Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. NKJV
I was thinking last night of some of the things we should be thankful. Some of you are thankful that you don’t have to kill supper before you can fix it. Others are thankful that turning up the heat no longer means going out and bringing in more fire wood. And long before they were selling freeze dried coffee we had freeze dried clothes in the winter. I am thankful that getting a glass of milk no longer involves a cow. I am thankful for indoor plumbing. I am thankful that we do not need to tuck the covers under the mattress to keep them from blowing off the bed on a winter night. We should be thankful that going to town does not involve horses, or warming bricks to keep our feet warm on the way. We used to be so thankful for store “bought clothes” now they have to come from a designer who is not mom. We were thankful to buy blue jeans that were neither faded, pre-shrunk, stone washed. And as for the holes in them, we had to do that ourselves. The reason kids today have to buy jeans with holes in them already is that most of kids are too inactive to make holes in them their selves. I expect that by the time those kids are driving that new cars will come pre-rusted, have several dents and cracked glass, right off the show room floor.
But seriously. Some think that thankfulness is just good manners. But thankfulness is more than words spoken, it is the language of the heart. Real thankfulness comes from the heart who has experienced both want. Thankfulness comes partly from a sense of knowing what we could be doing without or what condition we could be in. Paul uses the word thanks or thanks giving about 45 times in his letters. His life had be plush when he was young but now that he had become a disciple of Jesus, he had suffered the loss of all things. But yet he said in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you.
So it is as he ends this very doctrinal section of the book of Colossians he commends them to give thanks to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. So today I want to reflect on what I am thankful for. I hope that you are thankful for some of the same things.
I. I am thankful for all the material blessings God has given me.
A. I don’t have much but I know where I received what I have.
B. But all those things are not what is important.
1. For if you are not thankful without things, you will not be thankful once you get things.
2. Solomon said that they eye would never be satisfied with seeing and so it is people are never satisfied with buying.
3. 1 Tim 6:6-10 6 Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth. 7 After all, we didn't bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. 9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. NLT
II. I am thankful for the health I have, although I am not 21 any more.
A. There seems to be so many younger people who have extensive health problems.
B. But if you are not thankful when your health is bad, you probably will not be thankful if your health clears up.
III. Thankfulness does not come because of what we have or because of our health.
A. It comes from God.
1. You see real thankfulness can only be directed toward God.
2. Over and over again in the Bible we are commended to be thankful to God for all the blessings we have.
B. If we are blessed with wealth and health but are not blessed with much greater spiritual blessings then we are truly miserable.
IV. Thankfulness for spiritual blessings.
A. I am thankful:
1. That I know that I am a sinner.
a. We are all sinners but most do not know it.
b. They do not know it to cause them to seek a savior.
c. I know where I was when Jesus found me and I know where I would have ended up if it were not for Him.
d. That makes me thankful for everything else.
2. I know my weaknesses and my inability.
a. I know that I am not super pastor.
b. I know that I have weaknesses.
c. I know that I have let many of you down probably on various occasions.
d. I know that when I try to do something in the power of the flesh it will fail.
e. But I also know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
f. God gets all the credit, and I deserve all the blame.
3. I know that I am not all important the center of the universe.
a. For the vast multitude, it is all about them.
b. They think they deserve this and than and that it is everyone else’s responsibility to get it for them and they have the right to act badly when they are not happy.
c. But I know that in Christ Jesus I am a servant.
d. I am to be a servant to my family, my church, and my community.
4. I know my pride.
a. I am not like the one person who said, sometimes I even amaze myself.
b. Pride has a way of getting away from you as you get older.
c. Your physical and mental abilities do not grow but deminish as you grow older.
d. You don’t wear muscle shirts any more.
5. I know that God loves me.
a. Karl Barth the learned theologian of the last century, a man considered to be one of the most widely read men in the world, was asked what was the most profound thing he had ever read. He responded, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
b. I am thankful that although I was a sinner and a rebel against God, yet He loved me.
c. “God show His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
B. I am thankful that God has revealed Himself to me.
C. I am thankful that Jesus died in my place.
D. I am thankful that I have a copy of and can read the word of God for myself.
E. I am thankful for the great men and women who have stood up faithful before my time and have kept the faith, and have passed it to the next generation.
F. I am thankful that I am not persecuted for my faith.
November 29—Baptist Jailbirds You Should Know
Scripture: James 1:2
The faithful clerk of the Broadmead Church in Bristol, England, inserted this sad note: "On ye 29th of Nov., 1685, our Pastour, Bro. Fownes, dyed in Gloucester Jail, having been kept there for Two years and about 9 months a Prisoner, unjustly and maliciously, for ye Testimony of Jesus and preaching ye Gospel. He was a man of Great Learning, of a sound Judgment, an able Preacher, having great knowledge in Divinity, Law, Physic, & c.; a bold patient Sufferer for ye Lord Jesus, and ye Gospel he preacht."1
The entry for August 3 focuses on Fownes, and the April 26 entry focuses on the Broadmead Church, but as we mark the death of one of the martyr/pastors of that fine company of Baptist believers, we ought to introduce the man who initially established that witness. The Broad-mead Church was founded by the celebrated John Canne.
He was born about 1590, became eminent for his learning and piety, was well versed in the Scriptures, and zealous in the work of reformation. In his early life he was a member of the Church of England. He united with the Baptists, and became pastor of a church in Southwark, London, in 1621. This church had but recently been founded and held its meetings secretly, in private houses, for fear of persecution. Mr. Canne preached for them only a short time, when he was compelled to flee. In 1641 he returned for a short time to England when he founded the Broadmead church, at Bristol. . . . The name of John Canne has been immortalized by his being the first to prepare and publish the English Bible with marginal references. He proceeded on the principle, that Scripture is itself the best interpreter of Scripture. His days were ended in Amsterdam in 1667, where English tyranny had forced him to publish his first Bible with references in 1644.2
From the Broadmead records we discover that Pastors Thomas Ewins, Thomas Hardcastle, and George Fownes were all imprisoned unjustly for the cause of Christ. But many other Baptist ministers endured imprisonments, and some died in jail merely because of their convictions. Francis Bamfield suffered for eight years in Dorchester jail. Thomas Delaune died in Newgate prison. John Miller was a prisoner for ten years in Newgate. Henry Forty was incarcerated for twelve years at Exeter. Joseph Wright, a man of great piety and learning, pastored at Maidstone but was imprisoned in the common jail there for twenty years.
It is not generally known that so many Baptists suffered these long imprisonments, for their names are lost in history as we consider the few whose names are so well known. Most are familiar with John Bunyan's twelve-year imprisonment at Bedford. Some are aware of Thomas Helwys, who fled to Amsterdam but in time became convinced that he and the others had been wrong in fleeing from persecution. Believing it was his duty to return to England and witness of the truth, he went to London in 1611 with twelve of his followers and settled at Spitalfields. This was not the first Baptist church in England, however, for the Braintree church dates its origin from 1550.3 Be that as it may, Helwys appealed to the king to grant liberty of conscience. He claimed, "The King is a mortall man and not God, therefore hath no power over ye immortall soules of his subjects to make lawes and ordinances for them, and to set spirituall Lords over them."
For his convictions, "Newgate Prison became his home. He died in Newgate, barely forty years of age. " 4
Again we are compelled to thank God for those who have preceded us and have stood firmly for the faith once delivered to the saints! May we stand in our generation as "torch bearers" of truth as well!
1 Edward Terrill, The Records of a Church of Christ Meeting in Broadmead, Bristol, ed. Nathaniel Haycroft (London: J. Heaton and Son, 1865), p. 274.
2 Richard B. Cook, The Story of the Baptists (Baltimore: H. M. Wharton and Co., 1886), pp. 156-57.
3 Henry W. Clark, History of English Nonconformity (London: Chapman and Hall, 1911), 1:302.
4 Ronald W. Thompson, Heroes of the Baptist Church (London: Carey Kingsgate Press, 1948), p. 24.