November 22, 2020
As a church we have always taken the Sunday before Thanksgiving as an opportunity to give thanks. This is a time of reflection upon the last year and thanking the Lord for His mercy and grace. As Christians we understand that every good thing given . . . is from above, coming down from the Father (Js.1.17a) and that we are always to give thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (Eph.5.20).
A day of thanks has always been part of the American calendar. George Washington: “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.” On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, after a pivotal Union Army victory at Gettysburg announced that the nation would celebrate an official Thanksgiving holiday on November 26, 1863. But it wasn’t until 1941 that the United States Congress permanently approved that the forth Thursday of November would be the official holiday of Thanksgiving under the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
But giving thanks has always been part of the Church. Here is a small sample of the overwhelming abundance of Scripture calling us to give thanks.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. (I Chron.16.34)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.(I Thess. 5.16-18)
I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in heaven itself. (Ps. 89.1-2)
Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. (Heb. 13.15)
In this Thanksgiving Sunday 2020 I would like for us to consider a verse found in the book of II Corinthians chapter two and verse fourteen.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us reveals the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2Cor.2.14)
Triumph in Christ
The Apostle begins saying, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ.” The Apostle’s readers would have immediately understood that Paul was describing a victory parade called the “Roman Triumph.” The Roman Triumph was given on the streets of Rome for a victorious military hero and his troops. This would be like a “ticker tape parade,” that we have seen on the streets of New York City.
First came the city magistrates, state officials, followed by the Roman senate, and then the trumpeters. The white bull for the sacrifice followed. Then the captive rulers and generals followed bound in chains making them a public spectacle. Following them came the musicians and priests swinging their censers with sweet-smelling incense. Along the entire parade route a person would smell the sweet aroma of the spices. Finally, the conquering general rode in a chariot drawn by four white horses. His army followed wearing their finest uniforms and shouting “triumph!” “Triumph!” As the procession moved through the streets crowds would line both sides of the streets and join the victor chant. “Triumph!” “Triumph!”
This is what the Holy Spirit wanted Paul’s readers to visualize when they read these inspired words, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ.”
A Roman citizen would possibility see a Roman Triumph once in their lifetime but the Holy Spirit wants the citizen of the Kingdom of God to see our triumph in Christ every day, even very moment of every day. Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph, not as captives, but as victors in Christ. Our union with Christ is what determines the nature of our triumph. Christ is the universal conqueror marching in triumph down through the corridors of time throughout the conquered world. He is in the lead, and we, His chosen warriors march behind Him enjoying the benefits of His conquest. Christ is the One who has disarmed the ruler and authorities making a public spectacle of them by triumphing over them through the cross. (Col.2.15)
Fragrance of Christ
Paul continues saying, and through us reveals the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2Cor.2.14b) The Apostle is using the aroma of the sweet incense that filled the city streets during the Roman Triumph as a metaphor of how our lives in Christ should be a fragrance that fills the world with the knowledge of Christ. Our lives should be a fragrant aroma that fills the world around us not merely with the intellectual knowledge of Christ but the experiential knowledge of Christ. As Paul writes in Philippians, “I want to know Him and the power of His resurrection.” (Phil.3.10a)
In the same way that our sense of smell brings certain memories bursting back into our minds so the fragrance of our lives in Christ should cause others to give thanks to God for our witness of Christ to them. We are called to be a sweet aroma of Christ to those around us. The gospel of grace bears its fruit in our lives as a sweet fragrance to God.
Christ uses you and I to make known the fragrance of the knowledge of Himself to the world. Paul called the financial offering that the Church in Philippi sent as a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. The unseen, insuppressible, pervasive influence, like the odor of a precious perfume, goes forth from the lives tothose who have the grace of Christ in them. The fragrance comes from Christ because He alone is the source. We are the means of spreading the knowledge of Christ.
Today we have two testimonies of those who have smelt to fragrance of Christ from those here at Christ Covenant. The first testimony is from Melina Morcos who is not a member of Christ Covenant but has been blessed through the ministries of Christ Covenant. Let watch this together.
Video #1: Melina Morcos
The second testimony is from one of our members Sabrina Stokes. Let’s watch this together.
Video #2: Sabrina Stokes
We want to thank our deacons for their tremendous heart of mercy and let them know that their efforts are a pleasing aroma to God and a beautiful fragrance of Christ’s love. I also want to thank Kevin Gonzales of 12 Point Production who generously produced those videos.
As we transition to the Lord’s Supper I want to underscore the fact that no matter what you are going through God always leads us in triumph in Christ. We must allow Christ to fight our battles. We must allow Christ to defeat our enemies. Brothers and sisters, you and I are part of a victory parade in Christ. And now we get to come to the victory banquet.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us reveals the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place.” (2Cor.2.14)1