November 24th, 2002, Sunday Evening Thanksgiving Week
"The Meaning of Thanksgiving"
Even with our constant disobedience, God wishes to declare us blameless
OPENING: 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, KJV
LEAD IN: Psalm 107:1-22: The pattern is that we often forget to give thanks for God who
constantly provides for us. Then we forget God altogether. Soon we are distressed and trouble and cry out to God
for help which He gladly does--again and again.
CONTEXT OF THIS MESSAGE -> CONSIDER THE BACKGROUND OF THE CHURCH OF CORINTH IN EUROPE:
A CORRUPT, UNORGANIZED CHURCH AND CITY
The word "Corinth" means immoral
Composed mostly of Greeks, Gentiles, and few Jewish people
People were at strife and conflict with one another (i.e., taking each other to court)
They abused observing the Lord's Supper (communion) and many fell sick and died, as a result (1 Corinthians 11:29-30)
They abused the gifts to the church and ate meat sacrificed to idols
Thousands of prostitutes worked at the temple and there was little religious training in the church
But now the church in Corinth is on the rebound and Paul takes notice of this in this letter to the church of
Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:1-2) and expresses his joy and justification for seeing the Corinthian people
act on Paul's earlier teachings
1 Corinthians 1:4: Notice that every chance Paul gets, he gives thanks not for his own
health or blessings but he considers others by thanking God for them--even in the sad state these Corinthians are in.
ASIDE: How many times do you thank God for the people whom you work with/for or go to church with?
James 1:17: It is important to direct your thanks to the Father above because it is from
Him where "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from"
Eternal salvation, a gift that is neither earned nor
deserved, also comes from above--from the Father given through the Son
1 Corinthians 1:5: Now that Paul thanks God for the Corinthian people, he explains the
benefits of acquiring salvation--specifically in speech and knowledge:
Your rationale for your actions come from a new source: your heart. You'll no longer pretend to go to
church just to be seen and then turn back to your past sinful wants when you walk out the door (acting as two people); now you'll genuinely
act as a savedChristian both in and out of church (one person) with all actions and
motives coming from your heart
You'll speak more intelligently and with a greater vocabulary. For example, you'll
stop speaking every word you think--you'll "bridle your tongue" to prevent saying hurtful and unintelligent things and
say that which edifies, is truth and love
James 1:26: How do lost people speak? On the surface, the same as saved
people. What makes them different is that they speak critically, selfishly, with negativity and anger. They "speak their mind." Proverbs 10:18, 18:6, 18:7, 19:1, 29:11, 29:20
calls this foolish.
You'll increase in knowledge and see how the various pieces of life's puzzle begin to fit together
With God's grace now in your life, you'll excel (become enriched)
at work, home, school, church, etc. ... in music, math, science, humanities, geography, etc. -- in all things you do, you'll do better
Reciprocally, the trend of American youths who are doing more and more poorly in school today is a
reflection of how this country is sinking deeper and deeper into immorality and anti-Christian living.
Note the shock is not so much not knowing the location of international countries but the location of
prominent states within the U.S.!
The increase of speech and knowledge translates to better decision-making. You'll have more
"situational awareness" for the environment you're in. All this is a result of God's grace
working your life
Psalm 46:10: The knowledge that God is in control should be enough to calm you in times
of distress. Some lost people lose sleep constantly over things beyond their control ... such as believing
this world will be soon destroyed by an asteroid (for example); Again--proof that believers
are not worried about things beyond their control because they know God is in control--a critical piece of knowledge
to life's puzzle
1 Corinthians 1:6: Paul says here he believes the people are following through
with their testimonies that Jesus Christ is Lord through what he sees by their actions: they walk the talk.
Paul concludes their "salvation is real" (i.e., the people truly accepted Christ as Savior) because they
are acting and behaving according to Christ's teachings (via Paul at an earlier time); Paul sees their
"grace at work."
1 Corinthians 1:7: "So that ye come behind in no gift" means that the church is not
lacking in any of its needs because God has provided all the church's needs. Further, Paul concludes the people
have learned the virtue of patience--waiting however long it takes for Christ to return for him (Patience being
another example of "real salvation"--the people wait on God's timetable and not their own).
Ephesians 1:3-14: Another letter from Paul to the saints at
Ephesus--mirroring the words he tells the Corinthians here: how God formed us from before the beginning of the
world; how God gave us wisdom and prudence; how God has an inheritance for those destined for Heaven
The church at Corinth had many problems and was an imperfect church but they showed themselves willing
to wait for the believed return of Christ (Rapture) which is the real hope--the "grace
at work"--however long it takes to arrive.
1 Corinthians 1:8: Not only does God sustain their earthly needs but tells them before their
earthly bodies die that they shall not only live forever but (as saved
people) will be blameless before God at the Judgment
1 Corinthians 1:9: And to cap it, the simple truth is that God is love. His faithfulness,
lovingkindness, and good pleasure to believers (those in the Body of Christ)
will last forever
What does all of this have to do with Thanksgiving?
The church in Corinth was a filthy mess: prostitutes by the thousands, idol worship and sacrifice,
the people constantly fighting with each other... and yet Paul thanks God for them.
We, too, were once like the church of Corinth: we started out as a lost soul, our life a mess within.
Paul sees how they've turned from their sinful ways to Christ-like ways: Paul confirms
"testimonies are at work" and their "salvation is real" and as a result, not only are the people made more mentally
and spiritually strong, they are told ahead of time of their confirmed eternal life, to begin blameless, awaiting them
When you sit down to Thanksgiving this week, be sure to thank God not only for the obvious blessings
you've seen in your life but for the un-noticed gifts given when you're saved,
including: greater intelligence, speech, the critical virtue of patience and the gift of a prepared eternally blameless life beyond Earth.