Greetings to you all.
Well, it is hard to believe that it is the holiday season. It has been a fast year. The saying used to be “time flies when you’re having fun”. Not for me, I would amend that saying now to something like “time flies when you’re old”. I do not remember time flying when I was in my 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Today is the obligatory sermon on being thankful. Only saying that is a great insult to all of us as Christians. This is why this is an insult, because, being thankful, should be a part of the foundation within each of our spirits. Thankfulness is just as important as love, just as important as faith, and just as important as hope. We all realize that faith, hope, and love are important. But do we realize the importance of thanksgiving, not the holiday, but the attitude, the spirit of thanksgiving? This is important!
This world does not seem to be in a thankful mood. Turn on the news, and it's whining and hand-wringing about people that disagree with you.
The real news, if you can find it, is full of violent, criminal acts by individuals who are not thankful for anything other than an opportunity to take advantage of someone else.
Our lives are not supposed to be this way. In fact, our communities are not supposed to be this way. The Spirit of God is not welcomed in the public square anymore. My goal today is this: First to show that a thankful heart is critical to being an effective Christian. Second, the thankful spirit displayed sincerely, and cultivated intentionally by God’s children, will welcome God’s Spirit back into our communities.
For this to happen you and I need to be intentionally thankful. We must make it a point, daily, to thank God, and mean it. To sincerely be thankful.
Remember, when you were a child, you had an aunt or a grandparent that would give you clothes on Christmas or your birthday? Remember how you just flew by those gifts (that were not toys) to the next gift that you could play with? Did your parents have to make you say thank you? When you did say thank you, it wasn't very sincere, was it?
We can’t say thank you to God like this. We have to be more spiritually mature than this. We have to be more circumspect about our families, our lives, our churches, and our communities.
We are blessed to live in this country, problems or not. We are blessed to live in this community, Cabarrus County, and to have fellowship with our fellow believers and neighbors that we live near. I could go on and on, but I won’t because I should not have to. Instead, let’s see what God’s word tells us today. First, a little history, from 2 Chronicles 5:11-14, this is describing the ceremony for the Ark being brought to the temple of God.
“The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. All the Levites who were musicians – Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives – stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: ‘He is good; his love endures forever.’ Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.”
This cloud is the glory cloud of God. This is the very same cloud that had led Israel out of Egypt and all through the desert. This is the very same witness cloud that was present over the tabernacle. This was the presence of God With the Israelites. Then, listen to what happens next. After Solomon's prayer of dedication, 2 Chronicles 7:1-2,
“When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because of the glory of the Lord filled it.”
Did you hear what was just described? As the Lord was being praised and thanked, The glory of the Lord was so thick, the witness cloud so thick, that the priests, in two separate instances could not continue with their part in the service.
What I glean from this scripture in 2 Chronicles is this: If we want to please the Lord, if we want to bless the Lord, If we want to send warm fuzzies to the Lord, if we want to usher in the Holy Spirit of God, we need to praise and thank the Lord. He is good, and his love endures forever.
Now, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Think about God and his blessings for you and yours. He is good; and his love endures forever. He is good; and his love endures forever. He IS Good. His love DOES endure FOREVER.
Now, let’s move from a history lesson to one of current events. 2 Timothy 3:1-2,
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”
All of this describes life in a sin-cursed world. We are here, today, in the midst of this chaos. What can we do? Call on the Lord and his Holy Spirit.
In the midst of this terrible chaos, we need to praise and thank the Lord. Like Job, in Job 1:21, we need to praise and thank the Lord.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
No matter where we are in this chaos-filled world, no matter our trials and tribulations, we need to keep on praising the Lord.
We need the lord more than ever, right now! We need the Spirit of God more than ever, right now! We need Jesus more than ever, right now! Philippians 4:4-7, one of my life verses,
“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! 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.”
The spirit of Thanksgiving must be present in the everyday lives of the believer. If our community is not thankful, God is not pleased. Let’s bless the Lord. He is good; and his love endures forever.
People talk of the spirit of Christmas all the time. The spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit of God. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no such thing as the spirit of Christmas.
My prayer for this season is that we all, together, invite the Holy Spirit into our family and community gatherings this Thanksgiving and Christmas.
May you all have a very thankful Thanksgiving.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC