Series: Thankful For. James Dewhurst November 22, 2020

Thankful For


Today, as we continue in our Series together, I want to talk to us about people we not only take for granted but often avoid, with a message titled: Thankful For… Family!

The word “family” invokes just about every possible emotion when it is spoken! Joy, excitement, security, closeness, and fun, along with anxiety, fear, hurt, pain, stress, and tension, are just a few on the emotional spectrum that the mere mention of the family brings up. While there are so many good things that the family provides, for some reason, we in America seem to fixate only on the bad. Family is a Burden, Not a Blessing!

Some of us feel like George Burns who said – “Happiness is having a large, loving, close-knit family in another state.”

What if we’re all wrong? The family has become inconvenient to many Americans, but it’s cherished in other parts of the world, and held in the highest esteem by the Lord!

What if our broken, imperfect, quirky, dysfunctional families were God’s plan “A” for us?

David said:

Psalm 68:6

6 God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. (ESV)

God sets the lonely in “Families”, not social media networks. Not online gaming portals. Not on Zoom calls with friends. He doesn’t set them up a new “Words with Friends” account. It says he sets them in families! Why? Because of God, Family is the best!

Someone said – “Family is where you can act the worst, and still be loved the most.”

Someone else said – “The strength of family, like the strength of an army, lies in its loyalty to each other.”

Another person said – “Family is a blessed condition that allows us to become our best while looking our worst.”

Anonymous person – “People come and go in your life, but family always stays.”

A wise person said – “Family is the life jacket through the storms of life.”

The institution of the family is certainly messy, but God is unwavering in his support of it!

Of our parents, God spoke the fifth commandment to Moses in Mt. Sinai, and told him to deliver this to God’s people in:

Exodus 20:12

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (ESV)

Honor in Hebrew [Kabed] means: To be heavy, be numerous, be impressive, and be generous in carrying weight.

To care for those who once cared for us is the highest honor we could have!

Psalm 127:3

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. (ESV)

Proverbs 17:6

6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. (ESV)

Every day we make deposits or create scars in the memory banks of our children!

If we want our children to be good, we must be good to our children!

Ephesians 6:4

4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (ESV)

Ephesians 5:25

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (ESV)

Ephesians 5:33

33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)

If you want your marriage to last forever, then stop treating it like it’s temporary!

Often times the more familiar we are with people, the less valuable they are to us.

We despise what we know about family and cherish what we don’t know about friends!

Family is temperamental, but they are God’s gift to us:

> Cherish your family members, they’re the only ones you will ever have!

> Cherish your spouse, (we hope) they’re the only one you will have!

> Cherish your children, they’re the only ones you will ever have!

> Cherish your parents, they’re the only ones you will ever have!

Treat your parents with loving care, because one day there will be an empty chair!

The greatest truth – You will deeply miss one day what you take for granted today!

–  Yes, they can be difficult!

–  Yes, they can be annoying!

Yes, they can be inconvenient!

Yes, they are also God’s gift to you, and when they’re gone, they’re gone!

No amount of money or success can take the place of time spent with our family!

We need to be Thankful For… and Cherish… Our Family!

Romans 1:21

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (ESV)

According to scripture, failure to recognize benevolence and respond with a thankful heart carries with it far-reaching consequences in our minds and hearts!

Our heart attitude towards a particular person is directly related to our level of thankfulness for that same person!

The choice to be thankful, whether we believe it or not is actually a spiritual battle.

When we are unthankful, we open a spiritual door for the enemy to come in and change our thoughts and harden our hearts!

Families that aren’t thankful for each other become hardened towards each other!

We have a terrible tendency in life to focus on the effects of a problem, instead of the root of it. The institution of family that God so masterfully designed to nurture, train up, and develop every family member in its fold, is not the problem. Family is not the problem, sin is the problem! Sadly, when thinking about family, many don’t have great memories. Some have been abused, neglected, torn apart, and deeply wounded!

In Scripture, you will find only four chapters without sin mentioned (Genesis 1–2 and Revelation 21–22), and therefore Scripture itself is filled with endless tragic stories about family. But these canonical stories from long ago, just like our many stories today,  simply show the devastating effects of sin, not the institution of the family. The initial family utopia in the garden, ended when Adam and Eve sinned and Adam blamed his wife. They parented two male children, and one of the first two sons in history killed his brother. God’s man, Abraham, married two wives, breaking God’s design, and actually kicked one wife and her child out of his house. Jacob’s twelve sons sold their younger brother Joseph into slavery because they were jealous. These are just a few examples!

So, what if on the way to Thanksgiving, or our next family get together, we blamed sin instead of family? And what if we recognized that it was our sin is a contributing part!

I believe there are 2 attitudes that reveal Thankfulness for family, over Bitterness:

1. Thankfulness Covers Up!

1 Peter 4:8 (NIV) “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

The word Cover means wrap-around, protect, escape notice, atone for, remove.

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that, “Love… keeps no record of wrongs.”

Our love has to be greater than our list! We have to stop writing and start erasing!

Sometimes in order to have healthy relationships, you have to overlook some things!

2. Thankfulness Lifts Up!

SMALL prayers have the power to change BIG problems!

James 5:16 tells us, “The Prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

A Closing Prayer for Your Family – Lord, bless my family and children. Give them hearts that follow after you. Give my family the strength to not be afraid. Give them the courage to stand up for what is right. Produce within them an attitude of integrity, living their lives to giving you glory. Protect each family member under the shadow of your wings. Lord, help us to find our strength in you. Increase our unity and peace as we seek to follow after you. Amen!

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