Summary: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us! A thanksgiving sermon
Deeply Loved Children: Series – The People of God
1 John 2:28-3:3 Thanksgiving Sunday, Oct 9 2005
The Butterball company set up a Thanksgiving hotline to answer questions about cooking turkeys. One woman asked if she could use a turkey that had been in the bottom of her freezer for … 23 years. The Butterball expert—how’s that for a job title—told her it would probably be safe if the freezer had been below zero the entire time. But the expert warned her that even if the turkey was safe to eat, the flavor would likely have deteriorated and wouldn’t be worth eating. The woman said, "That’s what I thought. We’ll give the turkey to our church."
I don’t want to be like that – I want to give God and my church my very best. When I reflect and encounter again who God is and what God has done for me, I want my heart to overflow with gratitude and thanksgiving and praise. Admittedly, I am not always there – I think that is sometimes a discipline – but wow is it ever a good discipline. To take time to reflect again, to relive the stories of who God is and what God has done, to remember the stories of who God is to us as a church and of what God has done in our church – that is a critically important discipline.
Why? Because remembering the past helps shape our present. It puts it all in perspective, reminds us that God is faithful and has always come through with us in the past and so will again today. It is good for us to remember, to journey back, to recall the incredible things that God has done yesterday because it shapes us today.
This morning we are going to take some time together to do that “remembering”. In a few moments, I’m going to invite you to share some of those stories with all of us – stories of the faithfulness and power of God in our life together as Christians, so that we can remember. I’m going to ask this question: “what has God done in our shared life together?”, and record those stories right here on this flip chart.
Before that time of remembering, however, I want us to focus our hearts on just one verse from 1 John – 3:1. To put it into context, I’m going to read from where we left off last week, 2:28, up to 3:3. “28And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
29If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.”
John begins a new section here with the words, “and now, dear children…” I don’t like the next word that the NIV translators use, so let’s replace it with a better translation: “abide”. Abide in Jesus. That is what I was talking about last week, when we talked about not loving the world but instead loving God, and we saw that the antidote to the powerful pull of our materialistic culture is growing more deeply in love with Jesus. And then John takes us to a neat place – to the second coming of Jesus. “so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming”. That is great context for a thanksgiving Sunday – Jesus is coming back. The word for “coming” in the original language was used to describe the arrival of the king or the emperor, so we should recall the visit of Queen Elizabeth here in Alberta this past summer, with all of the celebration and festivities and anticipation and rejoicing, and apply that to Jesus’ return. We are right to hope in that, to look forward to that day with eager anticipation, to hold fast to that promise when life is difficult, and to be thankful even in the midst of a trial that Jesus has promised that one day He will return and all of those earthly struggles will be over.
The last part of verse 29 leads us into today’s main verse: “everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” It is the idea of rebirth, of a new creation, and it recalls Jesus’ words to Nicodemus: “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3). What a place to begin remembering the things God has done – with our salvation and “rebirth”!!