Psalm 15
Colossians 3: 12-17
JOHN 12: 44-50

‘Building My Faith; A Workout for Life’ Part 7

November 24, 2019

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It has always been my absolutely no second guessing favorite day of the year!   TRADITION plays a major role perhaps … lots of memories laden with mythology because that’s what happens when you weave a story line that connects the present with distant realities but THANKSGIVING is that day for me that has always been so so special and I am thankful for the days of joy, togetherness, and good food not that every fourth Thursday of November has always excelled … indeed some have been turkey’s!

Whether it was being one of the Delaney boys parading into Aunt Hazel’s house playing musical instruments to get the relatives stirring with joy or seeing the positive sentiment on the faces of the members of the US Coast Guard as they crossed our threshold.   Remembering football games in my aunt’s corn field as snow fell from the skies or young men dressed in their uniforms playing dolls on the floor with our girls creating imagery that contradicted the world outside.  THANKSGIVING has been a special day for me … and this year on THANKSGIVING we will help move our daughter and her husband and our grandson into their very first home … perhaps their one home for life .. a day of Thanksgiving unique in itself.  It’s not a day about the food but about the THANKS!

And, Paul writes … “Whatever you do, whether in speech or action do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and GIVE THANKS to God the FATHER through Him!”  Whatever you do church …. Everything and all things …. Life itself … in the name of Jesus … giving thanks to God .. THANKSGIVING … REJOICE, BE THANKFUL, BE HAPPY …

God loves ALL of us … ALL of humanity … Jesus came!  Jesus saves!  Jesus provides the directions for life!  Doesn’t that bring a smile to your face?   Don’t you want to jump for joy and with joy and sing out loud and tell the world sharing your thankfulness and joy?

DANCE like David … SING psalms … hymns … spiritual songs … clang the cymbals.

Oh, wait.  Is it too much to expect us to be joy-filled people and to worship the God of the universe with extraordinary thanksgiving?  That is embarrassing isn’t it?  When Mark and I were told by our father to enter Aunt Hazel’s home with thanksgiving playing our instruments because it was the day of joy … embarrassing even though the Delaney father said to be joy filled … truth is we find it hard to enter in thanksgiving.

In this series of eight sermons, my goal has been to get each of us focused on our faith walk.  Creating a workout for life here that is connected to God because after all we do pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come on earth as it is in heaven” on the Sunday’s we attend church don’t we?  I have prayed that my lessons over these weeks have also reminded each of us of the lifestyle and truth we need to take ownership of that establishes us a faith-filled people, true believers in Jesus Christ whose ultimate reward is being in heaven with the Creator, Jesus and all the saints.  On September 29th some of you were already activists in your faith life reading God’s Word, praying without ceasing and focused on delivering the positives of love with each person your life encountered.  Others of us needed to get back in the ‘gym of faith’ taking on the basics of recovery and faith growth: healing, diet, stretching, embracing a personal trainer, really sensing the workout, getting past tired and finally bringing in some workout partners. We needed more Bible and always are in need of more prayer.

The culmination of faith … the moment when you and I know its real is when we truly can celebrate our success story.  When others mention … ‘you’ve changed.’  What have you been doing with yourself?  Notice you’re in better shape.  You look so good!  And, the one who notices it the most when you have joined the faith fitness club is you yourself.  Look in that mirror of faith … where the truth radiates and you just know.

And, you are thankful … you are filled with joy … you can stand up and sit down and proclaim with Paul “THE PEACE of CHRIST controls my heart .. I am part of the body of CHRIST and I am THANKFUL!”  Rich read the verse … when you go home open up your Bibles are read Colossians again … check your Bible app at breakfast … when you are a true believer and active in your faith friends .. when faith and every day life converge … you will have the peace of God and the one reality is that you will be so so thankful and “you will want to teach each other by singing out!”

Faith is about life … Faith is about life choices … faith is about truly believing in Jesus the Christ; understanding that God is real … faith is real when the God who created the universe matters to you not as a secondary element or as a one in seven connection on some weeks but when God is the essence of our waking time in this life and we are living lives of change progressing towards that heavenly goal, which is God’s upward call in Christ.  And, we will have … yes, we will have THANKSGIVING all the time!

Our faith linked with Jesus the Son of God!  Jesus the Savior!  Jesus the Rabbi!  Jesus shouted to those who were worshipping with Him in Jerusalem just a day or so before the cross … He shouted “WHOEVER BELIEVES in ME sees the One who sent me!  I have come, so that everyone who believes in me won’t live in darkness. But will live in light! “.  Jesus didn’t whisper it … didn’t keep that message quiet HE SHOUTED IT FRIENDS.  His amazing voice as loud as possible … HE HAD COME so the very EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES in HIM won’t live in darkness!  To another crowd that week Jesus had also focused on how walking with God and with Jesus is our escape from the world’s darkness .. no more being lost … He said, “AS LONG as you have the Light … Believe in the Light … we will be people whose lives are determined by the Light.”  SHOUT IT OUT!! CLANG THE CYMBALS!!

And, that’s why I started this sermon series … that’s why I want you stretching and exercising your faith … that’s why I and you need to let the Holy Spirit guide us but when we feel it … when we get it … then let’s understand that we need to celebrate with joy and thanksgiving because if we aren’t happy about having Christ and God and being in the Light … if we aren’t the ones shouting praises … singing songs of faith … dancing with abandon … if we are embarrassed to clang the loud cymbals together … then why would anyone think that being in the Light of Jesus Christ offered any real hope or joy?

Friday night my sleeping accommodations were once again a cardboard box in a muddy patch of grass along one of Atlantic City’s streets.  Here in our church that night young girls … GIRL SCOUTS were also sleeping in boxes because they wanted to demonstrate their love and concern for young adults who live in homelessness.  I am so thankful for their connection to my annual sleep out for Covenant House’s work; for the Ski’s teaching, and I am so appreciative to those of you who sent money so the work of Covenant House continues rescuing young people from the streets.

On Friday night we heard of a young woman who survived  under the George Washington Bridge for months until finally she allowed herself to be wrapped in a Covenant House blanket of love.  She now volunteers for Covenant House and has wrapped each of her babies in that blanket of love she was given on that dark night.

Charles Elmer Taylor, Jr. … better known as RIP TAYLOR the comedian who recently died … Rip’s whose outrageous humor was captured on the $1.98 BEAUTY SHOW and the GONG SHOW donated to my SLEEP OUT each year. When I reached out to him after he made his first donation to my Covenant House SLEEP OUT he said, “Dave, I want young people to be able to find a reason to live, laugh and smile.  I want them to have joy.  Those caught in darkness … deserve light.”

A speaker to the sleepers on Friday night reminded us that ‘our gift is coming’ but in this life we have a responsibility to ‘open our hearts.’  We are called by the Higher Power to proclaim that each person is extraordinary and that God expects us to see the dignity of life in each person.  And, that we are to show love to all and at all times.

Rip used to toss confetti wherever he went … at every show … as part of every television appearance … I swear the man must have thrown tons of confetti in his lifetime!  But even in telling his truly stupid jokes you could see joy when you saw and met Rip.

Is that what the world sees in you … a joy that makes them wonder what the source of the joy is?   Do you let them in on your secret?   Are you thankful?  Are you ready to sing again “I’ve go the JOY JOY JOY JOY DOWN in my heart!  Down in my heart!  Down in my heart!  I’ve go the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart. WHERE?  Down in my heart to stay.”

And, as I conclude today’s message I am leaving each of us with the dilemma of PSALM 150 because you have to admit that this last chapter of the PSALMS with its six verses has a command that is comprehensive but actually a total of 13 directives (You see I counted them this morning.) that people who believe … people who are really living in the Light of Jesus and see God because they believe in Christ are being told that we must have outrageous PRAISE as part of our lives.  PRAISE of GOD!

PRAISE THE LORD!   PRAISE GOD in God’s Sanctuary!  PRAISE GOD in God’s fortress, the sky!  PRAISE GOD in God’s mighty acts!  PRAISE GOD as it suits GOD’s INCREDIBLE GREATNESS!  PRAISE GOD with the blast of the Ram’s horn!  With lute and lyre!  PRAISE GOD with DRUM and DANCE!  PRAISE GOD with STRINGS and PITE!  PRAISE GOD WITH LOUD CYMBALS … with CLASHING CYMBALS friends PRAISE GOD!   And, then this admonition LET EVERY LIVING THING PRAISE THE LORD PRAISE THE LORD!  IMAGINE EVERY LIVING THING …


And, I say that if you are actively BUILDING your faith and participating in this workout for life here on earth and for eternity then yes you will want to celebrate God’s love; Jesus truth and with the Holy Spirit PRAISE GOD LOUDLY with joy!

And to quote Pharrell Williams from his powerful song … “It might seem crazy what I’m bout to say … SUNSHINE she’s here so you can take a break … I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space with the air like I don’t care baby by the way because I’m happy .. CLAP ALONG if you feel like a room without a roof … because you’re happy!”   If you have the LIGHT of God let go and be HAPPY!


© 2017- St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ