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Home Sermon Collection (ENG.Ver) English version The Miracle of Thanksgiving
The Miracle of Thanksgiving PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ir. David Kurniadi   
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 14:14

There is one thing that the angels cannot do but the Christians can, that is giving thanks to the Lord. For this the angels are just spectators, and they are amazed with us because the angels don’t receive what we, the Christians, received. The Christians have received so many graces from God that never received by the angels.


The angels are more expert in praising and worshiping the Lord, because they directly enjoy the mighty and beauty of the Lord in Heaven that we, the living, do not see it as they do. But though they enjoy it in super reality, but they never knew about God’s grace and mercy, because they are sinless. The Lord didn’t die for them. They never received redemption and forgiveness of sin, as we do. That’s why only the redeemed knows about giving thanks to the Lord. For the angels it’s a strange thing.


In the other hand, the Devil with his angels never praises or worships the Lord. Though they also see directly the mighty and beauty of the Lord, and they tremble (James 2:19), but they hate the Lord and envy with human beings. They are full of hatred and grudge. It’s because of the Devil and his angels rebel against God (Isaiah 14:12-15). They are full of scheme to ruin and destroy everything God makes (John 10:10). They pervert the truth, mislead the man (John 8:44), caused tragedy, malign or defame the Lord, and accuse the redeemed day and night before the Lord (Revelation 12:10). So, for them thanksgiving is also an odd and illicit thing.


We, Christians, the redeemed, should indeed always give thanks to the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:18). There are countless reasons to give thanks to the Lord. We can only mention few of them. But many Christians even do not appreciate what the Lord has done and regard it just as usual things. But let us now recall the few things that the Lord has done, and we will see that those are not usual, but obviously the most precious, glorious, noble and at the same time significance for our salvation.


First: God’s compassionate love.


We ought to give thanks for God’s compassionate love toward us.


“For God so loved the world,” the Scripture says (John 3:16). God exclusively expressed His great love toward human beings. We never heard such expression given to the angels, but instead to human beings, who all have sinned (Romans 3:23).


And God do not only say to us that He loves us; He proved His love by giving His only begotten Son. He sent His Son to save man from sin and eternal punishment (John 3:17). But when God gave His Son it also means He gives everything. He does not spare any good things from us.


“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Roman 8:32).


Jesus, His Son, also loves us with a great love. He was not “a victim” of God’s love toward man, because He himself willingly gave up His life to die at the cross as our substitute that we may receive the forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation.


“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends…” (John 15:13).


The angels are amazed with God’s love toward sinners, and the Devil is so envious. But man who receives it, some doesn’t believe it and some think it just as ordinary thing. But those who aware, they are very grateful for the grace and mercy they receive.


During the Korean War, many people had to flee from the north side to the south. It was winter and the temperature was dropped below zero. There was one lady who was pregnant and it was the time for her to deliver her baby. She was among the refugees who walked to the south. She looked for the place to deliver her baby, but there was no place except under the bridge. So she delivered her baby there alone without anyone helps. The winter was so cold and she had nothing to wrap her newborn baby. So she took off her only coat and wrapped the baby. She hugged the baby tightly and tried to warm up her baby, while she was so weak and bleeding. Finally she could not endure and she passed away. The baby was crying and an American soldier who passed by the bridge heard it. He went down the bridge and found out the baby with her mother who was already deceased.


He took the baby and adopted her as his daughter while he buried the mother in certain place. Some time later the American soldier became a missionary in South Korea and stayed there with her daughter. The daughter one day asked him who was her mother. And He showed her the mother’s tomb and told her the entire story. Though the daughter have never seen her mother but she knew how great was her mother’s love for her because she had given up her life for her daughter that the daughter may live.


Second: “Salvation through redemption.”


On the cross, Jesus gave up His life as our substitute that we may have eternal life. He shed His blood to purchase us from sins slavery to become His own possession (Revelation 5:9). He redeemed us and made us His own. We, who were bound for hell and damnation, now have been set free and received our justification:


“Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).


The angels do not know at all about salvation and redemption. They have never been redeemed. They are all the time and for eternity with God in Heaven. They are amazed with the grace of salvation. They never knew it. But the Devil raged and envious to see the sinners received their forgiveness and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. So we ought to thank God for our redemption; for the forgiveness of our sins; for the grace of salvation that the angels never tasted.


Third: “Adoption as God’s child.”


The angels since the beginning were called as God’s children (Job 1:6), and they live in Heaven near the throne of God. But, we humans are sinners (Romans 3:23). We rebel against God and disobey Him (Isaiah 53:5-6). We walk in our own way and deviate from the way of God. We were slaves of sin and followed the Devil’s instigations (Romans 6:16-17). We are not worthy to become God’s children. In fact we are God’s enemy (Romans 5:10; 8:7). Yet by God’s grace in Christ, we are justified by faith in Him (Romans 3:24).


When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, God changed our status. He adopted us to become His children (John 1:12). We actually don’t deserve of this exaltation, but God lifted us up from dust to become as stars in the sky above. That was what God has done for us in Jesus. More over, we were made heirs; we have a lawful right to receive everything God has provided for His beloved (Romans 8:17) and we are allowed to call God: Father! (Romans 8:15). What a great privilege!


The angels are amazed, astonished and awed by God’s loving kindness. Not only because He adopts the sinful human beings to become His children, but also to make them heirs, the right that the angels never received.  And now the Devil is more envious. That’s why he hates the believers very much because God loves them with such a great love.


But again, many Christians do not aware about their precious privilege. They live not according to the status they have, as God’s children, but like other people who still live outside God’s grace: living a worldly and lustful life (1 John 2:15-16). They do not appreciate their adoption.


Actually we ought to be grateful for the grace of God that has adopted us to become God’s children. We should give thanks every time we realize that we are God’s children and His heirs.


Fourth: Cancelation the debts of sin


Every time someone commits sin, it becomes a debt for him. If he does not settle his sins before the Lord, the debt of his sins would be accumulated and piled up. If the debts are not cancelled the Devil could claim him as his slave. In fact the sinners are the slaves of sin; they live in slavery.


The Lord gave us an illustration about the cost of the debt of sin that is unbearable for one to settle it by himself. “No one could pay the redemption for his soul. It’s too costly to be paid,” says the Psalmist (Psalms 49:8-9). But most of men do not aware about the cost of their debts of sin. They just easily ask, “What is my sin? What have I done?” They cannot measure the weight of their sin. They think it lightly, while in fact it is too heavy for them to bear. So, the Lord gave the illustration how much does it cost, to awaken people to the unbearable burden of their sin.


It was like a man who has a debt of 10,000 talents of gold. Lets try to calculate it with today’s value. One talent is about 6,000 pennies. And at Jesus’ time one penny was wages of daily workers. If today worker works 8 hours a day and is paid 7,25 dollars per hour, it means one penny is worth of 58 dollars. So one talent is worth of 348,000 dollars. Thus the man, who has a debt of 10,000 talents, has a debt of 3,480,000,000 dollars. If he would live for 100 years it means each day he has to pay approximately 95,342 dollars for the entire of his life. It’s a huge amount of debts. (Forgive me if the calculation is not precisely correct. It is just for an illustration).


But the good news is, “the Master’s heart was moved with compassion, and He released him and forgave him, cancelling his debt” (Matthew 18:27). Hallelujah!


Because of His love and compassion, the Lord cancelled the debts of our sins. So, He set us free from the bond of sin slavery by paying the costs for us (Colossians 2:14). He purchased us, redeemed us, and ransomed us, by shedding His blood on the cross at Calvary (1 Corinthians 6:20). Now we are free indeed, because the Son has set us free (John 8:36).


What we need to do is come to him with contrite heart and confess our sins, earnestly repent and accept His forgiveness by believing His death on the cross as our Substitute (1 John 1:9).


“For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).


This amazes the angels. They could not comprehend how could the great debts of sin be forgiven and cancelled. Meanwhile it makes the Devil more envious, because he is doomed (John 16:11).


Therefore we ought to give great thanksgiving to the Lord for His mercy and grace (Psalms 106:1). We ought to yield our life to Him in total surrender as our thanksgiving. We offer our lives to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). We ought to live for Him who willingly died in our place that we may receive our forgiveness and justification before God (2 Corinthians 5:15).       


Fifth: The Second Chance in life.


Many people regret about the life they are living now. They wish that there would be a second chance for them that they can start their life all over again. The good news is that in Christ man can have a second chance in life. They are born again when they believe in Jesus (John 3:3-8). The Holy Spirit can regenerate and renew the life (verse 6).


“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).


The greatness of our God is in forgetting all the sins that we have confessed and repented from.


“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:12).


God forgets our sins, but we engrave it deeply in our heart and mind. The Devil always tries to remind our forgiven sins and accuse us day and night (Revelation 12:10). But God already forgot it, because the blood of His Son has wiped it away (1 John 1:7) and cleansed it as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).


Again the angels are amazed in awe, because they knew not sin; they live a holy life before God in Heaven. And the Devil rages in great anger, knowing that the great sins he has done will not be forgiven forever, since he keeps in rebellion against God. Both angels and the Devil know not about the second chance; they’ve never received it.


To put us in righteousness before God, the Son of God had become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).


So at the cross there was an exchange; Christ exchanged our sins with His righteousness. He bore our sins and transgressions in His body at the cross, and gave His righteousness to become our new garment to wear. We ought to thank God all the time for His mercy and grace, remembering that we have been justified before God in Christ. Christ did this in order that we might have a second chance in life.


Many years ago in China, many people were addicted to opium. The government then issued a law with severe punishment for those who get caught smoking opium: they will be shot on the spot. Once there were two brothers who lived in one house. The younger one was addicted to opium. One day when he was smoking opium in a dimly lit area, the police saw him and shot him from a distance and the bullet hit his shoulder. He was wounded and bleeding, and he ran into his house. His elder brother was shocked to see his brother got shot and bleeding. He knew the police will soon come to his house to find his brother and will shoot him to death. So, he asked his younger brother to take off his clothes and exchange it with the clothes he was wearing. The elder brother wore his brother clothes that was bloodstained and went outside the house. When he was just outside the house the police found him, looked at his bloodstained clothes and was confirmed he was the one whom he just shot, so the police shot him again to death. The elder brother exchanged his life with his brother, and died as the substitute to save the life of his younger brother. That was what Christ has done for us. He took our sins and bore it in His sinless body, and as an exchange He gave His righteousness for us that we might escape eternal death in hell. Christ did this that we might have a second chance in life.


But then Christ sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within the bodies of those who have been redeemed (John 14:16-17). The Holy Spirit is the One who regenerates the spirit of the redeemed so that the redeemed might be born again as new creations in Christ (John 3:5-6). The old life has been passed away, and the new life just begins. This is the second chance that man will receive when he would believe in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).    


Sixth: Mansion in Heaven


The angels live in Heaven near the throne of God (Revelation 5:11). We, human, live temporary on earth (Psalms 90:10). As sinners we don’t deserve for Heaven, but Hell. By His mercy and grace, He forgave our sins, and adopted us as His children.


Unto us, Jesus said: “In my Father’s house there are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).


Wow! What is this? Who we are, that the Lord provides a mansion for us in Heaven? We are sinners and not worthy to have it. How could it be? But, that is the mercy and grace of our Lord!


The angels watch this with awe. And the Lord commands them to prepare the place for us that wherever the Lord is, we are there. And the Devil is getting more and more envious, because his future place is in Hell, together with his angels and all who follow his way (Matthew 25:41).


Seventh: The indwelling of the Holy Spirit.


The Lord knows that we still have weaknesses and shortcomings, especially in our flesh (Matthew 26:41). Meanwhile we are living in sinful and corrupt world that always attract us to cling to it (1 John 2:15-17). And the Devil always tempts us to sin. No one could claim himself strong and would not fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). But Christ provides the answer for us.


Jesus said: “I will ask the Father to give you the Comforter, that is the Holy Spirit, that He may abide in you forever” (John 14:16).


The Holy Spirit is the power of God (Ephesians 1:19). He is the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (verse 20). He is the Spirit who empowered Jesus during His ministry on earth (Luke 4:1). And now, the exactly same Spirit He sent to abide in us, take His dwelling place within our bodies and make our bodies as His Temple (1 Corinthians 6:19).


The Holy Spirit enables us to live as the true children of God, if we let Him lead our life (Romans 8:14). The Holy Spirit will forge the character of Jesus  (Galatians 5:22-23) within us that we might have conformity with the Son of God (2 Corinthians 3:18). This conformity is pleasing the heart of God the Father, because in the entire universe only One person could satisfy God’s heart that is His only beloved Son, Jesus (Matthew 3:17). So the conformity with Christ is the only way to satisfy God’s heart; and the conformity with Christ is the ultimate goal of Christian’s life (Romans 8:29).


The Holy Spirit is another greatest gift from the Father besides His Son. This is the great investment of Heaven upon human’s life so that man could return to the original purpose of his creation: to have the conformity with the image of God – or rather with the image of the Son of God (Genesis 1:26; Romans 8:29).


To live in conformity with the Son of God is to live in absolute submission and total obedient toward God. This will make God’s will be done in earth as it is in Heaven and God’s Kingdom established in earth (Matthew 6:10).


With the Holy Spirit within the believers’ body (1 Corinthians 6:19), the believers are not only empowered with the power of God (Acts 1:8) but also equipped with supernatural gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-11) that will give them power, ability, authority and effectiveness. So they can become effective instruments of God.


This is amazing. Though as human, believers are ranked lower than and inferior to the angels, but God has crowned them with glory and honor as God’s beloved children, and have set them over the works of God’s hand (Hebrews 2:7). What a great honor!


Physically we are inferior, but in position we are higher than the angels: we are the brides of Christ (John 3:29): the beloved children of the Father (Romans 8:16).


We really ought to thank God with the highest thanksgiving we can offer. The angels are praising the Father seeing this wonderful grace He gives upon the believers, but the Devil becomes more and more grudge and envious.


There are still countless reasons to give thanks to the Lord; it’s our choice to do it. We can give thanks to the Lord any time in any situation, because there is always a reason to give thanks.


But many believers like to complain, grumble, and murmur to the Lord. They don’t remember His kindness: His mercy and grace. They just look at their hardship and difficulties. But when they received help from the Lord, they easily forget it or take it lightly.


Remember the story about the ten lepers who came to Jesus and asked for healing (Luke 17:12-17). Jesus told them to go to the priest and show themselves to verify their healings. By faith they went to the priest as Jesus told them. And while they were on the way, miracles happened. All the ten were healed and they went to the temple with joy to show themselves to the priest. But one of the ten went back to Jesus and kneeled down before Him and thanked Him; he was a Samaritan. But the rest of them they never returned to Jesus to thank Him.


What do you think about this story? But this story gives us an illustration that only ten percent of the Christians who have received God’s grace and mercy come to the Lord with thanksgiving.


People are more easily to complain, grumble and murmur, rather than to giving thanks. Look at the story of the Israelites during their journey from Egypt to the Promise Land. They saw and experienced the great deeds of the Lord when God set them free from their long time slavery in Egypt. They saw how God stretched out His mighty hand to plague the Egyptians with various disasters. They saw how God dried up the Red Sea to make them walked on the dry ground when crossing the sea. They experienced how God went with them along their journey in the form of pillar of cloud during the scorching day and pillar of fire during the chilled night. But what in return they did to the Lord? They murmured, grumbled and complained to the Lord all the time, all along their journey. They didn’t give thanks to the Lord after all the great wonders and miracles they have received. And what the consequences for all the grumble, murmur and complaint they made? God rejected them to enter the Promise Land, and the entire generation who came out from Egypt died during their journey in the wilderness before entering the Promise Land.


Murmur, grumble and complain only invite the destroyer (1 Corinthians 10:10) to destroy our future, abort God’s promises that supposed to be done for us, destroy our faith and hope, and break our relationship with God. But thanksgiving raises up our faith and hope, creates positive atmosphere, making God more eager to work miracles and wonders in our life. Thanksgiving builds up our relationship with God and makes it stronger and closer.


Thanksgiving can create miracles. Remember the story of King Jehoshaphat, when his kingdom was attacked by the surrounding nations (2 Chronicles 20:1-22). He was afraid, but he decided to seek the Lord for help. Then the Lord, through his prophet, answered his prayer and encouraged him that the Lord would help him to fight his enemies. The Lord would take over the battle for the sake of His people. After receiving such encouraging message the king arranged his army, but he put first the choir in front of the army to sing a thanksgiving to the Lord. Then it was written, while they were singing a thanksgiving to the Lord, God made an ambush against their enemies and they were smitten. From this story we could learn that thanksgiving in the midst of our affliction could make the Lord involves in our problems and takes over the problems for us.


While we were giving thanks to the Lord, in the midst of our problems, the Lord settles the problems for us.


Giving thanks to the Lord in the midst of our afflictions is equal to “the sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).


“The sacrifice of praise” is a unique term, because it consists of the words that are contradicted. “Sacrifice” is the word that most people do not like it, because it reflects the feelings of loosing, pain and grief. In the other hand, “praise” reflects a more positive feeling of joy and victory. So, this two contradicted words now build a term “sacrifice of praise” that we could offer to the Lord. What is the meaning behind these words?


In the Old Testament times, the Israelites brought their sacrifices in form of animals. They must kill it, shed its blood, burnt it on the altar as a sacrifice to praise God: giving thanks for the mercy and grace they have received from Him.


But Jesus has come as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). He sacrificed Himself as an offering that satisfied God’s heart. He is the perfect sacrifice. He replaces the animal sacrifice (Hebrews 10:4-14). So now, in the New Testament times where we are living, we don’t need to bring animal again as an offering to the Lord. But how do we – who live under the New Testament – could still offer our sacrifice of praise to God?


It is by giving thanks to God while enduring our afflictions and sufferings (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) and appreciates it as the opportunity to receive God’s power and grace (2 Corinthians 12:10).   


People tend to complain and upset when they are in suffering and affliction, and they give thanks to God only when they are healthy, wealthy and happy. But when we give thanks in the midst of our afflictions, we offer ourselves as a sacrifice of praise, thus makes our suffering and affliction as our service to God. So we serve the Lord not only by going to the church, praising and worshiping Him, but also with thanksgiving in the midst of our suffering and affliction.


If we complain and upset during our affliction and suffering, then our hardship has no value as service, but only as bad times, and there is no reward for it. But if we give thanks during our troubles, then our troubles have a value as service before the Lord, and God gives a double reward for it.


So thanksgiving makes our troubles have a value of service and makes us receive a reward from God. Thus at any situation and condition our lives become a service and rewarded. When we give Him thanks in the good times, it’s a necessarily service, and rewarded. But when we give Him thanks in the bad times, it’s a sacrifice of praise: a service that will be rewarded more (Isaiah 61:27).


Giving thanks to the Lord is a choice; in fact it’s a good choice. If you remember the story about two sisters Rachel and Lea, you will see that in the beginning it looked that Rachel was more fortunate than her elder sister Lea. Rachel was more charming, and Jacob loved her more than Lea. Lea has tried hard to gain Jacob’s love, but failed. She lived in many disappointments, but then one day she decided to give thanks to the Lord no matter what the situation she had. So she named her fourth son: Judah, because she said, “Now I am going to give thanks to the Lord, in spite of my unfortunate situation.” But then we see that after she decided to give thanks to the Lord, her situation began to change. We can see this in the names she gave for her later sons: Gad, means “fortune,” Asher means “happy,” Issachar means “God has given me my hire,” and Zebulun, means “good dowry”: those are positive expressions (Genesis 29-30).

Eventually, Lea became more fortunate than Rachel. She was buried together with the Patriarch Abraham and Isaac, and finally with Jacob her husband, while Rachel was buried separately. Lea through Judah became the part of the Messianic lineage: the ancestor of king David and Jesus Christ the Messiah (Matthew 1:1-16).


Thanksgiving is the sign of faith. When we pray for anything and believe that we receive it – by thanking God – we will have it (Mark 11:24). When we thank God after we pray to Him, it’s the sign we have faith in Him and believe that He will grant our petition. The Lord Jesus said: “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). And the apostle Paul said: “… with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).


Thanksgiving is also the sign of victory. When God allows hardship and difficulty to test us, but we respond it with thanksgiving, then God will declare us have passed the test and gained victory. Such was the experience of Paul when he was in jail in Philippi. He sang the hymn in the midst of his suffering, and God gave him victory by releasing him from the jail and made the warden accept Jesus as Lord (Acts 16:24-33). If we always have a grateful heart in any situation we encounter then we become the overcomer; we overcome the situations.


Giving thanks will change the atmosphere to become positive: full of enthusiasm, joy and victory. A grateful heart will build intimate relationship with God, while murmur and grumble will break our intimacy and faith. 


There is a difference between praise and worship offered by the angels and by the believers. The angels praise and worship the Lord because of the magnificent reality they see and experience in Heaven, but the believers praise and worship the Lord from their grateful heart because of the mercy and grace they have received on earth.     


To live in thanksgiving to the Lord is a choice; it’s our decision. We could decide whether we want to give thanks or not. Thanksgiving is a matter of our focus and perspective. People can have different perspective upon the same thing. King Saul and David saw the same Goliath, but they have different perspective. King Saul saw Goliath as a very big problem that made him fear and lost his courage. He was focused on Goliath superiority. But David, who saw the same Goliath, he despised him because David was focused in the superiority of God, who could make him defeat Goliath. If we see thing from God’s perspective then we could have a positive and grateful heart.  


There are many ways to express our gratitude. We can do it with our lips (Hebrews 13:15) by praising and worshiping the Lord; or by presenting our body (Romans 12:1) to become God’s instrument; or with our treasures like Zacchaeus once did (Luke 19:6-9); or by ministering or serving others as serving the Lord (Luke 7:41-47); and living our lives for Jesus who died for us (2 Corinthians 5:15). Let us make gratitude to God as our life style.



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