Rebooting Your System

By Tim Sullivan


Last Sunday I finished the 20-session presentation on the book of Acts that I started back in May. After all those weeks it feels a bit strange to be teaching without the help of PowerPoint.

If you were there, you know that on the last few Sundays my notebook computer was giving me problems. As I got set for my presentation, the screen would freeze up and I’d spend some anxious minutes wondering what my alternate lesson should be. This was especially frustrating because I'd checked everything out beforehand.

When the screen froze up, I had two means of escape. First I’d try using the ctrl, alt, and del keys to shut down and restart the computer. But if the keyboard didn’t respond, I’d hold down the power button until the computer shut off and then I'd start it up again. Eventually the issue would clear and I could start the lesson.

The problem I faced with my computer is a lot like a problem we face in life. Sometimes our minds can get locked up in an endless loop of ugly and destructive thoughts. But there is a way to reboot our system and get our minds back on the right track. The key to our release is thankfulness. Thanksgiving is the Christian reset button.

For those of us who choose to pursue the Christian discipline, thankfulness is not an option. Being thankful is a commandment of the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:18:
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

God would not command us to be thankful if we had nothing to be thankful for. But for Christians there is always a reason for thanksgiving no matter what we are going through or how grim our situation may seem. (I know we will test this statement against horrific scenarios: What about this? And what about this?) But even when nothing else will console us, we can still be thankful that our afflictions are only temporary.

2 Corinthians 4:17:
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

One of the great killers of thankfulness is the attitude of entitlement. Some of the most miserable Christians I know are Christians who think they deserve better in life. They'll quote you this verse and that verse listing all the things they feel God owes them. But the blessings of God are not entitlements. They are acts of God's kindness. They are gifts of his grace. God is not good to us because WE are good. He is good to us because HE is good. God is kind "unto the unthankful and to the evil." He sets the standard for us to follow.

Luke 6:31-35: 
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Instead of brooding over the better things we THINK we deserve, we should be glad that God's mercy has shielded us from getting what we DO deserve.

Ezra 9:13:
And after all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this;

If every person got what he truly deserved, each one of us would be consumed.

Lamentations 3:22-23: 
22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Thank God that his mercies are new toward us every morning. That reality is made very clear in Psalm 136 in which each verse ends with the phrase "for his mercy endureth for ever." But in the following reading, I will omit that phrase in order to emphasize the evidence of his mercy:

In his mercy, God created the universe to give us a place to dwell:

1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:  
2 O give thanks unto the God of gods:  
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords:  
4 To him who alone doeth great wonders:  
5 To him that by wisdom made the heavens:  
6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters:  
7 To him that made great lights:  
8 The sun to rule by day:  
9 The moon and stars to rule by night:

In his mercy, he gives us victory over our enemies:

10 To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn:  
11 And brought out Israel from among them:  
12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm:  
13 To him which divided the Red sea into parts:  
14 And made Israel to pass through the midst of it:  
15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea:  
16 To him which led his people through the wilderness:  
17 To him which smote great kings:  
18 And slew famous kings:  
19 Sihon king of the Amorites:  
20 And Og the king of Bashan:  
21 And gave their land for an heritage:
22 Even an heritage unto Israel his servant:  

In his mercy, he remembers how much we need him:

23 Who remembered us in our low estate:
24 And hath redeemed us from our enemies:  
25 Who giveth food to all flesh:
26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven:

Thanks be to the God of heaven for his mercy endureth for ever! Remember this when life gets you so jammed up that you lose sight of the things that are really important. When your mind gets frozen in ugly thoughts, reset your system with thanksgiving.


Presented November 15, 2015