Live Thankful

thankfulEvery year in the US, we mark out a day to reflect gratitude for life and what we have. Thanksgiving Day, in my opinion, is actually one of the few culturally meaningful moments that still exist in our country. In this time, as a nation we actually take time out from work and normal routines to simply celebrate and enjoy the goodness of life. Of course, like all things, Thanksgiving Day can be trivialized by commercialism, but it is still a powerful moment in our country’s experience.

As Christians, Thanksgiving Day takes on even greater significance because of our relationship with the Living God through Christ Jesus. The wonder of the life with God is that each day spent following Jesus propels us into thanksgiving. The abundance we have received from God through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is beyond words. Today, we want to come alive with thankfulness.

Throughout the Scripture, we encounter many sacrifices offered in worship of God. In Psalm 50, however, we encounter a different kind of sacrifice:

I have no complaint about your sacrifices
or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns
or the goats from your pens.
For all the animals of the forest are Mine,
and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:8-10, NLT)

God is familiar with all the burnt offerings and sacrifices of the Israelites, but He is looking for something else. And here is what it is:

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God. (50:14, NLT)

Thankfulness brings life to us. When we make our lives an altar where gratitude rises up to God like a sacrifice, He is pleased. At the same time, offering thanks back to God for who He is and all He has done brings life to us. Thanksgiving brings life to our souls because when we voice our thanks we are forced to reflect on all His goodness toward us. Thankfulness draw us closer to God.

At that same time, we may soon realize in life that thankfulness is not – or at least should not be – limited by our circumstances. Circumstances change with seasons and times of our lives, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. Yet God, in all His unchanging faithfulness, never alters in His work in us and goodness toward us. So as Paul urged one early group of believers that they – and we – can learn the way to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Today, why not come to life with God by offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving? You might even want to stop for ten or fifteen minutes right now to thank God for all He has done, for all He has given, and for all the things You may not even know that He is doing right now in Your life.

What Are You Thankful For?

thankful

Giving thanks and showing gratitude to God is an act of worship. This is why we read in Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

But it is not just for the material goods or obvious blessings that we are to be thankful. In fact, the Apostle Paul, writing to a fledgling church in Philippi while he is imprisoned, urges the believers toward thanksgiving in the face of worry. He writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Even more strongly, in another letter, Paul calls Christians to give thanks as part of fulfilling the will of God: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So, as part of your worship this Thanksgiving holiday, why not share some of the things you thankful for?

Thankful Hands (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message at Eastbrook Church this past weekend entitled “Thankful Hands” from our series, “Thankful.”

Discussion Questions:

 

  1. What are ten things you are thankful for in your life? Why are you thankful for them?
  2. This week, we continue our series, “Thankful,” by looking at a well-known story in John 6:1-15. Ask God to speak to you, and then read these verses aloud.
  3. In the flow of John’s Gospel, Jesus has now moved from Jerusalem back to his home area in the north of Israel called Galilee. He has a significant following, which isn’t a surprise, but this poses a unique problem. What is the problem facing Jesus and His disciples in this situation?Read More »

Thankful Hands

Thankful banner

This weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series entitled “Thankful.”

The message, “Hands,” was based out of John 6:1-15, which is the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 from a small child’s meager lunch. I built the sermon around the question, “what do you have in your hands?”

The outline for the message is below, but you can download a PDF of the sermon outline and discussion questions here. You can listen to the message online here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also access the entire sermon series here.

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Thankful Heart

Thankful banner

This weekend at Eastbrook Church, I kicked off a new series entitled “Thankful.” While there are a lot of things we may be thankful for, I wanted to set the tone for deeper thankfulness by looking at the character and activity of God.

The message was based out of Psalm 107, which begins with those memorable words: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.” My main point for this message was that thankfulness begins in our hearts and our hearts are filled with thankfulness when we draw our attention to God.

The outline for the message is below. You can listen to the message online here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Read More »

Thankful

I was standing on the edge of a mountain in central Honduras, looking over the hazy, green slopes of the valley. There were just over a dozen of us who had given up our Spring Break at college to work alongside of local Hondurans to install a gravity-fed water system in this remote village.

It had been a tiring week: hard work on mountainous terrain all day, meetings with the community at night, cold nights on damp floors, waking early to the sound of roosters crowing and dogs barking.
But as I stood gazing at the valley, I realized something was happening. My perspectives on what was important had begun to change. My work partner, Narciso, had opened my eyes to gratitude and joy in life. His contentment with what seemed like so little and his joy in Christ challenged me. I began to see through some of the ‘stuff’ of my life and culture that was blocking me from true living with gratitude and joy.
Today, as we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving, let’s keep perspective on life.
May we remember the gifts of everyday life (food, shelter, friends, family) for what they are: gifts from God.
And may we remember the ultimate gift of life with God in Jesus Christ for what it is: complete grace.