Give Thanks Week 2

Give Thanks!  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:57
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A Perspective on Thanksgiving

Redemption or renewal is at the heart of every great story.
Renewal is “an instance of resuming an activity or state after an interruption.”~Oxford Dictionary
Renewal: “to make like new : restore to freshness, vigor, or perfection” ~Merriam Webster Dictionary
Each of these definitions help us to see what is obvious to a native English speaker: to renew something, it must have had a state of interruption, or have become over time not “like new.”
To have renewal, there must be a challenge or pain to overcome. Without challenge or pain, there is no contrast to a happy ending. No one wants to hear the story of a child born with a silver spoon in their mouth destined to be a king by their princely birth. The child grows up without any hardships, then becomes a wise ruler. It can’t happen that way. The hardships are what produce wisdom that can be leveraged to be a benevolent leader. So, when we see the prince destined for the crown encounter an obstacle or threat to his rule, that’s the part of the story we as humans want to hear. We as humans need to hear stories of people overcoming difficulties because each of us will encounter trials of many kinds, and it is within the context of a narrative that we can see ourselves playing a part in a story. We can see ourselves relating to a hero or heroine going through difficulty and making it through to the other side victoriously.
The problem is, we rarely choose to do something hard; something that will lead us to needing renewal or redemption.
That is where a counterintuitive approach to thanksgiving or praisegiving, as I titled it last week, can be so helpful in the midst of trials. I may not be having the emotion of thanks during a hard time, but I can recognize a good God giving good gifts to His children even during my trial, and therefore give praise to God for who He is in the midst of recognizing what He has given to me.
I would love for you to consider something: consider writing up the narrative of your life to give you some perspective. Here are two primary options I see to responding to things in life: we react to events in our life, which can mean reveling in the wonderful, but despairing in difficulty. When we stop to consider, it can give us perspective, which means we can rejoice in the wonderful and turn towards God by counting the challenges as all joy.
Joseph the Dreamer to Joseph the Ruler
Let us consider the life of Jospeh the dreamer…
Genesis 37:3 “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors.”
Joseph was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Joseph was born to Israel (or Jacob) after he had made his fortune. Joseph was the firstborn son of Israel’s favorite wife, Rachel. Joseph was born to Israel in his old age. He obviously showed favoritism to Joseph by making him a coat of many colors, and all of Joseph ten other brothers knew it. Joseph reveled in his position as the favorite, and had dreams of ruling over his siblings, and even his parents. But, more than that, he freely spoke about his dreams, bragging that he would be ruler over them all, and his brothers hated him for it. It was enough that Joseph was favored by his father, but that he would presume to rule over his ten older brothers was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
His brothers were given an opportunity to get rid of him, and further motive to do so when Joseph showed up to check in on them when they were working away from home. They grabbed him, and sold him into slavery where he ultimately ended up in Egypt. What wasn’t apparent is that time was that the hand of God was at work in all of this to preserve the line of Jacob. How hard would it have been to have a God’s eye view of things in the midst of salary and incarceration after being falsely accused? The story of Joseph is not a promise to all of God’s people that he will bring your life full-circle and make all of us rulers, but rather that God is always at work, even when we can’t see it or understand.
Of course Joseph did end up as the number 2 power in Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh, and saved his brothers’ and father’s life by providing them with food during a famine and a place to live in peace.
Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Prodigal son to celebrated sinner
Luke 15:11–32 ESV
And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
Saul the persecutor to Paul the apostle
Acts 9 ESV
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.
Jesus the condemned to Jesus the Savior
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Two Questions:
Are you righteous? You see, you can either be completely perfect, or you can be completely forgiven. No human on earth can be perfect, so the question you are left with is this: are you completely forgiven. When you turn to God in faith and believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you can become the righteousness of God. You can be in Him.
If you are in Him, are you allowing Him to mold you into the image of Jesus Christ? I encourage you that a good practice of seeing How God is molding you is by writing out your life story. It could be as simple as a basic outline with your birth, your rebirth in Christ, and some major events in your life, or you could write an autobiography. But no matter what you do, note this: include the major highs and lows of your life and ask God for discernment as to what He wants to do in your life. whether in the dreamer stage like Joseph, or just submitting now submitting to the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. As a look back on thanksgiving, take some time to consider and have perspective on your life.
Challenge is praise in the midst of pain, and thanks in the midst of trials.
Exodus 17:7 “And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?””
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Ecclesiastes 7:14 “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.”
Ephesians 5:20 “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
James 1:2–3 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
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