Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good report, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, ponder on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Saturday, November 23, 2013


     It was getting close to Thanksgiving and while he knew he should be happy and thankful, Randy Smith was finding it very difficult knowing that one of the members in the church had been missing for nearly three weeks. To make matters worse, most everyone in the congregation was starting to feel the same way even though they didn't think much of Harold.

     As he sat at his desk staring off into space, trying his best to put together a message on thanksgiving, Randy was brought to his senses by a loud “YAAAAA HOOOOO!” “What was that?” Randy thought to himself and then he heard it again. “YAAAAA HOOOOO!” “That almost sounded like.... Nah, it couldn't be.” Randy thought but then decided to get up and go see.

     It didn't take Randy long to find out who was yelling. As Randy got to the door. BAMB, Bill Peterson came running into him knocking him to the floor. “YAAAAA HOOOOO!” Bill hollered again as he helped Randy up off the floor. “Are you feeling okay?” Randy asked, shacking his head. “I don’t think I could feel any better.” Bill said, “And since this week is thanksgiving, I’ve just got to say it one more time.”

     “Say what?” Randy asked. “YAAAAA HOOOOO!” Bill shouted right into Randy's ear. “I think you've lost it, Bill” Randy said. “Calm down.” “I haven’t lost it,” Bill smiled, “At least not yet. I’m just excited about Thanksgiving this year.” “I guess I'm usually excited about Thanksgiving too.” Randy said, “But what do either of have to be thankful for? In case you forgot, Harold is still missing.”

     “But he isn't missing.” Bill exclaimed with excitement, “I found him and I just have to say it again. YAAAAA HOOOOO!” “What!” Randy exclaimed in surprise, “You found Harold? YAAAAA HOOOOO!” “Are you feeling okay?” Bill asked Randy after he shouted out. “Of course I am.” Randy shouted, “Where did you find Him?”

     “You'll never believe it.” Bill said with glee. “Try me!” Randy said wanting to know. “I found him in the cemetery.” Bill exclaimed, “He had fallen into a pit and couldn’t get out.” “Is he okay?” Randy asked getting all the more excited, “It’s been over three weeks since he’s eaten.”

     “Well, not really.” Bill said and then explained “The pit he fell in was his secret hide away. He had six cases of candy bars and lots of pop stashed in that pit.” “Why couldn't he get out?” Randy asked. “His ladder broke.” Bill said. “I guess this is going to be a great Thanksgiving after all.” Randy exclaimed, “Yeah.” Bill laughed, “Sure beats a skunk getting loose in the church building.” It sure does.” Randy said and started laughing too.

     Jesus liked to teach using parables and like many of Jesus' parables, more than one thing can be learned from the same one. Today we will revisit three of Jesus' parables.
  • #1 - Luke 15:4-7 What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (ESV) – Only one sheep in a hundred is lost but it was searched for and found.
  • #2 - Luke 15:8-10 Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (ESV) – Only one coin in ten was lost but it was searched for and found.
  • #3 - Luke 15:11-24 And he said, "There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.' And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants." ' And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate. (ESV) – Only one boy chose to be lost but was watched for and returned.
     Did you notice some things common to all three stories? Did you notice the rejoicing? Do you ever rejoice in a great find? Or maybe throw a party? Do you stop and say thanks? Rejoicing and being thankful often go hand in hand. Here are some thoughts on rejoicing.
  • Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (ESV)
  • Deuteronomy 12:7 And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the LORD your God has blessed you. (ESV)
  • Psalm 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. (ESV)
  • Luke 10:20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (ESV)
  • 1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (ESV)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • For what do you have to rejoice / be thankful for?
  • Are you taking time to show that thankfulness with rejoicing?

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