SMALL THINGS BIG THANKS
by Pastor Mike Fortune
November 22, 2008
We're thankful for...
- One body [1 Corinthians 12:12-13; John 17:20-23; Revelation 14:6-7]
- Many parts [1 Corinthians 12:14-25; Matthew 6:9; 5:16]
- That suffers, rejoices, and continues to show love [1 Corinthians 12:26-27; 13:8-13]
Video Clip Words: “Thanksgiving. The act of giving thanks. A prayer of expressing gratitude. A celebration of divine goodness. Thank the Lord for the creation of a new country. George Washington 1789. Thank the Lord for his protection. James Madison 1814. Render thanks to our heavenly father for these inestimable blessings. Abraham Lincoln 1862. We owe humble and heartfelt thanks to the author of all blessings. Theodore Roosevelt 1904. Render thanks to almighty God for the blessing of peace. Woodrow Wilson 1916. We should accept these blessings with resolution to devote them to service of Almighty God. Herbert Hoover 1929. Set apart a day of Thanksgiving to our beneficient father who dwelleth in the heavens. Franklin D. Roosevelt 1938. May we add to our prayers of Thanksgiving a plea for Divine guidance. Harry S. Truman 1949. Let us pray this year not only in the Spirit of Thanksgiving but also as suppliants for God’s guidance. Dwight D. Eisenhower 1956. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord. John F. Kennedy 1961. We should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Ronald Reagan 1981. We’ve been blessed beyond measure. Reflect on his blessings. Express your gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving.”
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 says, “12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Chapter 13 adds these words. “8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Christians are all part of one body
Today, as a church family, we’re reflecting on the past and celebrating the future because as Marcene read in our Scripture, we are part of one body of Christ. But this isn’t as obvious to us as it is to many Christians because our Adventist preachers saw in the 3 angels messages of Revelation 14 a role to play not for the entire body, but just our church. But if you back up and read verse 6 as well, you come to a different conclusion. Revelation 14:6 says, “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal or everlasting Gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.”
All three of these angel’s messages were given to the one body of Christ. In symbolic language. Long before the Adventist church was organized in 1863. So while it’s ironic that most Christians miss the verbal parallel and invitation to keep the 7 th day Sabbath in Revelation 14:7, which comes from the 4 th commandment of Exodus 20, which comes from our Creator Himself in Genesis 2:2, it’s just as ironic that most Adventists miss that these 3 angels messages are not for us alone! They are for the entire body of Christ. So point number one from Revelation 14:6-7 and 1 Corinthians 12:12 is this: We can be thankful that we all are part of the one body of Christ. Because it’s that one body that together proclaims the everlasting Gospel.
Which means friends, that we don’t need an army of youth to finish the work. What we need, and what Ellen White meant if you read the context of Education 271, is we need an army of youth rightly trained to proclaim the finished work. Why? Because the work is already finished. That’s what the Sabbath is supposed to remind every tribe nation language and people about! Genesis 2:2 and John 19:30 are all about “It is finished.” Creation and Redemption. Every 7 days try to remember that! Quit trying to obey your way to eternal life! It won’t work! Just stop working! The Sabbath is meant to illustrate the everlasting Gospel and remind us of it, not replace it.
The one body proclaims the finished work
But like the Israelites in 2 Kings 18:4, who were caught worshiping the bronze snake Moses made years earlier in the wilderness of Numbers 21:8-9, we’ve done the same thing with the Sabbath. But good news friends: The hour of his judgment has come. Christ has been lifted up. And Revelation 18:1 says the light of his glory is, as we speak, illuminating the earth by His splendor. Yes, we have some unique info to share. And a role to play. But it’s not to ride into the sunset like the Lone Ranger. It’s to be thankful that God has called us to join the chorus of voices proclaiming the finished work of the everlasting Gospel. This is point number one.
But 1 Corinthians 12:14 adds point number two: “There are many parts.” I was reminded of this just this week as I was sitting around a table with a bunch of new friends and small business owners here in Toledo. Some of whom admitted on day one that they don’t go to any church. Which shouldn’t surprise us since 71% of Americans won’t be going to any church this weekend. But the cool thing is 78% of them will be talking about Jesus anyway with someone. It’s just they’ll be doing it at work. So if we’re not being the body of Christ at work, guess who they’re not going to ask about it! You! But if you are being the body of Christ at work, guess who they’ll likely ask about it! You! And it happened to me again this week.
The body has many parts
Point number one: We can be thankful that we’re all one body. But point number two is just as true, we can be thankful that the body has many parts. And we need all the parts. Especially the 7 th day part. Kept right it’s a delight. It’s one teaching that makes us unique. But hear me loud and clear on this, rightly understood, it is not what makes us special. Christ is what makes us special. Knowing the Lord of the Sabbath is what makes us special. 1 Corinthians 12:18 says it this way, “18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”
Last week we described how Judas sold Jesus out. And that after he did, he left the upper room and it was dark. It was night. John 18:1 adds that after Jesus said some stuff about heaven and the Holy Spirit, He prayed for his disciples. Both for those that were in the upper room. And for those like you and me according to John 17:20 that weren’t. Why? Probably because He knew we’d need it! Probably because He knew we’d face all kinds of suffering and problems.
We need each other
1 Corinthians 12:26 says, “26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” Beginning with the first word in our Lord’s prayer, we are taught that we either come to God together or we don’t come at all because we’re to begin by praying “Our Father.” When one part rejoices, we rejoice. When one part suffers, we suffer. Maybe that’s why Psalm 122:1 says, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.” And Watchman Nee knew that. He was an educated but prolific author and preacher and teacher in China during the early 20th Century. He spent the last 20 years of his life in prison and was severely persecuted for his beliefs. He described point number three this way: “Alone I cannot serve the Lord effectively, and He will spare no pains to teach me this. He will bring things to an end, allowing doors to close and leaving me effectively knocking my head against a wall until I realize that I need the help of the body, as well as of the Lord.”
But why do we need each other? So when one part suffers, they won’t be suffering alone. It is the church’s job to stand up and stand by those who are suffering. We rejoice when they rejoice. And we mourn when they mourn. The earth can split apart at the seams in violence, but the body of Christ will not be broken again. Hebrews 10:14 says, “Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Everything else can cease, but love won’t. It’s a promise. Burt Bachrach is right. What the world needs now, is love. And as part of the body of Christ, we can show it to them. Which Pastor Rachel and the Kid Connect kids are going to help us remember next as we sing some more songs about thanksgiving and they bring in the bags full of groceries we’re going to be giving away to people if you know someone that needs some food, take a bag at the end of the service. What’s leftover, will be donated to shelters. We can be thankful for the one body of Christ. Point number one. With many unique parts. Point number two. That prays together, and laughs together, and mourns together, and continues to show a violent world love together. Point number three. So that the world, that our Father so loved, might thank him as well.