THANKS … Today & Tomorrow
First Thessalonians 2: 8-13
It really is a simple grouping of words but in their simplicity these words have the ability to alter the emotional state of others. In fact, I would argue that those individuals who actually take the time to focus on their use are happier people while those who are the recipients find in those audible or written moments an opening of the heart that is transformational.
I think timing is a key because the unexpected has more power than the anticipated. The obligatory while still carrying within the phrase a sense of shared experience does not pack the power of the unexpected “out of the blue” use of these words. When you hear them when you least expect them … when you perhaps have forgotten the cause of the other person’s use of the words it is refreshing to the soul.
In their sincerity these words are heart created words. In their sharing they are truly words that Christians should be frequent sharers of. They are the words that reflect love of neighbor and appreciation for even the smallest acts, which are all too often swept under the rug in the rush and haste of life.
The words carry just as must power in the languages of the world … it is one of those global phrases just like I love you that works in every language … MERCI BEAUCOUP, GRAZIE, ASANTE, CAM ON BAN, GOMASEUNDA, DANKE, GRACIAS, or as we would say THANK YOU. THANKS … THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I just want to THANK YOU.
We have entered the month in which Americans have set aside a day of Thanksgiving. Now, our Canadian friends celebrated Thanksgiving back on October 12th . When asked what my favorite holiday of the year is; the answer is easy. THANKSGIVING, that fourth Thursday in November … the memories began as a child at Aunt Hazel’s farm and this special day’s memories have continued to bless me throughout my life …filled with special days as a boy with my family, aunts, uncles and cousins and then continuing in life as Donna and I established a new tradition through which we have become thankful for our extended family serving our nation in the Coast Guard. Good food … good times … memories but more importantly pausing … slowing down to give thanks.
I have often wondered why we need to set aside a special day to gather in thanksgiving … what is wrong with us that we as a culture; we as a society; we as individuals each created in the image of the Holy can’t wake up each morning to declare that this is another day of THANKS. THANKS today … and tomorrow.
Of course all that we need to do to discover how backwards we have it is to look at the Friday that follows our day of THANKS … BLACK FRIDAY, which has now moved in to take time away from our one day of thanks during the year. We seem to celebrate greed, rushing and pushing to get the best, the latest, stuff for ourselves or for those we care about more than the pause. Humanity is so disconnected from God’s directions.
Paul writes to those in Ephesus “I do not cease in giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” Now that packs some power … the bonus of being in someone’s prayers not because we are sick but because they are thankful for us. Do you extend one or more of your daily prayers to tell God how thankful you are for people in your life? Think for a second about someone you are thankful for …. Imagine how good they would feel to hear you share words like Paul wrote and mean them and include them in your prayers.
During the month of November … I am going to focus on being thankful, giving thanks, and our challenges in using those words. Thanks for the skills and abilities we have to be in mission for God. Thanks for our commitment to God through sharing the gifts we have received. Thanks for those who structure our lives. And, yes … pausing to consider why we aren’t as thankful as we could be.
Thanks … today and tomorrow in our lives of faith should always find a focal point in the Lord’s Table. If … if we believe that Jesus the Christ is our Lord … our Master … and our Savior doesn’t that faith return to the cross that was followed by the empty tomb? Are you thankful that the God who created the Milky Way … the universes far beyond our sight … this incredible planet that supplies water, air, and food for millions of people that this God … loved you enough that God sent God’s Son to become your personal sacrifice for the sins in your life. ARE YOU THANKFUL each and every day for Jesus? To me that’s the easiest reason to wake up to declare THANK YOU GOD amongst the very first words you say or thine once sleep is wiped away from your eyes.
You and I are provided an eternal home in Glory with God, with Jesus, and with all the saints who came before us by simply … well, it’s not that simple actually … by truly believing in God through Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of sins when we confess our sins to God … eternal life in heaven’s glory when we become a person who has true faith reflected in our works and our approach to other human beings on this planet.
Hear the words of Jesus again from our Gospel lesson … the disciples had prepared the Passover meal … After taking the bread and then what did Jesus, our Savior do? HE GAVE THANKS for the BREAD … to whom? To GOD … Jesus then broke the bread and gave it to His disciples saying, “This is my body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, Jesus took the cup … “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you.”
The body and blood of Jesus … given by God for us. So, we don’t have to to experience the pain of our sins … the pain of our wrongdoing … the penalty for our words spoken not in love but in hate or judgment … Shouldn’t we be waking up so thankful every day … shouldn’t our today we one where the first word rushing to our lips every time we want to speak be thanks … today and tomorrow because we have so much to be thankful to God for? Shouldn’t we be confusing non-believers by rushing towards them with love and by declaring our thanks to the Almighty … wouldn’t the world be so much better if we truly lived as thankful people first …. Wouldn’t our lives be so much better if we focused on the thankfulness rather than discovering petty items in life to complain about, challenge with, and break others down through?
In THE TORAH we hear this proclamation towards God’s Chosen ones that God told Moses to share with them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord life up His countenance upon you, and given you peace.”
It is in that declaration that I want each of us to focus on during this month, which hopefully will then take each of us on a journey of change based in our thankfulness to God for Jesus. Our connection of love and thanks with the Lord’s Table.
We are called to be world changers by making disciples for Jesus Christ. We are taught that those who truly believe … those who actually have the blessings of God … that we are the ones who love ALL of our neighbors and whose lives are reflection of our faith.
So, it is in our actions … in our words … through our faith that we can reflect Jesus light in the world. Paul was reminding the church of Thessalonica that Paul, Silanus, and Timothy had not only used words but shared their lives with these people, worked with them, cared for them …. Sharing the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ encouraging and pleading with them to live lives worthy of God. And, then in verse 13 “We also thank God constantly for this: when you accepted God’s word that you heard from us, you welcomed it for what it truly is. Instead of accepting it as a human message, you accepted it as God’s message and it continues to work in you who are believers.”
So, my friends today … have you accepted God’s message … is it continuing to work in you as a believer? Are you sharing it? Are you saying THANK YOU GOD over and over again silently in church this morning as you see the table set before us … are you truly thankful to God for your personal Savior? Your Lord? The Son of God Jesus?
I share the words God gave to Moses for each of you today … The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord life up His countenance upon you, and given you peace.”
As we begin this month’s journey of thanks … make every day a day equal to Thanksgiving … be God’s life in the world experiencing God’s peace and love … THANKS my friends … today and tomorrow. They really are simple words but my oh my the meaning that they hold when we truly believe that they are worthy to say out loud! AMEN
Watch the videos of our worship service:
Worship Part 1: Opening
Worship Part 2: Sermon & Communion