Thanksgiving Celebration Service 2021

Thanksgiving

Sunday 11/21/21

Message –  Thanksgiving Celebration Service 2021

***Video is HERE***

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Thanksgiving Celebration Service 2021

This morning we had breakfast together as a church and then enjoyed nearly an hour of worshipping our God and Father with songs focused upon giving Him thanks for His faithful and enduring love in Christ Jesus for us.

We then took communion, where we acknowledge that at the moment of salvation we entered into the death of our Lord WITH HIM as a shared experience. Like Paul said, For the love of Christ controls and compels us, because we have concluded this, that One died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that all those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for Him Who died and was raised for their sake.” 2Cor. 5:14-15.

As such we not only DID commit to Christ’s Lordship in our lives, but our conformity to His likeness in all things. If it is true of Christ Jesus in His humanity, it is true of me. He was broken for sin and in similar manner, we die to sin both by the once for all decision we made at our new birth, but daily in the choices and attitudes we assume. We come to this table of communion (literally koinonia) where we share in His death, share in the resources that provide and share in the life we live by faith in and with Him.

Then we partook of the wine, which symbolizes His blood. Jesus Himself said that the New Covenant was IN HIS BLOOD. This was true even when it was flowing in His human veins. In HIM was LIFE (union with God) and that life was (and is) the light (revelation) of man. Jesus’ ability to have and maintain open communion and fellowship with God in unbroken union with Him was part of His nature and character. Leviticus tells us that the life (Nephish) which is the character of the flesh is in the blood. So that state of eternal union with God was IN HIM and He poured out that blood to ratify the New Covenant between God and mankind. 

To borrow a common phrase, we are what we eat (and drink). As such, we drink in His life…His union with God and receive it as our own. Our righteousness now comes from Him. This New Covenant, according to Jeremiah, created within us new and softened hearts which are responsive to His will and on them has been written His law which we now are eager to fulfill from a heart which enjoys its right standing with God through Christ, rather than as a matter of obligation to obtain right standing with God.

We take communion seriously as a body of BELIEVERS and even then, believers need to partake of this table in all seriousness. Though we are loved, accepted and even welcomed there, we do not treat it lightly or with disrespect. To do so is very nearly the same as taking the name of the Lord in vain, which is a command that is most often greatly misunderstood. To take the name of the Lord in vain is NOT to use His great name as a cuss word, but to take on the name of the Lord by being brought into His family, and then living as if you were NOT His. THAT is “taking the name” of the Lord in vain. It is very much like a woman who through marriage takes the name of her husband, but then lives in adultery as if she did not belong to him. She has taken his name to no avail or in vain. When we take of the table of communion with our Lord, but our fellowship is really with this world and the sins of our flesh, we take it in vain and this is a very serious sin.

After communion, I had a few people read some passages which mention the giving of thanks in various life situations…making comments along the way. Then I read a few myself, teaching a little on them as I went and then we closed with a comment or two from the people before we ended our time together.

Below are the passages we read and discussed, which is all that is on the recording of this service.

Psalm 43:3-5,

“(3) Reveal Your light and Your faithfulness! They will lead me, they will escort me back to Your holy hill, and to the place where You live.  

(4)  Then I will go to the altar of God, to the God Who gives me ecstatic joy, so that I express my thanks to You, O God, my God, with a harp.  

(5)  Why are you depressed, O my soul? Why are you upset? Wait for God! For I will again give thanks to my God for His saving intervention.”

Psalm 18:47-50,

“(47) The one true God completely vindicates me; He makes nations submit to me.  (48)  He delivers me from my enemies; You snatch me away from those who attack me; You rescue me from violent men.  (49)  So I will give You thanks before the nations, O LORD! I will sing praises to You!  (50)  He gives His king magnificent victories; He is faithful to His chosen ruler, to David and his descendants forever.”

Psalm 75:1,

“(1) We give thanks to You, O God! We give thanks! You reveal Your presence; people tell about Your amazing deeds.”

Psalm 86:11-17,

“(11) O LORD, teach me how You want me to live! Then I will obey Your commands. 

Make me wholeheartedly committed to You!  

(12)  O Lord, my God, I will give You thanks with my whole heart! I will honor Your name continually!  (13)  For You will extend Your great loyal love to me, and will deliver my life from the depths of Sheol.  

(14)  O God, arrogant men attack me; a gang of ruthless men, who do not respect You, seek my life.  (15)  But You, O Lord, are a compassionate and merciful God. You are patient and demonstrate great loyal love and faithfulness.  

(16)  Turn toward me and have mercy on me! Give Your servant Your strength! Deliver this son of Your female servant!  (17)  Show me evidence of Your favor! Then those who hate me will see it and be ashamed, for You, O LORD, will help me and comfort me.”

Psalm 97:10-12,

“(10) You who love the LORD, hate evil! 

He protects the lives of His faithful followers; 

He delivers them from the power of the wicked.  

(11)  The godly bask in the light; the morally upright experience joy.  

(12)  You godly ones, rejoice in the LORD! Give thanks to His holy name.”

Psa 1008:1-5,

“(1) A thanksgiving psalm. Shout out praises to the LORD, all the earth!  (2)  Worship the LORD with joy! Enter His presence with joyful singing!  

(3)  Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us and we belong to Him; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.  

(4)  Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give Him thanks! Praise His name!  (5)  For the LORD is good. His loyal love endures, and He is faithful through all generations.”

Psa 42:1-11, 

“(1) As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God!  (2)  I thirst for God, for the living God. I say, “When will I be able to go and appear in God’s presence?”  

(3)  I cannot eat, I weep day and night; all day long they say to me, “Where is your God?”  

(4)  I will remember and weep! For I was once walking along with the great throng to the temple of God, shouting and giving thanks along with the crowd as we celebrated the holy festival.  

(5)  Why are you depressed, O my soul? Why are you upset? Wait for God! For I will again give thanks to my God for His saving intervention.  

(6)  I am depressed, so I will pray to You while in the region of the upper Jordan, from Hermon, from Mount Mizar.  (7)  One deep stream calls out to another at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your billows and waves overwhelm me.  

(8)  By day the LORD decrees His loyal love, and by night He gives me a song, a prayer to the God of my life.  

(9)  I will pray to God, my high ridge: “Why do You ignore me? Why must I walk around mourning because my enemies oppress me?”  (10)  My enemies’ taunts cut into me to the bone, as they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”  

(11)  Why are you depressed, O my soul? Why are you upset? Wait for God! For I will again give thanks to my God for His saving intervention.”

Psa 118:1-29,

“(1) Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good and His loyal love endures!  (2)  Let Israel say, “Yes, His loyal love endures!”  (3)  Let the family of Aaron say, “Yes, His loyal love endures!”  (4)  Let the loyal followers of the LORD say, “Yes, His loyal love endures!” 

(5)  In my distress I cried out to the LORD. The LORD answered me and put me in a wide open place. 

(6)  The LORD is on my side, I am not afraid! What can people do to me?  (7)  The LORD is on my side as my Helper. I look in triumph on those who hate me.  (8)  It is better to take shelter in the LORD than to trust in people. 

(9)  It is better to take shelter in the LORD than to trust in princes. 

(10)  All the nations surrounded me. Indeed, in the name of the LORD I pushed them away.  (11)  They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me. Indeed, in the name of the LORD I pushed them away.  (12)  They surrounded me like bees. But they disappeared as quickly as a fire among thorns. Indeed, in the name of the LORD I pushed them away. 

(13)  “You aggressively attacked me and tried to knock me down, but the LORD helped me. 

(14)  The LORD gives me strength and protects me; He has become my deliverer.” 

(15)  They celebrate deliverance in the tents of the godly. The LORD’s right hand conquers,  (16)  the LORD’s right hand gives victory, the LORD’s right hand conquers. 

(17)  I will not die, but live, and I will proclaim what the LORD has done. 

(18)  The LORD severely punished me, but he did not hand me over to death.  (19)  Open for me the gates of the just king’s temple! I will enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. 

(20)  This is the LORD’s gate – the godly enter through it.  (21)  I will give You thanks, for You answered me, and have become My deliverer. 

(22)  The stone which the builders discarded has become the cornerstone.  (23)  This is the LORD’s work. We consider it amazing!  (24)  This is the day the LORD has brought about. We will be happy and rejoice in it. 

(25)  Please LORD, deliver! Please LORD, grant us success! 

(26)  May the one who comes in the name of the LORD be blessed! We will pronounce blessings on You in the LORD’s temple.  (27)  The LORD is God and He has delivered us. Tie the offering with ropes to the horns of the altar!  (28)  You are my God and I will give You thanks! You are my God and I will praise You!  (29)  Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good and His loyal love endures!”

Psa 107:1-43,

“(1) Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, and His loyal love endures!  (2)  Let those delivered by the LORD speak out, those whom He delivered from the power of the enemy,  (3)  and gathered from foreign lands, from east and west, from north and south. 

(4)  They wandered through the wilderness, in a wasteland; they found no road to a city in which to live.  (5)  They were hungry and thirsty; they fainted from exhaustion.  (6)  They cried out to the LORD in their distress; He delivered them from their troubles.  (7)  He led them on a level road, that they might find a city in which to live. 

(8)  Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for people! 

(9)  For He has satisfied those who thirst, and those who hunger He has filled with food.  (10)  They sat in utter darkness, bound in painful iron chains,  (11)  because they had rebelled against God’s commands, and rejected the instructions of the Most High.  (12)  So He used suffering to humble them; they stumbled and no one helped them up.  (13)  They cried out to the LORD in their distress; He delivered them from their troubles. 

(14)  He brought them out of the utter darkness, and tore off their shackles. 

(15)  Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for people! 

(16)  For He shattered the bronze gates, and hacked through the iron bars.  (17)  They acted like fools in their rebellious ways, and suffered because of their sins.  (18)  They lost their appetite for all food, and they drew near the gates of death.  (19)  They cried out to the LORD in their distress; He delivered them from their troubles. 

(20)  He sent them an assuring word and healed them; He rescued them from the pits where they were trapped. 

(21)  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for people!  (22)  Let them present thank offerings, and loudly proclaim what He has done! 

(23)  Some traveled on the sea in ships, and carried cargo over the vast waters.  (24)  They witnessed the acts of the LORD, His amazing feats on the deep water.  (25)  He gave the order for a windstorm, and it stirred up the waves of the sea.  (26)  They reached up to the sky, then dropped into the depths. The sailors’ strength left them because the danger was so great.  (27)  They swayed and staggered like a drunk, and all their skill proved ineffective. 

(28)  They cried out to the LORD in their distress; He delivered them from their troubles.  (29)  He calmed the storm, and the waves grew silent. 

(30)  The sailors rejoiced because the waves grew quiet, and He led them to the harbor they desired. 

(31)  Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for people!  (32)  Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people! Let them praise Him in the place where the leaders preside! 

(33)  He turned streams into a desert, springs of water into arid land,  (34)  and a fruitful land into a barren place, because of the sin of its inhabitants. 

(35)  As for His people, He turned a desert into a pool of water, and a dry land into springs of water.  (36)  He allowed the hungry to settle there, and they established a city in which to live.  (37)  They cultivated fields, and planted vineyards, which yielded a harvest of fruit.  (38)  He blessed them so that they became very numerous. He would not allow their cattle to decrease in number. 

(39)  As for their enemies, they decreased in number and were beaten down, because of painful distress and suffering.  (40)  He would pour contempt upon princes, and He made them wander in a wasteland with no road. 

(41)  Yet He protected the needy from oppression, and cared for His families like a flock of sheep. 

(42)  When the godly see this, they rejoice, and every sinner shuts his mouth. 

(43)  Whoever is wise, let him take note of these things! Let them consider the LORD’s acts of loyal love!”

Blessings!

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!

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