Sharing Our Thankfulness

Last night we had our community Thanksgiving Service. It’s not terribly well attended, but we had three churches represented, so that’s a good thing. My sermon/meditation was on 1 Thes. 5:16-18, and I thought I would share the basic outline here.

From Alicia Lee's Heaven and Soul Connection

The stained glass ceiling of Thanks-giving chapel, downtown Dallas.

vs. 16: Be joyful always;
Being joyful is easy – we often get it confused with being happy, which is our pleased response to random (HAP) events. But JOY is deeper; joy is the recognition that God has your best interests at heart in the long run. Therefore, joy is an act of trust; trust that God knows what is best, and therefore, we don’t have to worry about what the Lord is doing.

Being joyful is easy, but being joyful ALWAYS is much more difficult. Choosing to trust God when we can’t see the outcome can be tough, but worth it.

vs. 17: pray continually;
Praying is easy – people of every religion pray. But praying continually, and maintaining an ongoing, two-way connection to God in prayer is much more difficult. When we pray, we often launch our desires into the air, and hope that God pays attention to them. But prayer also includes listening, and developing the discipline of listening for the Lord to speak back to us can be tough, but is also worth it.

vs. 18: give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Giving thanks is easy – we are taught as children to say “thank you”. But to do so IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES is much more difficult. It is hard to thank God for a cancer diagnoisis, for news of another terrorist attack, for a child’s broken heart. But when we recognize that we are giving thanks to Someone greater than ourselves, we are forced to recognize that we do not run the universe! We are not God; we do not have sovereign power to make everything come out the way we want.

Therefore, when we thank God, we are practicing a spiritual discipline of humility, of admitting to both God and ourselves that we are not on the Throne. And when we do so in all circumstances, we are reminded once again that God has perspective which we do not – and is uniquely qualified to run the universe for the benefit of ALL its citizens, not just our individual selves.

So, this Thanksgiving, we will do more than pause over a hot shared meal; we will admit that we are receivers of blessings beyond our ability to orchestrate… and we will thank the Conductor of all harmony, our great God.

The Ancient of Days Today

The Ancient of Days Today Sermon Audio Here

The Ancient of Digital Days | by greenwise art

Daniel 7:9-14

Today is Christ The King Sunday; but WHY? CtK Sunday was formed because secular governments try to assert authority over the Church.

Why Look to the Ancient of Days for Guidance Today?

He is The Source of Sovereignty
Daniel 7:9-14

  • v9 look @ attributes: white=pure wisdom; fire=strong authority
  • v10/12 God has the right to judge, and He will do so
  • v13/14 Jews would interpret this as a sign of Israel’s supremacy; God will keep the King forever;
  • in other words, the Ancient of Days knows what He is doing by virtue of His wisdom and authority

He is the Answer for Authority
John 18:33-37

  • v33 Pilate asks a GOOD question: who do you rule, Jesus?
  • v34/35 next good question: what have you done, Jesus?
  • v36 Jesus’ kingdom NOT of this world; what is our response?
  • v37 everyone on side of truth listens to Jesus; what side are you on?

Pope Pius the Eleventh said that if Jesus is actually LORD, then all of our lives must be affected:

  • He must reign in our minds – we submit to His word
  • He must reign in our wills – we obey His word
  • He must reign in our hearts – we love God above all else
  • He must reign in our bodies – we live as instruments of justice for God

Highlights from Hebrews: The Full Assurance of Faith

Highlights from Hebrews: The Full Assurance of Faith Sermon Audio Here

Hebrews 10:19-25

My family are big fans of the TV show So You Think You Can Dance; and every year, they go on tour. A few years ago, we had the opportunity to get box seats from a friend to the show. It was amazing; great view, private box… but the neatest thing to me was that the attendants *knew* we were coming. There was a place prepared for us, all due to the benefits of relationship with someone who had connections at the arena.

If You Want The Benefits of Faith,

Come to God
Heb. 10:19-22

  • v19/20 the curtain was torn; so was Jesus
  • v21/22 draw near, cleansed: ref. Mercy Seat & Sea

Come Together
Heb. 10:23-25

  • v23 HOPE=expectation; we expect God to keep His promise
  • v24 US consider (subjunctive)= TOGETHER, we think about building each other up
  • v25 not forsaking but exhorting; make the choice to come together

We come together with God; with confidence that we’re clean; expecting God to work in us; We Expect Better Together. Come together… right now… Jesus wins!

Highlights from Hebrews: The Real Mercy Seat

Highlights from Hebrews: The Real Mercy Seat Sermon Audio Here

Hebrews 9:24-28

There is a wonderful illusion I saw as a child, and I’ve never forgotten it. It was a parabolic mirror hologram. You place a real object on a parabolic mirror, and cover it with another mirror with a hole. The combination casts a visual-but-not-solid “model” of the original object.

How Does The Mercy Seat Model Work?

Real Mercy Seat Is The Presence Of God
v24 “sanctuary”=copy of Heaven (cf. Vs 1-6);

Sacrificial Blood Allows God To Meet With Us
v25/26 to do away with sin

  • the old model was tainted and had to be repeatedly cleansed. Jesus, on the other hand, went into the REAL Holy Place, and fulfilled the function of the old system

We Are Ushered Into God’s Presence By Jesus
v27/28 bring salvation to those waiting

  • someday, Jesus will return to actually bring us Home;
  • Communion Table fulfills a similar function as the Mercy Seat

We are brought into God’s presence when we gather together recognizing the Veil has been torn from the inside out!

Highlights from Hebrews: The Power of the Blood

Highlights from Hebrews: The Power of the Blood Sermon Audio Here

Hebrews 9:11-14

Do you want to be free from sin’s weight? Do you want to conquer evil? Do you want to win the struggle you fight inside everyday? Do you want to know HOW to do these things? Look at the Cross!

The Blood Has Power Because

It Is Perfect From The Start

  • v11 more perfect= a completed sign; miracle made manifest NOT by humanity

It Is Parity For Both God And Humanity

  • v12 by his own blood; the perfect balance of holy God and frail humanity; cf. Rom. 6:23 wage is paid for work; Jesus work was SINLESS, enabling Him to be our priest AND sacrifice

It Points To God’s Plan

  • v13 blood+ashes=callback to old sacrificial system (num.19); only works symbolically

It Is Potent Enough For ALL

  • v14 Jesus’ sacrifice NOT outwardly symbolic, but inwardly effective! The Blood shall NEVER lose its POWER!
  • That is why Communion isn’t a re-sacrifice of Christ, but a remembrance of what He has already done.

When we sin, we often focus on the sin itself; our inability to get it right. Some of us do this often, and some not so much. But we are ALL lost because of our sin. When we focus on the sin itself, we are trapped by it; but when we focus on the BLOOD that covers our sin, we are reminded that Jesus has perfectly paid our penalty!

Highlights from Hebrews: The Perfect Go-Between

Highlights from Hebrews: The Perfect Go-Between Sermon Audio Here

Hebrews 7:20-28

Hebrews 6 is about the need to grow in your faith to inherit God’s promises; chapter 7 is about how God makes promises and implemented them through priests like Melchizedek, and how Jesus is the ultimate example of that priesthood.

Jesus is God’s Promise To Us

That Our Salvation Will Last Forever
(Heb. 7:20-24)

  • v20 emphasis on oath: a guarded promise to fulfill an obligation
  • v21 God the Father made a binding promise to God the Son: you will be the go-between
  • v22 guarantee= the incentive to trust God
  • v23/24 human flesh fades; Jesus is forever

That Our Savior Will Shape Our Present
(Heb. 7:25-28)

  • v25 save completely; no area of your life that can’t be changed by Jesus
  • v26 last week emphasized how Jesus was human like us; this week, we see Jesus is ALSO God like the Father
  • v27 change of direction: old system was from sinful humanity to perfect God.
  • v28 NEW system: sacrifice started from perfect God to sinful humanity

All too often, we’re overcome by our tendency to fall back into sin. This is serious, but it is not terminal. God KNOWS we stumble and fall. He KNOWS we fail Him, and don’t live “in victory”. But the battle is not OURS to win or lose; it’s already been won by Jesus for the Father. The Spirit allows us to access Jesus’ victory over death and sin. He allows us to go between our old fallen life and our new risen reality. All we need do is surrender our old life daily and follow Him.

Highlights from Hebrews: The Great High Priest

Highlights from Hebrews: The Great High Priest Sermon Audio Here

Hebrews 5:1-10

In college, I sold vacuum cleaners. To be effective in selling my specific model, I had to show how it was better than the old vacuum the customer had.

To Understand Jesus’ Worth, We Must Understand

The Work of a Priest
Heb. 5:1-4

  • v1 appointed to represent; “placed to interact with God”
  • v2 deal gently; put aside their own feelings about sin
  • v3 every human priest sins; they live in contradiction
  • v4 discernment of call is important, no matter the vocation

Jesus is Better than Priestwork
Heb. 5:5-10

  • v5 Psalm 2 overlay; the Son does what the priest cannot
  • v6 the Son serves longer than the priest
  • v7 the Son was saved from the permanence of death
  • v8 the Son suffered and learned
  • v9 the Son is the source of salvation
  • v10 Melchizedek = King of Righteousness; The Father placed the Son as both King and Priest

Jesus combines kingly authority; priestly representation; and perfect sacrifice into one. Our High Priest not only pays for our salvation, but defeated death itself to let us know that we have been represented and restored to God.

Pastor Ed Backell

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