“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was written to celebrate some of the traditions many people take part in each year during the Christmas season. This song was released over fifty years ago but remains a much-requested song year after year.
The Christmas season is a great time to gather with family and friends for joyful fellowship, but for many people this is far from the truth. We have folks in our churches and communities that have recently lost dear family members, experienced divorce or separation, or had other chaos in their lives. We live in an imperfect world where things often get completely out of control, and all our certainties suddenly are anything but certain.
Joseph and Mary knew what is was like to have their world turned upside down. In Matthew chapter one, we read about how Joseph was getting ready to marry the woman he loved but was hit with unexpected news and struggled to get a handle on it.
We can only imagine how Joseph must have felt hearing that his future wife was going to have a baby that was not his. He had no idea what to do and was even considering ending his relationship with Mary.
Joseph decided to wait on the Lord. When circumstances come into our lives, we need to wait to hear from God. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
At this moment of hopelessness for Joseph, God stepped in. Remember, God always has a plan to bring good out of suffering. As we celebrate Christmas this year, we should celebrate the hope that comes with it. That hope is centered on Jesus Christ and why He came to earth. Let all your hope rest upon this truth.
Sermon audio for this sermon is available on the sermon audio page on this website, or at Hopeatheritage.com. Video is available on our church Facebook page.
I always read Philippians will a touch of amazement. How Paul could be so positive and excited when writing from prison I will never know.
Psalms 34:1 A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
This Thanksgiving, we can learn a lot from Philippians 4 that would keep us praising no matter what.
Eph 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be unto God, which always G3842 causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
II. Prayerful Praise vs 6
I believe the Lord likes it when we come to Him thankful. Sure we have request—but are we grateful?
Eph 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Thankful and trusting praying will go a long way in our life.
Rev 7:12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, G2169 and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
III. Peaceful Praise vs 7
Peace of God passeth understanding is hard for us to understand—duh!
“If I just understood better I could serve Him happier”
Probably not. We just think we would. If you can’t serve him not understanding, what is to say you will serve him when you do?
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace G1515 with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
IV. Perfected Praise vs 8
This beautiful list is praise perfected.
The key is our thinking.
This list is a great direction for our lives.
If you want a stable, fixed mind, the only place to get it is in the Word of God.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
V. Patient Praise vs 11
Contentment is critical to thanksgiving.
Content means this: independent of external circumstances
Greek word only used here in the KJV.
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
VI. Persuaded Praise vs 19
Are you persuaded?
Do you really believe that God can supply everything you need?
Does our lives reflect that?
I John 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
Are you persuaded enough to praise God for blessings that have not come yet?
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
We have a God worth turning to!
Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.
Psalm 100 says, “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name.”
These familiar words give clear evidence for the case of thankfulness. He is God, and really nothing else needs added. Simply be thankful for God Himself. David said in II Samuel 7:22, “For there is not like thee, neither is there any God beside thee.”
Not only is He God, but He is a good God. “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” While God’s goodness is constant and universal, it is good as a people and as a country to set aside a Thanksgiving Day to commemorate His goodness. God is good, God is merciful and God is faithful. Whether you were a Pilgrim, or you are a Baby Boomer, Millennial, or Generation Z, you are given reasons for thankfulness to Him. No matter what generation comes and goes, God’s greatness extends far beyond.
What a joy being made one of His people. He is our Creator, but He is so much more. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, which gives us plenty of reason to praise and thank Him. He is our Shepherd who provides for and guides us through life.
The Pilgrims had just gotten through a tough year in 1621. They had very little, but they were thankful. In 2019 many will gather around tables loaded with delicious food but with little thankfulness. Let us be thankful to a great God that has given us so much.
During this season of Thanksgiving, we should be thankful to God for all that He has done for us. I want to think specifically about being thankful for God’s mercy. Psalm 107:1 says, “O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
God has shown mercy to me many times. I think specifically about the time when I was in college. I was a typical college kid, staying up late and trying to make the most of my days. I was driving down Interstate 65 in central Indiana to meet my parents for lunch on a Sunday afternoon. I was approaching the exit for Columbus, Indiana—not to be confused with Columbus, TX, Columbus, OH or any other Columbus.
How I remember this exit so well is that it is unique with an arch. It is not a huge one like St. Louis, but it still makes their exit very distinct. I was looking at this arch while approaching, and that was the last thing I remember. I would prefer to not mention how fast I was going at this time—my kids will probably read this and I had rather they did not hear! I was driving in the fast lane with the cruise control on when I fell asleep. So sound asleep that I was actually dreaming and thought I was home in bed. What woke me up suddenly was the rumble strips making their “bump-bump, bump, bump” noise. I had crossed both lanes of traffic and was all the way off the road.
If I had stayed asleep a couple of seconds longer, I would have hit the Columbus bridge and probably gone out into eternity. I would have never gotten married, I would have never had children, and I would have never moved to Jefferson to have the privilege to minister these past thirteen years.
I give credit to the mercy of God! Psalm 105 tells us to make known God’s mighty works to all the people, and I give full credit to God for saving my life that day. Since that day, every time I drive past this exit, I bow my head and thank God for His mercy. Of course, when I am driving, I do not bow my head for long! I hope you get the picture—that arch in Columbus is a monument of God’s mercy to me.
What is your monument? All of us have them, and I pray that this will jog your memory this Thanksgiving to revisit your own personal monuments of mercy. Psalm 103:8 says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.”
Both commercially and culturally Thanksgiving is one of the most ignored holidays of the year. Sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, thanksgiving is not the most lucrative of seasons. Turkeys are not the most romantic birds (understatement of the year), so not much appeals to the advertisers and stores.
For many, Thanksgiving represents a time off work, stuffing with food, and watching football or shopping. This is most unfortunate, because thankfulness is truly needed in our lives. Because of the hubbub surrounding Halloween and preparation for Christmas, most sadly think very little about Thanksgiving and what it means.
Are you thankful? Americans have much to be thankful for. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
As a Christian we should show much thanksgiving for salvation. Psalm 34:2 says, “The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.” With salvation we get eternal life, a home in heaven, a new body, and a Heavenly Father--all in one package! That is something worth being thankful for.
Everything else in our lives is secondary to our Christian faith. I John 5:12 says, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” John Newton penned the famous words, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now I am found-- was blind, but now I see.”
This Thanksgiving season, how about we flip the script in our homes? Instead of treating thanksgiving indifferently, let’s truly show thankfulness for all the blessings that we have. It will be a difference maker in the individual members of our family. Who will be thankful?
Our safety is in God’s hands these days—we had better not forget that. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” I trust in God fully, but I would be a fool not to be thankful for another person who keeps us safe. This person is the American soldier.
Anyone that has ever had a friend or loved one deployed knows that that feels like to worry and pray over that person. Our veterans and active military sacrifice much to keep us free, and we should be thankful for every one of them. We should also faithfully pray for them.
We have several in our congregation that have served in the military. Through the years, some of them have opened up to me about their experiences. I have talked with soldiers in recent days that have nightmares every night and rarely get a good night’s sleep. In spite of that, they are not sorry for keeping us free. They would gladly do it again for freedom’s sake.
Unlike many in other countries, I went to bed last night in perfect peace. Other than trying to digest some late-night fast food, I slept fine and without worry of attack by foreign powers. Much of that can be attributed to our brave soldiers and military that keep us safe. Of course, as stated earlier, God is the ultimate safety in any situation. Psalms 4:8 says, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”
I love the song we sang at our church that says, “My country, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing; Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrims’ pride, From every mountain-side Let freedom ring.” The last verse tells us, “Our fathers’ God, to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing; Long may our land be bright With freedom’s holy light, Protect us by Thy might, Great God, our King.” I encourage you to thank a soldier for their sacrifice, and on your knees tonight to thank God for His ultimate sacrifice. We are very blessed this Thanksgiving season.
I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” It seems more and more that people are unthankful. In fact, it is more likely that you will hear people complaining today than being thankful. All around us are blessings, yet often what gets singled out are the negatives in our lives.
There is a song that we sing at church called, “Count Your Blessings.” The words go like this, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” In my youth my mother changed it to “name them ton by ton.” She was trying to teach that blessings are so abundant we are unable to name them all.
Is Thanksgiving season only about stuffing yourself with turkey, watching football or shopping? It should be a reminder of all that we have to be thankful for. Today, we woke up in a free country. Many people around the world did not. Our blessings include warm beds, central air and heat, and full shelves at the grocery store. We have churches to attend with padded chairs and people who love us.
If we start numbering the blessings of our lives instead of the curses, we will find that our spirit raises to a new level. Let us all plan more thanksgiving this week. It truly is a mindset that will change our lives.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything Thy goodness sends. For flowers that bloom about our feet; for tender grass, so fresh, so sweet; for song of bird, and hum of bee; for all things fair we hear or see. Father in heaven, we thank Thee!”
The Rural Texas Pastor sharing some encouraging thoughts from a small East Texas town.