November is the month of Thanksgiving.  I am not suggesting that it is only month we should express our gratitude towards God for all He has done for us.  We should be thanking Him daily.  One of the themes I have for gratitude is the forgiveness of my sins.  All major religions of the world teach very similar things regarding morality.  What they don’t teach is how is our sin dealt with.  They can’t teach that because they have no answer.  They have no Jesus.

Your sin has been dealt with. Your Father has removed it from you "as far as the east is from the west" (Ps. 103:12). Your sins have been washed away (1 Cor. 6:11). When God looks at you he does not see your sin. He has not one condemning thought toward you (Rom. 8:1). But that's not all. You have a new heart. That's the promise of the new covenant: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (Ezek. 36:26 -27). There's a reason that it's called good news.

Too many Christians today are living back in the old covenant. They've had Jeremiah 17:9 drilled into them and they walk around believing my heart is deceitfully wicked. Not anymore it's not. Read the rest of the book. In Jeremiah 31:33, God announces the cure for all that: "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." I will give you a new heart. That's why Paul says in Romans 2:29, "No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit." Sin is not the deepest thing about you. You have a new heart. Did you hear me? Your heart is good.  What God sees when he sees you is the real you, the true you, the man he had in mind when he made you.  He sees the new creation we become through faith in Jesus.   

So how do we respond in gratitude for God’s gift of grace and mercy?  God desires a loving relationship with you and you with Him.  Doing things for God is not the same thing as loving God.  Jesus loves the poor—so, movements have arisen that make service to the poor the main thing. Even though Jesus never said that being poor was more noble or even spiritual. The latest craze is justice—so we rush off to the corners of the globe to fight for justice and leave Jesus behind. We actually come to think that service for Jesus is friendship with him. That’s like a friend who washes your car and cleans your house but never goes anywhere with you—never comes to dinner, never wants to take a walk. But they’re a “faithful” friend. Though you never talk.  How many children have said, “My dad worked hard to provide for us—but all I ever really wanted was his love”?

This is—yet again—one more cunning ploy of the religious to keep us from the kind of intimacy with Jesus that will heal our lives. And change the world. We are not meant to merely love his teaching, or his morals, or his kindness or his social reforms. We are meant to love the man himself, know him intimately; keep this as the first and foremost practice of our lives. It is a fact that people most devoted to the work of the Lord actually spend the least amount of time with him. First things first. Love Jesus.  We love God because He first loved us. For that I am eternally grateful! Thanks be to God. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Pastor Dave