I love Thanksgiving. Families spend time together and there’s always plenty of turkey, dressing and gravy. Thanksgiving comes at the best time of the year. I love the falling leaves, the cool days, the cold nights and the smell of smoke from someone’s fireplace. I love Thanksgiving for many reasons, but most of all I love the fact that grateful people are giving thanks to our good and gracious God.
In First Thessalonians, Paul the Apostle teaches us about thanksgiving. He begins by showing us that we should give thanks always for one another. We should be thankful for our churches, church leaders and our pastors. As we thank God for our friends and loved ones, we should also constantly lift each other up in prayer.
The Word of God tells us that it is His will that we should give thanks in everything. Now, I do not think that God is insisting that we give thanks for all things because there are some things that we are just not going to be thankful for. However, God has promised never to leave us or forsake us. Therefore, no matter what circumstance we are in, we can always give thanks because we know that God is in it with us.
The Bible teaches that we are to rejoice always, because there is always joy to be found in Jesus. We should pray without ceasing, because we have a God who never ceases to listen to our prayers. In everything we can give thanks, because God is victorious over all things.
I love Thanksgiving because on this day and every day, I know that my gracious God is worthy of all my gratitude.
I once knew a man who became very sick. He went to the doctor for treatment. However, the doctor was unable to help him. He had an untreatable cancer and only a short time to live. What can a man do in this situation other than go home and get his house in order.
This man and his wife of many years had worked hard to build a house, a home and raise a family. As he looked around, he realized the house that he would leave behind was in shambles. Not wanting to leave his wife in such a rundown house he began to make sure it was restored and in good condition. Yes, he was going to be gone and would not benefit from the restored house, but he loved his wife, so he got the house in order.
Society is the house we live in and it is in shambles. It does not matter what your age is, you are not promised tomorrow. If you do not want to leave a broken and rundown house behind, do something to improve society today. Remember your loved ones are going to live in this world you leave behind.
So cover this world and your loved ones with prayer. Then broadcast seeds of the Gospel everywhere you go. Be kind to everyone and lend a helping hand to at least one person today.
Love God with all your heart and let this love be evident in your words and actions. Remember this, if one person has a closer walk with God because of your actions today, then you have made the world a better place for tomorrow. And you will have succeeded in setting your house in order.
In Mark Chapter 5, there is a story about a woman who was a nobody. We don’t even know her name. If we had been there on this day, she would not have been in our field of vision. Seeing her would have made us uncomfortable, so we would have chosen not to see her. If we had saw her at all, we would have assumed her problems were her own fault, because that is the way we think.
She was a nobody that most people avoided. She was not supposed to be there. For twelve years she had suffered with an issue of blood. This made her unclean. Because she was unclean, she could not be around others. She could not even worship God. In her shame and grief, she spent everything she had seeking help. She has suffered all sorts of abuse and indignities. Hopeless and helpless, she spends her days and nights lonely and untouched.
She felt like a nobody, but one day she over heard people talking about Jesus. I say “over heard” because since she was a nobody, why would anyone bother to tell her about The Savior? She considers herself a nobody so she cannot even face Jesus. She hopes that maybe if she can just touch his coat she will be healed. To the world and to herself, she was a nobody. But to Jesus she is somebody. He stops everything and looks for her. He finds her and calls her His daughter. Her faith in Him has made her well. She was a nobody, but now she is somebody. She is a child of God.
Do you feel like a nobody? Has addictions caused you to spend all you have seeking relief from your demons? Are you broken and abused ? Do you stand there weeping? Your life filled with loneliness as you spend your days untouched and unloved. Maybe it seems that no one sees you, because no one offers help. It seems that no one cares. To the world you are a nobody.
Today I hope you hear about Jesus. I hope you will push through the the crowd and reach out for Him. Have faith only in Jesus. He will stop everything to reach out to the ones the world ignores. Everybody is somebody to Him. The Bible tells us that God is rich in mercy. Because of His great love, even when we are nobody and dead in our sin He makes us somebody who is alive in Christ. Wow, look at the love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Anybody can reach out to Jesus because everybody is somebody to Him.
I saw it on an empty shelf in a store. The merchandise that inhabited that shelf was sold out. In its place was a sign that said, “ more to come”. This was a promise that the empty shelf was only a temporary condition. There was more to come, it would be full again.
“More to come” that is an assurance that the emptiness will not last. This is nice if you are looking for a book in a bookstore. But what happens if it is your life that suddenly has the gaping empty spot? Where is the promise of “more to come” when death takes a loved one. Where is the hope of “more to come” when a crazy disease steals your future? Where is the desire for “more to come” when divorce invades your marriage. Life events like these often leave us feeling empty and thinking that there cannot possibility be any “ more to come.”
However in Jeremiah 29:11, God says “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Now, can you hear the laughter of children and the birds singing? That is God’s assurance that life will go on. Take a deep breath, do you feel the air rushing into your lungs? That means you’re still alive. If you’re still alive, then take the breath that is in your lungs as God’s promise that there is “ more to come”.
Please understand,God never promised His children that every day would be good. But if we trust Him, we will find that everyday God is good. As a child of God, we have only seen the beginning. We don’t know how we will end up. Our eyes cannot see, our ears cannot hear and our hearts cannot understand the fullness that God has for His children. We know that faith is the essence of things hoped for and the certainty of things not seen. It is our faith in Jesus that fills our empty hearts and guarantees us that there is “ More to Come”.
Blessed are the poor in spirit because you realize that God has chosen you to be rich in faith. Your poverty will be rewarded with the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn over their sinfulness because Godly sorrow brings repentance. Repentance leads to Salvation that leaves no regrets.
Blessed are the meek. Your gentle power comes from the knowledge that you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. You know that the righteousness of God is the only thing that will bring justice to this world. You have this promise, one day God will satisfy your hunger.
Blessed are the merciful. Your life is full of compassion, kindness and humility. You forgive as quickly and completely as Jesus forgave you. Because you show mercy, you will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart. Your desire is to live a life free from sin. In order to serve God, You store His Word in your heart. Because of the purity of your heart, you will draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Blessed are the peacemakers. You have let the peace of God rule in your heart so you will be known as a child of God.
You are blessed when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. This world is not your home. The people who are at home in this world will always hate God’s servants. In this world you will be abused and harassed. People will always report evil lies about you. However through it all you can find joy and great happiness because yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. You are truly blessed because great is your reward in Heaven.
He counted them once, then he counted them again. He knew he had a hundred sheep but he could only count ninety-nine. So he counted again and yes, one was lost. It was just one sheep, but these were his sheep. He knew each one by name and knew each one by sight. Now most of them are safe, but one was lost.
Ninety-nine sheep are safe. Only one is missing. Outside it is cold and dark. The wolves are howling. It is dangerous to go out. Some shepherds would say, “ I have ninety-nine that are safe, I won’t concern myself with the one that is lost.” But not the Good Shepherd. He knows his sheep by name and his heart trembles for the one that is lost .
Carrying a rod for protection and a staff to rescue his sheep, he goes out into the cold dangerous darkness. He searches until he finds his lost sheep. Cast into the briars and brambles, the frightened sheep is torn and bloodied. Using his staff the shepherd draws the lost one to safety. Anointing him with oil and binding his wounds the shepherd now sings with joy because he has found the one that was lost.
Jesus, my Lord, is the Good Shepherd. Many of His children are safe in the fold. But some have wandered away. Maybe you have been cast into the briars and brambles of addiction. Or maybe you are just confused, stumbling around in the darkness, endangered by the worldly wolves. But Jesus, the Lover of your soul, is heartbroken because you are not safe. He longs to once again hold the one who is lost.
Listen to my words all who are sick and lonely, afraid of the dangerous darkness that surrounds you. The Savior is calling out your name if you will just be still and listen. The Holy Spirit is the rod that will protect you and the staff that will rescue you. Jesus is the Seeker of the one that is lost. He will draw you close, bind your wounds, and anoint you with healing oil.
Trust in this promise from Ezekiel 34:15-16; “I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord GOD. “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick .”
The little girl was dead. Her father had ran to get Jesus in hopes that she would be healed. But they were too late. As they enter the house they found it filled with wailing and anguish. The possibility of a miracle had vanished with her last breath. Hopelessness now saturated the house.
But now Jesus is here, and when He says, “ little girl arise” she does. The wailing and anguish quickly turned to joy and shouting. She is alive because Jesus is Lord. Give the little girl something to eat, she’s hungry. In the presence of Jesus, anything is possible and hopelessness is destroyed.
This is not just a story from long ago. This is a promise for right now. The promise is this; miracles are not dependent on circumstances. Instead miracles are always possible, if Jesus is in the house. Tears are dried, sorrows are vanquished and impossibilities become possible when the Lord of the universe becomes Lord of the heart. In the presence of Jesus, hopelessness is destroyed.
Has hopelessness become a resident in your heart? The loss of a loved one may make you think that life can’t go on. Financial ruin can remove a roof from over your head. A disease diagnoses may put your future in doubt, or a prison sentence can convince you that your life is over. These things can rob you of your will to live and your hope for a miracle. But don’t let your heart drown in despair. The Bread of Life is here now. Jesus says; rise up and eat. So rejoice in the Lord and find joy in the God of your salvation. In His presence, miracles are possible because He is The Destroyer of Hopelessness.
My daddy is going to kill me! Sixteen years old and he has only had his driver’s license for a month. Driving his daddy’s truck he looks down to change the radio station and does not see the car in front of him slowing down to make a turn. Thankfully no one is hurt, but two vehicles are damaged.
Many teenagers have heard a list of “do nots” from their parents. Don’t hang out with people who do drugs, don’t drink alcohol, don’t look at your phone while driving, and many other do nots. Good parents always give their teenagers freedom with boundaries. However, most young people will mess up sometimes. And like the distracted driver who wrecked his parent’s truck they might think, “ my daddy is going to kill me.”
Of course there will be consequences for the mistakes that have been made. But when the parents arrive on the scene the first thing they do is grab the child and hug him tightly. Mamas and daddies love their children unconditionally and nothing will change that. The most important thing right now is that their baby is safe.
I am a child of God. He is my Father in Heaven. In Christ I am free, but there are boundaries that I should not cross. And yet I often do. This is sin. There are consequences for sin. So I stand heartbroken before God, knowing that I deserve the wages of sin. But a broken and contrite heart my Father will not despise. Because of His unconditional love for me, I am safe in the arms of God.
Borrowing a thought from Job 13:15-16 I say, God might kill me, but I have no other hope. This is what will save me. I am not Godless nor am I Fatherless. I am made righteous by the Blood of Jesus and saved by the Grace of God. He is my Father and He loves me.
I saw this in a movie. A man thinks that he knows Batman’s true identity. He goes to the manager of Bruce Wayne’s company and says “Give me a million dollars or I will tell the world the truth about Batman.” In response to his demand he was told. Batman spends his nights beating up bad guys. All the criminals in this town are afraid of Batman. Now, you want to blackmail Batman? Good luck with that.
I tell this story because I was asked how I would respond to a person who is challenging God. A man whom I will call Mr. C is accusing God of committing crimes against humanity. He charges the Lord with malfeasance because of all the evil in the world. Referring to stories from the Old Testament he charges God with genocide. Now, Mr. C is demanding an apology from God and intends to hold Him accountable for His criminal actions.
Well, Mr. C, let’s think about this for a minute. God once drowned almost everyone in the world because their thoughts were evil. He dropped fire on Sodom and Gomorrah because they were perverted. Egypt was inflicted with ten plagues and their firstborn were killed because of idolatry. Later when some of the Israelites rebelled, He caused the earth to open up and swallow them. Throughout the years God has been known to inflict arrogant people with hideous diseases.
And now Mr. C you want to challenge God. You think you can hold Him accountable for what you perceive to be His crimes against humanity! Good luck with that.
Sovereign, that is what My God is. He is sovereign because He created all things, including you. Because He created all things, whatever He does is right. That makes Him righteous. There is no one like God, that makes Him holy. He hates sin, that makes Him a God of justice. People are His greatest treasure, so Jesus died on the cross for their salvation. This proves He is merciful.
The point that I want to make is this. Only a fool will challenge or reject God. In the Bible and throughout history many people have shook their fist at God, and He tolerated none of them. Listen, God is worthy of all honor, glory and praise. Mr. C if you still choose to challenge God, good luck. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.