“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

True thanksgiving

The true meaning of Thanksgiving—not the day, but the act/experience. We need to look at the Biblical approach to thanksgiving because everything else is human tradition. And human tradition always seems to end up in dire straits over time.

Col. 3:15 gives us the command to be thankful. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

And 1Thess. 5:18. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Eph. 5:19,20. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And God loves our thankful hearts. “O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” (Ps. 22:3). The Father of all thrives in the atmosphere of His beloved people’s praises. It is His greatest joy to have His children surround Him and express their love for Him, to rise up and call Him blessed.

Lev. 7:11-14, Deut. 12:18, and Deut. 16:11 tell of a special offering called the “peace offering” or the “thank offering.” They were a social gathering, “thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you,” all together joined in the celebration. “And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God.”

But associated with this and so many other offerings was the slaying of an innocent animal. A little lamb or kid, a humble turtle dove or tiny sparrow must first lose its life. The life of those little ones, who were not partakers of any human’s sin, were taken away to set a redemptive atmosphere for the gathering. Then, and only then, the praises to God and laughter could be acceptable to the Lord. God wanted His people to be happy, but the people needed to know that God suffered dearly for their happiness.

We also see Cain laying out a typical Thanksgiving feast on his altar to the Lord. “Thank You, Lord, for all the stuff You give me!” But his sacrifice was without the death of an innocent animal and wasn’t acceptable to God. Abel’s offering was much messier and not as appetizing, and God accepted it because of the true reality it represented—that is, that grace and redemption are messy projects.

Cain’s sacrifice lacked the redemptive ingredient. His offering could not break the sin in his heart. Therefore, it was no offering to God—not the God of mercy who sits and rules as a “priest upon His throne,” “a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance” “and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31). By His silence the Lord was saying to Cain what He later said to Peter with his 153 fishes after His resurrection, “Lovest thou Me more than these?” And the silence made apparent that Cain’s heart wasn’t filled with love for God. If our pride is not broken and laid in the dust, we have no barrier against the temptation to indulge the vilest lusts. The Lord has to break our proud hearts, or we are lost. This was the purpose of the Pascal lamb.

We cannot thank God nor enjoy His goodness and love without involving the crucifixion of the Son of God and surrendering to that greatest self-sacrificing love. The passage above about God dwelling in our praises comes from the well-known Messianic Psalm 22.

“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring? O My God, I cry in the day time, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”

We can be heard on high, because Jesus went unheard from Gethsemane to the grave. We can sing and rejoice, because the wrath of God forced Jesus’ tongue to the back of His throat. We can laugh and play because Jesus was nailed down. We can live because of His dying. We can have joy and hope because He died utterly forsaken and hopeless. And we can also help Him carry His cross, by taking the bitter curse from others which they unload on us, and giving them grace in return.

“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,--the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.”-- D’Aubigne, London ed., b. 12, ch. 2. Great Controversy, p. 212.

When our heart is humbled and contrite, then our worship and thanksgiving and praises will be sincere and acceptable to heaven. And this only comes through beholding the sacrifice of Himself that God has endured to redeem us.

The cross was an outward revelation of the pain hidden behind the perpetual grace of the Godhead. During the previous 4,000 years, every day that the Son of God had interceded for us had been a moment by moment death. He has been the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. These past 6,000 years have demonstrated just what the holy Son of God has endured in being our Mediator, attaching His good name to our wretched reputation, sticking by us to save us while in our repugnant self-righteous idiocy. Earth has been a mountain of wreaking, human excrement with Satan and all his millions of minions “walking up and down in it.” (Job. 1:7). Yet, the pure Anointed One has stayed with us.

Intercession for humanity has caused infinite pain to our Redeemer. But His love for us more than resolved His pain. His love still more than overcomes the pains of working with our unbelief, our skepticism of God, and our refusal to fully trust in Him. His grace proved more than sufficient for the work of keeping Adam’s race from a well-deserved divine extinction. That amazing history of His abounding grace toward our abominable grotesqueness is His message to us individually that He will be gracious to me and my case, and to you and your case, horrible and hopeless as they may be. Though He may chasten, His only motive will be His intense gracious love for us and our uplifting out of sin.

Divine love and grace must break our pride and soften our hearts. Then our Thanksgivings will not be about food or self-indulgence. They won’t be about pride and forgetfulness of God. We will have something definite to say about what God has done for us. We will find ourselves truly rejoicing in God’s love, because we are born into God’s family. We are in His arms, under His purview and watch care.

Let trouble come. Let the world take away all our things, we will still be loved by heaven.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One day I greeted a fellow pastor that "Praise the Lord" and he said causally "what for?" after one month we were at a funeral service and fellow unconsiously with high blood pressure. I drove him in his car to the hosipital and put under entensive care. when he fully recovered after four months he accepted that there is a good reason for thanking God all the time.
some times we organise thanks giving in our churches and people perticipate yet they have no good reason for it. But should come from the heart. Thanks David.


11/28/2008 3:28 AM  
Blogger David said...

Thank you Daniel. We must have a need to be thankful.

11/28/2008 3:47 AM  

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