Thanksgiving #2 Devaluing of the Greatest Gift
Last time we examined 5 thanksgiving killers:
spiritual conflict, entitlement, resentment, fear, and guilt. We discovered how
we need to replace distorted thinking with the Word of God to condemn the
killers and be free to experience feelings of thanksgiving. In this teaching we examine the danger of
familiarity and its ability to devalue God’s great gift of salvation, thus
robbing us of genuine thanks.
John 3:16 (NIV)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his
one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have
Many of us have these words memorized. We’ve been exposed to them countless
times. We believe they are true. God’s love has given us salvation. This is the greatest of gifts, but often we
forget that it is, and when we do, that forgetting, that devaluation, dries up
our well of giving thanks.
Jesus said that in this world we will have
trouble. Life, the very creation itself,
is not functioning as God intended. The
reason for this is sin. Sin disrupts the proper functioning of
relationships. The Genesis account of
creation reveals that the sin of God's chosen representatives has created
corruption in the created order (Romans 8:22).
Humanity does not have the power within itself to relate rightly to
God. People do not have the power within
themselves to relate rightly to one another.
Individuals are at odds with their very selves. As a whole, the species exploits the earth
instead of caring for it. Everyone does
what is right in their own eyes, each individual is the arbitrator of their
morality, each person has their Truth, their reality, and when this conflicts
with another the result is hostility and little hells on earth are created
Romans 1:28-31 (MSG)
Since they didn't bother to acknowledge God, God
quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant
evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth
with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them:
mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers,
insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They
ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel,
Paul isn’t writing about Politian’s, he is writing
about the human predicament in which we are all immersed. Look around, what do you see? “…Repetitive,
loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage;
frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion;
paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied
wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and
divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of
depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable
addictions; ugly parodies of community”
(Gal 5:19-21 (MSG).
You might judge yourself free from such behavior
(1 John 1:8). You’re a good person, most
of the time. You forgive those who have
sinned against you. You give generously
of your money to help the poor. You
volunteer your time in service to others.
You don’t even have any relational disasters in your life. The bad news is that the Bible says you’re
guilty by association.
Romans 3:22-23 (NIV)
There is no difference, for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God,
I didn’t make the rules. The ugly fact is that the representative of
the human race disobeyed, and by association with the Adam, the whole race is
estranged from God. This estrangement is
the cause of our problems with one another and with ourselves. This estrangement is depicted in the story
of our origin.
Genesis 3:23-24 (NIV)
So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of
Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man
out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming
sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Joni Mitchel wrote and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and
Young made famous in 1969 the lyric: “And
we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
The sad truth is that we can’t get ourselves back to the Garden. The Garden represents a right relationship
with God, Others, Self, and the Earth.
The way is blocked. Sin always
blocks the way to what we want: life to the full. We look for ways to live but the scripture
Proverbs 14:12-13 (MSG)
There's a way of life that looks harmless enough;
look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that
laughter will end in heartbreak.
We are guilty of sin by association. You may even
be guilty of sin by commission. Think
over the relationships in your life.
Have you ever been at odds with someone?
Have you taken or given offense to someone? Have you ever had a good relationship turn
sour? Sin deters, damages, and destroys
healthy relationships. There is also a
moral code in the Bible that transcends all generations, all cultures, it’s
called the 10 Commandments. All ten are
listed twice, you can find them in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-12. Let’s highlight just three commands. Stealing, lying and wanting what someone else
has are all sins. You might not even
know those were sins unless they were identified as such in the Bible (Romans
Here’s even more bad news: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23
The wages earned by sinful behavior is death and death
manifests itself in four ways. The first
is obvious, we all die. We all die thanks to the rebellion of our Genesis
parents. Aliments, afflictions, diseases,
disorders, and physical suffering are all part of physical death. It seems that if they would have stuck to the
plan we would have all partaken of the tree of life and lived forever (Genesis
The second way is observable. It
shows up in a miserable life. Death can
manifest as being emotionally miserable: bitter, unforgiving, self-critical,
being worn out, are not the characteristics of someone who is living their life
to the full. You’ve convinced yourself
that you’re no good, you trust no one, you keep score, allow your past to
define who you are today. Holding on to
anger and resentment poisons the spirit.
Can you find the worst in everything?
Can you see the flaws in anyone?
Looking for the worst and finding flaws are death perspectives, a wage
of sin. You are not relating rightly to
Death can manifest itself in the physical
devastation that happens to the body because a person has chosen to abuse
it. Countless are the time's addictions
have cut lives short and destroyed lives.
The third way death reveals itself is in how you
have been treated by others. It wasn’t
your fault, you were innocent. Someone
did something to you that hurt you, scared you, and maimed you. This also is a picture of death. Used, Abused, neglected, a great injustice
thrust upon you, and you feel thrown away, you feel broken, unrepairable. People do evil things to people and someone
chose to do something bad to you. Then
maybe you were not the victim but the perpetrator, often both victim and then
perpetrator. Hate, violence, rage,
murder, war, which lead to atrocity; are all the fruit of sin. When we treat others in a way other than we
would want them to treat us, it’s a glimpse of death.
The fourth way death is manifested is the most
deadly of deaths, its’ spiritual death. [Matthew 10:28] Spiritual death is separation from God (John
17:3). The Bible paints many word
pictures of hell. Hell is like a fiery
abyss [Revelation 9:1], a place where refuse is burned, a smoldering waste dump.
[What is Gehenna? Is it hell?
(redeeminggod.com)] Hell is like smoke
eternally rising from personal torment that is external as pictured by the
fires [Revelation 14:11, Luke 16:23] and torment that is internal as pictured
by the worms that do not die. [Mark
9:48] Hell is like excruciating pain and frenzied anger as pictured by the
gnashing of teeth. [Luke 13:28] Hell is
a place inhabited by devils and demons, and sinners. [Matthew 25:41, Revelation
20:15] Hell is pervaded with everlasting hopelessness, there is no acquittal,
no second chances. [Luke 16:26] These descriptions are meant to appall us, to
terrify us. to convince us that this is not how you want to spend eternity. Hell is the second death, the first death is
physical, this one spiritual (Revelation 20:14). The pictures of Hell describe to us what
separation from God is like. This is the
ultimate revelation of sin’s consequences, spiritual death.
Sin results in death. Death manifests itself in your life now and
in the life to come. Every evil that
befalls you in this world is because of sin.
Please note that not everything bad is evil. Struggles, difficulties, and suffering happen
all the time, but they are not necessarily evil things. Evil always comes with
intent. The four ways sin reveals itself
as death is one, your body is going to die, two, emotional misery is a payday
for sin, three, others do evil to you, and fourth is a second death following the
Ezekiel 18:20 (MSG)
The soul that sins is the soul that dies.
The manifestations of sin as death have been laid
out as unemotionally as possible. These
revelations are not meant to scare you, to frighten you into some kind of
commitment. No, these descriptions are
to help remind you what you have been saved from.
Salvation is the greatest of gifts. Physical death ends in a resurrection into
life eternal (John 11:25). A miserable
life is transformed into living your life to the full (John 10:10). The evil people do to one another one day
will be no more (Revelation 21:4). The
second death will not touch you (Revelation 2:11)
Your salvation is a costly gift.
Galatians 4:4-5 (NLT)
God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the
law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he
could adopt us as his very own children.[
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV)
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so
that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
John 10:18 (NLT)
[Jesus said] “No one can take my life from me. I
sacrifice it voluntarily…”
1 Peter 1:18-19 (MSG)
It cost God plenty to get you out of that
dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ's sacred blood,
you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb.
Isaiah 53:5-6 (NLT)
“…he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for
our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our
own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins
of us all.”
Ephesians 1:7 (NLT)
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he
purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
John 15:13-14 (NLT)
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s
life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
If you do not know how to receive this gift from
God, ask me. I’ll tell you about
acknowledging the smell of death in your life.
I’ll tell you about believing in the scripture we’ve read. I’ll tell you about committing to live a life
free from sin. I’ll tell you how asking
God to accept your faith results in salvation.
Salvation is God’s “free” gift to you. But the
cost of that gift is incalculable. Take
some time to contemplate how precious your salvation is. Thanksgiving is the result. Thanksgiving for salvation puts so much of
life into proper perspective. You have been set free from sin and death. Give thanks for what God has done for you in
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