How do we be thankful when the world is a mess? There is a transcendant peace we can have when we give all of our lives - our desires and disappointments - to Jesus.
Hi. It’s always good to be, uh, speaking to the Cornerstone fam. Going grown to love, uh, the people here, you know, church is not a building. It’s not programs. It’s really, the people Christ didn’t die for a building. He died for people, individuals like you and me. And, um, I always, when I come here, I always give an update and I was talking to Vincent prior to this and I said, well, what should I update?
Well, one update is that, uh, I had a really busy Thanksgiving. This is, uh, we had up to 15 relatives at the height of, uh, the gathering, which has a lot of people here. Oh, wow. Isn’t that kind of like, uh, uh, illegal too many people. Well, when they took COVID tests, some people, uh, were out of town and they were all negative.
So I felt comfortable, but there’s one thing I want to share. And it’s something of a praise that I think I need to share with, with people. Whenever I, I see someone, not that I’m not seen for a while. I lead a Bible study on Zoom on Monday with some people from my former church. And it is about 15-20 of us on Zoom.
And there was a man who probably in the sixties, retired, uh, who was very active in visitation, hospital visitation and veterans, uh, uh, visitation. And, uh, he was a two time cancer survivor. And, uh, he in visiting him, he mentioned that he is now, uh, face a third bout of cancer. And this time it’s not, uh, uh, And it is, uh, the other parts.
It wasn’t as, uh, uh, esophagus and his lungs as now, it is in his bone marrow and it’s not functioning, basically has acute, uh, leukemia. And, um, they were giving him blood transfusions, like just every, like a few times a week because it was just not functioning. So we were praying for him as a group. And I’m teaching the group on prayer on Monday.
Um, one half of the time it’s on prayer, the other half it’s on, in time, uh, events and situations okay. That are occurring in this world. So, um, he, he, he notifies us, he texted me and said, you know, I did a pet scan. In preparation for the bone marrow transplant to see if he could be a candidate. And he said, you know, I, I, they found, uh, a lump in the lung and he said, if I, if it comes out that I have cancer, I, uh, he’s no longer a candidate for bone marrow transplant.
And then he said to us, I said, and I said, well, when, when are you going to get the biopsy for this thing? And he said, well, this was in November. He said, uh, it’s so busy. They can’t get it until beginning of next year, January 2022. So we were praying for him that we said, you know, we got to pray. We got to pray that you get a schedule for a biopsy.
So we’re praying for him. And then he texts me that during the Bible study, the doctors contact him and they said, well, look, we got your schedule for. Uh, biopsy this Friday, whenever that occurred, that was, that was, that was like a few weeks ago. Okay. Okay. So he gets the biopsy and, uh, he then texts me about a week later.
And this was the week before Thanksgiving. So it was last week. He, he, he texted me, he said, uh, it’s not cancerous, it’s negative. And I said, holy cow, this is like, this is great news. And then he texts me and he said, and they found a 10 out of 10 match for bone marrow. So I’m emailing people. I’m texting people that’s in the group.
I said, this is, this is tremendous answer to prayer. And then, I see a Monday, I just, this past Monday when in an original Bible study and I said, George, um, uh, is the match from a relative? Cause I’m thinking 10 out of 10. It’s probably like, you know, one of your children, you know, and he said to me, no, it’s a, it’s a complete stranger.
And my jaw just dropped a little bit, you know? Wow.
There’s still a road for him to go, but I needed to share this because sometimes God answers prayers miraculously. Sometimes He works through the system, but you see His fingerprints all over the world through the system. And we give praise to God for this. And this is sort of a good way to begin this sort of message that’s on
being thankful because what we need to do is to be a people that are thankful in from all different perspectives of our lives. Sometimes we are thankful of the situation that we are in. We have realized we have good, you know, family or things that you had sort of wished that would occur in your life.
And they occur. We are to be thankful for that. Sometimes the thankfulness or being thankful to God is based upon a duress or stress we are under. And we see a deliverance of God and those always deserve a sort of praise or a vocal praise so that we can be uplifted in situations like this. But in this message, we’re going to talk about a different perspective of being thankful, being thankful when life, and especially when the world is a mess, because 2021.
And probably going into 2022, it’s not been a kind time for the world, for the United States and for the Bay Area. So how do we be thankful? We can be thankful of our situations of all small things. Of course, we were always thankful of those things, but to be thankful in a transcendent perspective, how to be thankful in the world when these things are occurring all around us?
That’s my purpose for today. And we’re going to look at this transcendful, thankfulness through the lens and the passage and the Book of the Revelation, chapter four and five selected passages. Now people say, well, how are we going to study the Book of the Revelation? It’s so difficult, you know, but I’ll tell you, when you think of the Book of Revelation, we often think of it as, you know, symbolic imagery of the things to come in the end of time.
And they’re not always that sort of a happy, okay? Common times, it’s very, very, uh, the picture is very glum, but what we have also in the Book of the Revelation is this really interesting, what I call, the throne room scene that is in heaven. And we peel back and take a step back into the book of revelation and see what this throne room scene is.
You will realize something that something is happening in heaven, and there is a realization and a great joy and a great thankfulness. In the midst of what they were experiencing as an early church. Now you might be saying, oh, you know, this, the early church, Jeff, you know, everyone’s happy the church is growing.
The spirit is, is working mightily. Of course, they’re thankful. Yeah, but I got to tell you in the Book of Revelation, since this is understood as the last book written in the New Testament and is generally understood that this is about 50-55 years since the beginning of the church of Jesus Christ and the bestowal of the Spirit, you know? The church, even though it’s 55 years old, 50, 55 years old is at a very interesting pressurized crossroads. Say, what do you mean by that?
Pressurized crossroads. The grand opening has come and gone. It’s past the soft opening. It’s now into the second and third generation of people following Jesus. And it is the last sort of Apostle authoritative leader that is alive and he is old and his days are numbered. Okay? And the church is experiencing all types of pressure that had not been in its experience in the other books of the New Testament.
And I’m not saying that, you know, it was always great in the other books of the New Testament. No, no, no. They had problems, but they had a different sort of problems. And now as a background to the Book of the Revelation first, you had the problem of the church itself was losing its vision of where it was to go.
There was letters to seven churches in chapters, two and three. Let me just give you a quick breakdown to were very, very good, two of the seven. Three of the seven were mixed some good and some bad two of the churches were absolutely horrid. So you’re talking about, you know, this is just like 50 years from the beginning and the church was already seeing cracks and there was problems and they had to sort of like, you know, uh, reform and get back to what Jesus wanted them to be.
There was problem from within. There was also problem with, um, where Christianity comes from. If you didn’t know Jesus is Jewish, okay. And the disciples are Jewish and it comes from a Jewish faith. Our New Testament is based upon old Testament scriptures. It’s a continuum. And at the beginning, believers, followers of Christ were coming from Judaism, seeing Jesus as the fulfillment of the messianic promises.
But at the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation, a schism is occurring and persecution from the mother religion is now being felt by this growing Christian movement. Finally, there was not only pressure from within the church, kind of losing its focus and from, uh, uh, the source of Christianity, Judaism, you have political and societal pressure because you’re beginning to see Roman persecution of Christians.
Why? Because Christianity is monotheist. They believe it’s sole source. There’s no, no other way to God, but through Christ and you have that in a, in a sort of a system like was in Rome that might’ve worship the emperor and sort of like, you know, allow sort of, uh, various, uh, ex uh, uh, manifestations of polytheism. Any group that says sole source,
that’s only Jesus, at this time is going to face, uh, a degree of persecution amongst the Roman rule. And with this backdrop, it’s not like what’s happening now, but the pressures are there. How do they give thanks when pressure around them is building, how do we give thanks? How are we thankful when pressures around us are building?
I mean, there’s a lot of anxiety. I, I read this one, uh, sort of report that 44% of Americans don’t want to have kids if they don’t have kids yet, because they, they think it’s too sad of a future for them. And you, you know, my, you might have an advantage being a believer in Jesus Christ, but some of us, I guess, are come to the anxiety of the times.
How do we begin to be uplifted? Well, let’s look at these two passages or these two chapters in the Book of the Revelation four and five we’re first, then we’ll look at Revelation 4 and I, I’m not gonna read the whole thing. It’s just like too long, but I’m going to read you some excerpts. First is Revelation 4 verses 9, 10, and 11, and it goes like this.
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor, and thanks to Him who is seated on the throne, who gives, who lives forever and ever the 24 elders fall before Him who is seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, they cast their crowns before the throne saying worthy are You our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power. For You created all things and by Your will, they existed and were created.
Now, one thing about this, the worship is, uh, it’s very good. It’s tends to be very formal and it is pointing to the praise of God based upon the fact that He is the creator of all things. That’s worthy to praise God for. But we’re going to see in the next chapter that there is a progression, an evolution, a development of this worship from a very formal type of worship into something that is crazy.
Okay? That’s the best way I could put it. Revelation chapter 5. It is still the throne room scene of God in heaven, but we’re going to look at chapter 5, verses 11 and 12. The next worship scene is very different. And then I looked and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders and the voice of many angels numbering, myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might, and honor, and glory and blessing.
I want to add verse 13 and I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea and all that is in them saying to Him who sits on the throne and to the lamb, be blessing and honor, and glory and might forever and ever. Now, I don’t know if you notice there is a progression in this worship from basically a limited number of beings.
They might be symbolic of larger groups, but it’s, it’s limited. It’s formal. It’s based upon the creative power of God. When you get to chapter five, you get here’s the Johns as myriads upon myriads, thousands upon thousands. What are we talking about? Myriad is like 10,000, 10,000 times, 10,000 times, thousands and thousands.
I mean, it’s a huge number. Okay. Not only that it’s now not pointed at just He who sits on the throne, which we, we hold the be God, the father. It is now pointed to Jesus Christ and something happens because Jesus Christ has done something to cause the formal worship in heaven to break out into standing ovation and crazy sort of thankfulness.
And we got to find out what this is, why is this happening? And we find, when we find out why it’s happening, it will surely help us in times like this, because what is happening is transcendent and foundational to who we are and what we will be. Why is this happening? Why do we have this standing ovation and this great applause?
Okay, let’s go back to chapter five. I’m going to go a few verses earlier, to verses four and five. And, uh, it goes like this Revelation four, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or look into it. And one of the elders said to me, weep no more behold. The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David has conquered so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a lamb standing as though it had been slain with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Now there’s symbolism here, but it’s clearly understood who this symbolic sort of being is.
It’s Jesus Christ, but it’s in a way that you perhaps not really fully recognized or understood. He is introduced as the lion. But He comes out looking like a lamb that had been slaughtered, gruesome scene, you know, but it is this combination of lion and the lamb that is very much critical in our understanding of why we give
thanks. You see lion and lamb. I mean, they don’t co-exist okay. One would eat the other. Okay. One’s very docile. The others sort of like, you don’t even want to, you don’t want to be there. Okay? There’s sometimes someone has a pet lion. Okay? We’re not talking about that type of wild lion. You don’t want to be near these things.
Okay. Lambs, you’d go to some like, like petting farm and there’s no problem. Very docile creatures. Here’s the thing. In Jesus Christ, He exists both in the imagery of the lion and the imagery of the lamb. And when you understand that He exists in both of these imageries that cannot co-exist in sort of life that we see now, you begin to understand why we give praise because in the lion, He is the victor. In the lamb, He is the sacrifice.
And you know what, every so often you need to be reminded of both of these things, because one reflects the grace of God. To us, to you, to me, the other expresses the victory of God in this world to overcome this world. Sometimes we feel unworthy and the lamb aspect of Christ needs to come out really clear to us.
Other times we feel desperate. Not within ourselves, but with the things around us pressuring us and we need the lion aspect of our Lord that He triumph. It is both. And when you begin to understand how both sort of exist and they mingle and they apply to you and me, we begin to give thanks more and more.
Let’s continue verse 10, nine, and 10 of chapter five. So we’ve had the introduction, the introduction of Jesus as the lion and the lamb. He now, uh, the passage now continues in verse nine in chapter five and they sang a new song. So it’s a little bit, that’s like a new verse from, uh, the form of worship of chapter four.
They sang a new song saying worthy are you to take the scroll and to open it’s seal, I’m going to stop and then talk about it. Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals? Now this scroll and the seals plays a very important role in the Book of the Revelation. We’re not going to go into it and we have more time.
We’ll talk about these seals mean and stuff like that, but ultimately they open up the final plan and purpose of God for this world. Jesus, as lamb and lion opens up the final chapter
of what the completed plan of God will look like. Now, this is really interesting because the plan isn’t really. About like, oh, you know, this is what you’re going to be. Yeah. That’s, what’s going to happen as it will be and who you’re going to marry to the job. You can have this, where are you going to live.
You know? It’s not individual plan. It’s the plan of God for this world. It’s cosmic, it’s greater than you and me. And this is important for times like this, because sometimes we feel squeezed by the situation all around us, you know, but where is God with all these tense situations and settings around us?
Is He doing anything? You know what the answer to that, if we feel tensed by the events of this world, Jesus is lamb and lion and He is the one that has the right and the authority and the worthiness to set in motion the final plan of God. So we are thankful because you know, God’s in control and that’s through Jesus Christ.
You see, God has, God has, in some sense, always been in control, but now enter Jesus Christ. It gets really, really interesting because now the final plan of God is revealed and it will, and nothing, it, the final, the final plays are in motion. And the things that are happening, like illnesses that are going around this world and financial inflation, in racial tension, and crime. We may not like it.
Then we don’t give thanks for it. Surely we don’t have to give thanks. But they were all in the hand of God and He is in full control. Brought about by Jesus. I’m going to read now continue verse nine. And, um, You were slain and by Your blood. You ransomed people for God. That’s one of the reasons why He’s worthy. Worthy not because He’s such a good person.
And He was a great . Person. He didn’t, He didn’t do anything wrong, but what makes Him worthy is that He sacrifices Himself for us
Sacrifice. Now that might sound gruesome to you. Sacrifice. sacrificial system. You know what I mean? You know, we didn’t want to think about that. That must be some primitive form of religion, but you know, what, what, what, what this really tells us though. That it cost God something when He sent His son to die on our behalf.
And that, that is real. It paid something for me. And that’s why we give thanks. Because God is in control of that, which is happening in the final chapters of this world. But also those of us who believe in Jesus have a full graciousness in Him. You always sometimes meet a true believer in Jesus Christ who feels very guilty of something that they have done.
And sometimes they wonder, could God ever forgive me for what I’ve done. Could I ever undo the past? Can I have ever paid back God? Well, look, you’re never going to undo the past. You’re never going to pay back God, but can you be forgiven? Of course.
Because there is nothing that you and I have done that not- cannot be forgiven by God. If we accept and we trust and we turn our lives to face and follow our Lord, Jesus Christ. Nothing. It is purely by grace and there might be some of us out there at this time who feels guilty by something always seek the grace of God, or I should say, be reminded of the grace of God.
If you have already believed. It is worthy to be thankful for thankfulness to our Lord in heaven. Let me read you continue this verse 9.. So you were slain by your blood. You ransomed people for God, from every tribe and language and people and nation. Now I love this because I’m a minority, you know, even though the early church was sort of very Jewish, okay?
It was never the intent of God to keep the church Jewish. He would redeem people from every like, land and language. And that was His intent to make one people for many peoples. Now there’s a lot of racial tension now, and a lot of political tension in the world let alone in United States, we got to talk about like infringement of Russia, you know, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, China. How could there ever be world unity?
How can you ever diffuse racial tension, especially in America? Well, I think you could sort of diffuse it a bit, but I’m going to tell you something that if you truly understand the grace of Jesus Christ, the true end of ethnic separation comes through Jesus. And with that, it transforms us because we come from different types of backgrounds, socioeconomic, ethnic,
And we are united with Him
and that’s great because that’s what tears the world apart. But in Jesus, He unifies us. Through Jesus as the lion and the lamb. Final verse 10 before going on to another passage and you have made them a kingdom and priests to are God and they shall reign on earth. Wow. Kingdom, both the priests. So we serve and we will reign.
We are kings. It’s not just people saved by grace doing nothing. It is people saved by grace, nothing we can ever pay back God for what we have done. And we have a destiny to serve and to reign, to take authority in this world and in the world to come,
You know, this final plan of God you think we are under no control when the world is just spinning out of control, furthest from the truth, from the divine perspective. Because our Lord reigns and our destiny is set. You know, some of you think America’s the greatest country in the world? Some of you probably think it’s sort of, it’s in, it’s in it’s past its prime.
You know, some of you think that other countries are better, I’m not here to debate. What I am here to tell you is ultimately our hope is not in any of the kingdoms of this world, but in the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let’s go to the final passage. It’s in Revelation, chapter 5, verse 11.
And then I looked and I heard. Around the throne and the living creatures and the elders and the voice of many angels numbering, myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice worthy of the lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth wisdom and might honor, and glory and blessing.
Now, what’s very interesting after this, like the description of what Jesus did for us died for us, you know, can open up the scroll that made us into a kingdom of priests and that will rain and people from —-, different languages, ethnicities, he then comes to sort of a summary. It’s not what Jesus does.
It’s what Jesus will receive. Power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory and blessing. And I was thinking to myself I said, Jeff, these are things that we all strive for in this world as human beings. Oh, if I could just have authority, if I can just have control, if I just have money, if I just get that education, if I just get that degree, you know, I was reading this, I said, it’s all what we’d say are the ideas that if we attain one of these things, our life will be complete and we will feel happy and we will feel blessed.
You have none of these and you feel like your life is miserable. Like it’s a failure. Power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing. Here’s the thing, all of the things that we strive for and cause strive and disappointment because most of the time we don’t get it. They are received in Christ because of His worthiness in what He did for us.
And here’s the really interesting thing. And I was thinking about this, you know, driving on for this way, the taping. Okay? Usually if we see someone else getting this and we don’t get it, we feel jealous. Someone’s smarter, someone more handsome, someone more beautiful, someone with more authority, something that you always aim for and you didn’t get, but the person next to you got. And somebody say, oh no, I just feel, I’ll just feel happy for that other person.
You know? I, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Some of you might, but I think most of us will feel what about me? Well, here’s the thing. When you understand the grace of Jesus Christ and what he did for you. You begin to realize that all the things that we strive for and spend our lives sort of attaining
it doesn’t matter if we get it because Jesus will get it. And I’m not jealous that Jesus got it. I applaud Jesus. I go into crazy fits of thanksgiving. You know why? Because it’s not about me. It’s not about my attainment. It’s about what Jesus has attained for me. And when I understand this Jesus, both as lamb and lion,
I am taken back.
Because I am not worthy of any of this,
and I just have to be thankful and greatly thankful. Extremely thankful, crazy thankful of what Jesus has done for me. So I hope this helps you at this time. It might not help you in the particular circumstance that you are facing, but it might uplift you in a transcendent broader sense. Let’s pray. Our heavenly Father help us Lord to see You as You are seen in heaven.
Where you are wildly adored and given praise for what You have done for us humans on earth. May we always be reminded of this truth and this reality that You are in control, that You are gracious, that You have empowered us. Lord, bless us with this knowledge for we pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Well, there’s going to be a closing song.
It’s a special music video from the Virtual Advent Calendar that’s going on this year. So be sure to watch that. Take care.