John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 29-Nov-86; Sermon #BS-TH01; 73 minutes
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting that our national holiday Thanksgiving may be a parody of what God intended should be our understanding of thankfulness. Rather than something we do annually, we should be returning thanks several times daily. Thankfulness equips us to endure hard times. We need to give thanks for everything, blessings and trials, for it is God's will. Christianity ought to be an exhilarating experience, but it depends on our outlook on life. Rejoicing is every bit as obligatory as prayer. As we look toward the sun, our shadows are behind us; when we look away from the sun, our shadows are before us. The more we orient toward truth (symbolized by light), the less we will be dogged with fears (symbolized by shadows). If we constantly live our lives, mindful of the purpose He is working in us, mindful that He is Love and has our best interests in mind, we can rejoice with thankfulness in both sickness and health, as well as prosperity and financial hardship. In order to properly express thankfulness, we have to consciously direct our mind to the source and giver of every gift, a process that does not come naturally to us. Selfishness or self-centeredness is the father of thanklessness and the fountainhead of all sin. If we become resentful about what God has permitted in our lives, we are programming ourselves to sin. We need to continually thank God for what we are going through. Pride, a product of self-centeredness, refuses to acknowledge indebtedness. Thankfulness forces or directs us toward humility and toward a relationship with God, making us whole, but being unthankful separates us from God. Thankfulness is an outlook on life's circumstances. Like Christ, we must endeavor to learn from the things we suffer. Paul expressed gratitude for the trials he went through for the sake of the Gospel, giving him insights into God's purposes and plan. If we don't endure our trials, we won't come out the other end looking like Jesus Christ.
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