Summary: We can be grateful to God: 1. for His forgiveness (vs. 1&2). 2. for our fellowship (vs. 3-5 & 7-8). 3. for our faith (vs. 4). 4. for our finish (vs. 6).
Great Reasons for Christian Gratitude
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Nov. 24, 2013
SPECIAL MUSIC: "Give Thanks" by Henry Smith
*The first time I ever heard that song was during a mission trip to Ukraine in the summer of 1997. We were on the deck of a ship in the city of Sevestopal with a group of young Ukrainian Christians. The leaders of that group were three former drug dealers who had been wonderfully saved by Jesus. And they were called by God to start churches in that city.
*These people were so poor. The average income over there was $50 a month when you got paid, and lots of months they didn't. But there they stood singing with all their hearts:
"Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks unto the Holy One.
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say, 'I am strong.'
Let the poor say, 'I am rich,
Because of what the Lord has done for us.' -- Give thanks." (1)
*That's the true spirit of Thanksgiving, and it's what brings us here together tonight. But when I search my heart, many times I am surprised by my lack of gratitude.
*As Christians, we want to have grateful hearts, and we ought to have grateful hearts. But it's easy to lose our gratitude. One reason why is because living in the most blessed country in the world, we tend to get spoiled.
*Another reason we can be ungrateful is pride. It's easy to take credit for the blessings God has given. Like the bumper sticker Aaron Burgess once saw. It said: "I couldn't have done it without me."
*We can also be influenced by negative people around us. They can make us grumpy and ungrateful. On top of that, it's hard to be grateful when life seems to turn against you: When your doctor says it's cancer, or you lose your job, or your spouse is letting you down, or your child is in trouble. (2)
*The good news is that even in the worst of times, Christians can have a grateful heart. Paul surely did. Even though he wrote this letter while he was chained to a Roman soldier, it overflows with joy and gratitude. Let's look into the Word of God to see some great reasons for our gratitude.
1. First: We can be grateful to God for His forgiveness.
*It's the forgiveness we can find in vs. 2, where Paul said: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
*Thank God for His forgiveness, because we all surely need it! Anthony de Mello told about a pastor who was teaching a class of little children. And he asked this question: "If all the good people in the world were red, and all the bad people were green, what color would you be?"
*One little girl thought about it hard for a moment. Then her face lit-up and she said: "I'd be streaky!" (3)
*So would you, and so would I. I am looking at some of the best people in Caldwell Parish. But Romans 3:23 tells us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And 1 John 1:8 says: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
*None of us is perfect, so we need God's forgiveness, and it comes from God's grace. There was nothing we did, or ever could do to earn God's forgiveness. It came from God's unmerited favor: the reality that God loves us, not because we deserve it, but because He IS love.
*Christians: Our forgiveness came from God's grace. And it gives us God's peace. Our sin put us at war with the God of the universe, and that's a war we could never win. But through Jesus Christ, the battle is over, and we have peace.
*We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ! -- Through His death on the cross for us, and through His resurrection. Here's more of what Paul says to Christians in Romans 5:
1. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2. through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
6. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.