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May 10, 2015
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Sermon 3 in Sermon Series
“Five Marks of a Christian”
Adapted from: “Five Marks of a Methodist”
By Steve Harper
Psalm 73:24-28 CEB
Philippians 4:4-9 NIV
I Will Give Thanks!
Prayer for God’s word to be heard through me or in spite of me…
When I was growing up, my mother taught me to say please and thank you. No matter what the situation was, whether I wanted a drink or something to eat, whether I wanted to go out and play with my friends, whether it was a gift that I was given, there had better had been a please and thank you somewhere in there. Even when I got that sweater that could have been in the ugliest sweater contest…I had to say thank you to the person that gave it to me…
But to me…it seems that the habit of being thankful is a forgotten thing. Humanity seems to have forgotten that “rule” in life. Many feel entitled to everything they want and when they get it they are not even thankful because they have received it. This sense of entitlement is one way we can see how far away humanity is from being thankful when given something that was not even merited.
The sad part is that even people who call themselves Christians have forgotten about why and to whom they should be thankful to. Why is it that we, as humanity…as Christ followers…don’t think that a thank you is in order when given a gift? Some have even forgotten to say thank you for the gift of salvation that we don’t deserve but God has graced us with any way. This gift that we are given should bring us to our knees in thankfulness to God but some seem to have forgotten the price of that gift…
We have begun our journey of looking at the five things…five ways…that we can see that we are “being changed by the story” of Easter. I have adapted this Sermon Series from a book written by Steve Harper that is titled “Five Marks of a Methodist: The Fruit of a Living Faith.” But this book is not just for “Methodist”, it is for all who follow Christ. It gives five distinct ways to tell…to visually see…that you are being “changed by the story”, not just reading it.
The five ways are as follows:
A “Christian” not just Methodist:
1. Loves God
2. Rejoices in God
3. Gives Thanks
4. Prays Constantly
5. Loves Others
We have talked about the fact that “we love God” and that it is not just a fleeting love but a love that encompasses all that we have, all that we are, and all that we will be. It is what drives us in our relationship with Him. The more we are in love with Him the more we want to know Him. And the more we know Him the more we want of Him in our lives.
We have discovered that not only do we love God but we rejoice in Him. Not just simply rejoice in Him but rejoice in Him from the bottom of our feet to the tops of our heads. How can we not…look at all that He has given us in our lives…look at all that He has done in our lives and the lives of others. Now that’s reason to truly rejoice.
The next tell tale sign is that we give thanks. Not just your typical thanks that we may give to someone who has given us a gift that we wanted but a thank you for the gift that we didn’t ask for or deserve but are given anyway…
The scripture I read this morning from Exodus is a song of thanks to God. The Israelites have been in captivity for many years and God has delivered them from their captors. Well their captors had decided that they had made a mistake in setting them free so now they had to flee for their lives. When they had lost all hope because of the sea that stood in front of them and their adversaries hot on their heels, God opened the sea for them. They walked over on dry land but those who were chasing them were drowned in the Red Sea. They were so overjoyed and thankful that they sang this song to God. They sang about God’s goodness and mercy…they sang about their deliverance by God. Is there something that God has saved you from or saved someone we know and love from? Are you singing a song of thanksgiving or the dirge of the world around you?
Our God is a God of wonders. Our God is a god of salvation. Our God is a God of mercy. Our God is a God of deliverance. Our God is a God of hope, love and joy. Our God is a God of redemption and wholeness… We have so much to be thankful for. Not just giving thanks but “thank full”.
Romans 8:33-39 gives us even more reason to give thanks. Let me read it for you and you tell me whether or not this would make you thank full…
Romans 8:33-39Amplified Bible (AMP)
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?]
34 Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?
35 Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword?
36 Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.
38 For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,
39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We have reason to be thankful…we have reason to rejoice…we have reason to love God…
Gratitude…thankfulness…is grounded in the nature of God. It has nothing to do with what is going on around us and in our lives. It is solely about God and His goodness. That may be a hard thing but we must first realize that it is not God’s fault nor did He call our situation upon us if we are in a bad place. God is love. God doesn’t cause our distress. We live in a fallen world and because of that we may experience pain. But God has promised to walk with us through our pain to the other side if we but only take His hand…as long as we hold on to the notion He is mad at us or is punishing us we will never feel that feeling of gratitude or thankfulness towards Him…
A Christian gives thanks…even when our situation may call for something else… We give thanks not for what is happening to us but because there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. As we take on the mantel of thankfulness we become content in any situation because we know that God is there…as the saying goes “God brought us to it He will bring us through it…” We are thankful that we can cast all our stress…all our fears…all our anxiety…on God because He is good and loving. We are thankful because we can bring all our prayers to God…day or night…and He hears us. It doesn’t mean it all just disappears…what it does mean is that there is someone there with us as we go through to the other side…
Beloved child of God…are you having trouble being thankful in your life? Do you have the concept that God is angry and distant? Come and see that the Lord is kind, loving and good. Come to the font of joy and come away thankful…thankful that our God is an awesome God. And it is in and through the blood of our Risen Lord Jesus that we may come. He says come…