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November 23, 2021 5:00 pm
Now you know I have been a follower of Jesus for 43 years and during that time when things have gotten really tall. I have found great wisdom in the words of an old hymn that goes like this. When upon life billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost count your many blessings name them one by one on and it will surprise you what the Lord has you know the course sing it with me at your blessings name them one by one, come on, count your blessings.
See what God has gone to your blessing. Name them one by one on Count your many blessings see what God has not. Give yourselves a hand that was great. How was God. Okay, now I learn from the words of this song I how amazing it is that our perspective changes when we take our eyes off of our problems and we put our eyes on all of God's blessing that he's given us, and over the years, I have a list at home that I keep of all the many blessings that God has given to me the things I'm thankful for and I add things so that list from time to time and when I take that list out and I look over it may, and it just really lifts my heart. It just really blesses my my life and it lifts my spirits and so I did that this week Thanksgiving week and so decided that I would share a few of the items on that list with you today and so the title of the message today is nine things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend and you go nine you'll never make it. Oh yeah will watch yes I will. Here we go number one, I'm thankful. First of all, for 43 years ago I came to Jesus Christ at 43 years ago I responded to God's invitation in the Bible and here it is. Revelation 2217, whoever is thirsty. The Bible says let them come and whoever wishes, let him take of the water of life freely. The Bible repeats this invitation in Isaiah 55, all you who are thirsty, to the waters and you have no money, without money and without cost and in John chapter 6, verse 37 God makes us a wonderful promise if we will come to him. Jesus says whoever comes to me I will never cast out you know 43 years ago. I have long hair.
I had dirty clothes. I had a dirty mouth.
I had a dirty mind. I had a dirty life.
I was using go.
I was pushing go.
I had no morals. I had no ethics. I had no character and I had no honor. I was a liar. I was a cheater and I was a fee but you know what, in spite of all of that, I was still a whoever and what is the promise of the Bible. Whoever comes to me.
Jesus said I will never cast out, and I am so thankful that in 1971 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The Holy Spirit removed the blindness from my eyes. The Holy Spirit convicted me in the my heart of my need for Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit brought me to true repentance in my life and the spirit of God gave me the good sense to come to Jesus Christ and accept what he did for me on the cross as final and total payment for my sin and I'm so thankful that as a result of that the Lord Jesus did what he said he didn't cast me out. A man I'm telling you, man. I'm thankful for that. It just let me say if you're here. If you're here and you've never come to Christ in that way. I want you to listen to me, God's offer to you is just as good today as it was to be 43 years ago and God's promise that he will never cast you out is just as good today as it was 43 years ago and what God wants you to do is to come to him. You don't need to pick yourself up.
You don't need to dress yourself up. You don't need to clean yourself up and you don't need to pick yourself up. You just need to come to the cross and except the but the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as payment for your sin and come to Christ and the Bible says he will never cast you out friend. I promise you, you do this and it will always be the tree topper on your list of things that you are thankful for the rest of your life number two I'm thankful.
Second of all that because I came to Jesus Christ my eternal destiny is settled.
Jesus said, John chapter 10 my sheep you're my voice and I know them and they follow me and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, nor can anyone snatch them out of my hand. The Bible says.
First John 511 and this is the record that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his son. He who has the son has eternal life, you say it any simpler than that. When I accepted Christ into my life. I got the sun in the my life and once the son of God was in my life I have eternal life, and all the eternal live. I never got I have I got right now. Jesus said, my eternal destiny is settled for ever.
You know when we were in Israel a few years ago on a tour, we arrived in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon.
Shabbat, of course Friday night for the Jewish people and that we had a couple of people on the tour who said where we were staying at a hotel right across the street from the great synagogue in Jerusalem. One of the largest in the city and they say we never been to a synagogue service before. Would you mind if we go over an arsenal of course not. And so they went across the street to the synagogue and when they came back for dinner.
I said to them, you know what you think and they said well one man said it was it was different. You know it's like they went through all these road prayers and all these ritualistic things they did.
But, like at the end of the service as is like nobody had any greater idea what was going to happen to them after they died than when they started and I said bingo man I said bingo friends. There are millions of people, not just Jewish people all around the world today going through all kinds of religious rituals and even nonreligious rituals and after it's all said and done they don't have the slightest clue what's going to happen to them. On the other side of the grave. I am so thankful that I have Jesus's promise that my eternal destiny is settled for ever. Praise the Lord. Number three.
I'm thankful that I yeah you clap for that is important.
I'm thankful number three that I have a reason for living that transcends the greater you know were smart enough to know that everything this world system tells us to live for fame, money, power, notoriety, piling up material stuff friends. None of that's going beyond the grave with you and me. I love you Col. Sanders of Kentucky fried chicken fame said.
He said what good is it if you're the richest person in the cemetery and he's right. You know what I'm so glad that in Jesus Christ we get a reason for living the transcends of the cemetery as followers of Christ we are living to serve Almighty God every day. As followers of Christ we are living to be ambassadors for Jesus every single day and every Christlike action. We do here on earth generates eternal rewards for us in heaven. This is why this the apostle Paul said, and we learn this verse we memorized it together earlier this summer.
First Corinthians 1558. Therefore, be steadfast in movable, always abounding in the work of the Lord say it with me, for you know that your work is not in vain in the Lord why is that I work in vain in the Lord. Well, it's because on the other side of the grave God's gonna reward our work on the other side of the grave God's gonna reward our living for him.
That's why waking up folks every day to serve myself and pileup junk from my cell is a miserable reason to live, but waking up every day to serve the living God, and to generate and pileup treasure in heaven. I want to tell you now that's worth getting up for in the morning, number four. I'm thankful for that.
God is in absolute control of every detail in the universe, Jesus said Matthew chapter 10 are not two sparrows sold for a penny, meaning they're not worth much, yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from the will of your heavenly father God controls the world down to that level. Jesus said why even the very hairs of your head are numbered, so don't be afraid. And I am so thankful that I have God's absolute promise that I am not the victim of some random senseless universe, no. But God assures me that he is an absolute control of every twist, every turn, every event that enters my life and more than that, that all of these twists and all of these terms have already been integrated into a flawless plan for my life and for my good.
Jeremiah 2911. The Bible says, for I know the plan I have for you, says the Lord. A plan for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope and a tiny thing. I really like about this is that God doesn't make this plan up as he goes along. You know he doesn't suit her up in heaven. Next to Gabriel and go okay now this happened to George and that happened to George and this is happened to George and gave her what he think we ought to do next ritual now, no, no.
Psalm 139 says that all the days ordained for me were written in your book, God's book before there was one of them in time and space friend before you ever breathed your first breath on this earth before you ever came down the birth canal and introduce yourself to your mother before all about happen God's plan for your life was already done every detail down to the tiniest thing was already planned out and everything that's happening in this world is just fitting into that plan for good man am I thankful for that.
Number five. I'm thankful number five that God gave me a roadmap to show me how to live a safe and healthy life. We call it the BRI BLE. The Bible Psalm 119 verse 105 says your word, the Bible is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. It goes on to say, your commands have made me wiser than my enemies.
And I have more insight than all my teachers because I meditate on your statutes.
You know in Israel. I don't know how much you know about the politics of Israel. But up until 1967, of the goal on the heights overlooking the sea of Galilee was controlled by the Syrians and they used to shell artillery shells down to the Israeli communities down around the Sea of Galilee. But in 1967 the Israelis conquered the goal on heights as part of the Six-Day War and are they now control and will. Every year we go to Israel.
We go up on the goal on heights to a place called courtesy where Jesus cast the demons out of Legion. The demoniac, but on the way up. We drive by these fields that are all so surrounded by barbed wire and they have big yellow signs where it says in Arabic and Hebrew and in English danger minds MINES minds and what they're talking about is landmines that were put in these fields by the Syrians and the Russians in the early 60s when they controlled the goal on heights and these signs are warning people don't go in this field. There are live minds and here now without exception every year a few towels and a few wild animals wander in their and get themselves blown up.
You say, why don't they just go in there and clean these fields out was real simple friends. They don't have a map of where the mines are in these fields theirs wrote no roadmap to walk them through the field and sale minds here minds here minds here. It is just way too dangerous to go in there trying to find those minds and every time we ride by one of these fields, I remind myself you know what lawn life is just like that field. It is full of minds all kinds of places that people step on all the time and blow their lives, how glad I am the God is given us a roadmap through life and folks. If we follow this roadmap if when God says do this do this do this. We do, and when God says don't do this, don't do this, don't do this, we don't. You know what you cannot step on her mind and blow yourself up if possible I need one of these to get through this life. I don't know about you but I need a roadmap and what to God all others listen to it more than we do.
All right number six.
I'm thankful number six for God's promise that in the end. True justice is going to prevail in this universe. Galatians 67 says do not be deceived. Nobody makes a fool out of God for whatever a person sows that's precisely what they're going to re-and I think we understand God saying here don't we, God is saying is that if you could so unrighteousness injustice, evil unkindness, and every kind of ungodly behavior and then re-blessing that God would be a fool and God says nobody is going make a fool out of me if you so good things, honest things, righteous things just things yeah you can reap good things.
But if you so injustice and evil you are going to read the rewards of that common to see to it. God says because you're not making a fool out of me and I love how Jesus put this he said in Luke chapter 12 verse three.
Whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light and what you have whispered in the inner room shall be shouted from the rooftops. I was driving along talking about why friend about this first and she said you know that's kind of a scary verse and I said well Brenda, it all depends what you said in the dark. It all depends what you did and whispered in the inner room if what we said in the dark and in the inner room are good things, righteous things, godly things holy things. This verse is in scary. This verse is exciting because it's going to be seen publicly, but if the things we did in the inner room are not so nice and there evil in their scheming and their treacherous yeah it is a scary verse it's all about what we did in the inner room and you know I gotta tell you, folks, that it really discourages me sometimes here in Washington DC to see people do things that are unkind that are untrue that are unfair and then see them get away with it just because I got a lot of money just because I got a lot of influence and a lot of power and it bothers me, and I'm sure does. You to see injustice in our world and unrighteousness in our world and see people get away with this, as though they're never going to be held accountable. But let me say to your friend. This is just a temporary situation because we have the promise of God's word that when all the dust settles in eternity every single thing is going to be made right. Nobody is getting away anything.
Boy I tell you what, I am so thankful for that demand a man all right number seven. I'm thankful that God gives sufficient grace for everyday you know what Paul was talking to the Lord in second Corinthians 12 about his thorn in the flesh.
We don't know exactly what that was but it was some common physical malady. We think, and Paul says three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me and the Lord said no is that I'm not going to do it.
Paul, my grace is sufficient for you, I'm not going to take your problem away.
But what I'm going to do is I'm going to give you sufficient strength, sufficient stamina, sufficient grace and wisdom to be able to walk through it. Boy I'm sure glad the Lord offers to give that to us. You know this Thanksgiving week. Just this past week. Brenda and I went down and spent the week with my youngest son John and his wonderful wife Kristin and Dora North Carolina and our two youngest grandchildren, Natalie, Stu and Catherine is four months old so we were there all week and the body by Thursday. You know about Thanksgiving day we had played every game known to man.
We had colored every piece of paper in the house that we have read every book in the house.
We had done it all and so then on Thanksgiving day as we were finishing the meal. My wife Brenda said to John and Kristin said hey why don't y'all go out to a movie together and lawn and watch the children is like what brought you know was already like out of her mouth. You don't like I couldn't get back in. So they said all Greg sure they put their coats on the draft they went so I was like okay well there was one good thing about it. Catherine the four-month-old was sleeping so I thought well you know what this will be too bad we'll just kinda double-team Natalie and it will be all right. Honestly cannot cannot be honest with you, confession yeah honestly, what I really thought is that Brenda could watch Natalie and I could lay on the couch and watch football.
That's what I really thought, but I didn't dare say that well anyway, 15 minutes after they were gone. Guess who wakes up.
Yeah, and she woke up in a really rotten mood and she screamed. Catherine did for over an hour nonstop absolutely screaming and nothing nothing nothing you could do could stop this baby from screaming. I tried everything. Meanwhile, little Natalie is going Mimi. Can we draw Mimi.
Can we play Mimi. Can we get a piece of paper, Mimi can we color meaning. Can you read to me and she's doing that and I'm watching his baby and I tried everything with his baby.
I tried walking this baby. I tried bouncing this baby.
I tried holding his baby iPod role in this baby, you know, like on the floor. You know roller over little bit and maybe you know why.
Nothing else was working, I thought maybe she might just enjoy little activity on the floor that not been more so we're about 1/2 an hour into this and Brenda says to me, how long do you think the movie is that I don't know.
I'll look it up on the Internet. So I went to the Internet looked it up. This is a three hour movie.
Oh my gosh oh my gosh, we just settle Lord Jesus give us strength when those people got home. We handed one baby to one of and one baby to the other one we said let us pray with you because it's time for us to go and that's right we did and we headed back to the hotel and as we were driving back to the hotel for a moment. Nobody said anything and finally I said to Brenda I said how did we do that, you know, we had three boys and then we layered on top of that my daughter with disabilities in all of her needs and how in the world did we ever do that and I love my wife answer she said long God gives grace that's true God gives grace we needed three hours a grace on Thursday and we got it barely, but we needed years of grace raising our family and you know what we look back now, God gave it to us. Some of us you know were not out of all that. Yet some of us have raised our children but now were caregiving our parents or some other relatives that really needs care.
Some of us have special needs children with disabilities that were to be taking care of them and needing special grace all of our life. Some of us have jobs when we walk into that job. We need the grace of God. When we walk into that job and focus it, let me just tell you the thing I'm so thankful for is that the grace of God is always sufficient. I don't care how big the need God's grace is bigger a man is bigger than we had. We have this the words of the hymn that we taped in our bathroom back in some of the toughest days of of our lives and it's still there, and here's what it says it says he giveth more grace when our burdens grow greater, he send is more strength as our labors increased to added afflictions he added his mercy, to multiplied trials his multiplied peace. When we have exhausted our store of endurance, when our strength is failed here. The day is half done. When we reach the end of our hoarded resources our father's full giving is only begun in the chorus says his love has no limits to his grace has no measure.
His power has no boundary known unto man, for out of his infinite riches in Jesus he giveth and giveth and giveth again folks, no matter how great the need God's grace is greater depend on it and I'm thankful it's always there.
Number eight. I'm thankful number eight for the privilege that God has given me to lead McLean Bible church for the last 34 years on thankful for you as a church family for all you wonderful people for having put up with me and having love me in spite of myself and having given me the tremendous privilege and honor of leading this church for the last three decades and I just want you to know I do not take this for granted. This is been one of the greatest privileges in my life and I am so thankful for it. So thank you for that very much.
I appreciate that.
Thank you. Number nine and finally I told you I'd make. I am so thankful for Brenda my wife of 39 years and Proverbs 1914 says houses and well are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is a gift from the Lord and I want to tell you 39 years ago when God gave me the gift of Brenda. I had no idea what he was really given me back then but I do now. She is been a faithful, loving wife and amazing mother. I think pretty much a near-perfect pastor's wife and she has been true north for me for the last 39 years, you know I will come to her and I'm headed east on headed south on headed west. I'm going in every direction and Brenda, without exception, whether it's fiscally or spiritually, or just common sense. She is always pointed true north and she will say no long, know that is not the way we ought to do it and sometimes I hate that because I want to go west or south or ease, but no, that woman is always on true north and what a blessing it is been in my life to have a person like that on our Israel trip this past fall.
A gentleman came up to Brenda and said you know Brenda now that I've gotten to know a lot better. I'm going to really up my praying for you. That's what he said I was serious. She thought that was great. I wasn't all that thrilled about it but she thought it was wonderful. But you know what I gotta tell you, I don't know how I got Brenda to marry me, but I married over my head. Ladies and gentlemen, and any smart man does a man jealous jealous limited the women are all clapping. Wait a minute. Fellows fellows I'm throwing your softball listen. Any smart man does dry area go you guys going to have a much better afternoon okay now let's conclude what am I thankful for some things the Thanksgiving number one. The 43 years ago I came to Jesus Christ. Number two that because I came to Christ my eternal destiny is settle number three that in Jesus Christ. God gives me a reason for living every day that transcends the gray on thankful number four that God is in absolute control of the universe and of every detail in my life. Number five on thankful that God gave me a roadmap Bible that help me know how to live a safe and healthy life.
I am thankful that I have God's promise that true justice will prevail in the end of in this universe. Number seven on thankful that God gives sufficient grace for every day. Number eight on thankful for the privilege of being the pastor of this church for 34 years and number nine. I am so thankful that God blessed me with my wife, Brenda, for the last 39 years, and I want to suggest to everyone of us that we make a list like this. Your list may have some of the things on it. Mind does.
It may have some different things on it doesn't matter but sit down and go through the discipline of saying on thankful for this.
I'm thankful for this God has blessed me with this you'll be able to write down a lot more than you think. Once you get started and friend every time you take that list out and you read it three things will happen. First of all, it'll live your spirits. Second of all, it'll put your everyday problems into much better perspective and finally every time you read it it'll cause you to break out in Thanksgiving to God for all of his blessings. Let's pray together.
Heavenly father. I'm reminded of the verse in Psalm 103 that says bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not on of his benefits, and you know Lord so often we do forget all of the blessings that you give us Lord we have a tendency to take them for granted and sometimes were like the nine lepers that Jesus healed in the New Testament who, even after they were healed never came back to say thank you so father indeed make us like the one leper who when he was healed, turned around and ran back to Christ and fell at his feet in Thanksgiving and appreciation. Lord forgive us for so often taking for granted what you do for us. Help us to be more grateful for all of your goodness, none of which we deserve. Remind everyone of us here that you are better to us every day than we deserve, Lord, may that thankfulness be a constant and everyday part of our life. Take the word of God and challenge and uplift our hearts. Today we pray and we ask these things in Jesus name what to God's people say all that was paltry that was terrible what to God's people say I now have a great Thanksgiving weekend will see you guys