The Core Sunday Gathering

November 27, 2011

Thankstaking

-Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The beginning of the Christmas season

-Thanksgiving is behind us

        -Is the giving of Thanks also behind us?

        -Can we carry it forward, and let it change the way we live out the Christmas spirit?

-Question: What is a Thanksgiving tradition in your family that you are really fond of?

-There’s a lot of pressure in the holiday season to find happiness

        -For Thanksgiving you want to gather with people who know you well and like you anyway

        -For Christmas you want to create mystery and wonder and give good gifts and get a few

        -For New Years you want to do something exciting and memorable with your friends

        -This is all in an effort to find happiness… and for some reason it’s more important to us in Nov and Dec

HAPPINESS

-How does our culture define happiness?

-In what ways does the market try to sell us happiness?

        -It’s not always a product, is it? Sometimes it’s an experience, or a condition

        -Insurance companies selling peace of mind, or an appliance saving time or money to spend with your family

                -But they don’t leave out the part where your happiness depends on giving them money.
    -Is actual happiness good for business, or just perceived happiness?
    -Can you name an instance where you've been sold real happiness? What happened?
    -Have you ever fallen for an empty promise of happiness?

-Who is easier to cheer up, a little kid, or an adult?

        -Somehow happiness is more within-reach for little kids, despite having shorter arms.

        -Why is that?

Assign Scripture: Matthew 18:3 "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

    -Is this because heaven is like a kids’ menu at a restaurant. 12 and under only?

        -Have you ever tried to order off the kids’ menu, as an adult? Why is that age limit there?

    -I don't even think it's that God only takes childlike people.

            -I think it's because only people who regain that childlike sense of thankfulness and wonder

                       -will really surrender their lives to Jesus.

        -Kids do have to be trained to say Please and Thank You, but it seems like we train the thankfulness out of them

                -And Christmas is one of the tools we use to do it.

                -Instead we should be teaching them how to be thankful, with tools like Psalm 50.

            -Assign Scripture: Psalm 50:14-15 Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." But to the wicked, God says: "What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you.
                    -Question: What are the two types of people pictured here? How do their offerings differ?
                           -God is challenging us to ask whether he really needs the gifts and sacrifices we offer him

                        -Or if they are simply a token of our inward appreciation… of a thankful heart. The token itself is worthless

                        -The thankful person knows this. The ingrate believes it’s all about the token.

                -Micah shows us the difference between the two hearts in 6:7-8

                7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
                            -What God really requires of us is to
act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with him.
            -Assign Scripture: Psalm 50:23 He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."
                    -Question: How does thankfulness prepare the way to see God's salvation?
                            -The road to hell may be
paved with good intentions
                            -but the road to Salvation is
 paved with Thanksgiving...
                                        those who are thankful for God's promise are the ones who
actually help bring it about

-Question: What does this mean for the Christmas season?

        -How will a truly thankful person approach Christmas differently?