Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
November 28, 1996
(Today is a time of trial and trauma - Govt. in credibility crisis ...economic future is uncertain ...teenagers pregnant out of wedlock ...Drug & alcohol abuse is pandemic...half of all marriages end in divorce...children from broken homes end up living broken lives. And this is Thanksgiving Day...who's kidding whom? St. Paul reminds us not to equate material well-being with giving thanks to God. We need to give thanks to God for His many blessings, regardless of our life situation)
GOD MEETS ALL OUR NEEDS, EVEN WHEN WE ARE NEEDY.
Paul did not feel deprived, even while he was in prison.
Paul claims to have all that he needs. (vv. 10-13)
Is there some help and hope for us as troubles come to us this Thanksgiving Day, 1996?
Parents at odds with kids?
Our world is falling apart!
Then this message from Paul is for you - contentment is at hand!
Paul is saying he has a different source of contentment than those defeated by their troubles.
Asking for contentment as a precondition of being thankful is backwards!
First we must be thankful if we are to be content!
Thankful for all of life...troubles and all.
Then we can learn to be content.
ILLUS: Teacher with lg. poster and a black dot...
Paul is saying that in every trial and trauma, God is at work to bring us a blessing in disguise. (vv. 6-7)
God uses trouble to mold us into the image of His Son.
It is not God who sends trouble.
It is God who uses trouble that comes our way.
Trouble comes as a result of sin in our lives and in the world.
Like Joseph in the Old Testament, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good!"
What a revolutionary thought!...Thank God for even our troubles!
GOD MEETS ALL OUR NEEDS, EVEN WHEN WE HAVE PLENTY.
The source of contentment is the same in good times and bad.
Just because we possess material well-being, doesn't mean we're content.
ILLUS: The children of John Paul Getty inherited their father's massive wealth...
ILLUS: Many who have won millions in lotteries have found that it destroyed their families and their lives.
Even good health is no guarantee that contentment is present:
ILLUS: Professional athletes are the picture of good health, but many have become involved in drugs, gambling, alcohol and crime.
ILLUS: If Paul had been suffering from terminal cancer, I am confident that his confession of contentment would have been the same!
No, the source of contentment is not what the world says it is, rather it is what Paul says it is:
In presenting our requests to God, we are recognizing that the owner and manager of all things is God, not us.
In presenting our requests to God, we are releasing all of our blessings and all of our troubles into His capable hands.
CONTENTMENT = Surrender of life to Christ.
This surrender is what the Holy Spirit enables us to do.
Through Word and Sacrament, God show us His willingness to take our lives and make of them a blessing.
He takes our sins and gives us forgiveness through the cross.
He takes our wealth and health and makes them instruments of His peace and grace.
He takes our trials and traumas and through them, He moves us closer to Him, teaching us, healing us and molding us.
Contentment = Knowing that God has made us His own in Christ.
No fear of today, for He is with us.
No fear of tomorrow, for He is already there waiting for us.
No fear of eternity, for He has prepared our mansion for us.
Life, with all its complexities, all of its blessings and all of its difficulties is firmly in the hand of the loving, almighty and gracious God!
George Washington's proclamation of the first Thanksgiving Day:
"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor...Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these states to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be -- That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks."
"Let us give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, and His mercy endures forever."
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