Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Mid-week Advent 2

Advent 2 Midweek Service 
December 13, 2000 
Epistle Text: Philippians 1:3-11

"Being Thankful to our All-Faithful God"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   Dear friends in Christ, tonight's sermon text is our Epistle lesson from Philippians 1, verses 3-11.  Please join me in a word of prayer.    (Gracious God, our heavenly Father, we ask you to open our hearts and our minds to your precious Word.   Fill us with your truths and nourish our faith through thy Word and Holy Spirit.   Thank you for giving us your Son, Jesus, and thank you for our salvation in Him. Amen.)

Have you ever noticed in our society and country an attitude of unthankfulness and ungratefulness?   It may be quite apparent to some while others are somewhat unaware of it.  We can often observe that many people in our society today do not even give thanks to God for their daily bread.  Also, it is becoming less and less frequent for people in general to even acknowledge a gracious God who blesses, provides and forgives.   According to today's popular culture and contemporary society, it's cool and even right to give ourselves the credit for everything we have.   'You know, all that I have, "I have earned."  I provide for myself.'  As a whole, our society is taking God out of the equation of their lives and replacing Him with anything and everything.    Society is walking further and further away from

God and His truths given in the Holy Bible.   This is evident by the unthankfulness and ungratefulness being manifested in the lives of so many people.

Unfortunately, this is evident in our own lives as well. We too are fallen and sinful beings in total need of God's forgiveness. In our lives there are times when we act unthankful towards God, our family members, and even others.   We are guilty of taking the blessings of God for granted.   We are just as guilty of being selfish and full of pride as everyone else is. The one thing that is true of all us is that we are poor, miserable, sinners.    We are all in need of God's grace, mercy and forgiveness.    Let us give thanks to God for the forgiveness that we have in His Son, Jesus Christ.

In our text for today, the Apostle Paul says that he was thankful to God every time he remembered the saints at Philippi. Paul always prayed joyfully for them because of their partnership in the Gospel.   They were a source of love, support, and assistance for Paul.   For many of us here tonight, there may be a person or a number of people that have helped us in our lives and have really shown us the love of Jesus Christ. Every time we remember them, we can give thanks to God our Heavenly Father.   That's exactly how it was for the Apostle Paul.   Paul thanked God for the provisions and blessings he received from the people of Philippi.   Let us render thanks unto God for all the blessings we have received from Him also.

In light of this, we too, can admit that we have many temporal and eternal blessings in which we can thank God for.  In the temporal aspect of things, we can be thankful for our homes; many are homeless.    We can be thankful for our eyesight; many are blind.    We can be thankful for our food; many are hungry and worse off.    We can be thankful for our families; many are lonely.  We can be thankful for our jobs, many are unemployed. 

God has richly blessed us and for this we need to be thankful.    As believers in Christ we are to bear witness to our faith in the Lord and one easy way to do this is to show gratitude and thankfulness to our Lord.   Where we have fallen short of this by being ungrateful and unthankful, we ask God to forgive us for Christ's sake.

Furthermore, God our Redeemer has blessed us with more than just temporal things.   In Christ Jesus, God has blessed us with heavenly riches, those riches that last forever, eternal riches.  These riches are forgiveness of all our sins, salvation, and eternal life in heaven with Christ.   Like verse 6 tells us, we too can be totally confident that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus; which is the Resurrection.    God who has worked faith in our hearts will sustain such faith unto life everlasting. God does this through His Word and through the Sacraments. It is here that we are fed with the food and power that comes from on High.   God our heavenly Father is faithful to take care of us.   He will not abandon us even when we die.

The Holy Spirit, by the Gospel, keeps us in the true faith.

For this we can be most thankful.   We are indeed blessed by God with many temporal and eternal blessings.   Let us give thanks to God with a grateful heart for all our blessings. Let us give thanks to God for our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

I believe that it was Paul's desire for his audience to grow and mature in their love for one another.  Verse 9 tells us this:  "And this is my prayer - that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight."   In other words, real love does require growth and maturation.   Real love is active.   Real love is Christ who suffered, died, and rose again for our behalf; and for the world's behalf.   Real love is Christ in us.   Paul's charge to the Philippians to grow and mature in their love is our charge also.   This being so that we may be able to discern what is best and may remain pure and blameless until the day of Christ.   May we share together in God's grace, receive His forgiveness by faith, and obtain the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls.  It is here in our faith, the faith that God has given to us and sustains that we are enabled to love by being thankful and grateful.   As Psalm 107:1 says, "O Let us give thanks to the Lord, for He is Good!"          Amen.

Jon Smithley

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