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Tag Archive | "Mike Shiery"

A garment of Praise


Pastor Mike Shiery
Pilgrim Bible Church

As Thanksgiving Day looms in our near future, it is a fitting time to stop and examine the depth of our gratitude. In spite of the many challenges that we face as a nation and even in our individual lives, we are a people blessed beyond measure. In spite of the terrorist threats, the economic decline, the corruption of many government officials, the protests in our streets, and the general uncertainty of the future, a large percentage of the world’s population would quickly trade places with us if given the opportunity.
However, despite our liberties, opportunities, material blessings, and technological advancements, we are long on our demands, vociferous in our complaints, and deficient in our thanksgiving and gratitude.
It was a common practice in Old Testament times, for people who were distraught over bad news to publicly display their dismay by tearing their clothes and dumping ashes on their head. They would put on close of mourning. It was referred to as “sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” These unfortunate souls would weep and wail and complain about their lot in life. They were not pleasant to be around during those moments.
The antidote for that is recorded in Isaiah 61:3 where we read that God gives His people the “garment of praise” (NKJV). The Apostle Paul exemplified this verse. Wherever Paul went, he appeared in “the garment of praise.” Some people, if they ever wear thankfulness at all, wear it only when everything is going right in their life. As long as they have their health, there is excess money in the bank account, they get a raise at work, they have a new car, and they can go on vacation, they will deign to offer a few morsels of gratitude. When adversity strikes their life, gratitude becomes a forgotten virtue.
Paul refused to live on such a low level. Flowing continually through his writings are exhortations to thanksgiving and gratitude. Time and space do not permit us to list them all here, but let me share just a few.
“We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:3 NKJV
“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” Colossians 1:12 NKJV
“…abounding in the faith with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:7 NKJV
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 NKJV
“Continue earnestly in prayer; being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2 NKJV
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Philippians 4:11 NKJV
That last verse is amazing given the challenges Paul faced in his life. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 give a vivid description of unpleasant moments in Paul’s ministry. He was beaten with whips and rods, stoned, shipwrecked, almost drowned, faced robbers, hunted by religious and secular leaders, betrayed by supposed friends, endured severe cold, lack of food, and battled exhaustion and insomnia. Yet, his writings are filled with praise and thanksgiving and not personal gripes and complaints.
Let‘s endeavor to be people of gratitude, not just at this Thanksgiving season, but every day of our lives. As the poet once said so eloquently: “O Lord, forgive me when I whine, I’m blessed indeed and the world is mine.”

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Christmas Carries Over


Pilgrim Bible Church
West Pine St., Cedar Springs
Rev. Mike Shiery

Each Christmas we read again the stories of the birth of Jesus and the visits of the shepherds and wise men to His birthplace. These stories come with all the old charm, and their message thrills us again because of its wonder and meaning. I confess that the powerful truth of Christmas, that God loved each individual enough to give us all the Gift that we didn’t deserve, stirs and thrills me to the depths of my being.
I love the majestic simplicity of the Christmas story, as well as the lights, decorations, traditions, family time, feeling of good will, and even the snow and cold weather. One songwriter poignantly expressed the feelings of many people when he wrote: “If everyday could be just like Christmas, what a wonderful world this would be.”
Of course we know that Christmas Day will soon be past, the carols will no longer be sung, and the decorations will be packed and stored away for months to come. However, the spirit of Christmas does not need to be relegated to some box in the closet, but can forever impact us.
I believe that the road map for such living can be found in the story of the shepherds and the wise men. The Bible tells us that after the shepherds had been to the stable, they “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen.”
Then after the wise men had worshiped the babe, they returned home by a different route from that which they had previously traveled.
The thought that I would like us to consider is that the experience of the shepherds and of the wise men carried over in our lives. It wasn’t the experience of a day or an hour. It was an experience that would enrich their lives ever afterward.
It is the experiences which carry over that make life wonderful and beautiful and rich. Sometimes they are rather simple happenings; a boy will remember all his life the touchdown he made in an unimportant game; a girl will receive a school honor which brings pleasure all her life. Of course, there will also be outstanding events that carry over.
It is possible for us to have experiences this Christmas season which will carry over and give beauty and richness and meaning to our lives long after this Christmas is past.
I encourage you to make good memories, cherish family time, enjoy traditions, and revel in the joy of the Christmas season. But most of all, make the foundation of your Christmas experience a relationship with Jesus Christ. After all, He truly is the reason for the season.

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