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Biblical Thanksgiving is Not a Feeling

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
November 23, 2023 7:00 am

Biblical Thanksgiving is Not a Feeling

So What? / Lon Solomon

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You know, it's interesting to go back in time and see how people's feelings about things change. For example, in 1946, 54% of Americans felt that they wanted the United Nations to take over the armed forces of every nation in the world, including the United States.

I don't think any of us want that anymore. In January 1965, 71% of Americans felt that the war in Vietnam was right. After the Tet Offensive in May of 1968, only 35% felt this way. In 1991, 89% of Americans felt that President George H.W. Bush was doing a good job.

A year later, that feeling had dropped to 29% and he lost the presidency. Finally, on a Sunday in 33 A.D., there were thousands of people in Jerusalem who felt pretty good about a gentleman named Jesus riding into town on a donkey. Five days later, those very same people were out in the square yelling, crucify him, crucify him. You say, Lon, what's the point? Friends, the point is that people's feelings are fickle.

They go up and down and all around, and this is why in the Bible, God never calls us to live a life based on feelings. And nowhere is this more true than when it comes to 1 Thessalonians 5 18, God's command that as followers of Christ, we should give thanks in all things. This is what we want to talk about this Thanksgiving weekend, namely that biblical Thanksgiving is not a feeling. So are you ready to talk about this? Good. Okay, here we go. Let's begin by agreeing that as followers of Christ, God has a lot to say in the Bible about our giving thanks.

Let me give you a few examples. Psalm 100, verse 4 says, Enter his gates with thanksgiving in his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. Philippians Chapter 4, verse 6 says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, look with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And as we've already said, 1 Thessalonians 5 18 tells us as followers of Jesus that we are to give thanks in all things that I could go on and on and on. But it seems pretty clear to me that as followers of Jesus, God wants us to be thankful people. You say, but Lon, you just said it, that our feelings are unpredictable, that they go up and down and like the wind. So how can we be thankful people when our feelings of thankfulness are so fickle? Well, this is the whole point. This is what we're trying to get across today, my friends, is that biblical thanksgiving that is the kind of thanksgiving to which God calls us in the Bible is not a feeling.

And this is why God can command us to give thanks. You see, you can't command a feeling. I mean, I could command you feel this way about something. You know, if you hate Brussels sprouts, I could command you to like Brussels sprouts.

Well, that's just not going to happen. You can't command somebody's feelings to do anything. But God commands us to be thankful, which means that obviously the kind of thanks that he is talking about is not feeling based at all. You say, well, if it isn't based on our feelings, then what is biblical thanksgiving based on? Well, I'm going to tell you the answer.

Listen carefully. Biblical thanksgiving is based on knowing some biblical facts and then totally believing those facts. Knowing some biblical facts and then totally believing them. And there are four of these biblical facts upon which biblical thanksgiving is based.

And I want to share them with you very quickly right now. Biblical fact number one upon which biblical thanksgiving is based. Number one is that there is an all powerful supernatural God. Isaiah 45 verse 18 says, For thus says the Lord, the one who created the heavens and fashioned and made the earth. I am the Lord and there is none else. And that not only does this God exist, but the Bible also teaches that he's not some impersonal force. Instead, he's a loving, caring, personal God. Isaiah 40 verse 11 says, Like a shepherd, God tends his flock in his arms. He carries the lambs close to his heart and he gently leads those who have young. Even more than that, this God is the God who's not only personal, but he's also intimately involved with each one of our lives. David said, if Psalm 139, he said, Oh, Lord, you know, when I sit down and when I rise up, you understand what I'm thinking from afar off and you are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there's a word on my tongue, David says, You, O Lord, know it completely. Think about that for a second.

That's pretty amazing. For you form my innermost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb. Nobody knows me better than you, God. All the days ordained for me were written in your book when as yet there was not one of them in time and space. Man, you talk about a God who is intimately involved in our life. It was so much so that it blew David away. David said, verse six, realizing this is too wonderful for me. It's too lofty.

I can't attain to it. I can't get my arms around your being this involved in my life. You say, But, Lord, you can't really prove that there's a God like this. I mean, we can talk about it. We can say the Bible says it, but you can't really prove there's a God like this. Like you can prove that penicillin kills strep. Well, yes, I can.

Yes, I can. And I want to give you two. I mean, I could give you more. But for the sake of time, let me just give you two things that prove this God exists. First, the natural world around us. Psalm 19, verse one says the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim his handiwork. In other words, the Bible says just look around at all this stuff around us. The stars, the planets, the moons, the galaxies, the atoms, gravity, photosynthesis, all of this stuff, which is in perfect balance.

How do we explain the precision of all this? Who do we think made all this stuff? I didn't make it.

You didn't make it. Where did it all come from? And please don't tell me that it came from random chance. My friends, the probabilities against that are beyond astronomical. I love what Yale physicist Dr. Henry Morgan now said in a book entitled Cosmos Bios and Theos. Yale. Are you with me?

Yale. Okay. Here's what he said. And I quote, he said, there is only one convincing answer for the intricate laws that exist in the natural world. And that is creation by an omnipotent, all wise God. End of quote. Isn't it great that somebody up there at Yale is capable of thinking for himself?

Isn't that wonderful? Now, there's a second way I can prove to you that God exists, and that is the complexity of biological life. David said in Psalm 139, we were reading earlier, he said, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And, you know, we've learned so much about the genetic system of life ever since 1953 when Watson and Crick discovered the DNA helix. And what we've learned is that the genetic makeup of life is so complex that it defies all mathematical odds of happening by chance.

Dr. I.L. Cohen, a mathematician who wrote a book entitled Darwin Was Wrong. And here's what Dr. Cohen said, and I quote, he said, at the moment when the DNA system became understood, the debate between evolutionists and creationists should have come to a screeching halt. He goes on to say, mathematically speaking, and remember, this guy's a mathematician, based on probability concepts.

There is, what's the next word, say it out loud, no, there is no possibility that evolution was the mechanism that created the approximately six million species of plants and animals that we recognize today. Folks, all of this explains why in Psalm 14, verse 1, the Bible says, only a fool says in his heart, there is no God. So this is fact number one, biblical fact number one. Behind biblical thanksgiving, we have an all-powerful supernatural God who cares about us deeply. Biblical fact number two is that this God is in absolute control of His universe, a random universe where no one's in control, where we're all the victims of cruel coincidence.

Not only is this frightening, but it doesn't produce a whole lot of thanksgiving in anybody. But the Bible says this is not how the world operates. Isaiah 45, verse 7, God says, I am the one who forms light and creates darkness. I am the one who brings prosperity and causes calamity.

I, the Lord, do all these things. I'm in control of my universe. And I love what Jesus said, Matthew chapter 10, verse 29, He said, Are not two sparrows sold for a penny, and yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from the will of your Father in heaven? The point is that if God controls the universe down to the lives of little sparrows, this means that He is in firm and absolute control of every detail of His universe and that nothing enters your life or my life that is outside of that control.

So that's biblical fact number two, God is in absolute control of His universe. Biblical fact number three that lies behind biblical thanksgiving is that God has a perfect plan for the life of every follower of Christ, for your life, for my life, for every believer's life. Remember what He says, Jeremiah 29, 11, He says, For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good, not for evil, to give you a future and hope. And remember what we read earlier in Psalm 139. David says, All the days ordained for me, everything, were written in your book, God, when as yet there was not one of them in time and space. Man, you talk about a plan for our life. God didn't let us be born and say, oops, there's lawn. I better come up with a plan for his life.

No, no, no. God had a plan for my life before I was even conceived in my mother's womb. Every bit of it was already written down in plan. And what this means, my friends, is that, yes, indeed, our universe is not happening randomly and out of control, but far more importantly, this means that as followers of Jesus, the events of our individual lives are not happening randomly and out of control. To the contrary, our sovereign, almighty, all knowing, all powerful, loving, personal God is at the control stick, making sure that everything that touches your life and touches my life is perfectly orchestrated, is precisely calibrated to achieve this good plan that he has for you and me. And that's biblical fact number three, that everything God sends into our life is part of working out his perfect plan for you and me. Finally, biblical fact number four, and I love this one, is that God makes no mistakes.

I love that. Isaiah 46, verse 10 says, I know the end from the beginning, God says, declaring from ancient times what is still yet to come. God said, for me, there's no such thing as past, present and future.

I just know it all. Nothing surprises me. This is why in Romans Chapter 11, Paul said, verse 33, how unsearchable are God's judgments and how inscrutable are God's ways.

What the Bible is telling us, as I said, is that nothing surprises God when God makes a plan for a person's life, my friends, it is always mistake free. You know, a few years ago, my wife, Brenda, and I set out to redo our kitchen. And the ominous day came when we had to set out and go shopping for cabinets. And we looked at one cabinet and another cabinet and all kinds of cabinets and went from store to store to store.

I knew more, learned more about cabinets than I ever wanted to know about cabinets. But one of the things I learned is that there are a lot of different ways to put together the drawers that go into these cabinets. I mean, you can staple them together. You can glue them together. You can nail them together. But I also learned that if you really want cabinet drawers that are perfectly designed and work just right and are really the best, you buy drawers that are dovetailed together.

That is where a master cabinet maker has dovetailed the joints individually and perfectly together so everyone fits exactly the way it's supposed to. Now friends, what the Bible is telling us is that when it comes to our lives, God is the master cabinet maker who has dovetailed everything in our lives together down to the minutest details so that it all fits together just the way it's supposed to. I guess we could say that when it comes to your life and it comes to my life, we have dovetailed lives. How cool is that?

I love that. And so let's summarize. As followers of Christ, biblical thanksgiving is based on knowing and thoroughly believing four biblical facts.

Here they are. Number one, we have a sovereign, personal God who cares deeply about our lives. Number two, this God is in absolute control of His universe. Number three, as followers of Christ, this God has a perfectly designed plan for our lives. And finally, number four, when it comes to that plan, this God, our God makes no mistakes.

Ever. Now, having said all of that, there's a question we need to ask this morning. And you know what this question is.

What would thanksgiving be without this question? So are you ready? All of you at Loudon, all of you at Prince William, all of you at Bethesda, all of you on the Internet, you all ready? Yes. Okay. Come on now. Here we go.

Ready? One, two, three. Yeah, you say law and so what? I appreciate everything you're saying, but I'm not 100% sure how all this connects to me yet. Well, let me help. Follow my logic now. I got a little logic here. We got four ifs and then a then.

Okay, here we go. Follow the logic. Number one, if we have if there is a sovereign, omnipotent, personal God who cares deeply about you and me and there is number two. And if he is in total control of his universe and he is number three. And if he has a good and beneficial plan for your life and my life and he does. And if number four, every circumstance he allows to touch our lives is perfectly dovetailed to achieve this good and beneficial plan. And it is. Okay, those are our four ifs.

Ready? Then you with me with me, then there isn't a single circumstance in our lives about which we should not be able to give thanks. And please notice this kind of Thanksgiving is not feeling based Thanksgiving. Oh, no, this is biblical truth based Thanksgiving. And it means that we can give thanks for anything and everything that enters our life, even things we don't want, even things we don't like, even things that hurt. Not because, listen, we feel thankful for them, but because we know what God says about them.

And because we are willing to walk by faith and we are willing to believe God about these things instead of believing what our feelings and our friends tell us. Are you with me? Amen. You guys with me? All right. Now, you know, years ago, when things were as bad as they could get with my daughter, Jill, who, as you know, is severely retarded and has had thousands of seizures.

I mean, I'm talking in the deepest, darkest part of this whole experience when we were really in the black hole. I mean, it was bad. Somebody sent me a little poem. I can't even remember to this day who sent it to me, but I posted it on my little bulletin board in my office and I would read it every day. And I cannot tell you how much comfort this poem brought me.

It's not long. Here's what it says. It's entitled, He Maketh No Mistake. It says, My father's way may twist and turn, My heart may throb and ache, But in my soul I'm glad I know, He maketh no mistake. My cherished plan may go astray, My hopes may fade away, But I'll still trust my Lord to lead, For He doth know the way. There's so much now I cannot see, My eyesight far too dim, But come what may, I'll simply trust And leave it all to Him. Last verse, For by and by the mist will lift, And plain it all He'll make. Through all the way, though dark to me, He made not one mistake.

If you want a copy of this, you can get it at our tech booth. I can't tell you how much it meant to read that and remind myself every morning, I need to be thankful for my little girl. I need to be thankful for the pain we're going through. I need to be thankful for the suffering.

I need to be thankful for the rescue squad and thankful for the emergency room because I have a dovetailed life. And this is not a mistake. Even though I don't get it yet, God makes no mistakes. Man, to know that and believe it changes everything, friends. And let me just say in closing that I know there's a lot of us here this Thanksgiving weekend who are going through difficult times, things we don't understand, things we don't want in our life, things we don't like. And we, for the life of us, cannot see one good thing that could ever come out of this. Well, let me just say, my friends, if you could stand on the shores of heaven and you could see the panorama of your life from start to finish, maybe God sees it, I promise you, that thing in your life, you would shake your head and go, yep, yep, I get it now, dovetailed right in, perfect, yep, God knew what He was doing.

There's no mistake here. And friends, this is a great mark of spiritual maturity, the ability to look at even our most difficult circumstances and say, Lord, thank you for this. I'm not saying thank you because I feel thankful because I don't feel very thankful about this.

I don't want it, I don't like it, I wish it weren't here. I don't feel thankful. Lord, I'm saying thank you. Listen, because of the theological information I know and because of the theological information I believe.

And so because of that, I say thank you. This is biblical thanksgiving. Job had it. I'll close with Job 1 21. Remember what happened? Job, he lost all of his children, lost his house, lost all of his flocks.

Remember that? And Job fell to the ground and worshipped and said, naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I shall return. The stuff here on earth is all temporal. The Lord gives and sometimes the Lord takes away. It doesn't matter either way because I've got a dovetailed life. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Folks, my prayer is that we'll all be able to live this way in biblical thanksgiving. Not just on Thanksgiving weekend, but every day of our lives.

Let's pray together. Dear Heavenly Father, we live in a feeling-driven world. Everything in our world is all about feelings and, Lord, what we really need is to hear from you that so much of our walk with Christ has nothing to do with our feelings. It has to do with believing biblical truth, knowing that truth, and then believing it with all of our heart.

And surely that's true with this issue of thanksgiving. So, God, speak to us deeply. Many of us are hurting and confused about things in our life. Help us to rise above our feelings of confusion and dislike and help us to give thanks because we know from your word today our lives are dovetailed and that you don't make mistakes. So whether we can understand it or not, we can give thanks. Lord, change the way we react to our circumstances in life because we were here today and we sat under the teaching of the eternal Word of God. And we pray all of these things in Jesus' name. And what do God's people say? Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-23 08:07:47 / 2023-11-23 08:16:43 / 9

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