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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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Temple Baptist Church - 11-18-2020Hebrews 13:5 Introduction: A. When we look at this verse for tonight, we need to understand the poverty associated with being a “stranger scattered.” These people had little to nothing. When you have little to nothing, it is easy to desire (covet-lust after) things that you see and cannot have. B. Covet – to wish for earnestly; inordinate desire for something that belongs to another; to thirst for; to hunger for; to die for. A strong desire. C. You and I are on the other side of the picture as most of us have the wherewithal to obtain many things. Whereas these Hebrews could not, we with a reasonable among of certainty can. D. The importance of words in the Bible. “Let” means here means to allow. Though “let” can carry various meanings, I often use it this way: to allow something to take place that would not normally happen. E. “Conversation” can also be used in a couple of ways. Conversation is something that we do with others. To carry on a conversation is to have a two-way conversation instead of a monologue. Talking with someone instead of talking to someone. F. Conversation in the Bible also alludes to our life as it is visible to others. It is more of a monologue as our life speaks without expecting those who see it to speak back. There is an old saying, “A life lived is worth a thousand sermons preached.” “You talk talks and your walk talks but your walk talks louder than your talk talks!” G. In our Laodicean society, we find discontentedness on every hand. 1. Everyone wants everything without working for anything. 2. Everyone wants everything now without being able to afford anything. 3. Too many place their trust and hope in these perishable things. H. The Laodicean Church Age has affected God's children in the same ways. We have been and are blessed! We must be careful not to let these blessings becoming cursing's by: 1. Misplaced values. Placing things above our relationship with and work for Christ. 2. Misplaced trust. Placing our trust in these temporal things instead of in our loving Lord. J. Then we have the reality and effects of Prosperity Preaching across our land. (6:5) “supposing that gain is godliness” 1. God's faithful people have hard times financially. 2. Prosperity or the lack of it is not a sign of either God's approval or disapproval of our lives. K. We need to have a right perspective of finances. 1. There is nothing wrong with hard work and the financial rewards that go with it. 2 Thessalonians 3:10, 12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. … (12) Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. (Notice the reward of work is that THEY eat! In today's politics, people are demonized for success in business. The laborer is worthy of his hire and these people who have excelled should be properly rewarded. Those who will not work (notice I said “will not”) should not eat.) 2. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruit of one's labors. Ecclesiastes 8:15 Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. (The Bible has no problem with people enjoying the fruit of their labors. That enjoyment should be done according to biblical principles.) 3. Material things are temporal while the eternal are just that: eternal. ** Turn to: 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (17) And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (Though both necessary and good, everything that you see will burn. We cannot take anything with us as we will leave this world the same way we came into it. Jim Elliot said it this way, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.") L. In these verses, we see a couple of things: 1. The “root of all evil” which is the love of money. Not money which is amoral but the love of money. a. The dangers of worldly gain. ** Turn to: Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: (20) But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Material things can be a recipe for disaster. As many strange women stole the heart of Solomon, too many things cause our hearts to turn from our God. Where our treasure (things that we value) is there will our hearts be also.) b. The desirability of worldly gain. Matthew 6:31-32 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (32) (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (America is being destroyed by one thing: greed! Nothing satisfies; nothing is enough! Like Uncle Scrooge in the Donald Duck comic books, riches have become people lives. A rich man was once asked the question, “How much money would it take to satisfy you?” He answered, “Just a little more.”) c. The deception of worldly gain. Verse 5 “supposing” Luke 12:18-20 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. (19) And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. (20) But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? (Money neither brings satisfaction nor security. As a general rule, rich people are the unhappiest people in the world.) d. The duration of worldly gain. Proverbs 23:6 Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: (Riches go much quicker than they come and fortunes are lost overnight. Someone once said, “The more I catch up financially the behinder I get!”) e. The destruction of worldly gain. ** Turn To: 1 Timothy 6:9-10 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. (10) For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (I have watched as good people have placed jobs and more money ahead of the Lord and be destroyed. I have seen men of God get their eyes on finances instead of the Lord and get out of the ministry. A good thing can become a bad thing if not careful.) 2. Godliness with contentment. a. Godliness. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. (8) For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (It is profitable in all things. It is profitable now and also in the world to come. You will never go wrong if you go right! Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said something along these lines, “It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.” Situation ethics will get you out of the will of God.) b. Contentment. Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (12) I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (13) I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Contentment shows several things: spiritual maturity, spiritual priority, and spiritual trust.) Conclusion: I want to conclude with these verses: Matthew 6:31-34 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (32) (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (34) Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Temple Baptist Church - 11-15-2020Philippians 4:6 Introduction: A. This is verse gives us a unique look at thanksgiving. 1. “Be careful for nothing” – “care full” - careful-to be full of care; anxious to the point of distraction. There are things that we are apt to worry about in life. The Bible is very direct in the matter of worry. “I am not worried; I am just highly concerned?” 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 2. “But in everything” – good times or bad times; times when we can control our circumstances and times when our circumstances are out of our control; times when we understand and times when we do not understand. Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 3. “by pray and supplication” – Prayer-worship in oratory (speaking to God in acknowledgement of Who and What He is), supplication-to make petition; requests-to ask. James 4:2 … ye have not, because ye ask not. 4. “with thanksgiving” – when the outcome is still in doubt or not fully known. Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Romans 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? a) It is not thanksgiving for what God has done but thanksgiving in advance for what He has not yet done. It is based upon the love, mercy, and goodness of God to His people. b) We do not know what will happen in the future but we do know that God will still be God! We do not know what the future holds for us, but we do know Who holds the future and holds us! B. THANKSGIV'ING, n. The act of rendering thanks or expressing gratitude for favors or mercies. A public celebration of divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, specially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities or danger, or in the ordinary dispensation of his bounties. The practice of appointing an annual thanksgiving originated in New England. C. Most people say “Thank you” simply because they have been trained to do so. I know that, personally, there have been times that I have blessed the food on our table and then had to ask my wife if I had blessed it already. Then I bow my head and really give to God thanks! D. We have so much to be thankful for. 1. Our Great Salvation a) Saved by graceb) Saved eternallyc) A wonderful life here and heaven waiting! 2. Our Great Possessions a) Our homesb) Our transportationc) Our everyday needs 3. Our Great families and friends a) Your greatest possession outside of salvation!b) Quality, not quantity! 4. Our Great Liberty a) Freedom of travelb) Freedom of speech 5. Our Great Opportunities a) You can be anything that you want.b) Your life is limited by your will to accomplish E. We are always to be thankful. I, as a pastor, have difficulties in this area. Now, I can be thankful when the heavens are opened up, and God's blessings rain down upon me, and when everything is going well, and when there are no bumps in the road! But when problems come, I too often complain. When things don't go my way, I too often whine instead of giving thanks! What is Thanksgiving? 1. Thanksgiving Is A Sign Of Realization: the Lord has been good to us (far better than we deserve) and will remain good to us in the future. - James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. a. If it were not for the Lord, you would have nothing. If it is not of the Lord, you will have nothing! b. Things could be a lot worse than they are now. Things can get a lot worse than they are now! c. Compared to the rest of the world, you are rich. Happiness is so much more than temporal things: it is peace of mind! 2. Thanksgiving Is A Sign Of Acceptance: we should rightly accept what we have and be willing to accept what we shall have. - 1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. a. All that we have came from the Lord. b. What we have is His will for our life. c. God wants the very best for us and our family. 3. Thanksgiving Is A Sign Of Gratitude: we should be grateful for what we have and also be grateful what we will have. - Matthew 6:31-33 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. a. The Lord has been so good to us. b. We deserve absolutely nothing. c. What He has given us should be satisfactory. d. We can trust Him to supply our every need as they come - Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Conclusion: We need to thank God this week for all that He has done for us and thank Him in advance for all that He will do for us: a. Learn to look for both blessings and lessons in our circumstances. b. Prayerfully accept God's will for our lives. c. Replace griping and murmuring with thanksgiving and praise.
Temple Baptist Church - 10-25-2020Galatians 5:22 Introduction: One fruit manifesting itself in 9 different aspects: three inward, three outward, and three upward. A. The word “temperate” is found only 3x in the New Testament and none in the Old Testament. Though mentioned only 3x, the principle of temperance is found in many places. Definition: In control on one's passions. Moderation in action, thought, of feeling. B. Intemperance Is A Sign Of Our Times. 3 Timothy 3:1-5 – incontinent – without self-control. (**Galatians 5:19-21 are all signs of intemperance!) C. Temperance is an aspect of the Fruit Of The Spirit – Galatians 5:22 – and should be manifested in the life of every Christian. (We all have areas that need to be worked on) D. Temperance is something that must be added - 2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; E. Temperance is essential to doing God's will - 1 Corinthians 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (Testimony before the lost) F. The Bible Speaks Of The Importance of Temperance In Both Our Spiritual Life And Our Physical Life. These two are intrinsically tied together. 1. Spiritual Temperance. Ecclesiastes 7:16 Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? a. What does this mean? First, let explain what it does not mean. 1a. It does not mean that God accepts sinfulness. God expects holiness from His children. 1 Peter 1:15-16 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (16) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1b. It does not mean that the outward appearance does not matter. Our outward is often a reflection of our inward. Romans 12:1-3 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Now, most quote verses 1 and 2 while ignoring verse 3. (3) For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. b. “Be not righteous over much” means not to be “holier than thou.” To look down on others through vain comparison. Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. (Vanity-excessively proud of oneself.) Proverbs 26:12 Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 2 Corinthians 5:12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. c. Spiritual Temperance quells Phariseeism. Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 2. Physical Temperance. 1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. a. We must control our Passions - 1 John 2:15-16 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. b. We must control our passion for Possessions - 1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 1a. The Danger of Possessions - 1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 1b. The Destruction of Possessions - 1 Timothy 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 1c. The Deception of Possessions – 1 timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. c. We must control our passion for Pleasure. 1a. Worldly Pleasure is a sign of the times - 2 Timothy 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. 1b. Worldly Pleasure can become your master - Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 1c. Worldly Pleasure is short lived - Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; d. We must control our passion for Power or Position. 1a. Self-Exaltation is a common problem - 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 1b. Self-Exaltation eventually leads to abasement - Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. The Keys To Temperance 1. There Must Be Crucifixion - Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 2. There Must Be Contentment - 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Temple Baptist Church - 10-18-2020Galatians 5:22 Introduction: A. The Fruit of the Spirit is one fruit that manifest itself in 9 different aspects. 3 Inward—love, joy, peace—3 Outward—longsuffering, goodness, gentleness—3 Upward—faith, meekness, temperance. B. Man is a trichotomy and a dichotomy. A trichotomy in the image of God—soul, body, spirit—and a dichotomy—the natural man and the spiritual man. C. This morning, I want to look at meekness, a virtue that is missing in many people. In days of a humanistic view of life (you are your own “god” and responsible mainly to self), I find little biblical meekness in this world. D. Meekness is our reaction to what others do to us. E. The Opposite of Meekness is Pride: MEE'KNESS, Softness of temper; mildness; gentleness; forbearance under injuries and provocations. In an evangelical sense, humility; resignation; submission to the divine will, without murmuring or peevishness; opposed to pride, arrogance and refractoriness. PRIDE, Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one's own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others. Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. F. I want to look at meekness in two areas: Meekness toward the Lord and Meekness toward Men. 1. Meekness before the Lord. A recognition of who and what we are. Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Meekness comes through humility. Paul, who could have had much to glory in displayed meekness.) a. Paul did not think that he was someone special-- 2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: b. Paul did not think that he was spiritual —1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. c. Did not think the was even a great Christian -- Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; d. Knew that what little he had accomplished was by the grace of God – 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (May the Lord help us as God's men to have a meek attitude!) b. Meekness comes through ssubmission – James 4:6-7 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. c. Resignation – acceptance of the will of God. James 5:10-11 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain. (7) For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (8) And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 2. Meekness toward Men. Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; Philippians 3:4-10 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; (6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; a. We Should Not Have To Be Recognized - Luke 14:10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. b. We Should Not Have To Be In Charge - 1 Corinthians 6:4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. c. We Should Not Have To Have Our Own Way - Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. d. We Should Remember What We Were And We Would Be If It Were Not For The Grace Of God - Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (May the Lord help us as Christians to have a meek attitude!) Conclusion: Things that meekness will do. 1. Meekness Will Keep You Satisfied - Psalms 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. 2. Meekness Will Keep You In The Will Of The Lord - Psalms 25:9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. (The proud know it all and cannot be taught.) 3. Meekness Will Give You An Internal Peace - Psalms 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. (You have nothing to prove.) 4. Meekness Will Elevate You In God's Time - Psalms 147:6 The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground. 5. Meekness Brings You Favor With The Lord - Psalms 149:4 For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. 6. Meekness Brings Joy In The Lord - Isaiah 29:19 The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. (We are nothing and He is everything.) 7. Meekness Brings Rest - Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
If I asked you to list some things you are grateful for in the year 2020, what would you say? In a trying year like this one, it can be far easier to list challenges, tragedies, complaints, disappointments, and frustrations. This Thanksgiving, it’s highly likely that the thing many people are most grateful for is a new year being on the horizon. However, as families gather this holiday season, I want to challenge everyone to look not only to the future but also to reflect upon the past. There is far more to be thankful for this year than we likely have taken the time to consider.We cannot always control whether our circumstances get better or worse, but we can choose how we will respond. Scripture exhorts us to rejoice always (Philippians 4:4), learn the secret of being content (Philippians 4:12), and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We do not know what tomorrow will bring, and a new year does not necessarily equal a better one. But we do know that God holds the future, and we are called to remember His praiseworthy deeds, thank Him for what He has done, and trust Him for what He will do.The Thanksgiving holiday is historically a day to remember the pilgrims and the founding of America, and traditionally a day to gather with family and friends to count our blessings. But being thankful ought not to start and stop on Thanksgiving Day.Unfortunately, gratitude is an increasingly dying art in our culture, and Thanksgiving has become a mere speed bump on the way to Christmas. Far too often, we focus on what we want rather than being thankful for all we have.God does not waste anything—not even 2020. Sometimes, trials we face may seem wasted when we are not paying attention and learning from our experiences. Everything that we see, hear, and feel is used by God to teach us. “[B]ut we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).Instead of despising 2020 or wishing it were over, we can seek the beauty in the ashes. Consider Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie’s response to their difficult circumstances while being held in Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp. These sisters walked through the valley of the shadow of death together; it is hard to imagine anything in Auschwitz worth being grateful for. However, Betsie constantly encouraged everyone in her bunker to be grateful. One day, Betsie said that she was grateful for the fleas that infested their mattresses. Yes, the fleas! The guards hated the fleas and would not enter the bunker. This meant they could worship together without intrusion, and that was worth being grateful for.The year 2020 has been hard, but it is thankfully not Auschwitz. We have much more than fleas for which to be grateful this year. As you carve the turkey, decorate cookies, roast corn, sit by the fire, sing hymns, or whatever your Thanksgiving traditions might be—and even if you are lonely this Thanksgiving—remember that we need not be anxious for anything, for the Lord has and will continue to supply all our needs in Christ Jesus (Matthew 6:25).I am grateful for how 2020 has taught me to be humble before the Lord, to surrender my plans to Him, to trust Him in all circumstances, and to run with endurance the race set before me—not because I know what the journey will hold, but because I have hope in the final outcome, which is God’s glory and my sanctification. Being grateful is challenging because it requires us to forsake selfishness, whining, and complaining and embrace contentment. If the art of gratitude were easy, we would not need to be commanded and encouraged to cultivate it. Saying we are thankful once a year on Thanksgiving will not resurrect the dying art of gratitude. Rather, we must endeavor to start and end each day with a grateful heart.
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