“Thankful for Jesus!” – Sermon from Nov. 24, 2013

“THANKFUL FOR JESUS!”                              Malachi 4:1-6

 INTRO – Come to the end of our “Majoring on the Minors” series, & we literally come the end of the OT. Think back to some of the truths that we have discovered & studied together over the last several weeks:

–        Remind you that these books are called the Minor Prophets simply b/c of their small size, not b/c of their message. Their messages are powerful calls to repentance for all of us. “The Minor Prophets call us to return to our holy God w/ righteous living & social justice…The prophets bring us to that frightening place where see ourselves clearly & we honestly cry out to Calvary to experience grace w/ greater healing then ever before” (Ogilvie).

–        We touched on the massive forgiveness that God offers to us through Hosea; the plumb line of God’s Word that we found in Amos; the danger of pride found in Obadiah; & the work of the worm in Jonah’s life. We also found God’s requirements for our lives in Micah; some powerful characteristics of who God is in Nahum; the comfort in knowing that God is with us from Zephaniah; & the crucial work of the Holy Spirit in our lives in Zechariah.

 The Minor Prophets have caused us to look at God again in a fresh, new way. Their messages are thousands of years old, but are as applicable today as the moment they were spoken. They’ve caused us to look at our lives in a serious, honest way. They’ve caused us to evaluate our walk with God in light of who He is, what He has done & is doing in our world, & how we should respond to Him & the unchanging, life-altering truth we find in His Word. Patrick Morley – “Stop seeking the God we want & start seeking the God who is.” The Minor Prophets have shown us “the God who is.” And sometimes, if we’re honest, we have to say that “the God who is” is scary. His unapologetic call on our lives to repent of our rebellion & hard-heartedness & live in obedience & holiness cuts against our human nature. The jarring messages of the Minor Prophets take the sugar-coated easy believism that is preached & proclaimed throughout our land & turns it on its ear. Our God is holy, righteous, just, powerful, & sovereign over all creation. He will judge those who reject Him with a terrifying eternal condemnation & He makes no apology for that. He is jealous for His glory & for His people. His glory belongs to Him & His people belong to Him. And anyone who tries to take His glory from Him is going to be met with the white-hot breath of His wrath & rage.

 

Which is why today, we need to be THANKFUL FOR JESUS!  B/c of Him we do not have to face God’s wrath & rage. This is definitely one of the reasons that we ought to be thankful for Him today.  He took our sin, which means He took our punishment & took our judgment, which is part of what Malachi is telling us in these final verses of the OT.

 

Let’s look at 4 thankful thoughts about Jesus today:

 

Thankful for Our Safety in Jesus – v. 1 – Malachi gives some intense words about the coming of the Lord. These closing words of the OT, which will usher in a 450-yr. time of God’s silence, are stark reminders to those who don’t know Jesus of what will come upon them if they continue to reject Him. Malachi had a hard, but true message to deliver: Those who reject Jesus will be burned up – Heb. word means “consumed” – by God’s judgment. This is a direct, strong warning that “ALL the arrogant & EVERY evildoer WILL be stubble, & that day that IS coming WILL set them on fire.” Can it get any clearer than that? And for those outside of Christ, can it get any scarier than that?  Jesus IS coming again – God’s judgment IS going to rain down – Those outside of Christ WILL be condemned – But, listen: There IS safety in Jesus!

 

Aren’t you thankful for the safety that is found in Jesus?

–        There is safety from the darkness of evil & sin b/c He is the Light!

–        There is safety from dying from spiritual thirst b/c He is the Water of Life!

–        There is safety from dying of spiritual starvation b/c He is the Bread of Life!

–        There is safety from the storms of life b/c He is the Rock on which we build our lives, “a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation” (Isa. 28:16)!

–        There is safety from the ravenous wolves of this world b/c He is our Shepherd AND He is the Gate through which we go to find shelter & security!

–        There is safety from being lost b/c He is the Way – safety from the lies of the enemy b/c He is the Truth – safety from death b/c He is the Life!

–        There is safety from hell b/c He has prepared a place for us in heaven!

There is no safer place on earth or in heaven that we have IN Jesus!

 

Thankful for Our Healing in Jesus – v. 2a – Every Wed. night, a group of us gather in the choir room for Refresh. A special time – the highlight of the week for many people – fellowship together, laugh, share, cry, encourage, but, most importantly, PRAY! Pray for all types of needs & kinds of people – people we know personally & those we’ve never met. But we pray, & we pray diligently & fervently. And many times, we pray for healing of all types.

 

Why do we do this? B/c there is one who is the “sun of righteousness” who has risen with healing in His wings. Jesus has come & He has brought the mighty healing power of Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord our Healer. And when we pray, we are praying by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name & the authority of the One who has risen w/ healing in His wings. And God answers!

–       Carol Burton – Just got report back from Mayo – no cancer!

–        Ava Turman – Text msg from Catherine:  “I believe w/ all my heart that her miracle of healing happened b/c the Body of Christ came together in one voice w/ complete faith that she would be healed. W/out the fervent prayer of Christ’s body, esp the believers at CW, I shudder to think what her life would look like today. We love our CWBC family & would not have been able to make it w/out yall!”

–       Email last Tue – missionaries in Russia – son was throwing up 1-3 times every day for 9 days. Docs couldn’t find reason, even after blood tests & other tests. Request: “Recently I studied Luke 17 with some friends where Jesus showed that he had power over demons, sin, death, and illness.  With this in mind, can you please help us by praying, right now and as often as you remember after this, for our son to stop throwing up, heal physically, and to fully recover his strength.”  Then on Thu, 2 days later, got this email: “Dear Friends: You prayed; God answered.  We were in a tough spot on Tuesday. Our son had thrown up 4 times that day alone and the doctors couldn’t tell us anything about what was causing his 10 days of vomiting.  Then, we asked; you prayed.  Immediately, it stopped.  So, first, thank You, God.  Second, thank you.”

What about those times when God doesn’t answer & someone dies? Love what John Piper said about this:  “Jesus was a great healer…though Jesus does not heal every disease in this life, he will heal every disease in the resurrection. In other words Jesus meets the tremendous need we all feel for hope beyond the grave—that all sickness and pain and sorrow and crying will be gone forever.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/the-sun-of-righteousness-will-rise)

One day soon, all cancer will be gone, all Alzheimer’s will be gone, all heart disease will be gone, all AIDS will be gone, all viruses & infections will be gone – the sun of righteousness is getting brighter & brighter!

 

Thankful for Our Joy in Jesus – v. 2b – I read a story of pastor who grew up on a farm in Midwest. Cow had a calf during a cold, early spring night. Was several days before they could let the cow & her calf out of stall into field outside. When finally did, cow ambled out into field & began to graze. Calf didn’t know what to do. In its ignorance, thought the familiarity of the filthy, manure-filled stall was a better place to be than in a fresh, sunlit meadow. 2 men dragged calf out. It ran to mother’s side & stayed there for a while. Then would venture out a bit, then run back. Finally, came to the wonderful realization of the freedom that was found in that wide-open field. Began to run & jump, leaping for joy & excitement. Just sheer fun! (show pic of calf leaping)

 

Friends, when you & I get a true taste of the freedom that is ours in Christ, our joy will explode in our lives. We will leap for joy, celebrating what Christ has done in us! Like the doors of an elementary school bursting open on the last day of school as summer starts, with joy-filled kids racing out of the confines of the schoolhouse into the freedom of the summertime, we, too are FREE, no longer confined by our guilt & sin, no longer constrained by sadness, no longer condemned to death. We are free! We are free! Kick up your heels & let the joy burst forth! Be like King David in 2 Sam. 6 & “dance before the Lord w/ all your might” – “I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this…”

 

 

Thankful for the Opportunity for Our Families to experience Jesus – v. 5-6 – We started this sermon off w/ some harsh realities of God’s impending judgment for those who reject Christ. But we end this sermon w/ some hopeful realities for all of us today – We can experience the joyful, life-giving presence of Jesus in our families today!  And how we need it in our families today!

 

Interesting way to end OT & end this sermon. Feels a little disjointed to bring it in at this point. But there’s such a huge need for fathers to turn their hearts back to their kids. Important for moms, too, but the strength of a Godly father in a family cannot be underestimated. Those of us who are dads need to heed this great calling. Let’s let our kids see us kicking up our heels in our own joyful relationship with Jesus! If fathers would do this – live out the joy of Christ w/ their families – the blessings of God would flow in a powerful, unhindered way into our families. Marriages would be stronger. Kids would be safer. Homes would be happier. Life would be better. And God would be glorified!

 

And there’s a huge need for children of all ages to turn their hearts back to their fathers. This isn’t just a word for hard-headed elementary-age kids, or rebellious teenagers – though it definitely IS for them. It’s for children of all ages. Maybe you’ve neglected your parents as you’ve grown into adulthood. Maybe your dad abused you & you’ve got deep wounds. Maybe your father isn’t perfect. But when Jesus is truly Lord of your life, HE can bring you the peace & strength you need to turn your heart back to your father.

 

CONCLUSION – Aren’t you thankful for Jesus today? 

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About Jon Daniels

Senior Pastor - Country Woods Baptist Church, Byram, MS
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