~It's been a busy week. Brad noted that we had a funeral for Joe Stapleton Thursday, a witness to the resurrection…
~Bazaar/fundraiser for the building fund, raised over $2,300. Wednesday, meal at six and Christmas program practice.
~Last week filled boxes for Operation Christmas Child… The children carried armloads of boxes to the front of the sanctuary.
~We had become aware that our American flag had only 48 stars, which means it was older than 1959. The family of Brent Lee has donated new flags for the church which were installed this morning and dedicated.
~An insert in today's bulletin mentioned Thursday's Thanksgiving meal at the church for those who would like to enjoy the holiday with company or would like a place to go. Call the church to RSVP or if you need transportation. Walk-ins will be served.
During the offering, the trio sang “It’s a great, great morning, your first day in heaven…”
Brad began his message by citing several passages pertaining to thankfulness. In Thesalonians, Paul wrote, "Rejoice always… give thanks in all circumstances."
To the Ephesians Paul wrote, "Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Eph. 5:19,20)
To the Colossians he repeated three times, “and be thankful.”
Brad said he wanted to train us this Thanksgiving week. Normally he prefers we pay attention when he's preaching but today he invited us to let our minds drift, toward gratitude.
There are a lot of therapeutic benefits to gratitude, but Christian gratitude is more than that. Robert Roberts said there is a framework for gratitude. You can’t manufacture gratitude by willpower. It comes from a way of seeing the world.
"Bene" is the first part of a number of key words pertaining to the development of a gratitude attitude.
Benefit… I must perceive it as a gift. As David wrote in Psalm 103…
2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
“forget not His benefits.” Too often we are blind to them.
Benefactor… One who does good. You not only must believe you are the beneficiary. The good things come from a benefactor who has good intentions toward you.
The writers of the Bible has
Don’t be deceived. Every good and perfect gift comes from above. (James)
Beneficiary... One who receives the good. You are the beneficiary of the benefits of God, who has your best interests at heart.
We must believe we are receiving something that we did not earn or merit. Humility is a critical factor in being grateful. We are not entitled to a good life. It is a gift.
As a sinful human race we often feel entitled. This is one reason we see such a proliferation of lawsuits when we don’t get what we think we deserve. Brad cited several examples. A few years ago the New York Giants were sued for passing out father’s day cards only to men.
Ingratitude is not just a psychological problem. Ingratitude is a sin, the hallmark of a life opposed to God. Every moment of life is a gift of grace. Grumbling is the quintessential character of a life of ingratitude. “Do not grumble as some of them did and were destroyed…” Israel in the wilderness.
Every devout Jew would pray the 18, the Eighteen Benedictions. Bene means Good, Diction is words… Good words. To bless. To thank God.
Blessed are you, Lord, who abundantly forgives. Blessed are you who sustains the living and raises the dead.
Gratitude doesn’t come when you get more stuff. It comes from seeing reality, that everything comes from God.
Every day devout rabbis and Jews would say the 18 Benedictions. Life with God is a life of giving thanks to Him.
When the disciples asked Jesus how do to pray, He gave them The Lord’s Prayer, which is actually a concise summary of the 18.
Gratitude was an important part of every aspect of life. A devout rabbi would say a man must not taste anything without blessing God for giving it. The principle: bless God for every gift. It is a misuse of the gift if we are not thankful for it.
Light is a gift. Rain is a gift. No occasion is too menial for giving thanks.
And significantly, we should thank God for people, both those we get along with easily and those who are hard to get along with.
The task is not to try to feel grateful, but to train ourselves to see the reality that we are living in God’s presence. It is not perfect people or circumstances that will enable us to be grateful. If we have to wait for perfect circumstances, we will be waiting a long way.
It is dangerous to be grateful only when good things come our way. Being transformed by God means being able to be grateful in all circumstances. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.
Humility is the real key to a grateful heart. At one time a prayer that acknowledged our unworthiness of God's blessings was common, but now it grates our modern sensibilities to say we a sinners and "unworthy of these multitude of benefits."
As you make your list of things that we are grateful for, above all, thank God for the gift of Jesus….
Brad ended by giving us two experiments to conduct.
Experiment 1: Write a gratitude letter to someone, telling why you are grateful to God for them. Make the letter count. Then meet with them, and read it to them face-to-face.
Experiment 2: Prayer your own 18 Benedictions…. If that is too many for starters, start with four. If you do this each day this week, you will have a Thanksgiving Day filled with thankfulness.
Each day is a gift.