Scripture: Psalm 95
The Thanksgiving weekend is one of my family's favorite times of the year. This is one of two times a year our entire family gets together. I look forward to the food, fellowship, and the laughter we share with one another. I feel very fortunate that we are all still here on planet earth and can enjoy one another. Many of us have forgotten the true meaning of Thanksgiving. It was about the Freedom to worship Jesus Christ and occupy land. Thanksgiving celebrations in the New World begin as far back as 1541 when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado orders and participates in a Thanksgiving celebration with his men while exploring the region now known as the Texas Panhandle. History records another Thanksgiving celebration by missionaries near Jacksonville, Florida in 1607. But the history with which we are the most familiar is that of the Pilgrims who left Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620 in view of a New Life, New Thing, and a new level of Freedom.
In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks. This was considered a prayerful occasion that included fasting! It probably comes as no surprise that another revolutionary thinker and pioneer of American freedom, Abraham Lincoln, established Thanksgiving Day as we know it during the American Civil War, but it wasn’t until 1941 that it became law. On these three different occasions when questions of freedom arose, Americans chose to give thanks while discovering and fighting for new found freedom.
In 1789, our nation’s first President, George Washington, issued the following proclamation:
We now live in a world where those words would not only be opposed in the public arena, but would be viciously attacked. It is time for God's people to rise up and for us to give thanks unto the Lord and to make our requests known to God. He is worthy to be praised and longs for intimacy with his children. I believe America is still the greatest country on the face of the earth. Jesus Christ still saves, brings freedom, heals the sick, and is near to the broken hearted. We serve a mighty God and we must remember Him during this season.
David invites the Jewish and Gentile believers to worship God in Psalms 95. He pleads with the people to give Thanks to the Lord for what we have, not what we do not have.
I'm thankful because of His Greatness! I want to give you the characteristics of His Greatness, beginning with His Perfection. The word "perfection" means to be brought to completion. Jesus Christ finishes what he starts and he will complete what he started in you. We serve a perfect God and he can be perfect in us and through us, even during difficult times.
I am thankful for His Greatness, but I am also thankful for His Power!
We have the Power that existed during creation, which manifested during the resurrection, and was present on the day of Pentecost. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! (Philippians 4:13) Gods’ Greatness and Power fills me with gratitude, but it doesn’t stop there! I am also thankful for His Possessions!
Jesus Christ is Preeminent, which means he is above all. He reigns above your problems, your struggles, your sins, and the atmosphere in which we live. He holds the keys to the kingdom and cannot fail. We serve in gratitude for His Greatness, His Power, His Possessions, but I am also thankful for His Places.
I am blessed to live in East Tennessee where the trees and the streams speak of his majesty and give Thanks to his creation. The United States is truly beautiful from sea to shining sea. God created this for us to enjoy and to preserve. Remember that we are to be good stewards of what he created for us. Being a good steward is a reflection of ones’ gratitude.
I am thankful that God is great, that He is all-powerful, that He Created and owns everything seen and unseen, and I am thankful for His Places. But we must never forget to be thankful for His Position and His People!
He is Lord of All and Lord above ALL. He is the Alpha and the Omega, our Abba Father, our Savior, and he is coming back for unified body of believers. He will not leave us orphans and the word tells us that we win the battle and will live forever. I am thankful for life everlasting!
We must also be thankful for God's people, even those we may disagree with. We must love other people God created and pray to God for their salvation. It is so easy to focus on the negative, but diversity is a beautiful thing. It is what makes our God great. It is what makes our country great. It is what makes the kingdom of God significant.
I am thankful for His Greatness, but I am thankful that he is my Guardian.
And if we are thankful that God is our Guardian, then let us also be thankful that we are His sheep.
But we are not just His Sheep but also His Saints! I am thankful that I am His Saint!
I am grateful every day of my life that not only are we His Saints, but we are also His sons and daughters.
I'm thankful for his Greatness. I'm thankful he is my Guardian, but I am thankful for his Gifts! Jesus promises he will give us rest in Matthew chapter 11. I hope you will take him up on this promise during this season. Come towards him and he will give you the rest you need to stay in the fight.
His Greatness and Guardianship is so complete and powerful that in addition to these gifts, I'm thankful for The Gift of Righteousness.
With the Gift of Righteous that can only be given by the Greatness of an all-powerful loving God, I'm thankful for The Gift of Humility.
The thorn in Paul's flesh has been debated for centuries. I have my opinion about what it was, but Paul had so many ailments and so much opposition, that the thorn is not as important as God's promise to us. The promise is that God will give us His power for our weakness and that His Grace is sufficient for us. I pray you will let God's Grace cover you and that you will remember to thank him for his unmerited and undeserved favor. When we are weak, he is strong!
I pray that this article has moved you towards intimacy with the Father. I pray that you will be thankful for his Greatness, Guardianship, and the Gifts he has given to each of his children. We are blessed in America and have more than we know what to do with.
Please pray for our mission team and myself, as we are getting ready to make our way to Cien Fuegos, Dominican Republic. We are going to provide Christmas for over 100 children at our Children's Center. I will be preaching and teaching along with mission leaders from the Tennessee Baptist Convention. We will be training 30 pastors and Bible College students while we are there. I believe that Central America is our greatest hope to defeat ISIS and radical ISLAM in the future. These people are not ashamed of the gospel and we will need them in the future.
We have purchased four acres and a fence around the property in Cien Fuegos. We are in need of 117,000 dollars to build a two level church, Children's Center, and medical center. Our kids have no place to call home. We believe the mother church must be built. Our dream is to build 60 churches in that part of the world. Our pastor is from there and is in his 30's. The dream is real. The kids in this part of the world have very little; many of them have been rescued off the local garbage dump. God has called Abba's House to this part of the world. I pray you will help us fulfill the vision God has put in my heart. Have a
Dr. Ronnie Phillips, Jr.