Happy Thanksgiving! Trust you had a good thanksgiving, not just eating, but giving thanks to God. We have much to be thankful for. The Bible has much to say about thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5:20 (ESV) giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Underline the two words always and everything. That is pretty comprehensive. We are to be giving thanks at all times. And we are to give thanks for everything. Everything that God allows in our lives is meant to ultimately bring good for us. Who are we to give thanks to? We are to give thanks to God, from whom every good gift comes. We are to thank God in Jesus’ name, for we give thanks because of what Jesus has done for us.
Sometimes, we may feel as though we have nothing to give thanks for. Our problems seem much bigger than our blessings. Yet, this verse commands us to always give thanks for everything. Since God never tells us to do something that we cannot do, we can always find a place for giving thanks.
Let’s watch a short video called “Where Thanksgiving Begins.” We tend to want to wait for that big miracle we are praying for to happened before we give thanks. But this video and God’s word encourages us to give thanks for the little things in life, the daily provision of God, our relationship, our church and God Himself. Thankfulness begins with the little things and becomes a way of life. Sadness comes to those who complain about life. Joy comes to those who give thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
In this verse we see rejoicing, prayer and giving thanks all together. Each of these three activities are to be done in all circumstances. Thanksgiving and rejoicing come together. These three practices are God’s will for every believer. Everything that God commands us to do, He empowers us to do through His Spirit.
Today, our message is entitled “All Things New.” We’re going to be talking about something that is coming in the future. Something that we can always look forward to and give thanks for, no matter what is going on in our lives. What is this wonderful event this is coming in the future?
2 Peter 3:3b-4 (ESV) … scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”
What is a scoffer? A scoffer is someone who mocks or makes fun of something that they don’t believe. They say, Jesus died 2000 years ago and still hasn’t returned. Nothing cataclysmic is going to happen. This world will just keep on keeping on as it always has from the beginning. Peter goes on the say in the next verses that these scoffers overlook the judgement of God with the flood on the entire earth in the past. The judgement of the flood came by God’s Word and came very quickly.
2 Peter 3:7 (ESV) But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
The final judgement that is coming will be again on the entire world. This final judgement will not be by water, but by fire. As the judgement by water in Noah’s day, the final judgement by fire will bring about the destruction of the ungodly, those who don’t believe. As Noah was building the ark, the people of his day scoffed at him. In the same way, the scoffers of today, scoff at the mention of God’s coming judgment.
What will bring about this cataclysmic event? It will be return of Jesus as He promised. But why has it taken so long, when will Jesus come back?
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
This verse gives us the reason that Jesus has not returned yet. When Jesus returns, there will be no more time for people to repent. When Jesus returns, those who are not saved will be doomed to perish eternally in hell. So, God is patient, waiting for more people to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus.
This verse also tells us when Jesus is coming back. He will return when the last person who will repent has repented and believed. Jesus is coming back and we are 2000 years closer to that event then when Jesus promised it.
How can the truth that Jesus is coming back help us this Thanksgiving? First of all, we need to be firm in our belief that He is coming back and not listen to the scoffers around us. Secondly, we can give thanks that Jesus is coming back. All the evil in our world will be removed by God’s judgement when he returns. That is reason for thanksgiving.
Whether we are alive when Jesus returns or are returning with Him, it will be incredible. We also must understand why Jesus has not returned yet. He hasn’t returned so that more people can be saved and spend eternity with Him. In the next point, we’ll discover how that has implications for us. When Jesus returns …
2 Peter 3:10 (ESV) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
The return of Jesus is called the day of the Lord in the Bible. It will come like a thief. A thief does not announce his arrival, he comes quickly and without warning. So, it will be with the return of the Lord, as Jesus taught on many occasions. At the return of Jesus, this judgement by fire will consume both the earth and the heavens.
The entire universe will pass away in an enormous fire. Why is that? Because the earth and the universe has been contaminated with sin. The fire of judgement will remove all sin, evil and unrighteousness in preparation for the next age, eternity. So, what implications does this coming judgement have for us today?
2 Peter 3:11-12 (ESV) Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
Knowing what is coming in the future should motivate to live today lives of holiness and godliness. Eternity with God is reserved for those who are His children and who live holy lives. We are to be actively waiting and looking forward to the day of the Lord. Not only are we to be waiting for that day, we are to be hastening the coming of that day.
How can we hasten or cause the time of Jesus’ return to come quicker? We must remember why Jesus hasn’t returned yet. It’s because there are some that need to be saved yet, that are not saved. So, each person that is led to the Lord, makes it one person closer to the final number that God is waiting for. As we are witnesses to people, as we support the Lord’s work in our church and around the world through missions, we are hastening the return of Jesus. But is the day of the Lord just about judgement and destruction?
2 Peter 3:13 (ESV) But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
When the present earth and heavens are destroyed, when all evil and unbelievers have been removed, what will be left? There will be new heavens and a new earth. There will be no sin, no curse, no pain, no death in the new heavens and earth. Eternity for the believer will be a place where righteousness dwells. It will be place where God walks and talks with His children. A place of indescribable joy as we worship and serve God forever and ever. Everything will be new.
When we look around our world today and see the evil, the violence, the killings, the perversion, our hearts are overwhelmed. But the good news is that the world we see around us today will not last forever. God is going to bring about a new earth and new heavens for us to live in and enjoy. You see, it’s not just spending eternity in heaven, there will be a new earth and heaven. We will have resurrected bodies that live on this new earth with God.
So, whenever our hearts are distressed by the wickedness around us, we can give thanks that God has a plan to remove it. We can give thank that a better day is coming when everything will be new. And we can do our part to lead people to Jesus, hastening His return. We don’t know when Jesus will return, but it could be at any time. His return is imminent. There is nothing that must happen before Jesus returns, except the salvation of the last person. So, it could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be a hundred or a thousand years from now. Our mission is to …
2 Peter 3:14 (ESV) Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
When Jesus returns, we want Him to find us doing His will, not living in sin. We must be diligent to live lives pleasing to the Lord, for He could return at any time. Jesus warned in His parables that when He returns, those He finds who are living in sin will perish, there are no second chances. So, the hope of His return should motivate us to holy living.
2 Peter 3:15 (ESV) And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
We mustn’t be impatient that Jesus hasn’t returned yet. We can praise and thank Him, for each minute, in the Assemblies of God worldwide, a person is saved, that is 1440 people saved every day. Every hour a new minister is enlisted and a new church planted. We are working together to hasten the day of His return.
2 Peter 3:17-18a (ESV) You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Finally, Peter warns us, that our knowledge of Jesus’ return should make us careful about falling for error and unbiblical teaching. We must continue to grow in our relationship with Jesus and His Word. That includes learning new things from His Word that we haven’t known before. That means having our beliefs and thinking changed by the truth of His Word. Many have received false teaching in the past that must be rejected. If the teaching that you have learned in the past is not firmly rooted in God’s Word, then it must be replaced with the truth of God’s Word. We must live our lives in the light of Jesus’ imminent return.
I believe that we do not think about or live with Christ’s return in mind enough. To live for Jesus’ return does not mean that we have to get the entire prophetic time- table figured out. What we have talked about today is the core of the teaching of God’s Word on Jesus’ return. In preparing this message, I have been convicted about not keeping Jesus’ return at the forefront of my mind on a daily basis. We are to pray in the Lord’s prayer “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
When will that prayer be fully realized? Only when Jesus returns. At the end of the Bible in the last verses of the book of Revelation, Jesus says, “Surely I am coming soon.” And John, the writer of Revelation replies, Amen, Come, Lord Jesus! It may be that in our lifetime, we may witness the return of Jesus. If not, we can give thanks for it every day of our lives.
This thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for. Jesus is coming back, not ifs and doubts about it.His return will bring judgement for the wicked and the destruction of the current earth and heavens. But that’s not the end of the story. Everything will be made new, a new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells will be created. There we will live with Jesus forever and ever.
So, we must live our lives in anticipation of Jesus’ return. We live according to the truth of God’s Word. We hasten His coming by doing our part to win the lost, until the last person has been saved and Jesus returnsWe pray along with John in Revelation, Come, Lord Jesus.