************ Sermon on 1 Timothy 4:4-5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on November 23, 2000
1 Timothy 4:1-5
"Receive With Thanksgiving"
Subtopic: Exhortations to
Title: Don't Mention It
We're not very good at saying "Thank you," are we? We're like a little boy I heard about. On his return from a birthday party, his mother queried, "Bobby, did you thank the lady for the party?"
"Well, I was going to. But a girl ahead of me said, 'Thank you,' and the lady told her not to mention it. So I didn't."
Today is Thanksgiving Day. Today, of all days, we want to say "Thank you." But before we can do that, we need to count our many blessings. "Count your blessings!" That is excellent advice, but sometimes we have to recognize them first!
Topic: Praise to GodCount your blessings – yes, but start by asking God to open your eyes to see your possessions in Christ. Begin by recognizing all that you have in Christ. That will change your entire perspective and enable you to praise and thank God for what you have.
Title: Recognize Your Blessings
A man who owned a small property wished to sell it. Sending for a real estate agent, he asked him to write an advertisement describing the house and land.
When the ad was ready, the agent took it to the owner and read it to him. "Read that again," said the owner.
The agent read the description of the property once more. "I don't think I will sell it after all," said the owner. "I have been looking for a property like that all my life, and I did not know that I owned it!"
I For What We Give Thanks
A In our Bible reading Paul mentions the "good" that God has created and given to us. For this "good" we are to praise and thank God.
What are the good things that Paul has in mind?
In our Bible reading Paul talks about food "which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth." We need to give thanks for our daily food. We need to give thanks for our daily food especially when we consider all those who suffer from hunger.
B In our Scripture reading Paul also mentions marriage. The joys of marriage and family life are also to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. We need to give thanks for faithful, loving marriage relationships. We need to give thanks for parents who love their children and care for them. We need to give thanks for children who respect and obey their parents.
The United Nations tells us that 100 million boys and girls are homeless. Most of them either don't have parents, or they have parents who do not care. Think of that and give thanks for the blessings of home life.
C After my trip to Myanmar I have been thinking about all the people who do not know Jesus. Did you know there are 6 billion people on this earth? How many of them are Christian? It is hard to say. The Lausanne Statistics Task Force reports that in a world of 6 billion people, there are now 600 million Bible-believing Christians in about 7 million congregations; in other words, 10% of the world's population is Christian. Others, looking at church membership, say the number of Christians is more like 2 billion people. Of course, we know that not every church member is a born-again Christian.
Regardless of what statistic you use, think of what this means. This means that the vast majority of people do not know or believe in Jesus. Every time you draw a breath at least four people go into eternity who have never heard the name of Jesus. That is almost 200,000 people a day! Someone put it this way: What is 750,000 miles long, reaches around the earth 30 times, and grows 20 miles longer each day? Answer: The line of people who are without Christ.
We are privileged, so privileged, to know Christ; we are privileged to be part of Christ's body, the church.
For Christ and grace and salvation we also need to give thanks.
II Nothing to be Rejected
A God is good, so good. He has made and given us so much to enjoy. All we need do is receive these gifts with thanksgiving.
It was not always this way. Many things God made were off limits to His Old Testament people. I am thinking about the lists of clean and unclean animals in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. The Israelites were allowed to eat only those animals that chewed the cud and had a split hoof. Birds of prey, crows and other scavenging birds were forbidden. All reptiles were banned. All creatures of the sea without fins and scales were excluded. Only winged insects that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground – like the grasshopper or locust – could be eaten (how would you like to have stir-fried grasshoppers for the Thanksgiving dinner today?).
It seemed that at the time of Timothy there were those in the New Testament church who continued to exclude certain things as being off-limits for the people of God. According to Paul, they "forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving" (1 Tim 4:3).
B Paul teaches that in the New Testament church, no one may say that God has forbidden certain types of food or drink. Nobody may teach that sexuality is sinful or that marriage is undesirable for Christian men and women. Those who teach such things are heretics, or hypocritical liars. They follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (1 Tim 4:1,2).
By the death and resurrection of Christ, the curse has been lifted. We may again eat of all the trees in the garden. There are no holy foods and unholy foods, no holy body parts and unholy body parts, no holy places and unholy places. Nor are there holy days and unholy days. The only distinction we may make is between holy people and unholy people.
Holy people are women, men, girls, and boys of all nations who have been washed by the blood of Christ and renewed by His Spirit.
Holy people may eat and drink and do whatever they like. Of course, being holy they love what their Father in heaven loves and hate what He hates. So this is not a license to get drunk, abuse drugs, be gluttons, practice sexual immorality, and anything else we know our Father in heaven hates. With this understanding, holy people may eat and drink and do whatever they like.
But there is one condition. Paul says, "nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving." We can turn this around into a positive statement which says, "everything is to be accepted if it is received with thanksgiving." Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you are to do it with thanksgiving. That's what the Bible says to us this Thanksgiving Day.
III Receive With Prayers of Thanksgiving
A What does it mean to receive everything "with thanksgiving"?
The thanksgiving that the Bible is talking about here is always directed towards God. We are to be thankful to God. You see, when it comes to good things, God is their Creator and their Giver. So of course we are thankful to God.
B Now, how are we to give thanks? What form is our thanksgiving to take? When we look through the Bible we see that thanksgiving can be shown in a number of different ways. We are told that thanksgiving is a natural element of Christian worship (1 Cor 14:16-17). The psalmist tells us to offer to God a song of thanksgiving (Ps 69:30-31). Hebrews tells us that we give to God a sacrifice of praise when we confess the name of Jesus (Heb 13:15). And, of course, we show thanks to God by the giving of our gifts.
C Especially, though, we are to pray. All things are received with thanksgiving when they are received with prayer. I have always loved what Question and Answer 116 of the Heidelberg Catechism says:
116 Q. Why do Christians need to pray?
A. Because prayer is the most important part
of the thankfulness God requires of us.
Prayer time is meant to be thanksgiving time.
We see this in the life of Jesus. The gospels tell us how Jesus received every good thing from the Father's hands with thanksgiving. He blessed God before a meal and offered thanks after.
(Mark 6:41) Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.
(Mark 8:6) He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so.
(Mark 14:22-23) While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it ... (23) Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them ...
(Luke 24:30) When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.
As Jesus demonstrates, prayer time is meant to be thanksgiving time. Too many times, though, when we come to God in prayer, we come as prayer beggars: give me, help me, bless me, heal me ... God wants this, but when we pray He also wants us to come to Him as praise givers.
Many modern Christians tend either to neglect the practice of prayer before and after meals or to minimize its significance. The example of Jesus holds before us the importance of a time of prayer, a time of thanksgiving, before and after our meals.
D Our text ties prayer to "the word of God." This means that prayers of thanksgiving are to be based upon Scripture. In fact, it is good for our prayers to use the actual words of Scripture. For instance, we can pray using the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, the Lord's Prayer. But we can also pray using the words of the psalms:
(Ps 107:1) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.Have you ever thought of the psalms as prayers, of using them as your own prayers of thanksgiving to God?
(Ps 107:8) Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,
(Ps 107:15,21,31) Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,
(Ps 118:1) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
(Ps 118:21) I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.
(Ps 118:28-29) You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. (29) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
We can also use the inspired words of Paul as our prayers of thanksgiving to God. I think of passages like:
(Rom 1:8) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
(1 Cor 1:4-6) I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. (5) For in him you have been enriched in every way--in all your speaking and in all your knowledge-- (6) because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.
(Eph 1:3) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
(Phil 1:3-6) I thank my God every time I remember you. (4) In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy (5) because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, (6) being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
God loves the words of our Biblical prayers because these are the words of His own heart and mind. By them God is praised. By them God is thanked. By them God is glorified.
Follow the argument with me: God wants us to receive every good thing with thanksgiving; there are many ways to give thanksgiving but the best way is through prayer; it is good for the words of our thanksgiving prayers to be based upon the Bible.
And then something surprising happens: whatever is received with thanksgiving becomes "consecrated."
Consecration refers to persons or things being separated to or belonging to God. They are holy or sacred. They are set apart for the service of God. In the Old Testament the people of Israel were set apart (Ex. 19:5,6; Deut. 7:6; 14:2); so were the priests (Ex. 29:1-37). Places and things were also set apart: the altar in the tabernacle (Num. 7:10-88), the silver and gold utensils used by the priests (2 Sam. 8:11), and the Temple (1 Kings 8:63; Ezra 6:16-18), to name only a few.
The good things we receive from God's hands with thanksgiving become consecrated. They are holy. They are sacred. We are to use them in our service of God.
Imagine that: the blessings of food and clothing and shelter are holy; the blessings of marriage and family life and sexuality are holy; the blessings of grace and salvation and the communion of saints are holy. We thank God for them in prayer and we use them to His glory.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page