Living Thanksgiving

11-22-2020/FBCH                            The Sacrifice of Praise                     Hebrews 13:15-16

    Several years ago, I was asked to speak to a gathering of Mexican Baptist Pastors. I asked if there was a topic that they wanted addressed, and one of our IMB missionaries, Andrew Flagg, asked me to speak on the distinctives of being a Baptist. Some wise sage, not me, used the letters of the word BAPTISTS (plural) as an acronym acrostic for the 8 distinctives of being Baptists. I will not teach them this morning, but I will give them to you here:

 

   Well, here we are, Thanksgiving week 2020, I am sure that many of you might be thinking that there is not a lot to be thankful for this year. This is the year we would all like to erase for many reasons. But we cannot. We also cannot ignore the Biblical directives to be thankful. Paul will say several times that, “we should give thanks always for all (or in all) things!” (cp. Eph. 5:18-20; 1 Thess. 5:18). “It is the will of God!” A Major mark of the ungodly is that they are not thankful or grateful. (Rom. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:2).

   Thursday is a day that President Franklin Roosevelt and Congress in 1941 declared to be a National Holiday to reflect on the goodness of God and to give thanks for His blessings on America and on Americans. But. He was not the first. William Bradford the governor of Plymouth Colony selected Thursday Nov. 29th as a day of Thanksgiving. Other Presidents have done the same as George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. Though I may do this every year, I would like to read it to you again:

Washington

Lincoln

   At the end of your outline is a place for you to reflect, between now and Thursday, and to write down what you are thankful for. You start today and then add things between now and Thursday. You may want to then highlight a few and share them with your family after dinner (Deut. 6:10). I will come back to that.

 

Promises that we have to look forward to!

     We are halting our study of Moses and the Exodus for a few weeks to look at Thanksgiving and Christmas. For many people, Thanksgiving is for many, the best holiday of the year. There are no costumes, presents, pumpkins, candy, fireworks, eggs, or trees. It is just food, family, reflection, and maybe some friends, and sometimes football, and hopefully, a lot of gratitude. Food, family and friends, are a great reminder of God’s goodness and we spend the day reflecting and joyfully celebrating and worshipping the God who has blessed us with so much.

   Thanksgiving can be costly though. The cost of the meal, travel, preparations, and time. This one day a year serves as a wonderful reminder of what every day should be like. We should be a people who are living thanksgiving. That’s why we should have a time of thanks before all of our meals. This morning I would like to look at some of the closing words of Hebrews chapter 13:12-16. “So also, Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. 13 So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. 14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”

    You see, we believe in the priesthood of believers, that is as in the 8 Baptist Distinctives. Peter says so in 1 Peter 2:5 and 9, “And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.” And (9) “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

   We serve as mediators between people and good. We bring people to God and God to people. And we offer sacrifices. Not blood and animal sacrifices but spiritual sacrifices. Before Jesus came to die for us on the cross, Religion was a bloody affair as it took a life to redeem a life. Priests were responsible for making offerings on behalf of worshippers. Whether it was seeking forgiveness, consecrating your life, giving praise and thanksgiving, people either had to, or in some cases chose to, offer to God from their livelihood the life of an acceptable animal or bird. The Old Testament is a bloody book. The Book of Leviticus is very specific about sacrifices.

   But there was another problem. It was/is the problem of turning one’s faith system into a ritual religion. That is, we go through the motions of doing something in which Spirit and Truth have no part. Its just rote and ritual. There are several places in the Old Testament where God says. I don’t want it.

Isaiah 1:10-19

Amos 5:21-24

    What happened? The personal relationship with the Living God had been replaced with ritual religion. Motions without emotions. Self-satisfying but not God honoring. Self-Righteousness but not humility.

   Now before we get into the text. Let me remind you quickly that are things that more important than even your sacrifices. Know what they are?

  1. Obedience – 1 Samuel 15:22
  2. Mercy and Knowledge of God – Hosea 6:6
  3. Broken Spirit and Heart over sin – Psalm 51:16-17
  4. Righteousness and Justice – Prov. 21:3

    Now in the book of Hebrews, these Jewish Believers were troubled because of their faith in Jesus and many were going back to that bloody system of sacrifices. But the author is pleading for them to trust in the ultimate blood sacrifice which Jesus made for us because now, no more are required to be accepted and forgiven by God and to enable us to approach God’s presence. We are told to boldly come into His presence and approach His throne. Jesus did it once and for all, for all time. But if you want to offer a sacrifice, the author says. “here is what you can do.” Hebrews 13:15-16.

   Now what is a sacrifice? A sacrifice is the willful giving up of something and offering it as a gift to God or someone. What I sacrifice I give up the rights to and I give it to God, or the person I offer it to. Now, there are at least 7 sacrifices that we as Christians are called to make.

The Sacrifices of God Followers. This is not an Exhaustive List! But I would like to give you 5

  1. Your Prayers ( 8:1-6) The prayers of the saints are referred to as offerings. Praying takes time. Praying sometimes, when done with godly intentions, means asking for God to do right when I really don’t feel that way. Forgiveness, blessing my enemies, the opposing politicians, etc. To draw sinners to grace. And more. Praying for those we love also takes time and emotions. It is a sacrifice.
  2. Your Person- Body ( 12:1) Christmas and easter are all about how our God took on our flesh to give it up as a sacrifice for us. That is a love beyond our comprehension. We were His enemies, sinners, yet He gave His body and Life to redeem us, and receive us, and accept us, and adopt us, and forgive us, and give us a hope and a future with a reserved inheritance. We are children of God, why? Because of the mercies of God.

   So, what can we do, or what should we do? What can we give to God? I am glad you asked. Paul says, you can offer your body to Him. Give Him your life. Live for Him. Lord, my body, my mind, my life is yours. I give it to you. Its yours. I will use it for you. I treat like your possession. I am in essence your possession, even your slave, your servant in bonds. I will not take it back. Even to death, I am yours. This mind I yours, I will fill it with the Knowledge of God. This mouth is yours, I will speak the grace and truth of God. These ears are yours, I will the cries of the needy and lost, and hurting. These eyes are yours, I will see people as they are, and pity who I can. These hands are yours to help others. These legs and feet are yours to go to people and love them as you loved me. Can you do that? I will never forget a lady telling me that I was asking too much! I said, I am asking nothing at all, I am only telling you what Paul said. Have you made this sacrifice? Can you?

  1. Your Praise – Thanksgiving (Heb. 13:15)

    Now notice Hebrews 13:14, Life as we know it here is a transient affair. It is temporary. It will not be around forever. Even our way of life has changed so much in our lifetime, let alone the thousands of years that preceded the 19th-21st centuries. But we are fixed on the city that is forever (cp. Abraham in 11:13-16; John 14:1-3; Rev. 21).

         “By Him,” Jesus our High Priest, “Let, us Continually offer the sacrifice of Praise.” It is called the Fruit of Our Lips. The verbal expression of gratitude and faith. The lips say what the heart believes or thinks. Dear Friends, this is important to God as well as beneficial to you. I have included a little help for you. You have between now and Thursday to fill it in or reproduce it for your family so they can fill it before Thursday.

  1. For You. Gratitude looks back for how we have benefited by God’s grace.

It reminds us of God’s Faithfulness.

It keeps us humble for we remember our blessings come from Him not our own abilities, because they also come from Him.

It reminds us of His presence and His care for us as individuals and families.

It honors our Father to know we are appreciative.

Even when we recall, the difficulties He has brought us through.

  1. It helps us to look forward to our future. He is involved and has made us some great promises such as the city Jesus is preparing for us. And the perfect and whole bodies we will have. And Oh, the meal He is preparing and the Songs He will be singing for us, and we will be singing for Him. “Whoever Praises me glorifies me.” ( 50:23 says). The psalmists also says in 107, “Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” As a sacrifice, it gives all the credit to God and produces humility, when sometimes we would like the credit.
  2. For Others. And Gratitude is a testimony to all who hear, whether it is thanksgiving or breakfast at Dutch Country, that You know and revere the God of creation, of provision, and of salvation.
  3. It replaces my anxieties with His peace (Phil. 4:5-7) I Know He’s got this.
  4. For God, it is an expression of both Gratitude and Trust. This is a sacrifice because it says rather than complain about my circumstances, I choose to believe God has a good plan, and that He is working even when I don’t see that He’s working like in what is happening in our country now, or in your isolation, or in my pond predicament. Giving thanks for or in all things as the Apostle Paul suggests in Ephesians and 1 Thess. is obedience and trust when you don’t understand. The Psalms are filled with the encouragement to bring the Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving to God. Can you do it? Can you bring the sacrifice of Praise to God and be specific this Thursday or Verse 15 says, Continually?? This is living Thanksgiving every day. I hope you can. Two more.
  5. Your Performance – Doing Good (Heb. 13:16). I don’t believe this needs a lot of preaching. God has given you His own Holy Spirit to reside in you so you can love others, and one another as Jesus loved you. Your good words, your prayers, your help, are like gold to your family of Brothers and Sisters and those who need to see the gospel with skin on it. Jesus is not here physically but He lives in you. You can show them what Jesus is like by your kindnesses and mercies. Read and remember Matthew 25:31-40!
  6. Your Purses – Sharing What You Have (Heb. 13:16) Being Benevolent. This most likely directed to helping the poor. God has blessed you to be a blessing to other people, especially those in need.When Paul recalls his commissioning by the other Apostles he said. “They only desired that we remember the poor, the very thing I also was eager to do.” (Gal. 2:10). When Israel harvested their crops they were to leave some for the poor (Lev. 19). When Job’s friends were accusing him, they suggested that perhaps his problem was that he neglected the poor, which he strongly denied in 29-30.

Proverbs 19:17 says, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
And He will pay back what he has given
.”

Proverbs 28:27 says, “He who gives to the poor will not lack,
But he who hides his eyes will have many curses
.”

Deut. 15:7-8, ““If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.

  Friends, this may be people you know personally, or charities like Lottie Moon, or Samaritan’s Purse, or World Vision, or the Council of Churches. It could be strangers or the homeless, It might even be an enemy (Romans 12) or angels that you don’t even know (Hebrews 13:1-3). Holidays are a wonderful to bless the less fortunate. It could have been you but for the grace of God. James 1:27 speaks of caring for the widows and orphans in their affliction.

   That could be with food, money, gift cards, clothing, some of time, or however God moves you to give. That’s Acts 2:43 following and Acts 4.

    My friends, that is Living Thanksgiving. In fact that is Living Christmas. That is Living Easter.

 

For with such Sacrifices God is Well Pleased. Your offering in the offering plate is great but what really blesses His heart is when you are grateful and when you serve and give like Jesus did. That is what results in an attaboy, and yous done good, or well done my child, my good and faithful servant.

 

This Thanksgiving let’s put on Jesus and be living our Thanksgiving.

 

Do you know Jesus?

 

Let’s Pray about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Are the Eight Baptist Distinctives? These teachings may be remembered by associating them with the letters that form the word “BAPTISTS.”

 

BIBLICAL AUTHORITY

The Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible affirms, Baptists accept as true. No human opinion or decree of any church group can override the Bible. Even creeds and confessions of faith, which attempt to articulate the theology of Scripture, do not carry Scriptures’ inherent authority. (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:20, 21)

AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH

The local church is an independent body accountable to the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church. All human authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. Thus, the church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church’s beliefs or practices. Autonomy does not mean isolation. A Baptist church may fellowship with other churches around mutual interests and in associational tie, but a Baptist church cannot be a “member” of any other body. (Col. 1:18; 2 Cor. 8:1-5,19, 23)

PRIESTHOOD OF THE BELIEVER

“Priest” is defined as “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God.” Every believer today is a priest of God and may enter into His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and people. As priests, we can study God’s Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God — whether we are a preacher or not. (1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 5:9,10)

TWO ORDINANCES

The local church should practice two ordinances: (1)baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, (2) the Lord’s Supper, or communion commemorating His death for our sins. (Matthew 28:19,20; 1 Corinthians 11;23-32)

INDIVIDUAL SOUL LIBERTY

Every individual whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptists have always opposed religious persecution. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself. (Rom. 14:5,12; 2 Cor. 4:2; Titus 1:9)

SAVED, BAPTIZED CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

Local Church membership is restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer’s baptism. When the members of a local church are believers, a oneness in Christ exists, and the members can endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Acts 2:41-47; 1 Cor. 12:12; 2 Cor. 6:14; Ephesians 4:3)

TWO OFFICES IN THE CHURCH

The Bible mandates only two offices in the church – pastor and deacon. The three terms – “pastor,” “elder,” and “bishop” or “overseer” – all refer to the same office. The two offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, not as hierarchy outside or over the local church (1 Timothy 3)

SEPERATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government’s purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7 and the church’s purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society can properly influence government toward righteousness, which is not the same as a denomination or group of churches controlling the government.
(Matthew 22:15-22; Acts 15:17-29) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                      What Can I Give Thanks For Specifically?

Spiritual Blessings (ex. Salvation, Forgiveness, acceptance, adoption, heaven, Holy Spirit, Bible, love, joy, peace, a Trustworthy Father God, and much more)

 

 

 

 

Physical Blessings (ex. Food, clothing shelter, car, mobility, sight, hearing, smell, touch, flowers, fields, income, job, Teachers who guided you, America, and more)

 

 

 

 

Family Blessings (spouse, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, Friends, and much more)

 

 

 

Tough Times That God has Brought Me/Us Through.