In the temporal realm there are many things to be thankful for. While the list may vary from person to person, most lists will include family, friends, employment, health, a home, our country, food, and clothing, not necessarily in that particular order. We are indeed blessed.
The purpose of today’s message however, is not to reflect on the temporary, but the eternal. Life as we know it, in the United States of America, is good. Sure things happen that we’re not pleased with, but all in all we are really blessed to be a part of this country. As mentioned, today’s focus is on the blessings of the eternal. Not entirely on the utopia, i.e., the perfect place of state, where everyone lives in harmony and everything is the best. I would like today’s message to center more around the pilgrimage, the journey to the eternal Kingdom of God.
There is a question I would like to ask; what type of fruit do your lips produce as you embark on your journey?
There is a powerful passage in James 3:13-18, (NIV) that says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
Our forefathers in the faith blazed with great clarity, the path that we must follow. Possessing all yet receiving nothing in this world, they demonstrated just what it meant to walk towards the eternal. Through faith, these spiritual pilgrims denied the temporal roots of this perishable world, in hope of the eternal Kingdom of our God.
“These all died in faith, not having received the promise, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of the country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city…And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:13-16, 39, 40).
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
This season of thanksgiving let’s evaluate our journey. Does the fruit of our lips offer thanks and praise to a God who is more than worthy of perpetual thanksgiving and praise? Or are we producing the bitter fruits that declare we have lost our way?
Thanksgiving is more than a season. It should be the passion of our heart.
The Apostle Peter said, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:9-12).
The next part of this passage really hits home for many conservative Christians. The challenge is to behave in a way that is not so popular in the evangelical circle. Hold on, it may get bumpy. Peter uses the words, “submit” and “honor” (in the KJV) to describe our conduct concerning the leaders of this world.
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (I Peter 2:13-17, NIV).
If we expect to enter into Eden restored, we must produce a harvest that glorifies our God. The attitude of our heart must dwell in the field of continuous thanksgiving. This is how we achieve the Apostle Paul’s challenging words; “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). May our lips produce the fruit that pleases our Heavenly Father.