Temple Baptist Church - 11-24-2013
A. As a rule, when preaching the Sunday Morning before Thanksgiving Day, I use some of the more notable texts such as Psalm 103. These are Psalms of worship and praise born out of both the goodness of God and the circumstances that they often times produce. What a wonderful package of benefits we find in Psalm 103. It is of no wonder that the Psalmist said, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!”
B. I thank God that I can never lose sight of these blessings found in Psalm 103.
1. The blessing of Forgiveness and I do thank God for my forgiveness! I thank God that my past, present, and future sins are gone forever because of Calvary and the application of the blood of Christ by my High Priest, Jesus Christ!
2. The blessing of Physical Health and I do thank God for my health! God has blessed me with a strong immune system, physical strength, and endurance. I thank God for my wife’s health. Cancer gone, heart well, and with me still.
3. The blessing of a Rescued Life and I do thank God for my life in Christ! I thank God for the change of life that salvation wrought. Salvation changes and I no longer suffer even the temporal consequences of my past sinfulness and lifestyle.
4. The blessing of Loving Kindness and Gentleness! I am thankful for that! I thank God that He has been, is, and always be better to me than I have been, am, or ever will be to Him. Gracious, gentle, longsuffering, caring, loving, and every present with and for me. God is good.
5. The blessing of Necessities of Life! I am thankful for that! I can say with a right spirit that I have need of nothing. A roof over my head, clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, food on my table, and the freedom and blessing of living in the greatest nation on the face of the earth.
6. The blessing of Abundant Grace and Renewal of Strength! I am thankful for that! When I get tired, grace refreshes me; when I give up, grace encourages me; when I am disappointed, grace lifts me from the ashes of this life and gives me beauty instead.
C. We always are blessed of God, no matter what our circumstances are but we are also human and our hearts are sometimes heavy with the burdens and cares of this world. Yes, the Bible says, “Casting all your cares upon him for he careth for you.” I am not demeaning the Scriptures, but sometimes it is just hard to “let go” when your world is rocked and wrong seems to get every advantage.
D. I want to look at the Apostle Paul for a few minutes here in Acts 28.
1. In Acts 27, He is now a prisoner on the way to see Caesar. He has been wronged, slandered, physically attacked, bound, and shipped out. He finds himself in a safe haven and desires to stay there for a while to wait out the winter. His advice is not listened to and he has to spend weeks at sea in a storm, is shipwrecked, and either swims to shore or comes floating in on broken pieces of the ship.
2. In Acts 28, we find him among barbarians, wet and cold—trying to feed a fire out in the open in order to warm up his old bones. While gathering sticks, a snake comes out of the fire and bites him on the hand! He is then accused again of being a murderer under the judgment of God and, when he does not die of the snake bite, he becomes a god!
3. He spends three months there with no Christian fellowship and then they set sail once again for Rome.
E. He eventually comes to a place called Three Taverns. He found brethren in verse 14 and 15. The Bible then declares that Paul, in verse 15, “thanked God, and took courage.” I want to preach a little different Thanksgiving message this morning. Here in verse 15, we find several things pertaining to Thanksgiving.
F. You see, Thanksgiving is not to be dependent upon good circumstances. It is a wonderful thing to be thankful when everything is “rosy” but we are commanded to give thanks in everything. Not that we enjoy the trials of life. I had rather be on the other side of trouble than in the middle of it personally. We are to rejoice in the Lord alway. It is a lot easier to rejoice in the Lord when everything is going right.
1. The Reflection Of Thanksgiving – “the brethren”
a. When Paul saw the familiar faces of his brethren, it no doubt brought back wonderful memories. Reflections of God’s past goodness bring about wonderful memories.
b. When Paul saw the familiar faces of his brethren, it no doubt caused Paul to rejoice. Reflections of God’s past goodness bring about heartfelt rejoicing.
c. When Paul saw these brethren, he THANKED GOD. There’s nothing like the sight of a Christian friend when you are facing a trial. There have been times when, as a pastor, I have come to church a bit discouraged. But when I see God’s people come through the doors, it causes me to THANK GOD! And when I thank God, I’m no longer discouraged!
d. I remember my childhood, family, town I was raised in, the girl I married, the children we had, the wonderful message of salvation that I received. I thank God for the past. Through valleys that we have all been through, the goodness of God has been evident.
2. The Realization Of Thanksgiving - “whom when Paul saw”
a. In trials, we need to open our eyes and look around! The song, “Count Your Blessings” comes to mind at this point. “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed” goes on to say, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one; count your many blessings see what God hath done.” We often allow our trials to consume our thinking. We need to open our eyes to the blessings of the Lord.
b. Upon Paul's approach to Rome, a "welcoming committee" of Roman Christians came out to greet and encourage him. They met up with Paul at Appii forum (about 43 miles south of Rome). Another group of brethren from Rome met Paul at a place called "Three Taverns" (about ten miles closer to Rome).
c. Paul did not know what he would face in Rome but he did know that the goodness and mercy of God would follow him all the days of his life. He took courage.
d. Paul did not know what he would face in Rome but he did know that God’s presence would go before him and God’s grace would sustain him.
e. I thank God for what I have: my family here, my family at home, my church, my church family, my home, health. Instead of looking at what we have not, we are to count the many blessings that we have.
3. The Resolve Of Thanksgiving – “…he THANKED God, and took courage”
a. Paul thanked God for what he had instead of what he lost. He counted all things but dung because he knew the value of true peace.
b. Paul thanked God for what he saw instead of what he did not see. Life is truly hard and this world is wicked but I can see wonderful things all around that I can thank the Lord for.
c. This next week, let us truly look around us and count our blessings, then thank God.