This Thanksgiving someone is going to ask you what you are thankful for. I hope, Christian, that you will be ready this Thanksgiving to answer that question. I challenge you to be the one who asks and answers first. You could talk about what you and others are thankful for all day; we know the turkey will take between 6 and 20 hours to finish cooking.
I further hereby challenge you, the redeemed of Jesus the Savior, to be continually thankful when you’re gathered with others and when you’re praying alone.
Like the leprous Samaritan man in Luke 17, God has done more for us than we could have asked or imagined. That man cried out for mercy hoping that Jesus could cleanse him from leprosy, but he was cleansed, healed, and saved.
Your salvation started with God’s radical acceptance of you. Because God is holy, and you were not, God paid for your sins on the cross. In the gospels, Jesus goes to the outcasts and shows them kindness.
You are completely forgiven. We carry different weights in this life, but Christians must not carry the weight of unforgiveness. Your sins were nailed to the cross. “He (Jesus) canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14
Jesus is always with you. He told the disciples that he would be with us til the end of the age.
As you reflect on your salvation, offer your mind and your mouth to thankfulness. The world accuses us of being self-righteous, and sometimes we are. But we hate self-righteousness. Jesus is giving us his righteousness. He has done all for us.
When my time runs out I hope that I will have a testimony to the goodness of God in many ways and many places. Rather than creating an image for ourselves and a legacy for ourselves, Christians are called to testify to what God is doing and has done. One of the challenges of being a witness rather than a driver of history, is to let go of the illusion of control. This is a recurring, maybe daily, exercise for people of faith.
Jesus reveals his deity and our resurrection in the account of Lazurus’ death and resucitation in John 11. When Lazarus got (very) sick his sisters sent word to Jesus: “Lord, the one you love is sick.” Jesus was 15-20 miles away from them when he got this message. Based on what the sisters say later, they thought Jesus would come quickly to help them, but he didn’t. Jesus stayed for two more days, and he knew that Lazarus would die. The things that I’m praying about now, the things you pray for now are completely visible to the Lord. He is in control, not us. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
Jesus tells Martha that if she believes she will see the glory of God. Our role is to believe, watch and testify; making everything work out is his business.
When you notice your own over desire for control, apply Philippians 4:6-7 to yourself. Paul wrote us a Holy Spirit breathed prescription. 1. You don’t have to be anxious. 2. Tell God what you want. 3. Tell God what you’re thankful for regarding your requests. 4. Look for peace to come your way.
“Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as your wait for the bus, any time your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is all utterly and completely true.” 1. I am a child of God. 2. God is my Father. 3. Heaven is my home. 4. Every day is one day nearer. 5. My Savior is my brother. 6. Every Christian is my brother too.
J.I.Packer, Knowing God If you want to know about this, get the book or go to https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/j-packer-6-things-tell-every-day/
Meeting with a therapist in downtown Cincinnati meant that I often encountered homeless people who often asked for a few bucks. One of these times I offered to buy the man lunch at a KFC right next to where we were standing. He said, “Ok, hold on a minute.” Then he went over to a small car and knocked on the window. The window came down and back up. I assumed that he’d just asked a drug dealer what he wanted for lunch in trade for a hit of some drug. When the man I’d been talking to told me what he’d like me to get from KFC I went over to the car and started a one-sided argument with the person in the car. Looking back, I’m not so sure the person in the car was a drug dealer– it could have been his wife, girlfriend, father, or mother in that car. The man might have been trying to get enough and the right kind of lunch to share with his friend in the car. At that moment I was convinced the man in the car was selling drugs. I certainly could have been wrong about who was in the car. I also could have gotten shot. What would Jesus have done? I don’t know, but I should have asked the Holy Spirit, my legal friend, how to navigate the situation. If the person in that car remembers that day, he might describe me as a crazy jerk. Sinners liked Jesus. The religious people mostly did not like him. As students of Jesus, we ought to live an appeal to the world to get to know Jesus. The Lord attracted people to himself by miracles and by compassion. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead so many people came out to him that the Pharisees said “the whole world has gone after him.” Another time when Jesus healed everyone in all the towns and villages “he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” You and I have power through the Holy Spirit and the natural powers of our talents and wealth. Through the Holy Spirit we also have access to the compassion of Jesus Christ. Sinners could be drawn to us like they were to Jesus for compassion and for help.
I really like watching videos about people interacting with police and other public officials. On TV there is “Cops,” and on the internet there are videos of people filming the police. If you get pulled over by the police, and you have done nothing wrong, do you have anything to fear? Maybe not, but you don’t know. The police here have been very helpful to us, but it’s not like that everywhere. Regardless, if you’ve ever been pulled over, you know that sinking feeling that hits right in the gut.
How much different would it be to get pulled over by the police with your lawyer friend in the car with you? Even though we don’t really know the law, we could ask him/her how to walk through each step of the interaction.
When Jesus was facing his last night on earth, he told his disciples that he was going away, but he would send a legal friend, the Holy Spirit, to help them. The word in its original language is not “legal friend,” but that is the meaning. We have been saved by King Jesus from the Jewish law, and from the law that the world insists we follow. But to walk in the “law of the Spirit,” “the law of love,” we need legal aid. The Holy Spirit is our legal aid, and He is not only beside us, but inside us. Galatians 2:19 says: “For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law–I stopped trying to meet all its requirements–so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We are free from the control of the world, the control of the church, and the insidious evil that is all around us. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you. Speak to your Christian sisters and brothers boldly, yet gently, remembering that “they too have the Holy Spirit.”
I would love for y’all to read Galatians before worship this Sunday. It will not take more than 30 minutes. If you have questions or insights, or the Holy Spirit speaks to you about his word, come and share.
John 6: 53Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. I remember one time my mom’s side of the family got together for a reunion, and they took a picture of all the blood kin. I don’t remember this being a thing when I was a kid, but sometime I after I tricked my wife into marrying me, we were at a reunion and the matriarchs and patriarchs started calling for a picture with just the blood kin. Jenny was left out. My brother’s wives were sidelined. It was funny to us, and it was bewildering too. I don’t doubt that they had a good reason: the Greene family leaders wanted a picture of those who shared blood. Blood is one of the ways that we are family with other people. The blood that makes you related to someone is an analogy for how the blood of Christ makes you part of the family of God. Although this physical life is real, it is also a shadow of spiritual realities. Which is more real, the blood that makes me my dad’s son or the blood of Christ that takes away the sins of the world and makes me Heavenly Dad’s son? How is the blood of our ancestors an analogy for the blood of Christ that brings forgiveness? We identify with our family and our ancestry. To have my sins covered in the blood of Jesus means that I have been drawn into the family of God. My family is just a taste of the family of God. The blood of Jesus changes our identity. My last name is not as significant as the name of Jesus. God’s passion has always been for his own name to be holy, and he has given us his name—Christians. The blood of Jesus causes God’s wrath to pass over us. There will be payment for sin. We don’t like to talk about it, but the evil in this world must be set right. People must be held to account. Because our big brother, Jesus died on the cross for us, we who believe are covered like the doorpost of the enslaved Jews hoping to flee Egypt. The angel of death will pass over us as we are receiving eternal, abundant life. Reflect on the cross more often. When you feel worthless, remember that Jesus paid for you with his life. When you are swollen with pride remember you were evil to the point that Jesus had to die for you to live.
Matthew 12: 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” I had some great family time over labor day weekend. The main reason for our trip was to clean out as much of mom’s stuff from her house as we could. Mom graduated from Erlanger, KY to heaven last November. We all were glad for her to receive her eternal reward, and in her passing, we saw more clearly who she was in Christ and all the good works that the Lord had enabled her to do. But we miss her, and I knew that being with my family, going through her stuff, would be emotional. My brothers and I were greatly helped by our wives, nephews and nieces, our cousin, and one of mom’s closest friends. When we arrived Thursday evening to begin our work, some were inclined to take it all in before we began shuffling boxes and filling up bags for the thrift store. I know that I wanted some time to pay attention to my feelings. I was comforted to be with my family. Saturday night we had an 80’s youth group reunion. Fifty or more gathered and told stories for a few hours. We prayed for each other. We talked about my mom. We cried and laughed. A fire alarm went off and we were scattered. The event was basically over, but we didn’t leave. We waited outside for the fire department and some of us went back inside to visit and to pray. Some of my church family from those days were hurting, and we prayed together for each other. One old friend knew that one of her current struggles matched up with one of mine, and we decided to be prayer partners as we seek what only God can do for us. I see the lines that connect to me those around me: some are blood–the blood of my ancestors that I share with my grandparent’s descendants, but the bloodline of Jesus connects me deeply to those who love the will of God.