New Hope Notes
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
Today, we’re going to be talking about being thankful, and I’m not going to give you just an optimistic viewpoint of the upcoming holiday, I want to talk to you about the holiness of Thanksgiving.
I think God is more concerned about us being grateful and thankful than just about anything else. So many times people come to me, and say they just don’t know why things are not going the way they want them to go, and I tell them it’s because they’re not thankful. Once you restore gratefulness to your life, then you start realizing that you’re grateful for this, for that, for the people in your life, the breath that you breathe and this beautiful place where you live.
In 1999, we lived in Honolulu for numerous years. During the early years of pioneering this church, I said to my wife at dinner one night while gazing at the ocean, “Honey, you see that water, we’ve been here nearly four years, and I have yet to swim in that warm ocean.”
I had been blind to the beauty around us, and I mean, think about your own life – how many times do you take the time to enjoy what’s around us? Human beings are destined to go blind; it is gratefulness that restores our vision.
If you’ve never restored the thankfulness in your heart, everything boils down to “it’s all about me.” Me. My money. My business. But you lose everything else.
I bet there are a ton of families out there that are lost due to having lost gratefulness.
There’s an old saying that goes, “One day, God is going to hold us accountable for all the things he gave us to enjoy, but we refused to do so.”
I remember when my son, Aaron, was about seven years old, and he was coming up the driveway with his friend, and his friend’s chain had come off his bike.
I was working on the car, and Aaron said, “Dad, my friend’s bike doesn’t work anymore. Can you help fix it?”
I said sure, and saw it looked like an easy problem. But, I thought I’d play with their minds a little.
“Ohh, I don’t know if I can fix your friend’s bike, son, it looks pretty bad.”
“Dad! What’s wrong with it?”
Oh, I don’t know, it looks like the gyroscope and the floodska gasket have de-rotated…”
“Well, the inner sprocket has distended far beyond normal…”
“Is that bad, Dad?”
“What do we do?”
“Oh, son, usually we just throw the bike away when that happens.”
“But, it’s new, it’s pretty new – and it’s not even my bike, Dad.”
“Now, hang on, I said ‘usually’. You kids look like good kids, so I’m going to work on this thing and see what we can do.”
Aaron turned to his friend – and I’ll never forget what he said next.
“Watch this, my Dad can fix anything.”
Whoa, after a comment from that, I thought to myself, not only am I going to fix the bike, I’m going to repaint this bike and put some more bells and whistles on it.
And, I think sometimes our heavenly Father is like that. I think sometimes when He senses our gratefulness; God wants to do anything for us.
But when we lose that heart for gratefulness, why should he do anymore for us – ‘cos we won’t even recognize it.
How easy is it to give thanks?
What does it take from you to say thank you to God?
Does it take some earth-shattering miracle, all lit up with neon lights before you say “Oh, that was cool.”
I tell people we need to be “amazable” again, or the ability to be amazed, and tell God that He is so good.
See, if we don’t - our vision is lost slowly – for everything - and it changes the way we live.
Here’s the question: When were you last amazed by something God did naturally?
Someone once said to me, “Well you know, Wayne, the grass is always greener on the other side.”
“No, that’s wrong,” I said, “Don’t use that saying.”
“Well, it’s a saying…”
“No, the grass is greener where you water it, and if you stop watering it, or if you go sideways, you stop being grateful.”
Human beings are destined to go blind; it is gratefulness that restores our vision. That’s why it says in the Bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
See if you don’t, you’ll get bitter and weakened by ungratefulness, you’ll always be thinking negatively.
Then, that gives the Devil an opportunity to find a weak spot – that’s what he does in mine and your lives. He finds a way in, enters, and deposits a load of emptiness, bitterness, dissatisfaction and more.
But… he has to first find a chink. We can keep the Devil out, in part, by giving thanks and by being grateful.
You know what giving thanks does? It’s like a broad spectrum, spiritual antibiotic. So, when the Devil tries to enter, this spiritual antibiotic goes to work and keeps the enemy at bay. Be careful, when you do end up with some junk inside, the changes can be significant. What was beautiful is no longer and what was wonderful is no longer wonderful.
Human beings are destined to go blind; it is gratefulness that restores our vision.
When you remain thankful in everything, it keeps your spirit from retaliating. It’s like that broad spectrum, spiritual antibiotic that keeps the enemy from finding a chink – and a way in.
Have you wondered what Jesus may have felt just before he was taken and later crucified?
“...in the night in which He was betrayed, He took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way He took the cup, also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.” (1 Cor. 11:23-26)
It was as if Jesus knew that if He did not give thanks, it would cause Him to resent some things.
Thanksgiving keeps your heart from being soiled by your surroundings and having a thankful heart can change your life.
Your future is not what lies ahead of you; your future is what lies within you. In everything, give thanks, as this is the will of God. But, it’s not easy, and I know that. In fact,
It is not standard equipment when you are born – we’re selfish when we’re born, and this carries through to when we’re little kids. That’s why when your favorite uncle gives you a dollar and you scamper away then your not-so-favorite (at least not at that moment) auntie will grab you by the collar and shoot out a “What do you say?”
When Anna and I bought our first house, it was only about 760 sq. feet, but it was all we could afford. We just made a commitment to say to each other “What a nice house” even if we didn’t always feel that way.
Since then, we’ve been blessed to have bought and sold a dozen houses, but you don’t wait until you find the perfect home to give thanks. Start way back there, because thankfulness is part of your heart – it’s not a part of the circumstances.
How do we give thanks in what appears to be a bad experience?
If you don’t, you’ll miss the opportunity that God wants to
put before you.
A thankful heart tells God He’s ready to start His work. A friend of mine told me how he once lost his job, and having called his wife with the bad news, she simply replied that it was time for him to come home – and for them, as a Christian couple, to show others how to give thanks in a time like that. She understood that it was in the giving of thanks that keeps the Devil at bay and also that …
3. Thanksgiving tells God we're ready for him to begin His WORK.
I have to share a story that happened yesterday after the service. An older man introduced himself, and said he was very thankful for the sermon. He’d been a Christian for many years, but grew up in a Buddhist family who never read the bible.
He said he’s been attending New Hope for ten years, and through us, he’s learned how to read the Bible through the life journal. And once, he did so, “things began to change.”
“Oh, how thankful I am to hear that,” I said.
“Well then, awhile back, I was diagnosed with cancer,” said the elderly gentleman.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”
“But, it’s OK – I’m thankful for that, because God was helping me prepare to go through the seasons.”
He explained that he and his brother were estranged, and hadn’t talked for many years.
“When I went in for cancer, he wouldn’t come in and visit me,” he said.
“Oh, that’s bad…”
No, Pastor Wayne, that’s good, and let me tell you why.”
“Oh, that’s good,” I said.
“I’m thankful for the cancer, because one surgery and they got all that cancer out of me,” he said.
“Good. And then what?”
“And then I got fired from my job.”
“Oh, that’s bad…”
“No. that’s really good.”
“Huh? OK, why?” I asked.
“I’m thankful for that, because then my brother got cancer.”
“Oh, that’s bad…”
“No, that’s good, because I was fired, it meant I could go and visit my brother every day.”
“Wow, that’s good.”
“And, my brother – who was estranged with me for so long – began to see Christ.”
“Oh, that’s great!”
“Well, then, my brother died.”
“Oh, that’s bad… that’s terrible, I am so sorry for your loss.”
“No, that’s good.”
“Because two weeks before he died, I got to lead him to Christ.”
“Ohh, that is so good,” I said. “And, then?”
“Well, let me tell you what happened to my mother,” he said.
“Oh no… she died?”
“Oh no, that would have been bad.”
“That’s good then.”
“Yes, she saw all this happening, so my mother came to church, Pastor. She started going to church – and she, too, later received Christ.”
“Oh, that is so good,” I said.
“Then, she was baptized, and when she came out of the water, her first words were: “Praise the Lord!”
“Oh my goodness.”
This little old man looked over at me.
“And, that’s why we should be thankful Pastor, even if something bad happens like cancer,” he said. “I could have been bitter because of my cancer, but because of thankfulness, my whole family is saved. My future could have been so different, but now I know I’ll see them in heaven.”
Wow. In everything give thanks, because this is the will of God.
It’s time to walk out of your history – and into your future. Here’s a project to help count your blessings during this week of Thanksgiving.
Remember, thanksgiving is part of your heart, and not part of the circumstances. This week, be intentionally grateful. Look for God’s doing, and speak it.
Be thankful for__________________
I’m grateful for __________________
For in everything, give thanks.