Atlanta Bethel Community Church

> Thanksgiving Sermon

Thanksgiving Sermon

What kind of day is Thanksgiving Day?

Around 400 years ago, the Puritans tried to find a new land for their freedom of faith. In 1620, they begin to voyage with the English ship named ‘The Mayflower’

After they arrive, they tried to settle down. They farmed and harvested. And they gave special Thanksgiving with their first harvest. It was service of giving thanks to God.

But if we look at their situation, it was not good. It was very bad and a sad situation. They didn’t give service because their situation was very good or because joyful things.

Around one hundred people left together for a new land. But around 40 people died on the boat. Think about it. Almost half of them died. Whenever someone die, they must have felt so much sorrow. Some of them should be their family. They leave together for the freedom of faith. They were like all family. They might talk about their plan and dream in America. But so many people died on the boat. Even before they arrived on land. How sorrowful is this situation?

Even after they arrived, it was not easy. They faced cold weather. They weren’t not prepared and they had nothing here. Their situation was really hard. But they didn’t lose the hope and absolute faith.

Today, we read Psalm 23. This poetry is the poetry of faith. The Puritans had absolute faith. “Even though my family died, Even though we are in suffer. There must be the reason that God gave this situation” They had this faith. They didn’t lose their thanks.

Great point of Christianity is this positive thinking.

We need to have this positive attitude of life. In your life, there will be hardship all the time. Is there anyone who has no hardship in their life? Everyone has hardship. The important thing is whether you will face those hardships with positive thinking or negative thinking. It is your choice.

Let’s go back to the Puritans. Along with having almost half of their people parish, even the survivors also were in difficulties.  They could’ve fallen into despair. If you look at their situation negatively, it is the worst situation. Isn’t it? But they didn’t lose thanks even within that sad situation. They didn’t lose hope. And they gave their Thanksgiving service.

In this world of hardships, how can we live with positive thinking? With gratitude. We always have to thank to God. When we don’t lose this gratitude, we can live with positive thinking.

What is Thanksgiving?

It is gratitude. We give thanks that God protected us and gave us precious harvests. I hope you all give thanks to God through this time. The Israelites also had a Thanksgiving day. They wandered 40 years in the desert. And finally they got to the Canaan land; the promised land. Then they gave Thanksgiving service with harvests. They gave the first one to God.

Thanksgiving is the day of thanks. We give thanks that God gave us all the things we receive. It is the season of thanks. This gratitude is really important in our faith. We shouldn’t lose this thanks.

Let’s read Romans 1:21.

It is our sinful nature. Although we know God, we neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him. Do you lose these thanks in your heart? You have to think about it. You shouldn’t lose it.

Let’s look at the book of John 3:16.

God gave us this love. God so loved us so he gave his one and only Son. This verse talks about this debt of great love that God save us.

Romans 13:8

Apostle Paul says that let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. What is in the person who was saved? There is the debt of love.

In Korea, there is interesting saying that “I rescued someone who fell in the water, but he asked for his bag”

Does it make sense?

Every summer, there is typhoon in Korea. So there is flood and sometimes someone fall in the water. Usually, If you save someone, they really thanks about that. They testify that they saw their whole past life and repent when they fell in the water. They confess that “When I fell in the water, I promise to God. If you save me, I will live for you”

But someone doesn’t have any gratitude. You saved him. But he ask to you “Where is my bag?” Isn’t it our image? Jesus saved us. He died on the cross for us. But we don’t thank and instead ask to him, “Where is my blessing?” We don’t thank but we ask blessing. It is the image who lost gratitude.

We need to remember this. We are very arrogant. We so easily forget this gratitude. When he love us so much, we forget that. Then we commit sins. And when we have a crisis, when we have obstacles, we look for God again.

When air is clean, we don’t notice a preciousness of clean air. But when air is polluted, we realize that clean air is so precious. When you are with your parents, you don’t know the preciousness of your family. But if you lose your parents, you will regret that. “I should have done well when my parent alive” We are like this. We have this sinful nature.

How can we not lose the gratitude?

Let’s look at today’s scripture. David wrote beautiful poem. The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. When we forget his grace, we lose gratitude. Why you don’t gratitude because you forget his grace. We received his grace so much. When you remember that, you always have gratitude.

I hope we can meditate his grace deeply. In this scripture, David meditated his grace that gave him through his whole life. The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He leads me in green pastures. This abundant world. He gave us so much grace. We need to think about the grace that God gave us. Sometimes, there were hardships. Yes, they’re are difficult times.

Philippians 4:11-13

It is the confession of Paul. He also experience so much difficulties. But what is his confession.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Through that hungry, through that difficulties I learned the secret of being content. And he said. Don’t forget the grace that God gave us.

1Thessalonians 5:18

He says “Give thanks in all circumstances” Is it easy? It is really hard. It is impossible in this world. You can say “How can I thank in all circumstances. I can thank only when I have in good situation” But look at the confession of David. The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. There is no lack in the people who follow him.

Don’t complain your circumstance. Meditate the grace that God gave you. You have big enough grace. Don’t think that is not enough. We need to meditate this every day. Not just on the thanksgiving day.

As you know, David live a life full of ups and downs. But he confess this.

Psalm32:2-3 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

He refreshes my soul. God always refreshes our souls. He guides us along the right paths. In this scripture, we can see David’s faith in God. He rely on God. It is the way that we don’t lose thankful heart.

David remember his grace. And he believe that God is faithful God. He has this absolute faith.

Psalm 32: 4

In this verse, there is a reversal. He talks about green pasture but he suddenly talks about the darkest valley. It is our lives. There are good circumstances and bad circumstances. God is my protector. God is my shepherd. But sometimes we walk through the darkest valley. But what does he believe is that “I will fear no evil for you are with me”

David experience so many wars. Countless wars. There were so many hardship. But in this verse, we can see his absolute faith.

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me

Shepherd have two things. One is rod and the other is staff. What is a rod? Shepherd use a rod for protecting sheep from wolves. And Shepherd guide the way with staff. God protect me and guide me with rod and staff.

Psalm 23:5-6

We received so much grace in this year. Why do we meditate about this grace? Do you remember the story of Bartimaeus?

Mark 10:46-52
Through this story we can see great faith of Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was blind. And he was beggar. It is really bad situation. Isn’t it? But Bartimaeus doesn’t complain his circumstance. He doesn’t fall in despair. In that circumstance, he thanks that he can hear. And through his ears, he heard that Jesus is passing by. Then he cry out. Many rebuke him. But he doesn’t give up. He cry out more. And he get salvation.

Even though you walk through the darkest valley, don’t give up like Bartimaeus. If you are in green pastures, don’t forget his grace and praise him. Let’s read Psalm 23:6.

Psalm23:6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.