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Why Thanksgiving Changes Everything Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
November 25, 2021 1:00 am

Why Thanksgiving Changes Everything Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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November 25, 2021 1:00 am

Do you wonder why people who Believe in Jesus Christ are told to “give thanks in everything.” Some wonder, “Does this mean I’m to be thankful for calamity?” In this message, you’ll sharpen your focus on why you can, and must, be thankful. You’ll discover why and how you can rejoice no matter the circumstances.  

 Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Believers are told to give thanks in everything. Some will say, do you mean I'm to be thankful for calamity? Today, we'll sharpen our focus on why we can and must be thankful, and why and how we can rejoice no matter what the circumstances.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, sometimes it's tough to be thankful. Help us learn to rejoice rather than become bitter. You know, Dave, one of the things that we have to do, and I frequently have experienced this in my own life, is to simply reject those feelings of ungratefulness, my unwillingness to be thankful, and to choose to obey God and in everything give thanks. It's amazing how that that kind of thanksgiving does indeed change everything. Well, today, of course, is a very special day of thanksgiving, and I want to simply express from my heart to yours our appreciation for the many of you who are a part of this ministry, those who listen, those who contribute. Together, we are making a difference, and even as we give thanks to God today, I'm going to be thanking God for you, for all who are listening, and for all those who have a part as we are committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I want you to listen carefully now because I really do believe that thanksgiving does change everything. You rejoice not because of what is happening to you necessarily. You don't rejoice in the pain and the hard things. They're not the source of your joy.

In fact, as we mentioned, they're oftentimes the source of our complaint. But rather, what you do is you rejoice in the Lord. Now, if you're here today and you're investigating Christianity, or maybe you're a visitor, maybe you're a regular attender, but you do not know Jesus personally. You may be religious, but you don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You can't understand that phrase because it is only when we know him personally, when we can come into his presence, when we connect with him, and we know that we're connecting with him because he's forgiven our sins and we belong to him forever, it is in that set of circumstances we rejoice in the Lord.

We rejoice in who he is, and we rejoice at times when rejoicing seems to be the last thing in the world. We as Christians should be like an oasis in the desert. I've been in a desert. I've been in the Sinai Peninsula many years ago. You go day after day, and then suddenly you see some trees.

And because you see trees, you know that there is an oasis there because there must be hidden streams feeding that clump of trees, and there are hidden streams feeding it. Very same way. Your circumstances at work in the office are just like everybody else's, but you're not overcome by them. You don't complain like the others. Why? Because you have a hidden source of strength and faith, and you rejoice in the Lord always.

That's what the text says. Now, then also it says, let your reasonableness be known unto all men. Reasonableness, we could also use the word patience. Let your patience be known to all men. Because you see, you don't always have to get your way. You don't always have to win. The stress is off because you have resources, inner resources.

You know God. And so as a result of that, you can be patient, and then you'll notice it says, do not be anxious about anything. Well, I have to read that again. Does it say that?

It does. Don't be anxious about anything. You say anything? I don't know. I'm just reading the text.

It includes your circumstances, your health, your relationship, your future. That's what the text says. And then it says, with prayer and supplication and appreciation, Thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. It doesn't make sense. You should be tied up in a knot just like everyone else should be.

You should be filled with anxiety like all of the people of the world should be filled with anxiety, and you're not. So it surpasses all understanding. And Paul says, it may keep your heart and your mind in Jesus Christ. It guards, actually.

That's the word. It guards it. Now you've seen, I'm sure, perhaps you've been in cities that have walls.

And that's the imagery that's here. And in Europe today, there's still some cities like that, even though they've outgrown their walls. The walls are oftentimes there. And they would have centuries of soldiers that were looking out.

For what? For enemies. They were guarding the place that the peace of the city might be maintained.

And they were guarding it against enemies. How does giving thanks to God with prayers and supplications, but with Thanksgiving, how does it guard our mind? From what does it guard our mind? It guards it from the enemies of the mind. And the enemies are fear, dread because of the future, anger because of circumstances and injustices, guilt that can destroy you if you don't take care of it and then accept God's forgiveness and God's peace. And so what happens is the peace of God acts as a guard to keep us from all of the things that want to disrupt us in the midst of circumstances that we can't control, that break in upon us without warning. And there's nothing we can do about it. And notice the thoroughness of it all.

I love it. It says he will keep your hearts, your hearts so that you may feel the right things and not feel the wrong things and your mind so that you might not think of the wrong things. And there you are as a bird nestled in the barrel of a cannon with your nest, surrounded by circumstances that you do not understand and you can't control, but you are at peace. I remember going through a trial in which my peace was disrupted, hugely disrupted. But the verse that kept coming back to me is this, that thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.

And this is what I discovered. What I discovered was that if I gave thanks to God for what was happening, even though what was happening was I believe unjust. As long as I was giving thanks, peace came. But giving thanks was difficult because of the unpredictability of God. Just because you're trusting God doesn't mean that you know how it's going to turn out. That's why the Apostle Paul here doesn't say that you pray and supplicate and give thanks to God. And whatever it is you ask God for, he'll give you.

Not in the text. He's going to give you peace, but he's not necessarily going to give you what you ask for. And this unpredictability of God can destroy us.

And as a result of that, we can find ourselves filled with fear and anger and all of those other things that erode the soul. But the bottom line is, when we give thanks, we are affirming the sovereignty of God. We are affirming the wisdom of God. We're affirming, as we've learned, the goodness of God. And in that, it changes our entire perspective. It changes everything.

You're going through a trial? First thing you ought to do. First thing is to bow and to say thank you, Father, for this. And then live that way. Now, a couple of practical observations here.

Number one, you know what? If you're a complainer, and you know there are some people who are, I don't want to pick on women, but I do remember one who said, pastor, she said, if I gave myself to God like you're speaking about and get rid of all of my anger and all of my complaining, she said, my problem is I'd have nothing to think about all day. Some of you, it is in your DNA. It is part of who you are.

It's your personal identity. Complain, complain, complain, complain. We can take care of that right here.

I'm serious. Here's what you do. Every time you hear a complaint come out of your mouth, ask the Holy Spirit to rebuke you, and you turn it into a praise. Always do that. Everything that happens, you don't like the food?

Remember Israel in the desert. It's God who says you're complaining against me. This is what I gave you. You don't like it. Hey, don't complain. You're complaining against me. Now, what you need to do is every time you want to complain, even about the weather in Chicago and that's coming, what you say is, Lord, thank you. And then fill in the blank.

You fill in the blank. I'd given this illustration before, but it is so good that you need to hear it again. I needed to hear it again. You remember Matthew Henry, who was a commentator, wrote a commentary on the whole Bible, but he was robbed one night and a thief grabbed his wallet. And when Henry got home that night, he wrote in his diary four things to be thankful for. Number one, this is the first time I've been robbed. That's good to be thankful for. Number two, even though he took my wallet, he did not take my life. That's something to be thankful for. Number three, even though he took all that I had, it wasn't much. And then he said, most profoundly, I thank God that it was I who was robbed and I was not the robber.

Isn't that great? Lisa Beamer is a name that you'll all be familiar with. It was her husband, Todd, you remember, as the plane was going across Pennsylvania, that her husband, Todd, evidently said, let's roll.

And it was some people on the plane that overcame the hijackers so that the plane went down in the fields of Pennsylvania rather than hitting the White House or some other building in Washington. She wrote a book entitled Let's Roll based on her experience and what her husband endured and the interviews that she gave later. She said that when Todd's birthday came around, she was very sad and we could understand that. So she decided to take her children to a play just to do something a little bit lighthearted for Todd's birthday. And then as she was coming home, her son David, and I don't know how old he was, maybe seven or eight, he said to her, Mommy, why are you so sad? And she said, well, I'm so sad because your daddy isn't here so that we could celebrate his birthday together.

And David said, as only a child would, but mom, we can still have cake, can't we? I'm speaking today to some of you who've lost a loved one. You don't know how you're going to go on. You miss them very deeply and well you might. And you don't thank God that they're gone. At least I hope that you don't thank God that they're gone.

But maybe you can still have some cake. There's always something for which we can thank God. The Bible does not say for everything give thanks, but in everything give thanks. Best illustration, Job loses 10 children, 10 fresh graves on the hillside.

Imagine that. Praise that night and says the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Christians are a thankful people. They thank God.

They aren't a bunch of whiners and complainers. They thank God. Just this morning, I was thinking of all the things that I could thank God and I just ran out just, just thinking about that I could get up in the morning, that I had clothes to wear, that I had food to eat. I mean, you just begin to praise God and you begin to realize we have more things to thank God for. And yet, what do we do? We complain.

Thanksgiving changes everything. Also, what we need to do is to look beyond the present. This is the Christian hope.

We look beyond the present to the future. And that's why we are able to endure that which comes to us because we believe that eternity is coming. And Paul says that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. And so no matter how hard it is, eternity is coming.

Time is short. Eternity is long. So we are a thankful people because we know things that perhaps others don't, that in God's word, it has been revealed to us what God will do. And we are grateful because we have so committed ourselves to him. We are living for his glory.

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ. Perhaps the name Martin Rinchert doesn't mean much to you, but he was a pastor in Germany during the Thirty Years' War in the 1600s. For some time, he was the only pastor in the walled city of Eilenburg in Saxony. Many people in this city were casualties of the war or victims of hunger and illness. During the great pestilence of 1637, Rinchert ministered to the people of the city. And it is believed catch this, I can't get my mind around it, that he conducted as many as 4,500 funerals, sometimes as many as 40 or 50 a day. One of them was for his wife. He was a man of frail body but heroic character.

Rinchert faithfully served the people of his congregation and community there in Eilenburg from 1617 until his death in 1649. One day he wanted to write some words for his children for devotions at suppertime. These are the words that he wrote. Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices, who wondrous things hath done in whom this world rejoices, who from our mother's arms hath blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love and still is ours today. And we still sing the words. Why could he write that?

He believed in a God who could be trusted with power and goodness and wisdom and he also believed that eternity is coming. Thanksgiving changes everything. It'll lift your burdens. It'll free you from anger, from fear in everything give thanks.

Now there are some of you, you need to begin at the beginning of this because you say boy this is more than I can handle. Maybe you don't talk to God like I'm suggesting that we as believers do. What you need to do is to thank God for something. You need to begin by thanking him that Jesus died on the cross for sinners so that our sins could be taken away so that we can be reconciled to God and in that reconciliation to know him so personally that we can thank him and rejoice in him even when things go bad.

Anne Frank and we know her story said I do not think and dwell on the misery but on the glory that remains. She was thankful in the midst of her persecution, in the midst of her story and in the midst of her death. Thanksgiving changes everything. Let's pray. Receive now Lord God our thanksgiving. We have nothing to say to you except thank you. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for your grace.

Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you that you bear burdens. Thank you that you care about us. Thank you that you don't forget about us when we're going through hard times. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the reversals because when things are going bad we thank you that for the Christian they're actually going very good because you're working them to your purpose.

Thank you and thank you that you're trustworthy. We thank you for your faithfulness. In Jesus' name, amen.

Well this is Pastor Lucerne. I can't help but think that there are some of you who have listened to this message. You've gone through a very difficult season in your life. Maybe you've lost a loved one. Maybe a child has wandered away from God and you are spending your time often in prayer and in tears. So you're asking the question how can I give thanks to God for an accident that may have happened, for illness, for all of these challenges of life. So let me explain to you that being thankful is not contrary to sorrow. It's possible for us to go through a time of sorrow but even in that sorrow we still have reason to give thanks to God. So I want you to take this message about thanksgiving very seriously because when God said in everything give thanks what he meant was we have the privilege of seeing things from God's standpoint because he does work all things for our good. I want to close today in prayer once again giving thanks to God. And Father today we have nothing to ask except we want to give you gratitude for the opportunity to take out time to be reminded of the many blessings and the many challenges you give to us in life. I pray particularly for those who may be experiencing heartbreak and sorrow.

Help them to see you even in the midst of their grief. We thank you in Jesus' name. Amen. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Betty listens to Running to Win in Indianapolis and she needs some clarification on an issue that's divided Christians for centuries. She writes, I am confused about the concept of predestination. If God predetermined who he would save before the beginning of time then how can he say salvation is open to all?

Betty I want to commend you for jumping into the deep end of the swimming pool. As you know predestination has indeed divided the church. As Dave has said it has been a point of controversy. So my answer is going to be very brief. I hope it will be helpful but I also hope that it will encourage you to continue to study this doctrine. First of all let me begin by saying that indeed salvation is open to all. The invitation is given to whosoever will. Whosoever desires to come to God can come and is invited to come and is urged to come. Now where it gets tricky is that the Bible seems to indicate that the desire to come to God is God implanted. This is where predestination comes in. So all that we can do is to say at this point that the invitation is for all but as Jesus said many are called but few are chosen. The call is to all but some come and some don't and the Bible seems to indicate that this is dependent upon God and his working. But don't ever let that become a stumbling block to your witness because God not only ordains the end of how things are going to turn out but also the means and therefore God uses us to fulfill his purposes. We have to do our side and we have to trust God to do his. Thanks for listening Betty and keep listening, keep studying, keep praying.

You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. What was it like before the earth was created? Ever wonder? Next time on Running to Win we begin a series on how everything began. Don't miss What is God Up To? Thanks for listening, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-17 18:44:32 / 2023-07-17 18:52:40 / 8

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