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How to Have a Happy Holiday Season | A Deeper Look at Gratitude

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
November 23, 2023 3:00 am

How to Have a Happy Holiday Season | A Deeper Look at Gratitude

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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November 23, 2023 3:00 am

Every breath we breathe is a gift from God. For most of us, that’s about 20,000 gifts a day . . . over 7 million a year. So here on Thanksgiving Day, we have over 7 million reasons to be thankful! Glad you’re along today on A NEW BEGINNING as Pastor Greg Laurie takes a look at gratitude, and how it’s an important key to helping us celebrate the holiday season. When we thank God for His goodness, it reacquaints us with His love. Good insight is coming up; start listening!

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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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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. 1.06 verse 1 says, give thanks unto the Lord for he is good. Now if God ceases to be good, you no longer have to give thanks. You're off the hook. Now is God going to cease to be good?

No. So give thanks to God. Every breath we breathe is a gift from God.

For most of us, that's about 20,000 gifts a day, over 7 million a year. So here on Thanksgiving Day, we have over 7 million reasons to be thankful. Glad you're along today on A New Beginning, as Pastor Greg Laurie takes a look at gratitude and how it's an important key to helping us celebrate the holiday season.

When we thank God for His goodness, it reacquaints us with His love. Good insight is coming up. Two weeks ago, I was standing in line at a restaurant and some guy drives by playing Christmas music. I literally yelled out, it's too soon. Well, we can't stop it now.

It's like a runaway freight train, right? So it's time, the holidays here, celebrations, family reunions, all the parties, et cetera. And of course, we all know that for many, the holidays are a time that are filled with sadness, loneliness, and anxiety. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is a time of year that people experience a high incidence of depression.

One North American survey reported that 45% of the respondents dreaded Christmas. So I want to talk about how to have a happy holiday season, how to get a jump on the whole thing before it all begins, things that you can specifically do that will bring you joy and happiness in the Christmas celebration. And by the way, God wants you to have joy and happiness. There are more than 2,700 passages in the Bible containing words such as joy, happiness, pleasure, laughter, gladness, feasting, and celebration. God wants you to be happy. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be happy. And by the way, God himself is happy.

That surprises some people. They think of God being in a perpetually bad mood, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Jesus said in John 15, 11, I've told this to you to make you as completely happy as I am. Wait, Jesus was happy? How many religious paintings have I seen of Jesus smiling?

Very few. He always looks a little down, looks like he needs to eat a sandwich too, right? I don't know where this idea came of depicting Christ this way, but Jesus himself said, I want you to be happy just as I am happy. Now, of course, some would say, but the Bible says he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Well, that's completely true. And as he bore the cross for our sins and as he made his way to Calvary, that was certainly the case. But I think in general, Jesus would have a smile on his face, a twinkle in his eye, an accessibility. If that was not the case, why would children be drawn to him?

And they were. In fact, the disciples were trying to keep the children away. The kids wanted to be around Jesus.

Kids are a pretty good judge of character, right? They were drawn to him. He was happy and he wants us to be happy.

I think some people view God as angry or disinterested and they think he's angry with us, but that is not the case. Did you know that when God sees you, his face effectively lights up? What makes you light up? Maybe it's seeing your children come in or maybe it's seeing them walk out.

I don't know. Your relationship with your children right now. I think grandchildren, we could all say, if we're a grandparent, how many of you are grandparents? It's fun being a grandparent, isn't it? It's a reward for what our kids put us through. And now it's their punishment, too. Like, okay, now you're going to see what it's like, what we had to go through.

But, you know, your face lights up when you see a grandchild. God's face lights up when he sees you. God commanded the priest to pronounce a blessing on the people and that blessing went as follows. May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May he show you his favor.

There it is. So, how can we have a happy holiday season? I have four things to share with you. Number one, if you want to have a happy holiday season, this is a no-brainer, remember the reason for the season.

Remember the reason for the season. Christmas is a celebration of the happiest message of all time. The Son of God came to our planet, yes, to be born in the manger in Bethlehem, then to die on the cross of Calvary, and then to rise again from the dead. He came to change the world.

He came to change our lives and the angels said to the shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks by night, don't be afraid, I bring you good news that will bring joy to all people. But a lot of people don't have this joy because they're expecting Christmas to bring the joy. Christmas cannot bring the joy. Christ can.

See, that's the difference. It's important. It's not merriment, it's the Messiah. It's not presence under the tree, it's the presence of God in our life. So keep Christ at the forefront of your life this Christmas and you'll have a happy holiday. Number two, if you want to have a happy holiday, spend time with loved ones. In other words, don't isolate yourself.

Be with family and be with friends. USA Today did an interesting article on the topic of happiness and how to get it. They determined a number of things produced happiness, including this, quote, marriage makes people generally happier. A close family inoculates many kids against despair according to long term results.

And so their conclusion is families and friends provide the best antidote to unhappiness. And so that depends on what kind of a family you have, though, right? We all have weird members in our family, don't we?

Did it ever occur to you you're the weird member? You're the crazy aunt. You're the wacky cousin to someone. So we get together with family that can sometimes be challenging, but sometimes we can't get our family together at all. I heard about a couple that their children moved to New York City, their son and their daughter.

They would never come home for the holidays. So one day the father called the son in New York and said, Son, I have some really bad news. I'm sorry to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing. And the son said, Dad, no, no, no, you can't do that. Let me call my sister. Dad, we're coming home for Christmas. Do not divorce mom. The father said, OK, I'll wait until you come home. And then he hung up the phone and walked in and said to his wife, honey, good news. The kids are coming home for Christmas and they're paying for their own plane fare.

Great. That's one way to get the kids home. But of course we all don't have family to gather with. So that's where friends come in. And specifically that's where the church comes in. Because the church is your spiritual family. And sometimes you can be closer to a fellow Christian than you can be to even a blood relative. Right? And in a sense are we not blood relatives? We're blood relatives because we're all bought with the blood of Jesus Christ and we've been brought into the family of God.

Right? But yet the trend among some Christians is to go to church less, not more. And we should be doing the very opposite. And the reason for that is given to us in Hebrews chapter 10 where the author says, think of ways to motivate one another to accept love and good works. Don't neglect meeting together as some people do. But encourage one another especially now that the day of the Lord, that is the day of his return, is getting closer. There's so many reasons to gather together in person for a church. Number one, we gather together to receive something from God. Number two, we gather to give something to God. Thirdly, we gather to encourage one another with our shared faith and values. Fourthly, we gather to bless one another. We gather to work together and we gather to pray together.

That's so important. There's so much power in corporate prayer. More power than when we just pray by ourselves. In fact, Jesus said when two or more gather together in my name, I'm there in the midst of them. And you look at the book of Acts and when a crisis hit their church, what did they do? Because Peter was arrested and certainly was going to be put to death. And this is on the heels of the execution of James by King Herod. And so Acts 12 one, one of my favorite verses says, constant prayer was offered for him by the church.

By the church. The church got together and they prayed constantly for the release of Peter. And their prayer was answered in the affirmative. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. It's such a blessing to hear from listeners who take time to express their appreciation. Pastor Greg, I stayed up until midnight when Jesus Revolution dropped on Netflix. Since I'm a night owl, I watched it all the way through till almost 2 a.m. I loved it and especially the music.

In fact, I spent more time today listening to the soundtrack, which is really great. Thank you, Pastor Greg. Do you have a story to tell? If so, would you email Pastor Greg and let him know? Send it to Greg at Harvest dot org. That's Greg at Harvest dot org. Well today, Pastor Greg is offering a number of guidelines from Scripture that will add joy to our holiday celebrations. Let's continue.

Number three. If you want to be happy in the holiday, be grateful for what you have. If you want to be happy in this holiday, be grateful for what you have. Psychologists say, quote, gratitude has a lot to do with life satisfaction. Talking and writing about what they're grateful for amplifies the happiness of an adult.

Experts say savor even the small pleasures. It's really important to remind yourself of all that God has done for you because maybe you're down. You're down because something isn't going your way. You're down because there's a conflict here. There's a challenge there.

OK, that's true. And there will always be those problems and conflicts and challenges. But can you just stop for a minute and count your blessings? I mean, maybe you're there with your wife or your husband or your children and you have a roof over your head and you have a paycheck and you have a meal that you're going to have a little bit later. Sometimes we get so psyched for the big stuff we miss the little stuff and we're waiting for the big moment and we miss the in-between moments.

And I think the in-between moments are some of the best. The in-between moments, those little moments, instead of the big thing that you're building up to, just enjoy that meal with your family or that funny thing that just happened to you. Write these things down. Reflect back on those things. Give thanks to God. For the Christian, every day should be Thanksgiving, minus the turkey, of course. So last night we had some of our family over and we had a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. And my wife, she owns Thanksgiving.

I'm telling you, she owns it. It's just a hard meal to make, is it not? The turkey was perfectly brown and then it was moist inside. The mashed potatoes are great. Gravy, I love gravy. Gravy on everything, right? And then sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows.

That's what we do in our house. And then pumpkin pie. And then my wife, I don't know why, wanted to have pecan pie. I said, no one likes pecan pie.

How many of you like pecan pie? What? Okay. I stand corrected. But why? Really? I like the pecans and the crust, but what is that?

That stuff in the middle. Okay. Whatever.

How many of you like pumpkin pie? Raise your hand. Not them anymore. So I'm wrong on this, I guess. But anyway, so we have all these great things and enjoy it. But I literally got on the scale, I gained two pounds from one meal.

How is that even possible? But anyway, I digress, but we don't need to eat turkey every day, but we need to give thanks every day as a Christian. First Thessalonians 5 18 says, and everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. Sometimes Christians wonder about the will of God. I don't know what the will of God is. Okay. Here's the will of God.

Start here. Give thanks. In everything give thanks. Notice it doesn't say in some things give thanks. Sometimes it's easy to give thanks.

Like at the birth of a baby. Sometimes it's incredibly hard to give thanks. Such as the death of a loved one. That's the last thing we want to do is give thanks. But Psalm 106 verse 1 says give thanks unto the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever. Why should I give thanks to God? Because God is good.

Right? Now if God ceases to be good, you no longer have to give thanks. You're off the hook. Now is God going to cease to be good?

No. So give thanks unto the Lord for He is good. It doesn't say give thanks to the Lord when you feel good. I feel good.

Do you know? Because sometimes you don't feel good. Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever. I mean think of Job. Poor Job. He had no idea about conversations in heaven about him. He didn't know why the bottom dropped out of his life.

This was a faithful servant of God. And then one day everything that could go wrong went wrong. And then some more things went wrong. He lost his health. He lost his livelihood. He lost members of his own family.

But yet we read in Job 121 he said, Naked came I from my mother's womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

That's an amazing thing he did. We need to have a theology of thanksgiving. We need an attitude of gratitude.

We need to make the choice to rejoice. And sometimes praising the Lord is a sacrifice. You know when we come together for worship we are not always in the mood to worship.

Am I right? Maybe you had a little disagreement with the spouse coming in. Or you have a little cold.

Or you have a problem. I don't feel like praising the Lord today. But the Bible tells us to give the sacrifice of praise to God.

Hebrews 13, 15. Let's offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. The fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. So it is not just here in the heart. It is verbally expressing it.

God is saying I want to hear the fruit of your lips. Say it. It is like a wife wanting her husband to say he loves you. Well I think she knows I provide for her. No. And she actually wants you to say it. You mean actually say?

I love her? Yes. Say it. Thinking it isn't enough?

No. Well tell her she looks beautiful. Well doesn't she know I think that?

Maybe not. When is the last time you told her? Your wife wants you to express your love to her. Your husband wants you to express your love and appreciation to him. And our God wants us to verbalize our praise to him. Why? Because God is insecure? No.

Not at all. Because he wants us to do that. Because this is what we are wired for. We are told in Scripture that we should give thanks to the Lord and bring the glory that is due his name. Worship the Lord and the beauty of holiness and give him the glory that is due his name. The two most important moments in a person's life are number one when they are born. And number two when they realize what they are born for.

Let me say that again. The two most important moments in a person's life is when they are born and when they realize what they are born for. So what was I born for? I was born to be wild.

Get your motor running. No. Two 60s songs and one message.

What is going on? No. You are born to glorify God. When I was 17 I discovered, oh this is why I exist.

I wondered a lot about that. But when I heard about Jesus and asked him to come into my life I suddenly discovered I was born to bring glory to God. Pastor Greg, maybe someone has heard all you have said today about the joy of having a relationship with God. But they realize they have never taken the first step.

They have never come to the Lord and asked him to be their Savior. What would you say to them? I would say that is the most important decision you are ever going to make in your life. So I want you to stay tuned because I am going to tell you how to make that decision in just a few moments. Alright. You know Pastor Greg, Christmas is a time when people are a little more open to hearing about Jesus.

And we need to seize those opportunities. Well you have a holiday devotional book that will not only encourage us as believers but it will help introduce Jesus to those who don't know him. Isn't that right?

That's right. You know I am still thrilled when I am maybe in a mall or a store of some kind and they are playing the Christmas music. And yes they play the predictable, you know, Mariah Carey Christmas songs.

And I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But then you will hear Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel. And boy I tell you what, those beautiful old Christmas songs have the gospel in them.

And I love it. And that is really the essential message of Christmas. So in addition to those great Christmas hymns we love to sing this time of year, I have a brand new resource I want to send to you. It's a Christmas devotional. And it's called Heaven's Light Breaking. It's hardcover, beautifully designed. I know it's something you're going to save and you'll read it again next year and the year beyond.

Maybe you'll hand it on to your children or your grandchildren. So this is a beautiful resource that we want to put in your hands so you can focus on the essential message of Christmas. And it's called Heaven's Light Breaking.

25 devotions for the 25 days of the month of December. That's why I want you to order one right away so you have it in time to start enjoying. You can read it by yourself. You can read it as a devotional with members of your family and then talk about it afterwards.

It's very understandable. It's really something I think you're going to love. And we want to send you your copy of our brand new Christmas devotional, Heaven's Light Breaking, for your gift of any size. So listen, whatever you send, we'll take those resources and use it to continue to come your way with this radio broadcast that we call A New Beginning. So be generous when you order your copy of Heaven's Light Breaking. I trust it will be a blessing for you in this Christmas season.

Yeah, that's right. And thanks so much for your generosity here at this gift-giving time of the year. It's a pivotal time for the ministry as we determine how far we'll be able to reach out with the gospel in 2024. Your support helps us reach more people.

It's as simple as that. So when you send your donation, be sure to request Heaven's Light Breaking. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. Call anytime 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to Harvest.org. Well, Pastor Greg, let's speak to that person listening who wants to make a change in their relationship with God today. Yes, I'd be delighted to. Listen, as you've listened to this program today, maybe something's been happening inside of your heart where you're sensing, I need to do this personally, but how do I do it and what do I do? Let me help you. It's very simple.

In fact, it's so simple you may be shocked. God, this relationship with Him is just a prayer away. The Bible says if you will call upon the name of the Lord, you'll be saved. So I'd like to lead you in a prayer where you do just that. You call on the name of the Lord. You know, sometimes when I'm talking with someone one-on-one and they want to accept Jesus Christ, I'll have them pray a prayer after me. Maybe you'd like to do that right now. Thousands have done this over the years, listening to our broadcast, and the Lord has changed our lives.

And it can happen for you right now. This can be the moment where you change your eternal address literally from hell to heaven. I'll pray a simple prayer, and I would just ask you to pray this prayer out loud if you like after me. Just pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the Savior who died on the cross for me and rose again from the dead. Jesus, I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In your name I pray. Amen.

I know. It's such a simple, short prayer. But you just called on the name of the Lord, and you know what?

He heard that prayer, and if you meant that prayer in your heart, he answered that prayer. Now let me help you to get started on the right foot in your new life in Jesus Christ. The greatest adventure awaits you, the life of walking with God. I want to send you what we call a New Believers Bible, and it's a new living translation with a lot of notes on how to grow spiritually woven through this unique edition of Scripture.

And let me be the first to say to you, congratulations and welcome to the family of God. Yeah, and to get that free New Believers Bible, just ask for it if you prayed along with Pastor Greg to receive Christ today. We'll be glad to send it to you. Our phone number is 1-800-821-3300.

You can reach us anytime at 1-800-821-3300. Or just go online to harvest.org and click Know God. Well, Pastor Greg, Harvest Ministries is celebrating 50 years of ministry.

That's right. And here in this month of thankfulness, what are the things that make this Thanksgiving season particularly profound for you? Well, I would say the faithfulness of God. You know, we've had our twists and turns, we've had our storms, we've had our challenges, along with our blessings.

And one thing I can say is God has always been faithful, and I have found His Word is true. And I think that we should never rest on our laurels, and we should never settle for mediocrity. So we're always trying to innovate, we're trying to be creative. Our objective is to reach unexpected people in unexpected places with an unexpected message. Just know this, when you support our ministry, and I thank God for all of you that are Harvest partners and those that give to us faithfully on a regular basis, I want to say thank you and assure you that we will always do our best to not default to mediocrity, but to continue to find new ways to reach new people in new places with the unexpected message of the gospel. Yeah, that's right, and keep this outreach in prayer as we move into the new year, that God would use it in the future as He's done in the past. You can connect with us at harvest.org.

Find out about becoming a Harvest partner there at harvest.org. Well, next time, more biblical insights on how we can find happiness during the busy holiday season. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story. Leave a review on your favorite podcast app and help others find hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-23 05:04:52 / 2023-11-23 05:15:27 / 11

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