(This is based on the sermon at Light of Truth on Sunday morning November 20 by Anthony Kreider)
Happy Thanksgiving Day! What are you thankful for today? Everyone has something that they can be thankful for. But there are some things that Christians can be thankful for that the world cannot. Most of these are not pleasant or enjoyable, but it is only with them that we will grow and thrive spiritually and can walk with the Lord Jesus.
- We are thankful for the Law. Galatians 3:24 says the Law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. In Romans 7:7, Paul writes that he would not have known what sin is without the Law. If God would not have showed us what is right and wrong, we would have no way of knowing we have transgressed against Him, and in need of a Savior. Through the Law we can see our own sinfulness and recognize our need of a Savior.
- We can be thankful for conviction. In John 16:7-8, Jesus tells us the Spirit will come to convict us of sin. Repentance and salvation only come after conviction of the Spirit. Conviction is not pleasant, but what peace comes when we listen to it and repent of our sin.
- We can be thankful for humbling experiences. James 1:9-11 - Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. God can use a humiliating or embarrassing situation to remind us of our own weakness. The next time you feel humbled, thank God for the reminder that you were too proud, and that only in our weakness can we find strength in Him.
- We can be thankful for brotherhood accountability. If we love each other we will sharpen each other spiritually. I can see faults in my brethren that they can't see. They can see faults in me that I can't. We need the help and encouragement from each other to be faithful in a wicked world. Hebrews 3:13 tells us to exhort each other daily, lest an evil heart of unbelief be found in anyone of us.
- We can be thankful when we have problems or experience suffering. James 1:3 - the trying of your faith worketh patience. Again, the problems and trials of our lives serve to remind us of our weakness and need of someone greater, God. Patience will help us rejoice in suffering - 1 Peter 3:14. Only as we have patience can we bear trials and pain, anticipating an eternal future in the glories of heaven.
- We can be thankful for the chastisement of God. Hebrews 12:6. If we are chastised by God, this means we are His children. What a wonderful blessing to be thankful for! If we are never chastised, if God never allows hardship in to our lives, does that mean we are not His children? So the next time it seems that God is not being fair to you, be thankful that He is trying to bring you closer to Him.
How can we be thankful for these things that don't make us feel thankful? We must die daily to ourselves and allow Christ to live in us. We must have our eyes set on eternity. If I am just focused on enjoying each day with as much fun and pleasure as I can, I will not be able to be thankful when I am suffering. Only as I am completely surrendered to God and His will, will I be able to give thanks in ALL things(Ephesians 5:20).