Why Be Thankful?

Abraham  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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For Thanksgiving, we'll explore some things that both we and Abraham have to be thankful for.

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Thanksgiving is a special time
For me, there is a great Thanksgiving Day tradition: The Lions playing football
Lions were founded in 1930
In 1934, Owner George. A Richards needed to compete with the Tigers
The won the Pennant that year, lost World Series to the Cardinals
Anyway, Richards needed to bring in fans, so he tried a publicity stunt
Lions played on Thanksgiving Day
Not the first time this was done, but this time there was an edge
Richards owned an NBC affiliated radio station
He worked a deal to broadcast the game from 94 stations across the country
The game was an immediate hit!
And although they lost to the Bears, a new tradition was born
Their overall record is 37-43-2 - not great
They have lost 5 years in a row
Playing Buffalo this week, not really expecting a win
In fact, many have tried to get the NFL to break the tradition
The Lions are horrible, why not bring in better teams?
My reasoning is, “Man, let us have something!
We already can’t win, now you want to take Thanksgiving too?!
Actually, the NFL won’t change it because it’s a tradition - and the NFL loves tradition
And in this case, everyone watches the game anyway - regardless of how bad Detroit stinks!
Why not show a game that gets top 5 viewership of the season
While using a team that wouldn’t get 10% of the country not on Thanksgiving?
Anyway… since it’s Thanksgiving week, I want to talk about something I’m grateful for
Put on the jersey
I want you all to stare at Honolulu Blue this morning
And let it serve as a reminder, over the last 2 weeks, the Lions beat the Bears AND the Packers!
Something to be thankful for church!
Even if I don’t have a job by tomorrow...
Today is our last message about Abraham before a break
We’ll be doing an Advent series called, “Waiting”
It’ll be a little bit different view of the Christmas season
Today though, we’re looking at something very important to be thankful for
YouVersion: Why Be Thankful?
We’re in Genesis 17:1-8
Genesis 17:1–2 (ESV)
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”
Now we jump ahead to when Abram was 99 years old
He was 75 when he left Haran and heard God’s promise
He was 86 when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael
And now it’s another 13 years before God speaks here
That’s almost 25 years to wait!
Tom Petty: “The waiting is the hardest part.”

The waiting is the hardest (but still vital) part

Illustration: Watching “Alone”
10 people in the wilderness with 10 tools all ALONE
After a day or two, they’re all crying
It’s often not about survival, it’s more about missing their families
When you spend most of your time lying in a sleeping bag in an 8 foot shelter...
You have no phone, no internet, no TV, no energy to waste
You sit and reflect on what’s important
Honestly though, that’s where God’s best and most important work is done
When we see a goal to accomplish or problem to fix, we like to move
We’re so intent on speed
Get rich quick schemes
Fast food restaurants
Crash diets - lose 50 lbs. in 6 days...
But God doesn’t work like that - likes to remove plans and solutions to let us simmer
When I applied here, I had to wait 7 months
I worked odd jobs
We only had a few friends - no family
I just had to wait and see if I’d get hired - it was maddening
I wanted to do something - to take control
But instead, God was working on me
He was humbling me through time
He was teaching me to lean on Him
He was focusing my thoughts
He was getting me to a point where I really, really, really wanted to be here
And I’m still grateful to serve here today - 3 years later
I’m sorry I’m wearing this Lions jersey, please don’t fire me!
That’s what God is doing with Abraham
Keep waiting, keep trusting, keep walking - you’re in good hands
That’s why God says, “Walk before Me, and be blameless.”
Not, keep having surrogate children, or keep running to Egypt
When things get long, that’s what we do too
Keep going, and don’t sin
Now, I want to focus on names
Notice God says, “I am God Almighty.”
God Almighty is a translation of one of God’s names you’ve probably heard
How many have heard, “El Shaddai?”
There’s a lot of debate as to the meaning of the name
Derek Kidner: el (God) sa (who) day (is sufficient)
God who is sufficient
Adam Clarke: from shadah (to pour out)
God is the one who pours out abundant and rich blessings
Donald Barnhouse: shad (breast) - as in the comfort and nourishment of a mother
God of Tender Care
H.C. Leupold: shadad (to display power)
God the powerful, or God almighty
Septuagint: Ancient Greek translation of the OT (pantokrator)
The One who has His hand on everything
I don’t know which one is correct - they’re all accurate
Maybe that was by design, I don’t know
But I do know that names are important
Let’s see what God does here when he reiterates His covenant with Abram:
Genesis 17:3–5 (ESV)
3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
First of all, I’m glad I can stop trying to remember to call him Abram!
Now I can just say Abraham like I want to!
As v. 4 suggests, God is doubling down on His promise
Rather than Abram’s name meaning “father of many”
It now becomes “father of many nations
For 86 years he had to say, “Hello, my name is father of many”
Oh really? How many kids do you have?
Now, he has to say, “Hello, my name is father of many nations, formerly father of many”
Oh really? Quite the increase! How many kids do you have?
It must have taken some strong faith in God to start telling people his new name
What if I was like, “Hey! God just changed my name from Dan to Skinny, or Rich, or Tanner...”
I don’t think your God is a very good name picker...
That’s only temporary though - today we know that He is the father of many nations!
Just in the Bible alone he is credited with fathering the Israelites, Ishmaelites, Edomites, Amalekites Kenizzites, Midianites and Assyrians.
We’ll come back to the names in a second...
Genesis 17:6 (ESV)
6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.
Again, God is working His double down promise
Up until today, He hadn’t said anything about multiple nations - now He is
But He also includes kings
This is a very important promise for us
The first Israelite king is King Saul
Of course, he disobeys God and loses his line
But then comes another king - King David (the man after God’s own heart
From his line, comes the greatest king ever… King Jesus

It’s important to understand God’s promises

CH Spurgeon: “Oh! those glorious ‘wills’ and ‘shalls.’ Brethren, ye cannot serve the Lord with a perfect heart until first your faith gets a grip of the divine ‘will’ and ‘shall.’”
Sometimes we forget the importance of knowing the word of God
People often read the bible, do studies or listen to sermons and ask, “What does this have to do with me”
Why do I have to learn, I just want to feel good
That question always worries me
There is a place for personal needs and encouragement, of course!
But in K4, we read Scripture to know God
For some reason we forget that God is meant to be worshipped
We’re here to worship, not to be entertained
We’re read to know God, not to feel good
We pray to change ourselves, not to change God’s mind
We give to rely on God, not to keep the lights on and pay the pastors
In this case, knowing that God promised Abraham descendents, nations and kings is important
This is a part of know what God has done and who He is
And that matters a lot
We have to keep God at the center of what we do, and that starts by taking us out of our center
And the crazy thing is, when we do that, the other stuff follows!
Watch this:
Genesis 17:7 (ESV)
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
Suddenly, that personal aspect of God comes rushing in!
God promises, “to be God to you!”
Remember, God promised to graft us into the tree of Israel
God promises to be Abraham’s God, and his descendents
And because we, as believers in Christ, get grafted in, He becomes our God too!
So what I was saying before about putting God at the center...
When you do that, you actually better understand what that means for you
Here, God wants to be your personal God!
In fact, He promises to be when you’re a follower of Jesus!
God doesn’t want to be God AT you, He wants to be God To you!
He’s not just the force that sends hurricanes or kills your family just to spite you because He’s angry

God actually wants to be your God

Let’s come back to that after one more verse:
Genesis 17:8 (ESV)
8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
Again, God promises land to Abraham’s descendents
Here we are 4,000 years later, and Israel is still a nation with that same land
Actually, they miraculously became a nation again, but you get it

God goes to great lengths to keep His promises

He really does
Remember I said we’d come back to the idea of names and that God keeps His promises?
Names are an important thing
Gideon became to JerubBaal - means “Let Ba’al contend” because he smashed the altar of Ba’al
Paschur became Terror on Every Side - Because he punished Jeremiah for prophesying for the Lord
Jacob became Israel - means “God fights” and became the name of His nation
Symbolic of how Israel always wrestled with God too
Names matter in Scripture - and there’s one thing that really matters to us I want to bring in
Revelation 2:17 (ESV)
17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’
This is a little mysterious - everything in Revelation is
But it’s very special
First, look at the white stone
White stones with engraved names were used a lot in ancient Rome
They were used like tickets to get into special events
They were used to prove that you had been acquitted of a crime
They were used as proof of friendship or a contract
For those who follow Jesus, we will have proof that we are children of God
Maybe as access to the marriage banquet, proof of innocence in Jesus blood, a sign of a child of God
If you are saved, you will have your very own white stone
But notice what will be on it - a new name inscribed that no one knows but you
Some people think it’s a name for God - maybe
But I think it’s a new special name only for you

You are deeply special to God

At the paper mill, lots of people had special names
John fell into a pulper and should have died
But it was plugged and someone happened to be opening the door so he walked out
Everyone called him “Lucky”
Skip had a bushy mustache, gaps in his teeth and combed back brown hair
Everyone called him “Flanders”
Buddy was a dedicated worker - was managements favorite guy
They called him “Golden Boy”
Our shift mechanic was a huge guy
They called him “Tiny” - I don’t even remember his real name
Campbell was always complaining
They called him “Wah-mpbell”
I was young and played the drums
They called me “LDB” - Little Drummer Boy
It was actually endearing - it meant you were accepted, you had history, you belonged there
And I think we will all have names like that in heaven
Think about Jesus and His relationships
His friends were known as “Rock,” and “Sons of Thunder”
I wonder what He will call me, and I wonder what He will call you
No matter what it will be for you alone to know, and it will be special
As we all remember Thanksgiving is approaching, I think it’s clear the answer to our question
Why Be Thankful? Because He is our God...



God wants you to be close
He knows every detail about you
He cares about everything that happens to you
And if you ever doubt that, there is one thing you have to remember:
God paid it all for you
Now I’d like to enjoy the best kind of Thanksgiving meal...
Today is Communion Sunday, and I’m sure you’re all glad to know we are doing a normal Communion
As we begin our next song, come forward up the middle and take the elements and return to your seat
We have the prepackaged option still if you want to be a little more cautious
As we approach, let’s sing and worship our God

The Bread

1 Corinthians 11:24 (ESV)
24 ...when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Let us pray before we take this together
Jesus, thank You for Your body. Thank you that when you could have stayed on Your heavenly throne, you decided instead to take on flesh. Thank You for walking amongst Your creation and your people. Thank You for Your friendship and Your teaching, and for Your painful sacrifice on the cross. As we take this bread today, please use it for our remembrance, that we may accept the truth that Your body is for us. Amen.
Take this together, in remembrance of the Christ’s body

The Cup

Matthew 26:27–28 ESV
27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Let us pray before we take this together
Jesus, thank You for the blood of the Lamb. Thank You that You lived a perfect life, and that Your blood allows your righteousness to be credited to us. We drink this cup today willingly, as a reminder to Your servants that Your payment justifies and redeems us. Help us to live lives that reflect that promise in a world that needs you so desperately. Amen.

Return to Song

Church, let’s sing to our God, who wanted to be our God because He loves us so much
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