Chapel Service

Phoenix International Raceway

November 12, 2011

“Veteran’s Day & Thanksgiving Day Gratitude”

 Bob Butcher


I don’t know about you, but one of the things I am most thankful for in my life is our military service men and women and our veterans that keep our nation free and safe.  Their sacrifice along with their families is immense and worthy of our grateful thanksgiving every single day …not just Veterans Day every November.

Since World War I fighting ceased at 11 am November 11, 1918 Americans have had the opportunity to be thankful to our present & former military veterans celebrating Armistice Day. However, there is a bit of history here because until 1938 only veterans of “The Great War” were honored.

In 1938 Armistice Day became a national holiday, the name changed to Veteran’s Day —a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.  In 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. It is to be “a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”

I have always found the arrival of Veteran’s Day to be a wonderful prelude to Thanksgiving Day.  Both of their very reasons for celebrating are at the very height of worthiness.

Certainly in America there is no better reason to be thankful than its freedom, it’s opportunity to excel and reach our highest potential. However, Thanksgiving Day not only celebrates our history but truly is a reflection based upon the reality of all that God has done for us, …despite the fact throughout history the very people He created have rebelled against His ways, displeased Him, and downright ignore Him and wants their own way instead.

Let’s look at the one reason to celebrate Thanksgiving that is the most important of all.  Last week Kathy’s sister Cindy and her husband Glenn were visiting us.  Glenn (also a Pastor) and I, as very often we do, got into a discussion of scriptures.  This time it was about “justification” and I want to share some of the points we discussed because it is totally Thanksgiving, pure and simple.

Probably the most common and simplest definition of “justification” in terms of The Gospel is: “just as if I never sinned.”  The very thought of that in itself seems impossible to anyone who deals in reality.

Let’s go to Romans 3:23 and look at this word …justified, justification. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Did you catch that? …ALL have sinned.

Did you see what’s next?  …ALL are JUSTIFIED freely!

How?  …By His Grace! 

            …Through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus

In other words the Cross!

All means ALL, EVERYONE, …nobody is left out that has or will be born!

Let me say it another way:

Look at it like you, and every person ever born is in a prison cell awaiting execution to pay for your crimes.  Suddenly, Jesus Christ, upon the cross, cries out as in John 19:30 “IT IS FINISHED!”

At that very moment your prison door along with everyone else’s swings open and a voice from heaven says: “You are free to go, …your crimes have been paid for, ALL of them FOREVER!  YOU are accepted into My family and worthy of eternal life, joy, & happiness in a mansion built especially for you in heaven. All this is a FREE gift …to YOU!

There you have it!  You have been set free …FOREVER!

The only question is: Do you Believe it?

Are you going to walk out of that prison cell and live life?

Or …are you NOT going to BELIEVE and remain in prison for the rest of your life?

It is YOUR choice.  What are you going to do?

Don’t try looking for something else to do.  There isn’t anything!


One more time please allow me to say all this in still another way:

Every Thanksgiving the President of the United States issues an official pardon for the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a special, lighthearted ceremony.  Without this acquittal the turkey is doomed to become Thanksgiving dinner.

We are in a similar situation when it comes to our crimes or sin.  Without God’s pardon we are on our way to a most certain demise as a direct result of our own crimes, wrongdoings, or just plain sin …which is anything that violates God’s ways.  Romans 6:23 says: “The wages of sin is death.”

However, we can be set free from this death sentence because God’s Son Jesus Christ bore our sin in His own body on the cross, so ”that we, having died to sin through Jesus Christ’s work on the cross, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

1John 1:7 tells us that Jesus’ blood “cleanses us from all sin.”

We can believe God’s pardon for our sin through Jesus Christ’s work on the Cross and receive eternal life starting the moment we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9) and believe that we are “just-if-I’d-never-sinned.”

That’s it, …nothing more, period.  There is nothing else we have to do but believe this is true!

Wow, how can anyone not be thankful for such a gift?

Take time to personally thank God, Jesus Christ for your eternal gift this Thanksgiving, …and live life BIG because of it.  Enjoy Him every day of your life and just watch your life change before your eyes as you believe.

Remember, …The whole reason for saying thanks is to let the giver of the gift know how much you appreciate the gift.

            G.B. Stern said: “Silent gratitude isn’t much to anyone.”

And, William Arthur Ward said: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Showing our gratitude is obviously important in our human relationships, but it is even more essential in our relationship with God.

We have received many blessings from Him and when we think of the amazing gift of His death and resurrection for forgiveness of our sin and setting us free forever, do our hearts bubble over with awe and thanksgiving?  I hope yours will join Kathy’s and mine in doing so!