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How to Have a Happy Thanksgiving: Gratitude in Challenging Times

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
November 25, 2020 3:00 am

How to Have a Happy Thanksgiving: Gratitude in Challenging Times

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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November 25, 2020 3:00 am

Some may find a day of thanksgiving more challenging this year. It’s been a year of trial and tension. It’s been one of uncertainty and unease. Some have suffered loss—great loss. But today, we’ll learn that thanksgiving springs from an attitude of obedience, it’s a choice to have a thankful attitude even in less than ideal circumstances.

Glad you’re along for A New Beginning today as Pastor Greg Laurie helps us exercise our gratitude muscles, given all the Lord has done for us.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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The following message from Pastor Greg Laurie is made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Hey, I want to hear from you. Would you consider emailing me? You can reach me at Greg at Harvest dot org. Again, that's Greg at Harvest dot org. And you can also make me one of your friends on Facebook and drop me a comment. It's important to have an attitude of gratitude. But coming up today, Pastor Greg Laurie points out it's important at all times of the year. Our rejoicing on Thanksgiving Day and really every day should not be based on what I have materially.

It should be based on who I know. Why? Because possessions, they come and go. Friends, they come and go. But God does not come and go. Jesus comes and he stays. When the lost are found, this is the day for a new beginning.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Again, you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day when life begins. Some may find the day of Thanksgiving more challenging this year. It's been a year of trial and tension.

It's been one of uncertainty and unease. Some have suffered loss, great loss. But today we learn that Thanksgiving springs from an attitude of obedience. It's a choice to have a thankful attitude, even in less than ideal circumstances. Glad you're along for a new beginning today as Pastor Greg Laurie helps us exercise our gratitude muscles given all the Lord has done for us.

It's the day, the day when life begins. Well, big day tomorrow, Thanksgiving. Yeah, got to love that Thanksgiving meal. How many of you like the Thanksgiving meal? You like it? How many of you don't really like it? Not everyone does it.

Well, you don't like it, get out, because that's un-American. No, seriously. Of course, you know, the early celebrations of Thanksgiving were different than what they are today. I read that actually they would have eels as a part of their diet, which is pretty gross. And I even read that they ate eagles, which to me seems sacrilegious, considering our bald eagle, the significance it plays in our nation.

And I emphasize the word bald, because that's the important part of the eagle to me. But I don't know about you, but I love stuffing. I love mashed potatoes. I like gravy on everything. We, Kathy, my wife does a special little thing with sweet potatoes and melted marshmallows on them.

You ought to try that. Those are very good as well. And of course, turkey. Little cranberry. Little cranberry is nice on this side, especially if it doesn't have the lines of the can in it still, right? It's even better if it's a little bit fresh. And then the turkey. I prefer white meat. How many of you like white meat in the turkey? How many of you like dark meat?

Right. How many of you like the drumstick? That's a big, gnarly drumstick.

You know, that could be a weapon if necessary. And there's only two drumsticks per turkey. I heard about an industrious farmer.

I've told you this before. But he wanted to make more money. And he said, I've got to figure out how to produce a turkey with more than two legs. So in his experimentation in his laboratory, he actually came up with a turkey that had six legs. Someone said, that's incredible.

How did it taste? He says, I don't know. I could never catch the thing.

Because six legs can't move quickly. These are the jokes, people. I don't have anything else for you. But if you brought your Bible, and I'm sure you did, I'd like you to turn in it to two passages. Psalm 100 and also we're going to be looking at 1 Corinthians 11. And the title of my message is, How to Have a Happy Thanksgiving. How to Have a Happy Thanksgiving. So tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving. And you know what's so great about this is it's a uniquely American holiday. It doesn't commemorate a battle or anyone's birthday or an anniversary.

It's a day literally set aside with the specific purpose of giving thanks to God Almighty. Don't believe what the revisionists tell you. Many of our founding fathers were very committed Christians.

Not all of them, but many of them. And even among those who were not strong in their faith in Christ, they believed the Bible was the Word of God. And they had a respect for God. And they understood that God gave us this great nation.

And so a day was set apart by our first president, George Washington, to give thanks to the Lord. Now fast forward to today. We don't even know what to do with it now. For many it's just this thing that's sort of in the middle of two big things we've managed to monetize. Starting with Halloween. Did you know that on Halloween Americans spent 8.4 billion dollars?

An average of 89 dollars per person. And of course at Christmas around 486 billion dollars will be spent purchasing presents, etc. But Thanksgiving is sort of in between.

It's an altogether different kind of bird. No pun intended. And for many it's just that little thing where we get together and stuff ourselves before we go shopping until we drop.

Right. Because it's all about Black Friday now. You see a lot more promotion for Black Friday than you do for Thanksgiving Day. In fact traditionally stores used to be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

But now many of them are open. We don't even call it Thanksgiving on many occasions. We simply call it Turkey Day. But I can tell you it's not a good day for turkeys at all.

But what is Thanksgiving about? Well originally as I said it was a day set aside to give glory to God. But for the Christian every day should be Thanksgiving minus the turkey.

Otherwise you're going to weigh a lot. But every day we should be giving thanks to the Lord. We should have an attitude of gratitude. In fact studies have been done that have revealed that when you have an attitude of gratitude your health will be better and you will actually live longer. A study was done that revealed people that gave more gratitude toward God and gave thanks for what they had. Had less heart issues. They had less aches and pains. And it affected their outlook on life. Dr. Robert Emmons of USC Medical School said, quote, gratitude blocks toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, regret, and depression which can destroy our happiness. End quote.

Interesting. So let's see now what the Bible says about Thanksgiving. I am going to be reading from Psalm 100. And it is identified actually as a psalm of Thanksgiving.

So read along with me. Shout with joy to the Lord all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before Him singing with joy.

Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us and we are His. We are His people.

The sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name for the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever and His faithfulness continues to each generation. Powerful psalm. There is a lot there. Psalm 100 was originally given to the people of Israel.

And we are looking at them together. They make the very long trek through the wilderness ultimately arriving in the promised land. And the Lord said to them, when you enter into the promised land and settle down in your homes and you have plenty to eat, don't forget Me.

Because I led you out of the wilderness and brought you into a land flowing with milk and honey. And this can happen very easily to us as well. You know when we are in trouble, when we are facing crisis, oh we call on the name of the Lord, don't we? But when things are going reasonably well and the bills are paid and everybody is healthy and we have food in our stomach, oh we can start to forget about God. So the Lord is saying, I want you to remember to give thanks to Me. They needed a reminder. And we need a reminder too where we receive communion together. That is a reminder that Jesus came to us. He said, drink of this cup and eat of this bread.

And why should we do it? He said, this do in remembrance of Me. We all need reminders in life. I have a reminder on my finger right now. It is my wedding ring. It reminds me I am married. There is also a woman that has been sleeping in my bed for decades too.

That reminds me. But apart from that I have this ring. Now this ring does not come off. Well basically I can't get it off. I need the jaws of life to get it off now because I have gained weight since I put it on.

No I can actually get it off. And I don't really need a ring to remind me I am married. But it is something that is there. It is a little reminder. And we might set an alarm to remind us to get up at a certain hour of the day. Or we will ask someone, hey remind me to do this.

Or don't let me forget to do that. So this is a reminder. And who is this addressed to? Verse 5, to all the earth and to all generations.

So this is not just addressed to Israel. It is addressed to all people and to all generations. It is to young people. It is to old people. It is to people in the middle.

It is to all generations. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hearing about listeners whose lives have been changed because of the radio ministry of A New Beginning is so encouraging. A New Beginning.

What a perfect name. Pastor Greg and staff, I am a proud mother of two and a fairly new born again Christian. I struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for many years but have been sober for some time now. I thought I had become close to the Lord but late last year something happened to me. Something I still to this day can't even put my finger on except to say I was completely attacked by darkness. My world as I knew it seemed to turn upside down. I felt completely alone and it felt like I had no one to turn to.

Even now just thinking about it, tears flow down my cheeks. In my absolute determination to stay out of my own head and the negative thoughts that seemed to be flooding it, I turned on the radio and began listening to your program. It was as if the Lord was speaking directly to me through you.

Your words were quenching a thirst I didn't even know I had. Sermon by sermon I began to feel God's undying love for me. I really believe that you all played a huge role in saving my life and bringing me closer than I ever could have imagined to the Lord. I want to say thank you with all of my heart.

I feel like you all are my family and I will forever have a place in my heart, in my mind, and on my radio. How have these daily studies in God's Word encouraged you? Why not drop Pastor Greg an email and let him know? Send it to Greg at Harvest dot org.

Do it today while you're thinking about it. Again that's Greg at Harvest dot org. Well we're looking at Psalm 100 today with Pastor Greg Laurie as we consider the importance of thanksgiving. I want you to notice something now about this psalm of praise. The message of giving thanks is given to us and not a word is said about things.

Nothing is said about things. In verse one you find the word Lord. In verse two again you find the word Lord.

Same with verses three and five. So here's a take away point. Our rejoicing on thanksgiving day and really every day should not be based on what I have materially. It should be based on who I know. Again this is not based on what I have. It's based on who I know.

Why? Because possessions they come and go. Friends they come and go. So does time. And in time even your health fails you. But God does not come and go. Jesus comes and he stays. And I love what it says over in Hebrews 13 five.

It says let your conduct be without greediness. Be content with such things as you have for he himself has said I will never leave you or forsake you. You know there's going to be so much pressure put on you right now to get the perfect gift for someone else. And for others you're hoping someone else will get that perfect gift for you. But I bet you can't even remember what you received last Christmas.

But it was such a big deal before that. So much of our focus on getting this thing and that will bring contentment or that will bring me what I'm really seeking. But God says no. Let your life be without greediness. Be content with what you have for he himself has said I will never leave you or forsake you. It's like David wrote in Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. If the Lord is your shepherd you shall not want.

And if you're always wanting wanting wanting I'd have to ask the question is the Lord your shepherd? So this is a focus now on what we should be doing this time of the year. And there are five thanksgiving commands. Five thanksgiving commands.

Here's thanksgiving command number one. Express your praise to God openly and loudly. Express your praise to God openly and loudly. Verse one. Shout to the Lord.

Let's just do that together. Let's say hallelujah on the count of three. One. Two. Three. Hallelujah.

Let's try it again but twice as loud. One. Two.

Three. Hallelujah. Ah that's good. That's shouting to the Lord.

Isn't that great? We rarely shout to the Lord. Or we'll shout at our team. Or we'll shout at the television set. Or we'll shout at each other. But how often do we shout to the Lord?

Actually it can be translated like a trumpet blast. The Bible tells us in Psalm 47 10. Shout to the Lord with a voice of triumph. So really what we're told in the Bible to do is verbalize your praise to God. Just as you have to express your love and affection to your husband or wife. And to your children.

And to your parents. So you should direct your praise to God verbally. Because he wants to hear you say it out loud. You say well doesn't God know that I love him?

Yes he does. But we're also told specifically in Scripture to verbalize our prayers and our praise. Hebrews 13 15 says offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually.

That is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. That's important because there are times that I don't want to shout praise to the Lord. I might be more in the mood to shout at God my complaints. But I'm told to do this and sometimes it is a sacrifice to bring my praise to God.

But I should do so anyway. And so that's Thanksgiving command number one. Thanksgiving command number two is to serve the Lord with gladness. Serve the Lord with gladness. Look at verse two.

That's what it says. Serve the Lord with gladness. Every Christian is called to service. Sometimes I think we falsely think that there are certain people that are quote called to ministry end quote. Oh they're called to be a pastor. That's their job. Oh they're called to be a missionary.

That's what they do. Or they're called to be a worship leader. Or they're called to hold a job over at the church. Well no that may be true but every Christian is called to serve God because God has given spiritual gifts to every believer. We're all uniquely blessed by the Lord with special talents and gifts. There are natural talents that God gives us. Some people are naturally athletic. Some people are naturally clumsy aren't they.

Accident prone even. Some people are talented and they can perform music. They can play instruments. Other people think they're talented and they can perform music but actually they can't at all. Some are artistic. Some are good at crunchy numbers. Some people sort of are big picture people.

Others are small picture people. But everybody has certain talents that God has given them. But then there are supernatural gifts that the Lord gives to us as well.

Spiritual gifts they're called. And we're to find those gifts, develop those gifts, and use those gifts in the church. In fact over in Romans 12 verses 6 to 8 Paul writes this and you can turn there with me if you want. But it says Paul writes, In his grace God has given us different gifts to do certain things well.

So if God has given you the ability to prophesy then speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you're a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, well be encouraging. If it's giving, then give generously.

If God has given you leadership ability then take that responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. Notice that phrase, do it gladly. Do it with joy. You know some people make serving God such a drag.

And I don't know why. I love doing what I do. I love to study. I love to preach. I love to encourage people. This is a passion from my heart. It's not merely a job though it happens to be that in some sense as well. But to me it's a privilege to serve God in any way that I can.

But some people take things that I think can be filled with joy and make them sort of a drudgery. You know I've told you before I have two imaginary characters. One is named Bobby Buskill.

And he's married to Debbie Downer. And wherever they go they just have a storm cloud brewing over them. So maybe you're sitting around the table having a good laugh and so Bobby Buskill says, you know really we ought to be praying right now.

Let's just pray. Well that's a good idea but did you have to say it that way? It's just the way they deliver it. A while ago I was over visiting our church in Maui and I went to a little restaurant I like there. And they have a great burger. And so I went in and I was standing around trying to decide what I would order. And I noticed someone ordered a hamburger. Some guy and I walked over to him and I said, that's a good burger isn't it? And he was getting ready to eat it and he said, yeah. And then his wife said, wait are you Grey Glory?

And I said yes. She said, my husband isn't a Christian. And in fact he really is misled and deceived. And I wonder if you would just speak to him right now. The guy's just holding his burger.

She was Debbie Downer for sure. I actually felt sorry for the guy. You know what I did? I just kind of patted him on the shoulder. I said, God bless you man.

Enjoy the burger. And I walked away. I thought there's a time and a place for everything. And that lady did not set me up for success.

Don't be that person. When you serve the Lord do it gladly. Don't do it as a mere task or as drudgery or do I have to? Do I have to read the Bible? Do I really need to pray? Oh to church again. Didn't we do that last month? Are we going again?

That's not right. No we serve the Lord gladly. The Christian faith is a happy faith because it's a hopeful faith. Because we have hope in this life and we have hope for the after life.

We just had Randy Alcorn out last Sunday and he's just such a wonderful guy. And he reminded us that God wants us to be happy. And he reminded us that we serve and follow a happy God. And that is given to us many times in scripture. In John 15 11 Jesus said, I have told you these things to make you completely happy as I am happy.

I love that. Because we don't think of Jesus as a happy guy. We think of him as sort of a sad guy. A man of sorrows unacquainted with grief as Isaiah 53 says.

But that was describing how Jesus felt when he was about to carry the cross and bear the sins of humanity. But he wasn't always a man of sorrows unacquainted with grief. He was a smiling person. A joyful person. A happy person. The happy God. Pastor Greg Laurie with insights on the character of God as he presents the five thanksgiving commands we see in scripture.

And obviously we have three more to go which we'll consider next time here on A New Beginning. But if you missed any part of what Pastor Greg brought us today you can catch up by listening online at Just look for the message called How to Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Or even have a CD sent your way by calling 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Don't miss out on this good insight. And then we're so happy to make available a new resource from Sally Lloyd-Jones called The Jesus Storybook Bible, A Christmas Collection. And you know Pastor Greg, I'm looking at Sally's thoughts for each day of Advent and on December 4th I see the title for that day is A New Beginning.

Where have I heard that before? I don't know. It sounds like it could be the name of a radio show.

A good program, as far as I can tell. Yeah. Don't you think that's a little self-serving to make that statement, since you're the host of A New Beginning? Well, we're glad that Sally Lloyd-Jones, the author of The Jesus Storybook Bible and this new wonderful resource we're offering called The Jesus Storybook Bible Christmas Collection is with us in studio. So Sally, in this time of year when everything's changed because of the coronavirus, I think it's more important than ever to return to the real essential message of Christmas, which there's many things we could say, but a very important part of that message is that we're not alone in this world and that God is with us.

You should call his name Emmanuel, which means God is with us. How could this resource, how could this book reading this to our children help them to understand that maybe in a new way or maybe in a way they've never understood before? Well, I think tracing God's beautiful redemptive rescue plan from the very beginning, which is what you basically do throughout Advent, starting with creation, the fall, all the way through to the rescue of being born, I think it will help them. My prayer is that it will help them know in this time when they feel alone and who knows how children are really processing this?

Children tend to think it's their fault, everything. So who knows on what level, but the Lord knows and he can speak to them. So my prayer is we provide the resources. We tell them the story and that God would use whatever he can to reach their little hearts to let them know he visited this planet for them. He says he's so delighted in them that he would move heaven and earth just to be near them. I think if they know that, that God loves them that much, that he would do everything to be close to them. I think it will give them strength and a rock to get through this time. Absolutely. So if you want to have a copy of this to read to your children, to your grandchildren, and bring them that assurance and comfort in this Christmas season, then order your copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible, a Christmas collection of stories, songs, and reflections for the Advent season written by our guest Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jay Go, narrated by the outstanding actor David Suchet. You're going to love this.

Yeah, that's right. And we'll be happy to send this your way to thank you for your investment in making these daily studies possible. It's such an important time to bring God's Word into the homes and hearts of listeners all across the country and even around the world. And your investment helps us do that. One listener commented, I turned on your message to calm my anxiety this week. Thank you for your godly wisdom and for focusing my life back on the prize of God.

You have calmed the anxiety in my soul. Well, thanks for helping us bring the peace that passes understanding in these difficult times. And when you send your investment today, we'll be glad to thank you with the Jesus Storybook Bible, a Christmas collection upon request. And today is our last opportunity to mention this resource. So contact us today at A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call around the clock 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to Well, next time, as mentioned, Pastor Greg returns to complete the five thanksgiving commands from the Bible. Hope you'll join us next time here on A New Beginning with Pastor Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. The preceding message from Greg Laurie was made possible by Harvest Partners. Helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for Pastor Greg's free daily email devotions at
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-21 15:02:10 / 2024-01-21 15:13:36 / 11

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