We all have many things to be thankful for.
Even when things get hard, they're never as bad as they could be.
The road to retirement can be rocky at times, and living (and aging) in retirement has its own challenges. Still, we can be thankful for family and friends, health, being part of a local church, material and financial blessings, and more.
But now, more than ever, at a time when our own culture and society are moving further and further away from God, we can be most thankful for the joyous news and eternal truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our church just finished a Sunday class on the Book of Acts. I was freshly reminded of what a miraculous thing it was for the news of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus (the Gospel) to spread from Jerusalem to the remotest parts of what was then the known civilized world.
And even more astounding in a culture of pervasive paganism and idolatry, the Gospel radically changed the hearts of thousands and thousands who heard it and ushered in the Church Age we are still living in.
The Gospel is just as true and powerful now as it was then. And of all the things I am thankful for, the life-changing truths of the Gospel and the effect it has had on my own heart and life and many friends and family members is what I am most thankful for.
I am thankful that. . .
- God, before the foundation of the world, foreordained a plan of salvation for the redemption of mankind whom He had not yet created.
- As part of the plan, God would send His only Son, the Eternal Word and second person of the Trinity, to earth to die on a cross as the once and for all sacrifice for sins.
- God did, in due time, actually send his Son, and that the Son, in humble obedience to the Father, condescended to take upon himself the form of a man, and moreover, to become the servant of all.
- The Son of God, who was also the son of man, lived a sinless life in total obedience to the Father, though he was tempted just as you and me.
- Jesus did many miraculous signs and wonders in testimony to the fact that He was truly the Son of God.
- The Son, knowing what lay before him, asked that the cup of suffering and wrath be removed from him, but nonetheless prayed to His Father, "not my will, but yours be done."
- The Son, the Creator of the Universe, did not even try to defend himself when he was accused and threatened with death on the cross.
- While God ordained that Jesus should be crucified on the cross, Jesus freely "gave His own life as a ransom for many".
- Jesus endured not only the physical suffering and torment of the cross but also the full furious wrath of God that we deserved for our sin.
- Jesus, through his suffering and death, paid the full penalty for our sins, thereby purchasing our redemption.
- Jesus, who was dead and buried, was on the third day raised by the power of God.
- Jesus, the resurrected Lord, is now in heaven interceding for us.
- To all who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He suffered and died on the cross in atonement for our sins, and who confess and repent of their sins, God freely forgives them and grants the gift of eternal life.
- The resurrected Son has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit and His gifts for illumination and power and the building up of the Church, the Body of Christ.
- Because of Jesus' sacrifice, and the forgiveness of sins, we can now call God our Father and have access to His Throne of Grace.
- As recipients of God's grace and forgiveness, we have become children of God, are part of the family of God (His Church), and have the opportunity to join in the community of believers (the local church).
- Because God has united us with Christ we have eternal life, so our future hope is that we will live in His presence forever.