St. Luke's Church Faribault
      • Psalm 95:1–7NIV2011

  • To God Be The Glory
  • How Great Thou Art
      • 1 Corinthians 15:20–28NIV2011

  • Usually, for every other year, on Friday morning of last week, Chuck, Lila, Frank and others would gather in the kitchen and peel potatoes for the St. Luke’s annual Thanksgiving dinner. Tim and others would have been here early Saturday cooking the Turkeys, and the potatoes. By Saturday afternoon the tables would have been set and all would be ready for the massive Thanksgiving celebration that would have occured today. I would have come into church early to find Tim already here and the smell of the Thanksgiving dinner would fill the building.
    All week long, I would have been praying, thinking, and studying for an appropriate message to share, with God’s people. The attendance would be the highest our church sees all year.
    Instead this year, well the entire Church is empty. We do not even have a camera person, as that person was exposed to the virus this week. That is sad, really sad. Believe me, I understand. This is one of my favorite Sundays of the year too.
    How are we supposed to give thanks. Who can be thankful for this? And then what about Thursday? How are we going to be thankful on Thursday?
    Many families are not able to gather as they usually do. Some have to make a difficult decisions to stay apart. The community Thanksgiving meal has been cancelled. And as a result many will be eating alone, or at least with less than usual. Many are feeling isolated, and lonely.
    If that isn’t bad enough, there are people in longterm care that have not seen loved ones in over 8 months. Healthcare and other essential workers have been working long hours and are simply exhausted. 60 hours of week being the norm and some working even more.Others have lost jobs, and are struggling to make ends meet.
    There are people with mental health disorders who are fighting battles daily, and they are simply exhausted. Don’t forget the families with virus. Some have it mildly, others will have a loved one in the hospital, and sadly some will die.
    And if the pandemic isn’t bad enough, people are also affected by racial injustice and violence. I personally know people suffering from virtually every circumstance., I mentioned, some from multiple things. Still, there are others that facing other struggles that i haven’t even thought about.
    This doesn’t feel very much like the Thanksgiving, does it? How can we be thankful in times like these?
    If we turn to scripture, and read about giving thanks we are seemingly not given much help. 1 Thessalonians. chapter 5, verses 16-18, look it up yourself.
    1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 NIV
    16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
    Wow. Our first thought might be, Paul must have had NO idea what we are going through? How could he write that? That is just nonsense, He has no idea what life would be like in the 21st century, right?
    Well, not so fast. Life was challenging then as well. Truthfully, even more so. For instance, people were tortured and killed, for proclaiming Jesus as Lord, Paul is writing to people that live with that as a daily threat. If you got sick in those days there was not much for medicine, if God did not give you a miracle, you would die from very simple illnesses, that the medical community can cure today. The economic conditions were horrible with awful poverty running rampant, and even daily life was a burden without our modern conveniences, so everyone worked long hours all the time just living life.
    Life was so bad that people were looking for Jesus return any day. they were convinced that the end of the world coming so soon many simply stopped working, and waited. It doesn't seem that far removed does it?
    And it is in that mess Paul writes.
    1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 NIV
    16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
    It was hard words for them too. Just as it is hard words for us today, perhaps even harder for them.
    I am not making light of our situation. Whichever struggle you are facing today related to the world conditions, or related your own personal situation, whatever it is. It is your struggle and it may be keeping you from rejoicing always, it may cause you to not be able to pray continually, and it certainly does not create a feeling of thankfulness.
    So how do we overcome our struggles, and live this verse? How do we do this, by Thursday?
    You are going to need a sheet a paper, and you are going to need to spend some time with God over the next week.
    The Lexam Bible dictionary tells us this about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an expression of offering thanks or being thankful to God often connected to one of three things.
    God’s provision, God’s character, or God’s deliverance. We are thankful to God, for His provision, His character or his deliverance.
    If you are not able to rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances it is because the struggles of this life are bombarding your brain, and your eyes and your ears, and with negative things and you are unable to see, hear and think about God’s provision in your life, God’s character, and God’s deliverance.
    We will take these three points one at a time first-God’s provision.
    God’s Provision
    When we are not thankful, one thing getting in our way is that we are looking at the things we do not have, rather than the things God’s has provided. Through your TV and the internet everyone is telling you what you need for Christmas. All advertising, and Black Friday sales are built on what you need, not what you have.
    Ad after AD bombards us daily, hundreds of times a day we are being told we are lacking, something food, electronics clothes tools, happiness, fitness. You need this get it buy it, you need it.
    This is the oldest trick in the book. The enemy did this in the garden. God provided Adam and Eve everything they needed life in a beautiful garden. They had all the food in the world, and animals, everything was very good, and God even walked among them. God provided everything they needed. There was only one thing they were told not to eat- just one tree, that is it one tree, and that is what they wanted,
    The enemy make then see not all the provision but what they lacked.
    Genesis 3:1 NIV
    1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
    He made the focus on the one thing they did not have, rather than all they have. A Christmas list is a list of what we think we lack.
    Instead of a Christmas list- make a list of things that God has provided for you.
    I understand, maybe during this season things are space that happens, but God has still provided you with so much. Maybe it is just the breath in your lungs, or maybe that is is you are awake. Maybe it is a roof over your head.
    Look back on what God has provided. Make a list. Here is what you can do take a sheet of paper and divided it into 4 quarters. In the first quarter write What God has provided, and each day list 3 items, that God has provided, we will fill the other three quarters later.
    What you will find is God has provided you with quite a bit. God provides you with all you need, Maybe not all you want but all you need.
    This is from Psalm 84.11
    Psalm 84:11 NIV
    11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
    2 Peter 1:3 NIV
    3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
    God provides for us. Instead of seeing your lack-See God’s provision.
    If you are locked into working 60-80 hours a week because of COVID thank him for your job, everyday, every hour if you need to. If you are socially isolated see that God has provided you with a home, and you are not isolated in ICU. If you are out of work thank him for what you do have, and that he has given you another day with another possibility. Thank Him that he is faithful and He will never leave you or forsake you- Heb 13:5
    Thank Him for future provision. Because if he cares for the Lily's of the field and the birds of the air how much more will he care for those that love Him?
    If you having difficultly in this season with lack, find God’s provision and thank Him for that.
    We have God’s provision, and God’s character, and God’s deliverance. That was provision, now let’s move to God’s Character.
    God’s Character.
    We watch the news and we can see the entire world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the palm of our hands. The suffering that enters our eyes and ears is overwhelming. It is difficult to bear, even if the suffering is not close to home. Then, when the suffering reaches into our lives, we are overwhelmed.
    This suffering calls us to look, we hear the cries, and we can’t hear much else. We cry ourselves, and the tears cloud our vision, and through all that we cannot see God’s character. As a result we do not feel very thankful, we feel sad, very sad, and hurt and angry.
    What happens is we instinctively ask God, WHY? . It is a common question that all of us ask. At least silently if not to others. Why? Why God, Why is this terrible thing happening?
    When this happens we can have a tendency to doubt two very important aspects of God’s character. We doubt His power and His goodness.
    For instance there is this virus that is causing pain and death and seperation, so in our head we think either God is not in total control, or He is not good . Sometimes we add to me on the end of that. God is not good to me.
    This is all too common- Humans have done this for the history of the world. Read the Bible this happens over and over again. People suffer and cry to God, and question His goodness or His power.
    And over and over again God tries to get us to remember He is all powerful, and He is all good. God in His word states this over and over again. Look at Romans 8:28.
    Romans 8:28 NIV
    28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
    Power and goodness. All things for good.
    Or in
    Colossians 1:17 NIV
    17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
    ALL things hold together-He is all powerful
    Ephesians 1:11 NIV
    11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
    He works out everything in conformity with His will.
    It is not easy to see, when we are suffering and it is not always easy to reconcile, But God is all good, God is all powerful even in times of suffering.
    And God knows this too as He states this in Romans...
    Romans 8:18 NIV
    18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
    Our sufferings do not compare to the goodness of God the glory of God that will be revealed.
    Think on the Goodness of God this week. Take the next quarter of your paper and write one or two ways you have seen God’s goodness today. Write down the ways ways he has been good to you, either in the past, and now.
    Then take the next quarter of you paper and write down about God’s power. Think about the power of God, all things are subject to Him. Write down things you know God has power over. Write down 2 or 3 a day, everyday this week.
    There is goodness in this world, but it has been infected with sin, and with sin comes suffering. Sin is anything going against the will of God, and the whole world has gone against God, one way or another. We read in Romans- for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As a result the whole world is subject to suffering., and it is difficult to see the goodness when all we are immersed in is the suffering.
    Romans also says, The wages of sin is death. Death is the inevitable conclusion of the sin filled world,
    But, as we are separated from the Goodness of God, now it does not mean that God cannot reach us in this place of seperation. He is not looking down wringing His hands over us in worry, because He is also all powerful .
    So God having power over all things-even death does something-He pulls us back from the brink. He sends us Jesus to rescue us. In His power He is doing something. He is pulling us back to Him.
    That may friends is the third point it is called Deliverance. We have to be aware of God’s Deliverance if we are to be thankful.
    God’s Deliverance.
    When we are not Thankful we are fearful that God has not or will not deliver us, from this situation. We have forgotten that for those with faith in Christ we have already been delivered.
    Again the world bombards us with a fatalist view of things. Whether it is the virus, or the violence, or poverty, the world is doing everything to tell you you will not be delivered. You will not escape, there is no way out., then they present you with an alternative deliverer.
    For example- the virus, there is no way out, you are doomed, but wait-there is a deliverer it is a vaccine. There is no way out of poverty, you will not survive, but wait he is your deliverer in the form of a politician who will save, you.
    Here the truth today, there is a deliverer and His name is Jesus.
    God the Father will deliver us through God the son by the power of God the Holy Spirit.
    See there is still the goodness of God, and God is calling His people to Himself to be delivered from sin and the evil that is in the world. We prayed that in the Lord’s prayer-Deliver us from evil. and He does- God made a way, by sending God the son, fully man and fully God into the middle of the sinful world. God sent Jesus to deliver us.
    God sent Jesus into the world filled with sin and suffering, into the world struggling and crying for deliverance, and rescue. So Jesus came, fully God, but also also fully man. And He lived a perfect life. even in the suffering even in the difficulty. Jesus came to a world with viruses and violence, and natural disasters, and He was only goodness. Through and through in the middle of a sin filled world he was filled with only goodness.
    And even during the worst atrocity ever committed by the human race in rebellion we put God in the flesh on a cross to kill Him.
    But even in that the Goodness of God, and the power of God could not be obscured, because death could not hold HIm and sin could not conquer Him as he rose from the dead three days later to deliver us from death and sin and this world.
    1 Corinthians 15:56–57 NIV
    56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Because Jesus has power over death he has the ability to deliver all those who turn from their sin and place their faith in Him.
    Turning from your sin and toward Jesus is called repenting of your sins. When we do that we are delivered, from the power of sin. We are delivered from death. We are delivered from the evil that is in the world.
    At that moment we have eternal life in Christ, God’s goodness dwells in us, in the Holy Spirit. We have an inheritance kept in heaven for us.
    This the present world no longer has its power over us. Sure, if Christ doesn't return before we die physically our body will die. but for us that know Christ that isn’t the end.
    For the world this is it. For those that do not know Christ, this world is all they have. Hence the desperation, that is why they are looking for a deliverer. They have nothing else , but this world so the suffering here is catrastrophic, but for those that look ahead this is only a moment.
    We are now a new creation.
    As a new creation we are bing delivered from our sin all day long. We are no longer who we once were. We are being delivered from rivalry, and anger, and jealously and lust and gfreed.
    Now make one more list I am being delivered form anger, worry, alchol, lust whatever Jesus is delivering you from place it on the list.
    Then this week look at that lost.
    One column with how God has provided for you. One with God’s goodness, One with God’s power, and one with what God is delivering you from. With this you may find some thankfulness even in this troblled word .
    In Jesus name, Amen.
      • 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18NIV2011

      • Genesis 3:1NIV2011

      • Psalm 84:11NIV2011

      • 2 Peter 1:3NIV2011

      • Romans 8:28NIV2011

      • Colossians 1:17NIV2011

      • Ephesians 1:11NIV2011

      • Romans 8:18NIV2011

      • 1 Corinthians 15:56–57NIV2011

  • Revive Us Again

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