This year was a good year, and this year was a hard year. This year has been one of loss, but it has also been a one of celebration. It’s for both the joyful times and for the comfort that sustains us in hard times that we thank our God this morning.
Most of all, we thank our God for what James calls in v 17, the word of truth and, in v 21, the word planted in you, which can save you. Of all the good gifts that God our Father gives, the true and powerful good-news word that saves us is the best. We gather on this morning once a year to thank God for a bountiful harvest, for growth and accomplishments in our families, for work well-rewarded and days well-spent in the last year. But every Sunday morning we gather to thank God for the gift of his saving word to us. Even more, every prayer, even every action we perform should be a grateful “Thank you” to the God who saves us. This is what James has to say to us this morning.
One word for living this way is “worship.” Our lives demonstrate to God and to the world the value and the worth of the gospel-word God has spoken to us in Jesus. Maybe we recall Paul telling believers to live out this kind of worship in Ro 12.1: I urge you, brothers and sisters, in light of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is true worship.
Another name for living all of life in grateful response to the good news is “discipleship.” By far, this is the term the early Anabaptists used most to describe how we live in response to the gospel. Many of the sixteenth century Reformers taught that the gospel only asks for our belief, a response of faith. But the Anabaptist believed that faith is only the beginning. The gospel calls for our faith and trust, but it also asks for our faithfulness. Jesus isn’t just a divine sacrifice to trust in; Jesus is also our Lord to be followed and obeyed.
This morning, if our gratitude is only a warm emotion, it is not enough. Our gratitude must become a burning motivation that produces a glorious demonstration of our thankfulness by the way we live from moment to moment. The only true thanksgiving we offer to God is the kind we live with our lives.
(Check out the whole sermon after the jump. . .)