“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness:
come before God’s presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD is God: it is God that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are God’s people, and the sheep of God’s pasture. Enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving, and into God’s courts with praise: be thankful unto God, and bless God’s name. For the LORD is good; God’s mercy is everlasting; and God’s truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100
As adults, over-time, we can become cynical, and critical in daily living.
Here is an idea I want to share. Most calendars deal with the future, writing down dates, and deadlines to remember. These types of calendars create added stress. This calendar system , I am talking about now works in the reverse, writing down events that have already happened, so that you can later remember in gratitude to God. This remembrance, changes a person spiritually at depth.
The reason we come to church, is to remember what God is doing in our lives. We forget. It’s easy to forget. We look with these eyes and hear with these ears, to the appearances, and we forget the blessings of God. Then there is a special week, an incredible week, a week of power, when we choose to remember God, and give thanks.
Take an inventory of your life during Thanksgiving week. Go through your entire house and really look at everything. Look at the pictures on the walls, the wonderful possessions you own, and remember how you received them or who gave them to you. You live an incredibly blessed life of joy. Choose this week to relive it. Relive everything by taking an inventory, and thanking God for the good in your life.
It will not take long before you will have tears of gratitude coming down your cheeks. Your joy will be expressing through you. You realize that no matter how some possession seemed to come to you, it really came by God. Life is so good when you take the time to do this.
Look around. Look at the people who are in your life and give thanks for them. Give thanks for everything – not only the people who are in your life today, but the people who have gone on before you. Give thanks for the hundreds of other people who have been here trying to do the same thing you are doing today – remembering God and giving thanks to God. That is the highest form of thinking that the human mind can have–to be aware that everything comes from God and be thankful for it.
I want to share a bit of a story with you about the people who started this great land, just so you realize how special and tough and strong they were. There was a minister named Reverend John Robinson. He was the one on Sunday morning who motivated the Pilgrims to come here in the first place.
He told them, “You do not have to live this way. You can worship in your own way. You can have freedom.”
Let’s suppose I did that this morning. Maybe I am. There may be someone listening to this message that has never heard this message of religious freedom that we are sharing. They have never heard of the right they have to know that God is with them, that God is not far off, but with them their help in EVERY need.
There were 102 Pilgrims in the beginning. This minister, Reverend John Robinson, talked to these 102 people. So let’s say that we took a section of this church and you were the 102, and I said to you, “Hey, you have a real opportunity here. I’d like you to go with me. I have a little boat, about 100 feet long, and it doesn’t have any electricity on it, and no running water, and it is winter (the worst time possible to cross the Atlantic), but I would like you to go with me on a journey of 3,000 miles.
Now, I can’t promise you anything at the other end. I know we are going to a land where there are only savages and wild animals, and I know we are going to be low on food. We are going to have a tremendous shortage, and a lot of you will die. But you are going to suffer for a meaning, and purpose, on a mission, believing in something.”
I wonder if you would stand up and say, “I’m ready to go! I’m ready to follow God in this way”? I don’t know if I would. This is a tougher journey than anything I have ever experienced in my life, and probably tougher than anything you have experienced in yours.
These were not soft people. It takes great, tough people to make a great nation. And it takes tough people to make a great life. We need to be tough; not tough on the outside, but perhaps on the inside with ourselves. When we have the human impulses that want to tear us down and bring us down, we need to be tough.
If I were to ask you to go with me on this journey just like they did, do you know what kind of a commitment it would be? We would be leaving today, and we would be gone through December, January, February, and we would arrive around March 21st. We’d be hungry. On the boat we would get together and we would form, through I believe Divine guidance, the model for what this country would become. We would pick our leaders from among ourselves. Then, we would elect them to serve for a time, and we would follow their leadership. That became the model for what we have today, for what we celebrate as the life we lead.
My friends, we have to be tough today like the original Pilgrims. We have to want something today so badly that we are willing to make sacrifices to get it. Now, the thing we have to want so badly is the Divine impulse (God) guiding us. We need to cultivate that. There is a human impulse inside of us, and there is the Divine impulse. The human impulse finds fault. It looks at the things around us and finds fault with just about everything.
The Divine impulse counts its blessings continually, knows where those blessings come from, and realizes how marvelous they are.
We need to focus on the good. If I were to show you a big piece of paper with a dot in the middle of it, and the paper was gleaming white (so white it almost hurt your eyes to look at it) what would you see? Some people would only see the little speck. Even though it’s 99.9% gleaming white, perfect, they would focus on the speck so much so that they can’t see anything else.
The Bible talks about this. Do you remember in the Bible where Jacob wrestled with the angel? There’s a lot there. He would not let that angel go until the angel gave him a blessing. It is the same with our lives. When things don’t look very good in the moment, let’s wrestle with it until we see a blessing in it. If we can’t in the moment, let’s know through our faith in God that the blessing will come, and it will provide an incredible turn in our lives. Your individual blessing will come if you allow it, and if you’re centered in the right way.
Let me tell you an ancient story. “A master had a young man come to him and say, “I want to be your disciple. I want to learn all there is to learn about God. I want to feel God so much that I can give thanks in every moment.”
The master said to the young man, “Go into the woods and sit there. Be aware of everything. Come back after you have discovered the specialness of God.”
So the young man went out in an eager way. He was in the woods for three days and three nights. He viewed everything with open eyes and open ears. He came back to the master and said, “I have seen it. I have seen the animals in the early morning light. I have heard, from a distance, the animals as their paws went across the fallen leaves. I’ve heard a stream miles away in the distance as it went down the mountainside. And I’ve heard the wind.”
The master looked at him and said, “You have missed it. Go back and look again.”
He went back, this time for four days and four nights. He struggled to see what the master was talking about, but the struggle became so great that finally he just, in a great release, started to cry. In that moment, he realized. He ran back to the master and said, “This morning I heard the sun coming up. I heard the rays beaming from the sun. I heard the grass as it woke up this morning and took its first sip of morning dew.”
The master stopped him and said, “You have found it. You have seen what can’t be seen and you have heard what can’t be heard.”
To really have that Divine impulse inside of us, we have to do the same. Native American tradition has all young men (and now even women in some tribes) do a similar task. They call it a “Vision Quest.” When they return with their “vision” or truth, they are given a special name in a naming ceremony. I have actually done one myself and hope to do more in the future…… (in a tree in Africa or some Sanctuary with my daughter in the next tree). Beth and are were given NA names in a naming ceremony. Hers is “Golden Dove.” Mine is “Turtle Women with Eagle Heart.” Neither of us remember the Lakota language for the words (a shame).
Sometimes it takes looking beyond appearances to the glory and the specialness that is in our lives.
If you were a store owner, once a year you would take an inventory. You would go through the store and count every individual item and mark it down. This is common practice in a business. It is common practice even in a home, for insurance purposes. But I’m going to ask you this year to take a spiritual inventory of your life; to become so totally aware of the glory of God in your life today. I’m going to ask you to look back on your life, not just at the things that are in your home now, but things over your entire life to see how God has worked in your life. You’ll be surprised. You’re going to look back and see some of those blessings that were in disguise at the time. You know the things that were the worst possible things that could have happened at the time. You’re going to find out how glad you are that it happened.
When you’re going through your inventory, do not rehash old problems and grievances. Remember, this is a spiritual inventory you are doing. Here are the steps necessary to take a spiritual inventory of your entire life:
When a problem comes up, commit yourself to “golden key” it. What does that mean? It means that you’re going to look past the problem and think about God instead. You’re going to say, “God, I have this mountain in front of me. I’ll tell you the truth, with my human eyes and the human impulse inside of myself, I don’t know how to give thanks for this. But I also know in faith that You are with me in this. I know that we’re a team and good is going to come out of this.” Golden key it.
Next, get rid of all anger, fear and resentment in each moment.
Now,as you take your spiritual inventory, ask yourself if you have forgiven everyone you believe has injured you? And do so. You will receive an incredible blessing.
Everything comes from God. When we are at our best as human beings, we are making that journey like the Pilgrims, and we are finding the place where we can be in gratitude.
Plato said, “A great mind is a grateful mind that attracts to itself great things.” Gratitude is absolutely magnetic to attract God’s good.
What is this going to give you in your life? When you enter into an area of God’s impulse, it is the highest state that we can be in as a human being – a state of gratitude and thankfulness, totally and completely aware in the now moment that God is working in our lives and that all is good, we’re going to have something I call “Divine momentum.”
Have you ever had a time in your life when things just seemed to go so well? It’s like a snowball effect. It gets bigger and bigger and bigger. It almost overwhelms you with all the good that is coming in your life. This can come in the highest way possible with Divine momentum. Let’s decree, in prayer, that it will for all of us.
This week, let’s all have the desire to take a spiritual inventory of our life. Let’s open up our eyes and see the good that is here now, yet see beyond what we can see physically and hear beyond what we can hear physically. We, as spiritual beings as children of God, are going to realize spiritual things this week, and bring about spirituality inside. With family, this week, we will be a light of love and happiness and joy and gratitude. We will live the example of our religion, and will shine it to all to see freely.
Pray this with me: I pray this week, that every moment there is God’s Divine momentum inside of me and that helps me to realize and see and give thanks for all the good that God has done. In this, I am beginning a journey, and I am willing to go. In this I begin the journey with, “Thank You, God,” and I will end the journey in much the same way, but I will be different.
Thank You, God . . . Amen.