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Thanksgiving 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Veterans Day noun

1952: November 11 set aside in commemoration of the end of hostilities in 1918 and 1945 and observed as a legal holiday in the U.S. to honor the veterans of the armed forces

Peacemakers 487

One of the indelible images from the Vietnam War is the photograph of a nine-year-old girl named Phan Thi Kim Phuc. During a battle between North and South Vietnamese troops, an American commander ordered South Vietnamese aircraft to drop napalm bombs on her tiny village. Two of her brothers were killed, and she was burned badly. Wearing no clothes, she fled up the road toward the cameraman. Because of the pain her arms are held out sideways, and her mouth is open in a cry of agony.

According to Elaine Sciolino in the New York Times, Ms. Kim Phuc suffered third-degree burns over 50 percent of her body, but she lived. She endured fourteen months of painful rehabilitation and scores of skin grafts. “It was so painful to have her wounds washed and dressed that she lost consciousness whenever she was touched.”

Since then she has married, emigrated to Canada, and become a Christian who hopes someday to attend Bible college. Her burned skin lost sweat and oil glands, and she is still in much pain. Scars stretch up her arms to her chest and back. But despite her past and present suffering, in 1996 she accepted an invitation from several Vietnam veterans groups to join in Veterans Day ceremonies held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where she laid a wreath and spoke words of forgiveness.

“I have suffered a lot from both physical and emotional pain,” she told the audience of several thousand people, who greeted her with two standing ovations. “Sometimes I could not breathe. But God saved my life and gave me faith and hope. Even if I could talk face to face with the pilot who dropped the bombs, I would tell him, ‘We cannot change history, but we should try to do good things for the present and for the future to promote peace.’ ”

Those who suffer the most can be the greatest peacemakers.

Forgiveness, Mercy, Suffering

Matt. 5:9; 18:21–35; Acts 7:54–60

Date used __________ Place ____________________

Lest We Forget

Visitors to Honolulu usually see Pearl Harbor. Two hundred years ago Hawaiians called it Wae Momi, “Water of Pearl.” In 1861 the United States Navy constructed a fueling station in Honolulu. By 1916 it was the tenth most important naval base in the world. Eventually it became the Fourteenth Naval District, center of Pacific operations. However, we chiefly remember Pearl Harbor as scene of the surprise, dastardly air attack by the Japanese on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, at six o’clock. On that infamous day, 2,335 American servicemen lost their lives; 1,143 were wounded.

Eighteen of the ninety-seven ships along “Battleship Row” were sunk. The Arizona sank in nine minutes with eleven-hundred men aboard. To this day this rusting hulk—now a memorial—continues to give off oil, even as memory of the attack alienates thoughtful citizens.

Don’t Forget the Bones!

There is an arresting story in the thirteenth chapter of Exodus. Following four-hundred agonizing years of slavery, years of hoping, years of praying, the Israelites were allowed to leave Egypt. The announcement of their departure was unexpected; preparations to leave were hurriedly made. The trek before them was long and threatening. The liberated souls could take only items necessary for survival. But we read that “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him” (v. 19). This remarkable leader realized that survival kits were incomplete without spiritual symbols of their heritage and hope. There would be little joy in the future if they forgot their past.

Application: Teaching and Preaching the Passage
THANKFULNESS
The theme of this passage is the glorious truth that Jesus considers those who trust and follow Him to be His friends. First, Jesus expresses His grave concern in the form of a commandment. The concern is that unity and love should characterize His disciples after His departure. Jesus loves each of His followers so much that for them to fail to love one another would bring Him great sorrow. The passage, therefore, both begins and ends with the expression of the command to love one another (vv. 12 and 17).
Second, Jesus gives an example of the kind of love He has in mind (vv. 12b and 13). It is a love like His own, a love that accepts even death in the interest of its object. Jesus wants the disciples to love one another as deeply as He loves each of them, and He knows His own love to have no limitation whatsoever; He is about to lay down His life for them.
Third, Jesus announces a new relationship between Himself and His disciples: they are His friends (v. 14). This relationship is both present and potential. It is present in that the disciples are already proving themselves to be Christ’s friends by obeying His commandments. It is potential in that, as they obey more completely the particular commandment to love one another, they will come to experience, in an ever more intimate way, true friendship with Christ.
How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
Fourth, Jesus contrasts the disciples’ status as friends with that of servant-hood (v. 15). The disciples are not His servants, even though He does make demands of them. Rather, they are His friends. He has treated them as friends rather than servants in that He has not simply issued them commands but has taken them into His confidence and shared with them the reasoning and motives behind the commands.
To have a thankless child.
Fifth, Jesus assures the disciples of His affection for them by reminding them that it is He who has initiated the relationship between them. He, not they, has made it possible for them to be friends. They may therefore be confident of the future. His choosing them to be His friends involves many wonderful privileges, among which are productive service and answered prayers (v. 16).
—Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.4
Stallings, J. W. (1989). The Gospel of John. (R. E. Picirilli, Ed.) (First Edition, pp. 219–220). Nashville, TN: Randall House Publications.
Swinish gluttony
Ne’er looks to heav’n amidst his gorgeous feast,
But with besotted base ingratitude crams and
blasphemes his feeder.
—John Milton
You’re Not a Hog, are You?
A farmer visited a large city. In a restaurant before eating, the man bowed his head in a prayer of thanksgiving. Seeing this, a young man sneeringly asked, “Say, old man, back where you come from does everyone pray before he eats?” The farmer quietly replied, “The hogs don’t.”
Lacking a Grateful Spirit
A man prayed that God would send him one hundred dollars. A Baptist deacon heard about the man’s need. At the next meeting of the deacons he related his concern and the man’s prayer. He suggested that they honor the man’s expression of faith by taking up an offering for him. They received seventy-five dollars and delivered it to the man. Later the man prayed again for God to send him one hundred dollars. Then he added to his prayer, “Lord, if you don’t mind, this time please send it through the Methodists. Last times those Baptist deacons kept twenty-five percent.”
Thankful in All Things
We thank God for the good things that happen to us, but fail to express gratitude for the bad things that because of His protecting grace do not happen to us.
Count Your Blessings
An old adage says that counting sheep will help you go to sleep. For the Christian the better exercise would be to count God’s blessings upon you. You cannot exhaust that number. But reflecting on His blessings will bring joy to your heart and drive out worry. Then you will know God’s peace—and so, to sleep! Why should you toss sleeplessly when the One watching over you never sleeps—or needs to?
He Didn’t Do Enough
Two men were talking about a mutual friend. One was very critical. The other said, “I am surprised to hear you say that. It was my impression that he had done many nice things for you.” Replied the other, “Yes, but he has not done anything lately.”
Hobbs, H. H. (1990). My favorite illustrations (pp. 253–255). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
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