Nov. 28-30, 2020
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
“THANK YOU, LORD, FOR ADVENT BLESSINGS!
1. Like grace and peace.
2. Like speaking and knowledge.
3. Like faithfulness to the end.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (EHV) “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! 4 I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God given to you in Christ Jesus. 5 You were enriched in him in every way, in all your speaking and all your knowledge, 6 because the testimony about Christ was established in you. 7 As a result you do not lack any gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will also keep you strong until the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
So how was your Thanksgiving? When I ask that question I’m guessing most of your minds went to what you did, what you ate, who were you with or not with. But I was actually asking how your thanks giving went, that is, your giving thanks to God. Considering that fact that you are today part of the vast minority of Americans who are actually making time to give worship to God I am confident that in some way you took the opportunity to do what the Thanksgiving holiday was designed for and the word actually means and gave thanks to God. Did any of you happen to thank Him for Advent blessings? Honestly, the only reason I did was because I was getting ready for today. Advent can get glossed over a little bit. It’s sandwiched between two biggies: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Advent is important though. It’s the season of the Church year that has us focusing on being ready for the comings of Christ. We get ready to celebrate Jesus’ first coming at Christmas. We stay ready for Christ to come at the end of the world. Those are both biggies as well. And God has not left us lacking in what we need for either of those. He has blessed us. So today let’s join the Apostle Paul and believers from the past in thanking God for Advent blessings.
Like grace and peace. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! 4 I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God given to you in Christ Jesus.” Let’s start with grace. Paul identifies it as a gift from God our Father that is given in Christ Jesus. Many of you have your grace definition already memorized. God’s undeserved love. That’s good. There’s a little more to it. Grace is a gift word, a giving word. I picture it like a mark God has put on us that commits Him. “When I see this mark not only will I not treat you as your sins deserve but I will pour out on you my blessings that are impossible to earn.” What a blessing for Advent. Remember Advent reminds us to be ready, ready to for Christ’s coming. If history is any indicator we’re going to need grace for Christmas. We are going to once again get caught up majoring in the minors of Christmas and spending too little time rejoicing and valuing Jesus as Savior from sin. That’s a slap in God’s face. And you think of how we get upset when other people commercialize Christmas. At least they have the excuse of ignorance. We don’t. What if God kept a nice and naughty list for us? Grace is yours. A gift from God in Christ Jesus. He will not treat as our sins deserve. He will not pull back on gifts in Jesus. He will give blessings we can’t earn.
Like peace. Someone once commented to me that I seem to like to hide song lyrics in my sermons. Not sure where that is coming from. But just like some people are lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, sometimes we get caught up lookin’ for peace in all the wrong places. Peace is a feeling of calmness. Some people look for that peace in the absence of conflict. A family at peace has no struggles, no issues. A world at peace has no wars. And so if you and I look for peace in our life from the absence of conflict in our families, our politics, our world, we will always be sadly disappointed because we are looking for peace in the wrong place. There will not be the absence of conflict because in our world, our country, our families, ourselves we have the presence of sin. Sin causes conflict. God has a different blessing of peace for you. It isn’t the absence of conflict but the presence of God in all things and ruling all things. While the family issues continue, while the money struggles go on, while the country is conflicted God gives you peace. God has all power and wisdom and love. That’s a powerful combination. Peace, brothers and sisters! This too shall pass. This too will be worked for good. This too is governed by the Lord Jesus. Thank you, Lord for Advent blessings like grace and peace.
And there’s more. “You were enriched in him in every way, in all your speaking and all your knowledge, 6 because the testimony about Christ was established in you. 7 As a result you do not lack any gift as you eagerly wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When you read the rest of the letter to the Corinthians you find out that they were like little children when it comes to spiritual gifts. Little children want the shiny gifts more than the ones that do the most good. Little children want the shiny coins, not the dull green bills. The Corinthian Christians wanted gifts like speaking in other languages they had never learned not speaking plainly in their own. Paul reminded them and us that we have all the needed gifts as we wait for Jesus to be revealed to all as Savior and Lord. The needed gifts are speaking and knowledge. How are those Advent blessings? They keep us busy with the work Jesus gave us all to do. He can come at any time. We want Him to find us zealously doing the work He gave us. Be His witnesses. To do that you need the right knowledge and the opportunity and ability to speak. You got it. The littlest ones here know what to say. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
You adults do too. Get to Jesus. That’s the motto you need to keep in mind as you serve as Jesus’ witness. How do I get to Jesus in this conversation? Here is an example one of our members shared with me and will be very useful this time of year. It’s bound to happen. You are checking out at the grocery store or getting stamps at the post office or buying gift wrap at the Dollar Store. You know what’s going to happen. Someone is going to ask you, “So are you ready for Christmas?” You know what they mean. Do you have all your presents bought, decorations up, meal items bought, cards out. You know what they mostly hear back. “Not yet. A few more things to get.” Can you get to Jesus in that conversation? Here is what one or our members says, “Absolutely! At Christmas I celebrate the birthday of Jesus, the Savior of the world, so I’m always ready. I hope you have a blessed Christmas too!” Busy! Busy! With the work of the Master. You have the gifts of knowledge and speaking and can come up with your own ways too. Thank you, Lord, for Advent blessings, like speaking and knowledge.
I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken with brothers and sisters who know their time on earth is growing short and they express a common concern. They might know because they have been diagnosed with a terminal disease. They might know because they have lived well past the 70 years or 80 if you have the strength that God has decreed as a normal life span. You know what their common concern is? Will I hold on to my faith? Will I believe enough? This comes from lifelong believers who regularly fed their faith and weak believers who did not. Same concern. It seems that when you are coming face to face with your own mortality the Devil, the doubt bringer, goes to work with a vengeance. Will you be ready for Jesus to come, to advent, to you?
What an Advent blessing we receive! “He will also keep you strong until the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.” God gives us faithfulness to the end. His faithfulness. Here it means you can count on Him to keep His word. He’s promising you that that as He called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus, He will keep you there. You may not feel strong at the end but God will keep you strong. You may worry about your sins but God preserves you blameless. He is faithful.
Thank you, Lord, for Advent blessings! This season of the Church year may be sandwiched between what we consider two biggies, but it’s a biggie too. Remember how the Gospel lesson ended. Jesus said, “What I say to you I say to everyone, Watch!” He is coming. And with your Advent blessings, you are ready! Amen.