Happy early Thanksgiving!
I am thankful today for many reasons. I have 5 reasons I am thankful today. The first 3 are easy to remember because they begin with the letter “T.” “T” for Thanksgiving. 3 T’s for why I am thankful.
First T: Turkeys. I am thankful for turkeys. Turkeys all around the world are laying down their lives for our dining pleasure. 3 of them gave their lives for us this morning so that we can enjoy a special Thanksgiving dinner.
We have 2 accomplished turkey chefs and one untested rookie. John Shen is my turkey cooking disciple. I handpicked him and trained him as my protege. He’s a scientist so I think he is adding some secret, illegal chemicals to make his turkey extra tasty. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Audrey is also an accomplished turkey chef with many years under her belt. She is a strong contender for the Turkey Cooking Champion title. We take our turkey cooking very seriously around here.
The untested rookie is DY. This year is his first year cooking turkey. I tried my best to give him the turkey cooking discipleship crash course. There are so many steps involved in cooking a turkey because turkey doesn’t taste good. Chicken or beef, you just throw it on the pan and add a little salt and pepper and a few minutes later, it tastes halfway decent. No skill required. But turkey in the wild is just a bland chunk of feathery flesh. Which means, you have to spend hours and hours of preparation, literally massaging or injecting flavor into the turkey meat and then you put it in the oven and pray. And you have absolutely no idea how it’s going to turn out.
Let’s be merciful on the rookie. For his first attempt, as long as it is not bloody, then it’s a win. I am thankful for turkey and thank you for the turkey chefs for laboring, quite literally, in love to serve us. Mario is also quite a chef so maybe we can get him to join the competition next year.
Second T: Testimonies. Thank you to Minjoo and Jackie for sharing their testimonies. I love testimonies.
Third T: Time. I am thankful for testimonies because the longer the testimonies, the shorter my sermon.
All kidding aside, from Col 1:15-23, I am going to touch today on 2 reasons to be thankful and I will save 3 additional reasons to be thankful for next Sunday. These 8 verses are so packed that I think spreading out this section over two weeks would give us more chance to digest what the Lord has for us.
Hearing the testimonies reminded me about an important principle. That gratitude is contagious. Have you noticed that when you are around a thankful person, it makes you a thankful person? You hear them giving thanks and you want to give thanks on their behalf and then you recall things you should be giving thanks for. Gratitude is contagious.
Every time we gather as a body of Christ, one of the dominant characteristics that needs to shine through is gratitude.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. 5 For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Be thankful. This is a command of God. No matter what kind of week you had or what kind of year you had, God commands us to be thankful. Gratitude characterizes the people of God. When people out in the world see us, the body of Christ, what do they see? What would they say about us? I pray one thing they would say is, man, I don’t know what it is, but those people at the Hill, they’re thankful. Someone there has cancer, another person lost their job, another person didn’t get into the school of their choice, but they keep on giving thanks. It makes no sense. I got to check out this Christianity thing.
When Jesus enters Jerusalem during the Triumphal Entry, the crowds are shouting to Jesus, here’s our king who comes in the name of the Lord. And apparently their praise was so loud that the Pharisees got annoyed and asked Jesus, can you rebuke your disciples and quiet them down? How does Jesus respond? His response is very interesting. He says, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”
Jesus is going to get praise one way or another. If we are silent, that won’t stop Jesus from receiving praise. Even if our hearts are stone cold and fail to give praise to Jesus, Jesus is going to be praised one way or another. Because instead of our stone cold heart that refuses to give Jesus praise, he would declare the stone right outside the church building to speak and the stone would break the silence and and give praise to Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I want to be the one to give praise and express my thanksgiving to Jesus before He forces a stone to speak in my place. It would be pretty shameful if God’s people failed to praise Jesus and the Lord had to resort to inanimate objects.