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Thanking God for the Fleas

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
November 28, 2021 7:00 am

Thanking God for the Fleas

So What? / Lon Solomon

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November 28, 2021 7:00 am

Thanksgiving Message.

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If you brought a Bible, we want you to take it and open it to Luke chapter 22. And as you can see this Thanksgiving weekend, as we do every Thanksgiving weekend, we're going to celebrate communion, the Lord's table, the Lord's supper, the Eucharist, whatever you're used to calling it. But I wanted to take a moment before we do that to try to show us how this idea of communion, this idea of the Lord's table and the idea of giving thanks, how they fit together, how they're interconnected in the events of the Lord's table in the Bible. And so I want us to look at that as kind of a prelude to celebrating communion here this weekend.

Now, Luke chapter 22, if you would, verse 14. And when the hour arrived, Jesus and his disciples reclined around the table. And Jesus said to them, I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer. I think most of us know that the last supper, as we call it, was actually a Passover meal, actually a Passover Seder that the Lord Jesus celebrated with his disciples. And it's interesting, the Bible says that as they were celebrating it, Jesus knew full well what was ahead of him over the next several days.

That's why he said before I suffer. As they were there at the meal, Jesus knew, for example, that one of the very men in that room was going to betray him. Jesus knew that he was going to be beaten, humiliated, ridiculed, spit on, deserted by all of his disciples over the next couple days. And he knew as they were there around this table, that all of this was going to end in his death. And mind you, not just any death, but his death by crucifixion, the meanest, cruelest, most inhumane and painful way for one human being to kill another human being that has ever been devised. And then friends, I need to say on top of all of this emotional pain, and on top of all of this physical pain that Jesus knew was coming, was the spiritual pain he knew that was coming as God the father laid on him, the sinless son of God, as he was there on the cross, all the sins of the world.

And so to put it short, there were a rough couple days ahead for the Lord Jesus. Now you say, well, if he knew all of that, why didn't he just get out of town? I mean, why didn't he just go to Hawaii or something like that?

You go to Maui. Well, the answer is friends, because Jesus also knew that it was by staying in town and going through these events of the next couple of days that he would have the opportunity to purchase redemption for the human race, to open up the door for you and I to have eternal life and to go to heaven, that unless he did what God had called him to do these next couple of days, those things would never be available to you and to me. May I stop for a moment and say that if you're here this weekend and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way, that this is something really important to know. Jesus didn't go to the cross because he had no other options. He didn't go to the cross because he was a masochist and looking forward to the pain. He went to the cross because he loves you and he loves me. And he knew that apart from him going to the cross, there was no way in the world you and I could ever have eternal life. But he did go to the cross and he offers eternal life to you, to me, to every human being alive as a gift. We don't have to pay the price. He paid the price. All we have to do is be willing to accept a gift.

And you know, friends, in all these years, 32 of them that I've been a follower of Christ, I have never yet figured out why when people understand the deal, they don't take it. It's the greatest deal going in the universe. Somebody is offering to give you eternal life.

You don't have to do anything. Come on now. Be a smart shopper and take the deal.

It's a great deal. Well, let's go on a little bit. You know, this wasn't the end of the meal. Look what happened at this meal. Verse 17, and taking the cup, the Bible says, Jesus gave thanks. And then the next verse, verse 18, and after taking the matzah, he broke it and he gave thanks. What I want us to see is that in spite of all that Jesus knew was coming, in spite of all the tough circumstances that he knew lay dead ahead for him, what did Jesus do? He gave thanks to God. Reminds me of first Thessalonians 5 18, which says, give thanks in everything for this. That is whatever circumstance you're in is God's will concerning you. And that's exactly what Jesus did.

He said, all right, these things that lie ahead, they're tough, they're hard, they're painful, but they're God's will for me. And I'm going to thank God for them. Now, friends, it's at this point that biblical thanksgiving and worldly thanksgiving part ways. It's at this point that secular thanksgiving and biblical thanksgiving diverge. What I mean by that is that secular thanksgiving or worldly thanksgiving is always based on our circumstances. When things are going good, when things are going the way I want them to, when my family's all healthy and my job is secure and my car's running fine and my grades in school are good and the appliances are all working, I'm happy, I give thanks. When at the Thanksgiving meal, there are certain relatives who can't make it, I give thanks, I'm a happy camper.

You understand what I'm saying. But then when things turn bad and things don't go the way we want, well then I'm not thankful and I'm not willing to give thanks. Well, this is worldly thanksgiving. This is not the thanksgiving the Bible calls us to. This is not the kind of thanksgiving that the Lord Jesus demonstrated for us. Friends, biblical thanksgiving is not based on our circumstances, good or bad.

It's based on an entirely different foundation. It is based on the foundation of the promises God makes us regarding our circumstances and the character of God that backs up those promises. You say, well, like what do you mean the character of God? Well, I mean like his faithfulness, his power, his mercy, his kindness, his goodness, his trustworthiness that he'll do what he said he'll do. You see, biblical thanksgiving is based upon the character of God that backs up the promises God has made us about our circumstances. You say, well, like what kind of promises has God made us about our circumstances?

Well, let me give you a couple. Romans 8 28 says God causes all things to work together for good to those who are followers of Christ. That's a wonderful promise about our circumstances. How about Jeremiah 29 11? For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope. There's a wonderful promise from God about our circumstances assuring us that every circumstance in our life is part of a big plan, a big design God has that's for our good.

Here's another one. First Corinthians 10 13 God is faithful. You can count on him. He will not allow you to be tested beyond what he knows you are able to bear.

Now he didn't say he wouldn't take you right up to the limit, but he said he wouldn't take you past it. And the promise goes on to say God will also provide a way out of the situation so that you may be able to endure it. Wow, that's a wonderful promise. Hey, one more Isaiah 43 verse two. I have called you by name. You are mine, says the Lord. So do not fear when you pass through deep waters, I will be with you. When you walk through the fire, the flame will not hurt you for I am the Lord your God and you are precious in my sight and I love you. Hey, let's put it another way.

Let's say it like this. Biblical Thanksgiving is an act of our will based on the promises of God that we know it is not an outgrowth of our feelings. Biblical Thanksgiving is not based on how we feel about our circumstances. Biblical Thanksgiving is based upon what God has promised us about our circumstances, what he's promised to do in our circumstances, through our circumstances, with our circumstances.

And friends, I maintain that as followers of Jesus Christ, when our focus is on the promises of God and the character of God, not our circumstances, when our focus to repeat is on the promises of God and the character of God, we can thank God for anything and everything that comes our way. Now that's what Jesus did at the Last Supper. His focus was not on the circumstances of the next three days, that he was going to be deserted and beaten and humiliated and crucified.

No, no, no. His focus was on God's promise that God was going to use all of this to redeem the human race, that God was going to use all of this to open the door to eternal life for people like you and me. And that three days later, God was going to raise him from the dead and exalt him for eternity. That's where Jesus's focus was. And he could give thanks for anything when you got your focus on that. They say, well, you know, Lon, I mean, God bless you, man. I love it when you get up there and preach like that.

But you know what? No normal person lives this way, Lon. I mean, what normal person has a flat tire on the beltway in the rain, gets out of the car and stands on the side of the road and says, thank you, God, you did this to me. There is not a sane human being in the world that does that. What normal person has their washing machine break and their basement flood and they go downstairs and their ankle deep in water and they stand there and say, thank you, God, for sending this to me.

Lon, this is weird. Nobody does this. People don't thank God when somebody vandalizes their car.

People don't thank God when they have to go to the emergency room or, or the doctor says they need an operation. Nobody lives this way. Well, wait a minute. Jesus lived this way. You say, that's not fair.

Well, okay. The apostle Paul lived this way, but I'm going to tell you right now about another lady who lived this way. Friends, this is not weird. This is biblical Thanksgiving. The weird thing is that we have led our culture so brainwash just that we don't do this. That's the weird thing.

But this is the way the Bible says we're to give thanks. Let me tell you about this lady who did it exactly the way the Bible said it. Her name was Betsy. You may know her better by her last name, Ten Boom. Her sister Corrie Ten Boom wrote a wonderful book called The Hiding Place. And for those of you who don't know the story, Betsy and Corrie were young girls living in Holland with their parents when World War II broke out. Her parents, Betsy and Corrie's parents were not Jewish, but they were believers in the Lord Jesus.

And they hid Jewish people from the Nazis for several years until they were caught. When they were caught, all four of them were sent to concentration camps and Betsy died. Her mom died. Her dad died. Corrie was the only one to survive and then wrote this wonderful book, The Hiding Place about their experiences. Well in the book, there's this great passage about where Betsy demonstrates biblical thanksgiving and teaches her sister Corrie a lesson and will teach us a lesson too. Listen, I quote, my sister Betsy and I were sent to the Ravensbrook concentration camp where we were put in the largest dormitory. The first night there, something pinched my leg in bed and I looked and cried out, fleas. Betsy, this place is swarming with fleas. How can we live in such a place? Betsy said, Corrie, God gave us the answer in our Bible reading this morning.

Don't you remember? First Thessalonians 5 18, give thanks in everything for this is God's will for us. That's what we're going to do, Corrie. We're going to start right now to thank God for every single thing about this dormitory. And so my sister made me get out of bed and we stood there with our heads bowed and thank God, number one, for being here in concentration camp. And then we thank God for the fact that they hadn't taken our Bibles away.

And then we thank God for all the women who were packed in here who needed to hear about Jesus. And finally, Betsy said, now, Corrie, it's time for us to thank God for the fleas. Betsy, I said, there is no way God can make me grateful for fleas. Well, Betsy said, Corrie, the Bible says, give thanks in all circumstances, not just in pleasant circumstances. The fleas are part of God's will for us, Corrie, and we need to thank God for them. And so we stood between the bunks and we gave thanks for fleas.

But I was sure this time my sister was wrong. Corrie goes on to say, well, we started holding Bible studies in our dorm. We began with great timidity at first, but night after night went by and no guards ever came in our door. So many ladies wanted to join our Bible study that we had to start a second one every night.

Dozens and dozens of ladies gave their lives to Jesus as the weeks went by. And we noticed that all the other dorms in the camp were under rigid supervision. And yet in our dorm, no guards ever came in. We couldn't understand it. One evening as I returned to the dorm, I found Betsy waiting for me with a big smile on her face.

You know how we've never understood why we had so much freedom in this dorm to share the Lord. She said, well, I found out why. She said this afternoon, there was a mix up among some of our dorm mates about sock sizes. So I asked the supervisor to come in and settle it and she refused. She wouldn't even step through the door and neither would the guards.

And do you know why? They told me it was because the place was crawling with fleas. End of quote. And you know, Corrie Ten Boom goes on to write that it was right there and then that her big sister taught her what biblical Thanksgiving was all about. That it wasn't just about thanking God for the things you like and the things that are good. It was about thanking God for fleas. It was about thanking God for fleas because number one, we know the fleas are all part of God's great plan. And number two, we have God's promise. He's going to turn the fleas into something good if we'll just trust Him. Now, friends, it seems to me that we have this wonderful weekend called Thanksgiving. And if we're going to do this, if we're going to give thanks that as followers of Christ, we ought to at least do it biblically.

It just seems that way to me. And so my question to you is, this weekend, do you have some fleas in your life? You say, Lon, I got the whole dog in my life, Lon.

All right, fair enough. You got the dog in your life. Well, my question is, have you done what Betsy did this weekend? You say, I thanked God this weekend. Sure you did.

We all did. We thanked God for the good stuff. Sure we did. But my question is, did we do biblical Thanksgiving? Did we thank God for the fleas? Because our focus is on the character and the promises of God. And we know that the fleas really are just a blessing in disguise. That's what God's promise tells us.

Did we do that? You say, well, why should I? Well, let me give you three reasons and I'm done. Number one, because Thanksgiving like this honors God. Man, nothing honors God more than for somebody to see you standing there with fleas all around you and be thanking God anyway. Number two, because biblical Thanksgiving like this restores perspective to our life.

Think about it, friends. When we thank God biblically, the way we're told to in the Bible, the perspective is we take our eyes off of our circumstances and we're forced to put them on the character and the promises of God. That's good perspective. And third and finally, when we do that, it brings hope to our life. There is no hope to be found in the circumstances of this world. And if our focus is on the circumstances of this world, you're gonna be a real sad person. There's no hope there. But friends, in the promises of God, there's hope. In the character of God, there's hope. And when we force ourselves by doing biblical Thanksgiving to stop looking at our circumstances and start looking at the promises and the character of God, oh man, it brings hope to our life. You see, God didn't tell us to do this for his benefit. He told us to do this for our benefit. We need that perspective adjustment to be able to keep going with hope and encouragement. I want us to bow our heads and close our eyes now.

Would you do that with me? And I want to give us just a moment to do what I think may be the hardest single thing to do in the Christian experience. And that is thank God for the fleas.

I don't think it gets any harder than that. But friends, that's biblical Thanksgiving. So let's walk in the steps of the Lord Jesus today. Let's walk in the steps of Betsy Ten Boom. And let's say, God, because of your character, because of your promises, I'm gonna sit here and as an act of my will, I'm gonna thank you for the fleas. Let's do that. Lord Jesus, I don't think anybody here doesn't have some fleas.

I do. Things we don't like, things we don't want, things we don't understand. And Lord, to rise above our human nature, to rise above our human feelings and thank you for these things, this is really hard. But this is biblical Thanksgiving because we know the promises of God and we know the character of God. And based on those two things, we ought to be able to thank you for everything because this is God's will for us, whatever it is we're facing. And so Lord, accept our Thanksgiving today, those of us who did it, for the fleas. And grant that we might not just do that today, Thanksgiving weekend, but rather that you would start a whole new habit pattern in our life of being thankful in everything because we know this is God's will for us in Jesus Christ. Change our lives because we were here today, we pray. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-11 18:29:09 / 2023-06-11 18:37:02 / 8

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