Thanksgiving #2 Devaluing of the Greatest Gift

 

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 eternal life.

 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 (Judges 21:25).

 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, cold-blooded.

 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 warns

 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 7:9 NLT). 

 Here’s even more bad news:  “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 (NIV).

 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 3:22).

 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 yourself.

 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 first.

 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 Christ. 

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