As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, I thought I would write a short post with a different approach. I could make a post about how I am thankful for finances, health, family, faith, and much more. This year we are celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas under very unusual circumstances. Our world has been turned upside down. Many countries have gone through shutdowns over this pandemic, and there has been much economic devastation. People have died because of this pandemic. There is much talk about a vaccine as the light to the end of this COVID-19 tunnel of darkness. I do not care how effective any vaccine or pill is, it will never surpass the power of the true Light of the World, who has the power to save lost sinners.
How Blessed We Really Are
Many of us take time to reflect on how we are thankful for our family, friends, health, finances, possessions, and much more. I believe these things have a place in our lives. So many people do not realize how blessed they are daily. I believe part of the issue for genuine Christians at least is we do not have a real sense of why we should be thankful and joyful each day.
Be Thankful Always
We can be thankful for the many earthly blessings in our lives. However, at any minute, a loved one could pass, we could lose our job, or we could receive a bad report from the doctor, and then our life gets flipped upside down. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”. I believe what these verses instruct us to do is difficult for most of us, and even myself at times. This is because the church at large in America has dipped the American dream into the Gospel.
The Americanized Gospel
The American dream is all about prosperity and success, I have nothing wrong with that. However, it becomes a problem when our culture influences the core of our preaching. Much of today’s popular Christian preaching is all about self-improvement, it always focuses on what we can do to make us a better person. This is dangerous; in fact, might I say it is idolatry.
The Self-Improvement Gospel
Most preaching today has taught people that you can fix yourself, and then a burden is put on us to do all this work to maintain an image that we are a good person. Let me say something, you cannot by any means put yourself in right standing with God. Paul makes it clear in Romans 3:10 (NKJV), “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one.”. No one is a good person, and there is nothing you can do in your power to change that. Romans 3:23 (ESV) tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. If we have fallen to sin, then what is the result? Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages for sin are death. It is important to note that this is not talking about physical death, but rather spiritual death. We will all either die physically or be caught up at the return of Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament
There are many lost people in the world and in the church today who do not realize their spiritual state. Often people have been told to pray a prayer and everything will go alright, and that they will make it to Heaven. Yet they hear nothing at all about their true spiritual state. What does the Bible tell us to do about our spiritual state? What is the solution to us being spiritually dead? If you look at the Old Testament there was an establishment of sacrifices that had to be made each time for sin. Study the different sacrifices in the Old Testament, had to be done very carefully by the priests in the Old Testament.
There is No Good Person
But we are under the New Testament Church Age, what is our solution? Jesus makes this clear in Mark 1:15 (ESV), “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”. What does it mean to repent? Repentance is when one not only recognizes their sins and feels horrible about them but turns away from them. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 (ESV) says, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point, you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”. Godly sorrow is always a result of the Holy Spirits’ conviction (John 16:8).
Jesus Suffered the Wrath of God
Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins. We all deserve nothing but the wrath of God. However, because of God’s love, He sent His only Son, fully God and fully man, to this earth. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins; He suffered the wrath of God on the Cross. The Cross not only shows us God’s love but His wrath. Should it not move us all that it took the death of God’s own Son to pay the price for our unrighteousness. Yet many people do not take this seriously, God will by no means leave the guilty go unpunished (Exodus 34:7). Hell is your destination if you have never truly repented and put your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8-9 (ESV) tells us, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”.
No Greasy Grace
Earlier in this post, I stated that we cannot make ourselves a good person. Let me be clear, being a Christian does not give you a free pass to sin. True Salvation will have fruit. Jesus said in Mathew 7:17 (ESV), “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”. If someone claims to be a Christian yet is sleeping with the devil every Friday and Saturday night, then they are not truly a Christian. The label Christian has become so loosely used in today’s culture, which is why I often like to put the words true or genuine in front of it.
The Greatest Miracle
Salvation is the greatest miracle that can take place in one’s life because we are spiritually healed when we are truly saved. The heart of man totally changes upon Salvation. Titus 2:11-12 (ESV) says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age”. Even better, God has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell inside of every single believer to empower us to do the work that we are all called to do for the Glory of God.
The Finished Work
So, what are we to be thankful for? We should be thankful for the finished work of Jesus Christ every single day. The finished work that saves us wretched sinners, the finished work that puts us in right standing with God. The resurrection of Jesus Christ conquered the grave. You might die of a disease, an accident, or just naturally by age, but that will not have the last word because for us true Christians, death has been defeated by Jesus Christ.
Jesus is Enough
I challenge you to meditate on the Word of God daily. We need to settle in our hearts that Jesus Christ is truly enough. Colossians 2:9-10 (NASB) says, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him, you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.”. We have been made complete because of the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Meditate His Word Daily
I encourage you to spend some time to meditate on the Word of God and settle in your heart why we should be joyful and thankful at all times as believers. Philippians 1:6 (ESV) tells us, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”. Yield to the Spirit of God, and He will complete His work in you. We are to grow as Christians in our walk with God daily. We need to seek greater manifestations of His power in our lives.
Fear of God
Proverbs 8:13 (ESV) instructs us, “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”. We have to talk about this walk seriously. God is love, but it is a holy love. We need to have reverence towards God. We need to be filled with the fear of God. Philippians 2:12 (ESV) tells us, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”. Our Salvation should not be taken lightly, the blood of Jesus Christ is so precious.
Rock Solid Faith
If we do not settle in our hearts that Jesus is enough, then when a cancer diagnosis, job loss, death of a loved one, or national crisis comes knocking on our door we will become unstable. We have to have a solid foundation on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not the self-improvement gospel. A house that does not have a solid foundation will not stand the storm.