PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Our Father in heaven, we are forever thankful for 10K reasons, but none more than the indescribable gift of the gospel (2Cor 9:15). Lord, Your love and grace are magnificent and matchless; there is nothing on earth that fulfills us more fully than You (Ps 73:25). Jesus, You satisfy us with Your salvation and You sustain us with Your Holy Spirit and the truth of Scripture.
Today, the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day, we seek an early start on our gratitude. Our hope in life is not to have a slow drip of thanks, but an overflowing fountain of praise and thanksgiving for all that You are and have done.
– We praise God for beauty and blessing in creation.
– We praise God for compassion and care for us to not be distant but devoted to our greatest good.
– We give thanks that our greatest good is being rescued from our selfishness and sin.
– We give thanks that Jesus entered our world to deal fully and finally with the payment for sin – that we do not have to suffer endless consequences of sin but through Jesus as our sin substitute in death, we can receive forgiveness, freedom, and eternal life.
– We give thanks that we are citizens of Heaven and heirs of an everlasting kingdom.
– We give thanks for God’s friendship and faithfulness in the midst of a world full of tension and trials. Thank you for not leaving us alone, but walking with us in strength and hope.
– We give thanks for the people of God. Having family is an immeasurable gift, and having a church family to encourage and support us is also a cherished blessing.
In all, today at SPBC we express our thankfulness for God’s grace in our lives through generosity. May our lives be conduits of God’s hope and help to others. Our hope today is that our efforts of giving back with shoeboxes, will be used to bless others that they too may receive the gifts of love and life through our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
And in this service, may the name of Jesus be lifted high for people to see His greatness and grace. Amen.
Many people love courtroom shows. To name a few…
– 12 Angry Men
– To Kill A Mockingbird
– A Time To Kill
– A Few Good Men with Jack Nicholas & Tom Cruise
– Philadelphia with Tom Hanks & Denzel Washington
– Legally Blonde with Reese Witherspoon
– Erin Brockovich with Julia Roberts
– Judge Judy (1996-2017+)
– People’s Court with Judge Marilyn Milan
– Judge Joe Brown
– Perry Mason (1957-1966)
– Night Court (1984-1992)
– Law & Order (1990-2010)
– Suits (2011-2017+)
– Bull (2017+)
Television shows, movie dramas, and book novels that tell a story with courtroom charges and crime hold us captivated. Even real life or high-profile trials turn our attention not only toward justice but a sense of entertainment. Our culture has this insatiable thirst for gossip and a corrupt appetite for scandals.
The most striking legal narrative is one that transcends the earthly court, is the eternal courtroom with God as the Judge, Satan as the crooked but crafty accuser (cf. Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5; Rev 12:10), and every person in human history on trial. The Bible says that “The LORD judges the people… and is a righteous judge indignant with evil” (Psalm 7:8,11). We stand guilty before a righteous judge with each day on vivid film watched with the eyes of God for evidence of our errors and evil sins. If God extends justice, then we face everlasting punishment. And so our only hope is in God’s mercy. God’s mercy to not give us what we do deserve in hell, and God’s grace to give us what we don’t deserve in Heaven is the most scandalous legal scene in all of life.
God’s mercy and grace come from our Advocate, a Legal Counselor who stands for our defense. Today’s passage will explain more about how our Advocate – Jesus Christ – defends us in God’s courtroom.
1John 2:1-2 “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world
John writes tenderly to his audience – “my little children”. He is elderly in experience, having walked with Jesus and lived many years to tell about it. John views himself as a father-figure giving loving advice to his children.
– If you are mature in age and experience, spend your last season of life mentoring younger.
o Church for life, family (marriage & parenting), ministry – discipleship.
o The Well
– If you are younger in age and experience, spend this season listening and learning.
o Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”
o Writing letters can be an effective way of communicating and leading others. —> OCC shoebox letters
o John writes to inform theology. Understanding God, Christ, and the gospel was utmost (1Jn1:1-5; 2:22).
o John writes to transform morality. Walking in darkness is incompatible with faith in the Light (1Jn 1:6-7); faith also implied obedience (1Jn3:4-10). If your faith isn’t changing your life, then change your faith.
o John writes to inspire socially. Loving God leads to loving others with gracious words and generous deeds (1Jn 3-4; 3:17-18).
In this passage, John specifically communicates his 3-fold purpose for writing:
- To stop sinning.
Sin is serious. Sin is not just an abstract attitude or action, but is an offense against God. We mostly think our behaviors are private – “my life” or “my body” – but in reality we live coram deo (before God’s face), so in a sense life is public and personal to God. Sin isn’t just breaking God’s commands but His heart.
o Sin is darkness (1John 1:6). A person who lives on their own apart from God wanders in life without guidance or growth; they can’t learn lessons because there isn’t light.
o Sin is lawlessness (1John 3:4). A lawless individual/society is depraved on the path to destruction.
o Sin is devilish (1John 3:8). The path to God, holiness, and heaven isn’t neutral; there’s no middle ground or fence riding when it comes to faith in Jesus because Satan owns the side that doesn’t stand with God.
è We take sin seriously by confessing and repenting of sin. John recognizes that we are not perfect and will still sin. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1John 1:8). So, when we sin we are to confess [ὁμολογέω a compound word with homo (same) and logeo (to speak) meaning to speak the same about sin and self as the way God sees my life and actions], then we discover a faithful and just forgiver & cleanser of sin in Jesus Christ.
è We take sin seriously by humble listening to others for accountability. John notes that if we sin continuously without repenting and obedience, then we have deceived ourselves from salvation (1Jn 2:3-6; 2:16-29).
è We take sin seriously by reading the Bible. Sin will keep you from the Bible or the Bible will keep you from sin (cf. Psalm 119:11).
è We take sin seriously by consistency in a diverse church. We shouldn’t isolate from God’s people. And we shouldn’t insulate ourselves around God’s people who only look and think like us. When we are gathered around diverse Christians we have more opportunity for spiritual growth. It is important to understand that diversity in Christianity doesn’t imply there isn’t truth or right & wrong. Diversity in Christianity means there is room for disagreement on methods and functions, not purpose.
- To stand with Jesus. When we sin, we are to stand with Jesus. Jesus is our advocate [παράκλητος one who counsels in my defense and comforts in my weakness]. Our faith in Jesus assures us that He stands with us before the LORD, our judge. Jesus is not only our advocate but the propitiation [ἱλασμός = atonement] for our sins; averting anger and punishment. In the OT sacrificial atonement there were 2 sacrificial goats (Lev 16): The first goat was a sin offering, sacrificed on the altar as payment for sin. This symbolized propitiation, where the penalty of sin is paid. The second goat was sent away into the wilderness as a symbol that sin and guilt were removed from the people. This symbolized expiation – “As far as east is from west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). In Expiation, the power of sin is removed. In full, the gospel is not just the removal of sin but the restoration of your ability to live among and for God according to your created purpose.
Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. 1John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
– The punishment of sin was substituted from me to Jesus.
– The place of eternity for sinners is substituted from hell to heaven.
Many of us compare our life and actions with others.
o At least I’m not a Redskins fan.
o At least I go to church, regardless of what you do M-F or did Saturday night.
o At least I do nice things for others… or not as bad things as others.
o At least I’m not as bad as a congressman / immoral Hollywood / etc.
God doesn’t grade on a curve, but on the cross.
è Does Jesus stand for you by grace through faith?
è Are you standing in step with Jesus through confession of sin? Missteps or out of step implies spiritual drift and disobedience. The key to returning to stand with Jesus is not you running to catch up but reaching out your hand for Him to take hold and bring you to Him.
- To share the gospel.
John says that Jesus is not only the answer for sin but also for the sins of the whole world (1Jn 2:2). This is not a statement of privilege that everyone is already saved but a statement of potential that everyone who confess Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord will be saved.
John’s statement should also compel believers to not hoard or hog grace to yourself, but radiate God’s life and love to others. à We share the gospel in provision: shoeboxes, service, support (SPAN, benevolence/kindness.
à We share the gospel in proclamation: speaking truth from Scripture and sharing our testimony.
Almost every day we get a stack of mail with often times it containing credit card offers. When you open those offers it says something like, “You’re prequalified for a $10K line of credit”. This meant the credit card company was viewing me as credit approved and acceptable. However, the invitation did not give me automatic membership. In order to receive the credit card I had to complete the application saying actually I was in agreement. It would not be provided unless I accepted it.
God has prequalified you for eternal life by paying the penalty for your sins. However, He will only activate your account if you are in agreement to receive it. You must participate by grace through faith.
v Trust in Jesus and tell pastor/church or Christian friend.
v 3 Prayer Stations
- Pray for shoebox recipients’ salvation & spiritual growth (Front Location at Cross).
- Pray for shoebox recipients’ physical health and protection (Back Location with shoeboxes).
- Pray for Samaritan’s Purse gospel impact in communities and churches (Alcove location with shoeboxes).
– Those unable or uncomfortable walking to stations are encouraged to pray & reflect in the pew.
– Dedication Prayers
o Thanksgiving for generosity of SPBC and other churches.
o Blessing and protection upon Samaritan’s Purse volunteers.
o Dedication of shoeboxes to glorify God with spreading love and hope through Christ.
 See Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 144 ff.
 Adrian Rogers quote.