Sermon Series


December 9, 2012 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

As an introduction to our Scripture reading: Assyria, the invincible superpower of the day, was threatening to wipe out the southern kingdom of Judah, where Isaiah did his ministry. Isaiah saw in this the culmination of God’s judgment against the widespread apostasy of Judah under King Ahaz. The only hope for escape, Isaiah declared, was God’s intervention: Not political alliances, material wealth, or religious pretense. Yet, before God would intervene the Assyrians would come, and they would overwhelm the northern kingdom of Israel (the region that in Jesus’ day was called The Galilee) and they would carry off the wealth of Samaria, its capitol. And with the Assyrians would come darkness and despair…

The Prophet Isaiah 9:1-7 [NLTse]

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the Sea, will be filled with glory.

2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. 3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before You as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. 4 For You will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as You did when You destroyed the army of Midian. 5 The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.

6 For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Did anyone here ever experience a scary pregnancy?  I remember – I think I’ve shared with many of you – when my oldest son, Noah, was born: And, as the alarms went off and the crashcarts came in, thinking he was going to die; and as I was pushed out of the way and some of the carts got set up around my wife, Amy, that she was going to die, too… It was a long few moments following a very long night of labor. But the joy and praise I felt when I found they were both going to be alright was… Well, the prophet Isaiah said that that’s something like what Judah’s joy was going to be like when their new King would be born.

I remember taking my ordination exams in seminary: Five several-hour-long tests each, asking detailed questions about the Bible and the church’s Constitution; about the pastoral approach I would take towards a highly unlikely and overly convoluted family crisis; about my understanding and application of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in church life; and, a sermon – including all my research for it – on a fairly vague and controversial Scripture passage.

My entire graduating class took the exams at the same time, but, since they were graded by elders and pastors all over the country, we got them back at different times across several days. Mine didn’t come in the first day, and only one of the friends I had spoken to had passed them all, everybody else had perhaps passed three or four but failed the others. And you needed to pass all five or you didn’t become a pastor! And the second day mine didn’t come in: I was checking my box every hour or two… By then I’d run into a couple more friends who’d passed them all, but also several more who’d, again, failed one or two… I was holding my breath when I saw the paperwork filling my box late the afternoon of the third day. And I cried tears of awe and gratitude when I saw that I had passed all five…

Isaiah said that that would be something like the kind of relief and praise Judah would experience when the long night the Assyrians were bringing would finally end.

He compares the joy of that time to payday, and to retiremen (or to being an addict and getting and staying clean, or getting out of jail), and then to victory in war (for those of you who celebrated D-Day or for whom your spouse, parents, or children have come home safely from being deployed…).

Of course, there’s different ways people express joy: For some its very personal, dancing inside us, and all that shows is the ear-to-ear smile; for others, everyone around us gets to hear all about it whether they want to or not; and everything in between…

And, what would end Judah’s time of darkness and despair? What will be the cause of this great joy? A new King would be born, and His wisdom to rule well would astonish those around Him. He will be “El”, the all-powerful God of the gods; and not someone who would ever leave them orphaned but a “forever father”; the chief and champion to make Mankind whole and complete… And His reign would last forever. And under His rule life for the great ones and the nobodies of the Earth would be fair and just forever.

And the Bible tells us in Matthew 4:12-16, “When Jesus heard that John [the Baptist] had been arrested, He left Judea and returned to Galilee. He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah:

“‘In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the Sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.’”

And this is the time we live! We’ve sat in the darkness. We’ve known the captivity of sin and what it’s like to be terrified of death, right? Don’t you remember? (If you’re still in such a place, helpless against temptations and frightened of the unknown and being out of control, Jesus Christ wants to shine on you and set you free and lead you to rejoice in Him!) King Jesus has been setting men, women, boys, and girls free from sin and death and fear and shame for more than 2,000 years, and He can set you free, too!

And, like the report you’ve been waiting a month for that finally comes back, “No cancer!” and, like the way you felt when you asked her out and she said, “Yes,” and, like after years of trying, when the test unbelievably shows you’re really pregnant! the life of a Christian is that kind of rejoicing!

And not only do we have so many reasons to rejoice and celebrate Him and delight in our Father and Savior, but we’re commanded to: “Delight yourself in the LORD,” Psalm 37:4 says. The apostle Paul said of himself that he was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (2 Corinthians 6:10) And Nehemiah 8:10 commits to us, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Let me share some more Scripture about this. Deuteronomy warns: “If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you.” (28:47) (Any of us experiencing the reality of that right now?)

Psalm 33 begins, “Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise Him.” (v. 1) And Psalm 40:16, “May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You.” “The LORD reigns,” Psalm 97 proclaims, “let the Earth be glad!” (v. 1) And “let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!” (Psalm 105:3b)

With this in mind, have you ever noticed that our Father calls us, not merely to do mercy, but to “love mercy” in Micah 6:8? To do our “acts of mercy with cheerfulness!” Romans 12:8 charges us. To be cheerful givers, 2 Corinthians 9:7 says. And on and on.

Back in the 1600’s Puritan Richard Baxter wrote: “May the Living God, who is the portion and rest of the saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that loving Him, and delighting in Him, may be the work of our lives.” (Richard Baxter, The Saints’ Everlasting Rest [Grand Rapids, Mich,: Baker, 1978] p. 17)

Presbyterian Pastor Matthew Henry, who’s famous for his Bible Commentary, wrote: “The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.” (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 [Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, n.d., orig. 1708] p. 1096)

And the apostle Paul goes on, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) And King David, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Across the Word of God the Holy Spirit charges us to be and live joyfully, and so much so that those around us might catch our joy. (2 Corinthians 2:3) Even so, our Father’s given us so very many different reasons to rejoice!

Yet we all have bad days, don’t we? And there can be so much bad news around us. And others we care about or whom affect our lives can be nasty, and trip us up, and leave us anything but joyful. And if we set our minds on such things, and if we let anything but Christ rule our minds and hearts, no, we will not know very much joy. But when we put Jesus first…

If, when we realize that our thoughts have strayed from Him, and we find ourselves in the darkness of worry, fear, wicked thoughts, despair… If we’ll stop and set our minds on Him, and the cross, and all He’s done and all He’s promised…! How can our joy not return? Do you think we’ll be able to keep ourselves from praise? A joy and a praise that are like groundwater running beneath everything in our life, like an operating system, running along in the background giving hidden life and light to all our troubles and woes so that we don’t mourn or receive bad news like unbelievers: Because the Light has come, the new King has been born! And because He’s reigning, and because now life is fair with Him on the throne: Nobody’s yet getting their judgments or rewards, but everybody will, soon! And because His advice is always good, and because He’s so close and with us always.

I’m someone who can express my joy all “hoot and hollerin’,” but mostly I live my joy just “being before Him in wonder and awe”…

November 25, 2012 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

The Revelation to John 19:11-21 [NLTse]

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12 His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh[e] was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. 18 Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.”

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies.

Jesus spoke often about coming again. He said, “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” (Matthew 24:44) He said, “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am.” (John 14:3) As we read earlier, immediately after Jesus had ascended into Heaven, two angels said to the disciples, “‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring into Heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into Heaven, but someday He will return from Heaven in the same way you saw Him go!’” (Acts 1:11) Paul taught, “… the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16) The author of Hebrews wrote that Christ “died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him.” (Hebrews 9:28) James wrote, “…the coming of the Lord is near.” (James 5:8) Peter said, “…the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief.” (2 Peter 3:10) John wrote, “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him…” (1 John 3:2) And The Revelation to John has frequent references to Christ’s return, but ends with this promise from Jesus, “Yes, I am coming soon!” And John’s response, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (The Revelation 22:20)

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the dominant, living hope of the New Testament church. The verses we just read speak of a sudden return of Christ that will be dramatic and visible. (“As the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.” [Matthew 24:27] “…everyone will see Him…” [The Revelation 1:7]) Although it was once popular to believe that the Lord Jesus would not bodily return, but that merely His teachings- and lifestyle-of-love would return and overwhelm the peoples of the Earth, the passages we’ve just read are far too explicit to allow for that idea. It is not His teachings or His style of conduct, but “the Lord Himself” Who will descend from Heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16). It is Jesus Himself Who “will return from Heaven in the same way you saw Him go!” (Acts 1:11)

Several passages indicate that we do not, and cannot, know the time when Christ will return. Let’s open to Matthew 24:44. The Lord Jesus says, “… the Son of Man will come when least expected.” Turn the page to 25:13. Jesus goes on, “…keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of My return.” Keep turning to Mark 13:32-33. Jesus says, “…no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in Heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows. And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert!”

The practical result of the force of these passages is that anyone who claims to know the hour or the day or even the month or the year when the world will end and Jesus will come back is automatically to be considered wrong.

Even so, there are certain events that need to happen before Christ’s return. If you still have your Bibles open to Mark 13, good. If not, let’s open back to Mark 13 together.

1) In v. 10 Jesus says, “The Good News must first be preached to all nations.” (Mark 13:10) Has it been? In that first century Paul could write to the Colossians, “The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.” (1:23) Here in our day, with modern print and media resources along with the plus or minus six million Christian missionaries at work in the world, we could say, “The Good News has been preached all over the world.”

2) Look with me at Mark 13:7-8. Jesus says, “You will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.” In vv. 19-20 He continues, “There will be greater anguish in those days than at any time since God created the world. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, not a single person will survive. But for the sake of His chosen ones He has shortened those days.”

This has come to be called the “Great Tribulation”, this time of anguish and war and earthquake and famine, but a time of anguish greater than any the Earth has ever known. The first century knew times of horrific suffering for Christians and many people’s during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 66AD and during the periods of Christian persecution under emperors Nero and Domitian. And since the first century, there have been many periods of violent and intense persecution of Christians, and in the past hundred years much of it has occurred over large portions of the globe, with Christians being horribly persecuted in the former Soviet Union, in communist China, and in Muslim countries. I can imagine it would be difficult to convince the many modern-day Christians who have undergone decades of persecution for their faith, and who have know that persecution to affect thousands of other Christians throughout large segments of the world that such a great tribulation has not yet occurred!

3) Mark 13:22. Jesus says, “False messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.” Has this happened yet? Certainly demonic miracles and false signs have been done for centuries, at least since the time that the magicians in Pharaoh’s court produced false signs in opposition to Moses’ miracles (Exodus 7:11; 8:7), and since the time that Simon the Magician won riches, a name, and a following for himself in Samaria before Phillip, Simon Peter, and John brought to gospel there. (Acts 8:9-11)

4) In Mark 13:24-25 the Lord Jesus said, “At that time, after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” Although some have sought to explain this as simply symbolic language, contextually it is much more likely that such a shaking of the Earth and Heaven would be a part of the cosmic destruction often spoken of accompanying Christ’s return. These particular signs clearly have not yet occurred, and yet they could occur very quickly – within the space of a few minutes or at the most an hour or two – but nothing that should lead us to deny that Christ could return at any time.

5) Turn with me to 2 Thessalonians 2 for this next one. Paul writes, “Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ … that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God…” (Vv. 1-4) Antichrist this “man of lawlessness” is often called. Surely antichrist hasn’t come yet?

In the first century the Roman emperors Nero and Domitian were thought by many to be this “antichrist”: They claimed deity for themselves and demanded to be worshiped. More recently, Adolf Hitler was commonly thought to be the antichrist, as was Joseph Stalin. Although it is likely that a worse “man of lawlessness” will yet arise on the world scene and bring unparalleled suffering and persecution, the evil already perpetrated by so many world leaders across Christian history would certainly meet the Bible’s qualifications that antichrist has appeared and that this sign has already been fulfilled.

6) Lastly, Romans 11 speaks of the salvation of Israel as taking place before Jesus returns. Let’s turn there. In v. 12 Paul writes, “Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it…” (And down to v. 25.) “Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ. And so all Israel will be saved.” Some believe that Romans 9-11 speak of a future mass conversion of Jews accepting Jesus as their Messiah. Yet many others have argued that no such Jewish-conversion is necessary other than the kind already seen throughout the first century and the history of the church, since (if you’ll look with me up to vv. 1-2) Paul gives himself as an example of God bringing Jewish-Israel to Christ. So, perhaps this sign, too, is already being fulfilled as we hear of so many Jews receiving Jesus as their Messiah.

So, except for the spectacular signs in the heavens, it is possible that every sign the Bible speaks of needing to be fulfilled before Jesus returns for us has already been fulfilled, or is being fulfilled at this very moment. And the darkening of the sun and moon, and the falling of the stars, could occur within the space of a few minutes!

So I ask us, “Are we ready?” Are we ready for Jesus’ return? If you knew Jesus was going to appear at the end of this Worship Service, would you welcome that news, or would it make you nervous? Many have gotten into the habit of thinking that because He hasn’t come so far that maybe He’s not coming at all? The Scriptures won’t allow for that chain of thinking. He’s coming. He’s coming back. And because He’s coming at a time when we will least expect it, wouldn’t right now fit the bill? Are you ready? Are we ready?

Jesus is coming back for His Bride, the Church. Is there anything you need to change before He arrives? Anything you need to get into your life, or get out of your life as you expect His return? Are there any disappointments you’ve been facing that have been overwhelming you up until now, but if He’s coming so soon, now you know you can handle it all? Who do you need to be reconciled with whom you’ve been at odds with for too long now that you realize Jesus’ return is so near?

He’s coming back for us! Our protector and redeemer, Who’s bought us and saved us: He’s coming back for us! Let’s decorate our souls, turning “from godless living and sinful pleasures,” Paul writes to Titus. “We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” (2:12-13)

Our Husband is coming to take us to our true home. Let’s expect Him. Let’s prepare our hearts and lives for His coming. Let’s get ready. Let’s live always ready!

November 18, 2012 AD, by Pastor Ben Willis

1 Chronicles 29:10-13 [NLTse]

“O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may You be praised forever and ever! 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on Earth is Yours, O Lord, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One Who is over all things. 12 Wealth and honor come from You alone, for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your hand, and at Your discretion people are made great and given strength.

13 “O our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name!

A few years ago, a new book reached the #1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list. The book’s title was: “Final Exit”, by Derek Humphry, the director of the national Hemlock Society. It gives detailed instructions on a variety of ways to commit suicide. When a book is written about how to end your life, and it ends up on the best-seller list, you get the impression that there is something wrong out there. All of this in the wealthiest land in all the world, with more privileges, freedoms and possibilities than anywhere else, at any time. It speaks of how much we take for granted, and, it seems to me, how much ingratitude has poisoned our hearts. Americans have piled things on top of their pain, and found that all these things make poor anesthetics. Under all the luxury we are still more unhappy than many of those who live in abject poverty! Is there any more telling evidence that people are desperately in need of God? Can anyone come up with a more plausible explanation? Americans deny themselves nothing — except a relationship with our Creator.

We can see this in the lives of many television “stars” and music “idols; in many business moguls and political “elite”: How many of these so rich and famous get addicted to alcohol and/or drugs; or have affairs and gambling troubles; require all manner of sordid cover-ups and spin-doctors for their dark and shameful stories… They seem to have it all, yet their woes speak to an emptiness deep down inside that they are trying to fill. There is a hunger they cannot satisfy, and a thirst they cannot quench. Anyone here feel like that today?

In contrast, listen to the words of the apostle Paul as he described what his life was like: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). Paul’s life was filled with many difficulties which he could have complained about. How many of us would put up with constant stress, confusion, persecution, and beatings that left deep scars and permanent injuries, and still maintain a positive attitude?

But Paul had learned an important secret to life. He said, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, Who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13). He had learned the secret of not living life based on the conditions around him. His happiness was not based on situations, but on his relationship with Christ. He knew he had all he needed in Jesus, for it was Christ that gave him the strength to live.

In Christ, God the Father is saying to us: “Don’t wait to be happy!” Don’t postpone happiness until your situation changes, or you have acquired a certain thing. If you cannot be happy now you will not be happy then, for happiness is not a matter of what you have, or what situation you are in. It is a matter of who you are and how you respond to life. It is found within, and unless it is on the inside, all the things in the world on the outside will not make a difference. If you have been saying, “I’ll be happy when…,” then you will never be happy, because when that condition is met there will be a dozen more conditions to take its place. If you cannot learn to be happy now, you will never learn to be happy in spite of how much you have or achieve. If you are not content with less you will never be content with more.

The Bible says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Notice that it does not say “Prosperity with contentment is great gain.” Contentment comes from seeking God, not things. Jesus said, “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). As His very Own children God calls us to seek after Him the way we seek after other things in our lives. (And perhaps if we sought God the way we seek after these other things many of our problems would disappear.) We have been made in such a way that our relationship with God is the source of our contentment. Nothing else can take His place.

Ecclesiastes says, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (5:10). You could be the wealthiest person on the face of the Earth and not be content. Likewise,you could be dirt poor and be quite satisfied.

Contentment comes when you learn that this world can never satisfy you, but that satisfaction can be found in a relationship with God and living for Him. It is that relationship which provides us with meaning and security in this life, and an assurance of eternal life where all our deepest needs will be completely satisfied. The Psalmist, when thinking of Heaven, said, “I will see Your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing Your likeness” (Psalm 17:15). “You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). We can live through hardship or grief here, if it becomes necessary, because we are not expecting this world to satisfy us; we are looking to the world that is yet to come.

Author and theologian Henri Nouwen once wrote, “Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly.”

Thanksgiving reminds us of what we have and Who gave it to us. Thanksgiving takes our mind off our wants and focuses them on our blessings. Thanksgiving gives our hands a rest from our labor and allows to us lift them in praise. Thanksgiving gives our minds a rest from thinking about our problems and lets us remember how few problems and needs we truly have.

The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:7). That is why we can say, “This is the day the LORD has made; [we will] rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). We are content, we are happy because we are a people of thanksgiving. We are a people of thanksgiving because we have a God Who cares. He has made us, and He has made our world. He has made today and all our tomorrows. And out of the gratitude we feel toward Him for all His faithful goodness, we want to share the blessings.

Being thankful is an act of faith. It means you are unafraid to live and be happy because you believe that God truly cares for you and will provide for you. You trust He is faithful and that His promises are true. You believe He will never fail. And when you have a relationship with this wonderful God you have contentment, joy, and a desire to pass on what God has blessed you with. To thank is simply trust in action…

Share thanksgivings…

Let me close with a prayer from Bible scholar Matthew Henry. He had been recently mugged. The words of his prayer remind me of how very much we have to be thankful for that we can so often take for granted. He prayed: “I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.”

We have so much to be thankful for. Be thankful. Be thankful! Work at it. Revel in it! Be thankful.