Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.
There is the narrow way and the wide way, the narrow way is difficult but it leads to eternal life while the wide and easy path leads to eternal destruction. Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). There are those who are against and those who are with us, those within and those without.
There is life and death, truth and falsehood, good and bad, light and darkness, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the World, love and hatred, spiritual wisdom and worldly wisdom. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one may come to the Father except through Him. His is the only name in all the world, in this life, by which one may be saved.
To follow Christ as we walk in this world is to go the narrow and difficult way. The Word of Truth is to guide, correct, and train the Christ follower in righteousness as 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us. The Word of Truth sets itself against error.
Where, and to what, Scripture speaks, it speaks with authority. Scripture:
- Speaks definitively
- Speaks decisively
- Calls for absolute conviction
- Demands that we submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7)
- Urges us to discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:6)
- Commands us to turn away from evil and do good (1 Peter 3:11)
- Calls us to reject the broad way that seems right to the human mind (Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 16:25) and follow the difficult way prescribed by God (Matthew 7:13-14)
- Tells us that our ways are not God’s ways, nor are our thoughts His thoughts (Isaiah 55:8)
- Orders us to protect the truth and reject lies (Romans 1:25)
- Declares that no lie is of the truth (1 John 2:21)
- Guarantees that the righteous shall be blessed and the wicked and the unbelieving perish (Psalm 1:1, 6)
- Reminds us that “friendship with the world is hostility toward God” (James 4:4)
Do you get this? We have got to take a stand and not compromise The Truth of God’s Word.
Christ is against human philosophy and tradition, against empty deception, and against the elementary principles of this world (Colossians 2:8). Those things cannot be joined with true Christian belief; they must be rejected and steadfastly resisted. The World is constantly pushing at the Church, pushing us to go with it, to accept its ways, to go with the flow. Scripture demands that we take a stand. Two questions from the Old Testament; Elijah asked the people, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him. But if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).
Joshua said to the people, “if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). Each of us is called to choose: obedience or disobedience, Jesus or the World. We are called/commanded to, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” How often do you stop and give thanks to God for all that you have?
Thankfulness, an attitude of gratitude, is a spiritual practice. It is seeing and recognizing that all the good we have and experience is from God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above” and this goes for you neighbor as well (James 1:17)!
Webster’s Dictionary defines “Ingratitude” as: “Forgetfulness of, or poor return for, kindness received.” It can also be defined as not appreciating or valuing what you have, or have been given. Unexpressed gratitude is also ingratitude! We have all got to do better at looking for the good and thanking God for it. When we do, we are connecting with the source of all the goodness around us! Have you seen a sunrise or a sunset that lights up the sky in reds and oranges, blues and purples? What about a cloud free night filled with stars? Is there food in the fridge, do you have hot and cold running water in your home? The very fact that you have clean air to breathe and safe water to drink is something many in this world do not. Are you truly thankful? Take a minute and look around you – find something to be thankful for.
It is easier to notice things to be thankful for when all is well. But we are told to be thankful in everything. And that takes effort, it takes conscious effort, to look for the good when life in this world keeps us focused on the bad. What needs fixed, what will the Dr. say, the noise under the hood or coming from your furnace, the kids upset stomach, sniffles, or cough, the fact that your husband is alone in a sporting goods store or your wife is at the mall with the girls.
Yet that is when you need to take account of the good in your life. In fact, that is God’s will for us! I see my kids teaching their kids to say ‘thank you.’ Is it not one of the first things we do after trying to get them to say Mommy or Daddy? Relationships grow stronger when you express gratitude. A heartfelt “thank you” makes other people feel appreciated. And it reminds you of your dependence upon other people.
Saying “thank you” isn’t something you should grow out of when you leave childhood. In fact, one of our PA things is to say is “your Welcome” sarcastically when we don’t receive a thank you…
When we say ‘thank you’ it points out not only the good they did, but the good in them. When we give thanks to God it reminds us of all that He has done. And it gives the glory to Him for having done it!
God’s Word promises that seeing the good in our lives, being grateful, leads to Him and His peace being with us.
When looking for things to be thankful for don’t compare what you have or don’t have with others. Comparison will sabotage two relationships at the same time: yours with God and yours with other people. You can’t fully love others when you’re jealous of them or trying to “out Jones” them. And you can’t love God when you think maybe God has shorted you. When you catch yourself playing that game, stop and pray, thanking God for blessing them. Then pray, “Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:5-6). God is the source of all good things. He will use all things to the good of those who love Him, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”
Grateful people rejoice always, they pray without ceasing, they know the love of God surrounds them and that He is with them, they acknowledge His every blessing (in prayer) and they have peace.
- Are you truly grateful to God for what He has done?
- Do you express your thankfulness to others? To God?