America is many things—a country, a culture, an empire, and a religion. And while we’ve been ingrained with the idea that life’s pursuit should be for wealth, freedom, safety, and happiness, we have unique opportunities focus on others and make a Christlike impact in our everyday life. Read over Luke 4:18-19. Then, ask yourself: “In what areas of my life can I share the compassionate love and hope of Jesus to those who are oppressed?” Add reminders in your calendar this week to connect with those individuals. Lift them up in prayer and ask God to give you the right words to share with them.
The American Dream leads us to look at ourselves, while the Kingdom of God leads us to look at others. Jesus gave us a great pathway to follow in Luke 14:13-14. He implores His followers to invite those that would normally go unseen to join them at the banquet. As you prepare for your own Thanksgiving celebration, think and pray about an opportunity you can lean into to invite someone else to your table on Thursday. Is there a college student not going home for the holidays you could invite? How about a single parent overwhelmed with the holiday stress right now? Be bold and take that step to invite them!
If our gospel is not especially good news to the poor, the needy, and the marginalized, Jesus and his apostles would not recognize it as the gospel of the kingdom they proclaimed. We see a picture of this painted by the words in Matthew 25:34-45. Tomorrow, we will have an opportunity to team up with Operation Turkey to help prepare and deliver Thanksgiving meals to those experiencing homelessness in our community. Please take a moment to consider carving out some time in the morning to be a part of sharing the practical, tangible love of God to our neighbors. For more information, CLICK HERE.
Happy Thanksgiving! As we heard on Sunday, life is not a game; it’s a gift. The purpose of life is not to win. The purpose of life is to learn to love well. Close your eyes and think back through the past few years of your life. How have God and others shown unconditional love to you over the years? If you need help remembering God’s most significant moment of love, take a look at John 3:16 and be reminded of how treasured you are by your Heavenly Father. Thank the Lord in a heartfelt prayer for all the unconditional love He has given and continues to give to you!
Proverbs 3:27-28 reminds us not to withhold good, especially when it’s in our power to act. If our time, thoughts, and conversations are so focused on hustling to get more money and things for our benefit, we can easily miss out on a more significant reward—sharing what God has given with those in need of our abundance. This holiday season, we are taking on a challenge to give our first and very best gift to God through our First Gift offering. Would you take a moment to pray about jumping in to participate with us in this endeavor? For more information on First Gift, CLICK HERE.
TALK IT OVER
- What is one thing that isn’t typically served at Thanksgiving that should be?
- How do you prefer your turkey/tofurky to be prepared?
- How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this week?
- How would you respond if someone paid off all of your debt as a gift?
- Read over Proverbs 3:27-28. Why is it important not to withhold good from others?
- What are some practical ways you can show gratitude for loved ones in your life this week?
- Why is it a dangerous attempt to serve both God and money?
- What are your thoughts on these words from Pastor Brian Zahnd in St. Joseph, MO:
“I can love America like I love hamburgers and rock ‘n’ roll, but I can’t love America like I love Jesus. America as my residence within this world is fine, but America as the savior of the world is heresy. The gospel of the American dream is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are antithetical to one another.” “It’s either the story of Jesus that gives meaning to life or the story of America that gives meaning to life, but it’s not both. Lincoln, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and all the rest can claim America is the “last best hope of earth,” but it’s not true. That’s just the sort of thing that empires say; but it’s also the sort of thing Christians must never say.”