Thankful For Jesus

Thankful For Jesus     Isaiah 9:1-7

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Introduction

Do you ever find it hard to be thankful? The world is full of people in terrible situations / struggles. An article in Psychology Today says that Grateful people enjoy benefits such as improved physical and emotional health, better relationships, higher self-esteem, and longer lifespans. But the article also says that in a survey conducted by the Harris Poll shed light on why people aren’t thankful during the holiday season. Three in five Americans say they’d rather do something else rather than reflect on what they’re thankful for on Thanksgiving. 71% of Americans say the holidays cause them stress.  Shopping for gifts tops the list of stressors! Spending time with family was a close second, followed by cooking big holiday meals. 12% percent of Americans admitted they would rather spend time on their smartphones than have a meaningful conversation with family.

Whether you can relate to those surveys or not, we should recognize that having a Thankful spirit is having a Christlike  spirit.

Colossians 2:7 Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught.

Colossians 4:2 Keep on praying and guard your prayers with thanksgiving.

Today we’re going to use a Christmas text to teach us about Thanksgiving.

1. A BRIGHT LIGHT FOR A DARK TIME

When Isaiah confronted Ahaz in Isaiah 7-12 … The future was dark. Judah was in national decline. King Ahaz made an alliance with foreign power Assyria. It turned out bad, and the nation suffered. Idolatry was pervasive – Ahaz sacrificed his own children in the fires of Molech. There was no hope, no light, a time of darkness.

This is when God used Isaiah to bring hope and light. A new king will take his seat on the throne of David. His reign is described.  It is a vision of a future of peace, justice and righteousness. The immediate fulfillment of this prophecy is likely the coming of the revival King Josiah, perhaps Hezekiah. Ultimately, though, this is a Messianic prophecy pointing to the ultimate work of Jesus. Matthew quotes this Isaiah passage and believes Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s hopes. (MT 4:12-17)

Isaiah’s days of darkness remind us of our own. We don’t have to look far to see our world lost and hopeless. (scandal, murder, abuse, terror). Not just global, but personal darkness we deal with. Can the promise of a new King give us a spirit of gratitude this Thanksgiving? We need a bright light for our dark time.

2. FOUR REASONS TO BE THANKFUL FOR JESUS

He is the Light in our Darkness.

Isaiah 9:1, 2 Nonetheless, those who were in distress won’t be exhausted. At an earlier time, God cursed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but later he glorified the way of the sea, the far side of the Jordan, and the Galilee of the nations. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned.

John 12:46  I have come as a light into the world so that everyone who believes in me won’t live in darkness.

Jesus isn’t a topic for a sermon, He is a real person who taught about the major issues of life and gives us light and strength to face the darkness of our lives.

*He is our Joy

Isaiah 9:3 You have made the nation great; you have increased its joy.
They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest,
 as those who divide plunder rejoice.

The Angels told the Shepherds that there was joyous news – a savior… Christ the Lord. Are we forgetting to be grateful because we’re forgetting a Savior? Jesus saves us from our sins … not just in eternity. Sets us free, gives us hope. Joy is not absence of troubles.

Hebrews 12:1-3: Jesus… endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.

Keep your eyes on Jesus and be thankful!

*He is our Victory in the Battle

Isaiah 9:4-5 As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them, the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor.  Because every boot of the thundering warriors, and every garment rolled in blood will be burned, fuel for the fire.

While it appears that the powers of this world have a firm hold, God’s power will have the final victory. – Karoline Lewis. We fight our own personal battles, how often are we depending on the Lord as we fight?

Romans 8:37 But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us.

*He is our Righteous King

Isaiah 9:6-7 A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom, establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.

3. How do we grow in our thankfulness for Jesus Christ?

*Get back to the Gospels – the more we know Him the greater we will love Him!

 *Express gratitude daily … in prayer, in a journal, on a calendar, out loud to Him.

*Love the people He loves. Can be in simple ways …sending a card, making a call, serving in some small way.

*Make Time to be Grateful – on purpose. Do we take just a few moments each day to reflect on how grateful we are to have Jesus in our lives?

Conclusion

A.A. Milne wrote, “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” 

Thanksgiving in America has to do with counting blessings, but often we are just counting our material blessings. That is good, but let us never take Jesus for granted!

Revelation 1:4-6 Grace and peace to you from the one who is and was and is coming, and from the seven spirits that are before God’s throne, and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, who made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and always. Amen.

LifeGroup Questions

1. If you could just pick one, what is your favorite Thanksgiving Memory?

2. A Harris Poll indicated 71% of Americans say the holidays cause them stress. The top three stressors are: Shopping for gifts; Spending time with family; cooking big holiday meals. If those are stress points you feel, share with the group why they are so stressful. What other stressors associated with  the holidays do you feel? What advice could we give for overcoming this stress robbing us of joy in the holidays?

3. There are five descriptions of the coming King (Jesus) …Can you think of a story from Jesus’ life that illustrates each one of those?

-Wonderful Counselor!  A Counselor who understands us, He cares and is capable and compassionate, No problem too big for Him to handle!

-Mighty God!  A powerful hero invested with God’s strength and representing God in the nation All things are possible with Him, Even the wind and waves were subject to Him, Death could not hold Him.

– Father Forever!  A king who rules like a benevolent father —a father who will never abandon or forsake his people.

-Prince of Peace! A king who will reign with peace; he will ensure peace and bring peace to his reign

-He is our Righteous Judge Forever (9:7)

4.  As a group brainstorm some possible effects of cultivating gratitude for Jesus in our hearts on a consistent basis.

*Effects on our own lives

*Effects on the church

*Effects on the lives of people we see often

5. John ended his lesson with a doxology from Revelation. All of these descriptions of Jesus are important / essential.  But  have each group member share which one in particular stands out to them as most meaningful.

Revelation 1:4-6 Grace and peace to you from the one who is and was and is coming, and from the seven spirits that are before God’s throne, and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and freed us  from our sins by his blood, who made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and always. Amen.

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References

A Child is Born – John Mark Hicks 

Commentary by Karoline Lewis  

Unto Us A Child is Born – John Mark Hicks  

Campbell, R. F. (1988–). Preach for a year (pp. 189–190). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications.

Why It’s Hard to be Thankful on Thanksgiving