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Thanksliving

I Thessalonians 5:16-18: 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

INTRODUCTION

When some think about thanksgiving they generally think about 3 things: Family, Food, and Football! WHAT? Yes, I’m serious. When they think of that 4th Thursday in November, those are the first things that pop in there! It is traditionally a day of being thankful for the stuff we have!

And that is the world’s perspective of thanksgiving. That could also be the reason why it is limited to a once a year event and to those things that are tangible.

In this passage, Paul tells us that true thanksgiving is a life of daily thanksliving. Paul tells us in these 3 verses to remember a few ways we can apply thanksliving in our daily life.

I. REJOICE ALWAYS ……..V. 16

Rejoicing is not always about being happy! It is about being joyful! People are naturally happy on some occasions: Birthdays, Anniversaries, heading to Disney World, are all things that make us happy! Joy is not natural, but rather supernatural.

Christian’s joy is not dependent on circumstances. It comes from what Christ has done. It is constant – does not fade away! The lesson for the church is for us to be joyful! Because it is through our joy that we are able to allow ourselves to praise the Lord in good times, and not so good times!

II. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING……..V. 17

Why is it important to pray without ceasing? It is the only way to cultivate a joyful attitude in times of trial.

It does not mean we should be on our knees 24/7!!! But that our hearts should be willing to be in constantly recurring prayer, growing out of a dependence on God. That means lifting our hearts to God whether words are uttered or not. But also allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us in all situations.

Lesson for the church is prayer is our most powerful but the most unused resource. Often, we use prayer to manipulate God and easily give up when God doesn’t answer the way we feel is right. The primary purpose of prayer is NOT to change ourselves, NOT to change our situations, but to RESPOND BACK to our Creator. It seems basic, but that’s what it’s all about—building our relationship with God. 

Now Paul is about help us experience that Rejoicing Always and Pray Without Ceasing pave the way for Giving Thanks!

III. GIVE THANKS……..V. 18

People of God thanked Him for everything! Why should we give thanks to God? Everything we have, our family, job, house, finances, friends…they are all blessings given to us by the Lord. All those experiences we gain, all that is good, and even some of those things that can test us…He is present in them! Because even our problems are temporary parts to God’s larger plan for our spiritual well-being.

Lesson for the church is to ask God to forgive us for ignoring Him in our life-by not giving Him thanks all the time. We need to make thanksgiving and thanksliving a habit in our lives all the time. We should not wait for a special day, but make it a daily practice.

CONCLUSION

Therefore, we should start thanksliving because it is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus. Thanksliving is appropriate for every circumstance of daily life. It can abound in any aspect of human life. It will activate the joy of the Christian life. Because true thanksgiving is a life of daily thanksliving. Happy Thanksgiving and Thanksliving to you all!!!

Pastor John Punni, II

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The Wild Goose

By Pastor Chris Symes
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Twice in the last month or so the Holy Spirit has showed up in worship and interrupted my sermon.
 
The first time occurred in the Branch service some weeks ago. Brad, as he usually does at the beginning of the service being the worship leader, greeted us gathered there in his usual friendly and down-to-earth way. And he prayed as he usually does, inviting God to be present with us and to open our hearts to experience His power and glory. Only that morning, he confessed he felt a specific sense that there were those present who needed healing. This is interesting, because all week I had been thinking the same thing. I had felt a prompting to pray for healing in worship. In fact, I asked God that morning to show me some sign or confirmation that this was from Him and not just my idea. Well, I certainly got it! We continued on after Brad finished his prayer, singing a few songs. Then came the time of prayer. I shared my own discernment about the need to pray for healing, and so we prayed for one another. I began by asking if there were any who would like prayer. Hands immediately raised. We gathered around each of these people, laying our hands on them, interceding. Different people prayed at different times. Tears were shed. One person confessed that if we had not done this he would not have come forward for healing. We prayed for four people that morning. It was a simple thing, but there was a distinct sense among everyone that all of it was being orchestrated by the Spirit.
 
The second time came this past Sunday in our Classic service. I was preaching on Jesus’ parable commonly known as “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” in Luke 15. At the beginning of the sermon, I noticed a woman sitting in the back who I had never seen before. Glad she was there, I continued. About three fourths the way through, as I was preaching about “the older brother” in us, this woman raises her hand and shares that she has a confession she would like to make. To make a long story short, she bravely comes forward and shares her story with the whole congregation, specifically how she is on her way to see her mom with whom she has a broken relationship. This might be extraordinary in its own right, but what was truly amazing to me were the parallels between her story and Jesus’ parable that I happened to be preaching from that morning: broken relationship with a parental figure, inheritance, gone for many years, an older sibling. This woman truly was a prodigal at this point in her life who just happened to stop in to our church to find some gas money to go see her mother. All of this had to be the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. We prayed for her, and I wrapped up my sermon quickly. We spent some time with her after the service, and we helped her. People were moved by the experience.
 
Now in both these situations things did not go according to plan. In both these services I had to let go of my sermon specifically in some way. In the first, I abbreviated my sermon because of our extended time of prayer. In the second, I was unable to land the sermon the way I had planned. Now I am not complaining. When God wants to change your plans, it’s always a good idea to let God rather than fight God. But it’s not an easy thing to do. It has been said before that the Holy Spirit does work from time to time outside of our plans. When I think of the Holy Spirit’s work I often think about what Jesus says to Nicodemus in John 3:8: “The wind [same Greek word used for Spirit by the way] blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” The Spirit works in the ordinary, doing supernatural work that we often don’t see in our lives and in the world. We should never underestimate the Spirit’s presence in normal every day life. However, the Spirit does work in “wild” ways too. In fact the Celtic Christians called the Spirit “the Wild Goose” for this reason. He will always glorify Christ and move within the bounds of Scriptural truth of which He inspired the writing, but His means of doing so may surprise us. I believe the Spirit works outside of our plans from time to time, because we are often so hard pressed to push our own agendas. No matter how well-intentioned, we sometimes don’t leave room for God to work his plans. So, as uncomfortable as it is, it is a grace when the Spirit takes control in even wild ways.
I rejoice that we are seeing the Spirit move in our church, even disrupt in our church. He is forming us to be an ever more faithful community, obedient to God. Moving forward this leads us to a willingness to surrender our expectations, an openness to hear the voice of God through Scripture and prayer, and a willingness to obey the Spirit. I see him working in our various feeding ministries, among our kids, in our youth, in our bands, in our Sunday School classes, in the one-on-one discipleship relationships happening, and at our Dinner Church worship services. The Goose is on the loose!