes it as a quality of those whom live for Christ and by his spirit. Paul writes,” ...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Gentleness is an attitude that should be driven by God’s Holy Spirit and if you do not display gentleness by your words and deeds then you are not being lead by the spirit. Before we move on I would like to say one more thing about gentleness. Gentleness is not weakness. Jesus Christ is the strongest man ever to walk on this planet. It is easy to get angry in this world, but to restrain yourself and be gentle displays a discipline of holiness. Peter said it this way,” Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” So, so far Paul is encouraging believers to rejoice because of God’s presence with us and do so, not as the world rejoices, but as the spirit leads us and enables us to rejoice.