Faithfully Thankful

thanksWhat Is God Thankful For?  Hebrews 1:2-3

Is God thankful? A persons initial impulse might be to answer with a fairly certain “Yes.”  One might not know exactly why they think this is so, but the thought process might be formulated roughly as follows: Being thankful is nice, God is nice, therefore God is thankful.

Theologically and Biblically speaking this thought process should go a bit deeper…

The difficult question is how God could be thankful given His omnipotence and                 omniscience.  He doesn’t need help with anything. He isn’t dependent on anything.  He’s God.  So it would seem that if He were going to pray before a meal, as it were, He would be thankful to Himself.  But then why give thanks?

There are a many Biblical instances of Jesus expressing thankfulness to the Father.  Since Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3) we can truly say that God is thankful, but for what ?  Is He thankful for you and me?

Consider this analogy when contemplating God’s thankfulness for you and me: a young child draws a picture for their father.  The father bought the crayons.  The father “created” the child.  The father sustains the child by caring for him.  And yet, the father thankfully delights in the crudely drawn picture.  Why?  Because he loves the child.  And the child freely loves him.  And because of that, the father says “Thank you.”

Let Our Thanks to God be Faithfulness  Micah 6:6-8

A crudely drawn picture surely delights a mother and father’s heart, but what really makes parent’s hearts soar is when their child exhibits skills, character traits, morals and talents that they have instilled in them.  When our children remain loyal to us and our teachings and put that loyalty into consistent practice our hearts swell with thankfulness!  In a similar way God is thankful when we show faithfulness to Him and His teachings regardless of what the circumstances or consequences may be.

God spoke through the prophet Micah once to show His people what He truly desires from us mortals. In essence it is our faithfulness.  Faithfulness is a better gift than bowing down at His throne, than numerous offerings, or even our“firstborn” for the sin of our souls.   God has clearly shown us what is good and what He requires of us (Micah 6:8): 

To Act Justly:  To live with a sense of right and wrong based on scripture.  In other words to FOLLOW Christ and His teachings.

To Love Mercy: “Love mercy” contains the Hebrew word hesed, which means “loyal love” or “loving-kindness.” Love for Christ and ones fellow man equals service.  To do unto   others as you would have them do unto you (Luke 6:31) is to SERVE as Christ has served you…even in your sin and rebellion when you were against Him.

To Walk Humbly:  “Walk humbly” is a description of the heart’s attitude toward God. He is exalted while we are debased, He is Shepherd while we are sheep, He is leader and we are followers.  He is a faithful Father to us and to walk humbly with Him is to be a FAITHFUL child to him.

A Thankful Heart Follows, Serves and is Faithful to the one to whom he appreciates.

It is God who has been ever following you despite your sin, serving you through His sacrificial love, and faithfully delivering His promises to as many as would receive Him. 

What is God thankful for?  What you bring to him in appreciation!

Let us now act out our love for him as we humbly bring him thanks in all things, Amen.

 

 

 

 

GIVE THANKS (in Suffering)

VetCriesThe Gathering/Pastor Barry   GIVE THANKS (Part 2 of 2)  Veterans Day  to hear this message and others go to THEGATHERINGCHURCH.COM

Give Thanks To A Vet (and His/her family)

Today is Veteran’s Day— a public holiday held on the anniversary of the end of World War I (November 11, 1918) to honor US veterans and victims of all wars. This year marks 100 years since the end of that war.  Today we should all give thanks!  Thanks to all who have served in the military, who have died in war and who currently serve in our military today.  We should give thanks because without a military we would all be slaves of some other nation. Know this friends— what we give thanks for other brave souls suffered and died for. Many still continue to suffer today.  Many family members still suffer at the loss of these loved ones that you and I never knew. Some of these now live crippled, blind, deaf, or paralyzed because of their sacrifice for us and this nation.  So today thank a vet if you know one.  Thank a gold star family if you know one.  Thank a military man or woman if you see one.  Give thanks to God for them and their sacrifice—and always remember there is no gain without suffering and pain and one can hold no right without a fight.  And this is my rallying point for today’s message.  

When Life Hurts Romans 5:3-5, John 14:16-17, 26-27, Psalm 23

Life hurts sometimes and it is no respecter of persons. Jesus even said: 

He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous alike Matthew 5:45b 

Rather you are a “good” Christian or not you will experience pain, suffering and heartache.  Yes, sometimes we bring such things upon ourselves by making bad choices, but simply read your Bible and you will see, suffering comes to everyone at some time and although it is terrible to go through, the results of suffering actually improve us if we continue holding onto Jesus through it.  Romans 5:3-5 says that tribulation produces perseverance, character and hope.  James 1:2-4 tells us that “trials of many kinds tests our faith and makes us mature. Suffering can also humble us and teach us to love. It also teaches us to be empathetic with others and to be thankful for what we have. Suffering also helps us to better relate to Jesus. The Apostle Paul said that he wanted to know Christ —the power of his resurrection and the sharing in his    suffering and death (Philippians 3:10-11).  Paul knew what we must all learn. The only way to know Christ and experience his resurrection power is by suffering and dying!

Jesus promises that he will not leave us as orphans in our suffering, he gives us an advocate to help us and to be with us forever—the Spirit of truth (the Holy Spirit who lives within us) John 14:16-17.  King David’s Psalm 23 is proof of God’s promise.  It is God’s Spirit who reminds us that we truly lack nothing, when everything is falling apart.  It is God’s Spirit that makes us lie down in peace and receive his refreshment even when we are walking through the darkest valley.  It is God’s Spirit that calms our fear of evil and comforts us.  It is he who overflows our heart with praise in the midst of suffering and reminds us that we will dwell in his house forever. 

Give Thanks! 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 1 Peter 1:3-9

And so we can “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances” if we will “pray continually” being in relationship with Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Because there is no gain without suffering and pain—give thanks!                           Because tribulation produces perseverance, character and hope-give thanks!        Because trials develop faith and maturity in us—give thanks!                                     Because suffering humbles us, teaches us to love and makes us thankful—give thanks! Because as we share in Christ’s suffering and death he gives resurrection power—Amen! Because he will never leave us as orphans but will be with us forever— we praise God! Because his Spirit will make us lie down in peace and refresh us even though we walk through the darkest valley—we will praise the Lord!                                                          And we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever! —Amen

For these reasons we can give thanks in the midst of pain, suffering and even death. No matter what the trial, Jesus remains our living hope that will not fade away! (1 Peter 1:3-9)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

Nothing Shall Separate us Romans 8:35-39                                                                                

In all of life’s trials, tribulations and sufferings perspective is what we often forget. Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer.  She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Helen had perspective on suffering.  One of my favorite quotes from her is: “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” ― Helen Keller 

1.  If you are going through some kind great suffering now then I urge you to get perspective.  Is there someone you may know —or know of— that is suffering greater than you?  Is there someone who is suffering like you and yet is not holding on to Jesus? Even in great suffering serving others in pain (in Jesus’ name) can be a balm of healing for your own.                                                                                                                                       2.  Finally keep your perspective on the eternal and not the temporal. No one or no thing can separate us from the love of Christ or the eternal promises we have in him.  In all these things (suffering) we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  (Romans 8:35-39)

Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering , blessed be Your name                                                       Every blessing You pour out I’ll  turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say                                                               Blessed be the name of the Lord — Beth & Matt Redman                                               BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD

 

 

GIVE THANKS 1

Harvest2The Gathering/ Pastor Barry        GIVE THANKS part 1 of 3                                                     To hear this message go to theGatheringHG.com 

The Thankful Are Wise Romans 1:21-22

As we concluded our Soul On Fire Series I admonished you to “Fear the Lord…for it is the   beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10-12).  If fear is the beginning of wisdom then Thankfulness is the activity of wisdom.  In other words if you are thankful to God and are expressive of that thanks then you are wise. The Apostle Paul gave a strong warning to those who are not thankful to God (Romans 1:18-32).  The progression of a fool leads to condemnation and it all begins with not glorifying God or giving thanks to him (Romans 1:21-22)

Have you ever done something thoughtful or kind for someone and were acknowledged in no way at all, or worse yet treated with contempt for your kindness?  Of course we do not give something to someone only to be praised; however, it certainly knocks the joy of giving down a notch when there is no acknowledgement.  In time of course, we will simply find another place to give, but God isn’t like that.  He continues to give that we might eventually respond with a thankful heart.  When a person does not express thanks for what they should be grateful for darkness sets in, self-centeredness rules the heart and the mind becomes depraved (Romans 1:28). God’s kindness is intended to lead a person to repentance but because of stubbornness and unrepentance a fool stores up wrath against themselves (Romans 2:4b-5a). 

Forget Not Psalm 103:1-5 

King David reminded himself (“my soul”) and his listeners to “praise the Lord and forget not all of his benefits”.  David then names just a few of those benefits:

He forgives our sins:  John 1:12-13, Romans 3:23-24, 5:8

He heals all of our diseases:  Isaiah 53:5, Revelation 21;3-5

He redeems our life from the pit ( from shachat (corruption, pit, grave) :                     2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Corinthians 1:10, John 8:32

He crowns us with love and compassion: 1 John 4:7-9, Ephesians 5:2, Ezekiel 36:26

He satisfies our desires with good things: Matthew 6:33, Psalms 37:3-5

He renews our youth like the eagle: Isaiah 40:28-31, John 11:25-26

Despite the trials and tribulations of this life, these are six blessings that God gives to every one of his children.  These blessings begin when we accept Christ into our lives and carry on into eternity.  We must, like David, remind ourselves of these benefits daily and give God praise. 

Be Thankful! Colossians 3:15-17, Matthew 5:14-16

When we live in thankfulness to God, not forgetting his benefits, we live and act differently than those who do not know Christ.  When we appreciate the fact that God has chosen us to be his own and that he dearly loves us and has set us apart for himself, then we can be more compassionate to others.  We can be kinder, walk in humility and be more gentle and patient with others.  We can be forgiving because we appreciate that the Lord has forgiven us.  We can put on love because he first loved us (1 John 4:10). 

Remember that time you first fell in love.  You were spellbound and nothing could ruin your joy —then reality set in and you were miserable all the time!  But wait!  Misery came when you realized that human love breaks promises, acts unbecomingly and behaves selfishly, but this is not God’s love. We can truly thank God because he is never changing, and his promises are forever true.  We can be thankful and live with a heart of gratitude because God is always good to us–in good times and in bad times.  He has promised to go with us down every path. He will never leave us or forsake us. 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

The Apostle Paul admonished us as believers to be thankful and let this message of Christ live in us.  His peace will be with us as we live in gratitude to him.  Then we will truly live as a light in a dark world (Matthew 5:16). We can only do this with an attitude of gratitude. 

Tell It! Psalm 9:1, Isaiah 40:28-31

King David wrote songs of praise and sang out his thanks to the Lord.  These songs were often used to lead his people in praise to God.  Praise is contagious!  We too are to tell others of God’s “wonderful deeds”.  We are called to sing his praises.  We are not to be quiet about our faith and love for Jesus.  We are to proclaim his praise.  We are to spread it around like seed in a barren field.

If you appreciate your salvation then make it known and share the way to be saved with others.  If you have been healed of a disease or an infirmity then speak about it and give glory to God!  If your life has been redeemed from the pit then let’s hear an amen and a hallelujah!  Reach out your hand to those still in that pit and let them know how blessed it is on the other side!  Is Jesus growing your love and compassion?  If you are not growing in these areas then you are not living in thanksgiving to God.  Praise the Lord and forget not his benefits!  Stop whining about what you don’t have. Open your mouth and give thanks for the abundant blessings the Lord has poured out in your life.  

Is Jesus satisfying you with good things?  Then somebody testify!  Are your desires for good things? Then rejoice in the new mind Christ has given you.  If your desires are still caught up in sin then thank God that he still strives with you.  Seek his forgiveness and let him renew you and give you wings like an eagle to pull you out of that darkness.

No matter what your circumstance is give glory to God. “Tell it!”  Praise him, thank him, forget not his benefits!  Those benefits are all around you like the wind pulling the eagle far above the cares of the world below.  God renews us when we give him praise.  As usual with the Lord, even our praise to him comes back as fuel to our spirits. “Those who hope in the Lord” will praise him too.  They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”