Happiness, Thankfulness and God’s Inexpressible Gift
— Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
- Andrew Fountain — Dec 12th, 2010
The Greatest Gift
- Christmas is a time to celebrate and give gifts
- Why do we give gifts at Christmas?
- To celebrate the greatest gift ever given
- “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Cor 9:15)
- What do you do when someone gives you a gift?
- Thank them!
- There is a huge emphasis in the Bible on giving thanks to God.
- A few months back at thanksgiving I preached on thanksgiving and faith
- Now I want to talk about giving thanks for the gift we have in Jesus
- On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.
- And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance
- and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
- When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.
- Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;
- and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.
- Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?
- Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
- And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”
- Two weeks ago we had a Sunday where we had four people speaking
- we were exploring the kind of meetings the early church had where there was a lot of participation
- We looked at 1 Corinthians, but there are two parallel passages in Ephesians and Colossians which describe our meetings
When Christians meet together
- Colossians 3:16-17 & Ephesians 5:19-20
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
- And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart,
- giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
- both of them are pretty broad:
- Everything we do should be done with thankfulness [Col 3:17]
- Not just words, but in our hearts [Col 3:16]
- Always and for everything [Eph 5:20]
- Corrie Ten Boom and her devout Christian family hid Jews from the Gestapo in their Holland home. A sting operation exposed their participation in the Dutch resistance movement. The Gestapo raided their home and confined them to concentration camps.
- Fleas infested the concentration camp in Ravensbruck, Germany, where ten Boom and her sister Betsie were sent. Toilets overflowed. It reeked from the foul odor of poor plumbing and sweat. Rags hung for windows instead of glass. Stains spotted the bedding. Conditions were so cramped ten Boom felt her sister’s heartbeat as they slept.
- And yet, Betsie received the message “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” [1 Thessalonians 5:18.]
- Only three letters bothered her about this teaching: A-L-L.
- Obediently, Betsie gave thanks for their surroundings, including the fleas.
- They discovered later that this is what had kept the guards from entering their room and raping them
- But here is a problem:
- What if we are not really thankful, are we just to mouth the words?
- Thankfulness is a mindset that you can control
- An optimist and a pessimist: (I am sure you have heard this)
- When shown half a glass of water
- The optimist says it is half full
- The pessimist says it is half empty
- There is a lot of truth in that
- I am sure you have met “glass half empty” people
- They are complaining about everything
- Maybe you have met “glass half full” people
- My mum is one of them—she is always thankful
- Mrs Weller
- So how do you get to be such a person?
- Not simply saying things you don’t believe
- But do you really believe that God is to be thanked?
- take an inventory (count your blessings)
- Lost boy is amazed at the happiness of people who have so little
- As far as material things are concerned, we live as kings compared to most people in history
Lost Boy returns home
- Happiness actually has little to do with our outward circumstances
- But what if things are really bad?
- I actually think that thankfulness is something we can grow in as we practice it
- The problem is that we are not in a culture of thankfulness!
- Paul warns us about this in Col 2
- Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,
- rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
- So we are to be overflowing with thankfulness
- How is this to be when many of them lived terrible lives
- brutal slaveowners
- very little healthcare
- inadequate diet
- most people would not have the opportunity of marrying for love
- low life expectancy
Colossians 2 cont’d
- Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
- For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form,
- and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
- This brings us back to our Christmas theme
- He is the gift that above all things makes us thankful
- I have found that I can actully increase my level of happiness by practicing thankfulness
- This is what I do:
- First I start on the basic necessities
- Safety and Security
- Freedom from physical pain
- Access to healthcare
- Stability of life
- Excellent food
- Beautiful and comfortable homes (comparatively)
- Wonderful freedom of choice of clothing
- Free time—don’t have to work 24/7
- Access to culture and entertainment
- Easy transport
- Communication with friends and family
- Opportunities to make a difference to the lives of others
Spiritual Blessings Now
- Forgiveness of sin
- Peace with God
- Loved and adopted by God
- God’s care over our lives now
- The gift of his Spirit within us
- An opportunity to significantly serve God
- The community of Christ
- Secure for eternity
- A future inheritance which is unimaginably wonderful
- To reach the potential God has for each of us
- To experience the love of Christ in its full intensity
But what if things are really bad?
- Paul and Silas were in prison and they were singing
- They were really happy, and not just because they were in prison for Christ
- His reason is “the love of Christ” as he shares in Romans 8:
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
The love of Christ overcomes
- He continues:
- As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
- No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
- For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
- nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- This is a quote from Psalm 44 which is very depressing
- The answer to the worst of outward circumstances is to know the love of Christ
- Nevertheless we should not deny the pain of life’s circumstances
- If someone is grieving over the death of a loved one, we don’t simply say “just give thanks!”
- We are told to “weep with those who weep”
- Jesus wept when Lazarus died
- There is a time for weeping, but we should not remain in it
Let’s Do It
- Let’s give thanks this Christmas
- We are going to sing “Give thanks to the Lord”
- As we are doing it you can add your own words
- Ask if anyone wants to share thanks right now?
Updated on 2010-12-13 by Andrew Fountain