Oct 2 2014

Another Word On Thankfulness

Pursuant to last week’s sermon on thanksgiving and thanks-living (here, if you missed it), I’ve noticed in myself an increased sensitivity to thankfulness. As I’ve read the Bible the past couple weeks, I keep stumbling upon verses about aspects of thanksgiving. They have been colouring my reading of Scripture like the vivid changing leaves saturate the local landscape. Here is one such example:

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. . . . He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. (2Corinthians 9:8, 10-12)

Three major impressions from these verses. One: We cannot overestimate or over-esteem the provision and sufficiency of God. Oh, to learn to rely on Him more fully, to trust Him more completely, and to yield to His promptings so that we “abound in every good work”, increasing the “harvest of our righteousness.” He IS able; draw near and join Him.

Two: There is a special enrichment in enabling thanksgiving. The context here is that the Apostle Paul is thanking/exhorting the Corinthian church for the donations that they’ve committed toward His ministry and the ministry in Jerusalem. Paul is pointing out that there is manifold blessing is the giving to effective ministry. When we invest in people and programs who are faithfully ministering on Christ’s behalf, it causes thanksgiving, praises, worship to flow . . . and the Spirit of God in us does a work IN US, “enriching in every way” for our generosity.

Three: Where you choose to invest matters. We live in the most marketed time of history. Everywhere you turn is a chance to buy something you need/want, a place to invest, a cause to back, a “start” to “kick”, a ministry to fund. When we consider an investment of time and talent in addition to treasure, the outlets of spending explode. Into this reality the Bible implicitly gives some quality advice. Invest yourself generously as a reflection of how God gives. Invest to provide for the “needs of the saints,” meaning be purposefully involved with and fund efforts to sustain worship and fellowship of God’s people. Also, invest where there is fruitful faithfulness, where more than merely meeting needs for believers, it is producing thanksgiving to God – even “overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” Choose wisely to invest your time, your talents, and your treasures in churches, ministries, or organizations that meet needs AND increase thanksgiving and worship to God in ways and places where there were previously none.

I hope you’re encouraged. Join me in praying and working to make sure that Celebration! Church Ottawa continues to be a place where these three observations are a functional reality.


Mar 15 2013

Nature of Faith in Gratitude

In a recent Sunday sermon, we looked at Luke 17:11-19, where Jesus heals ten lepers and affirms the faith of the “foreigner” who returned after being healed to thank Jesus.

The main take-aways ought to have obvious and significant expressions in our daily lives and therefore deserve repeating:

1 … Jesus still shows mercy to those who ask. (What do you need to consistently bring before Him for mercy?)

2 … Genuine faith is evidenced in gratitude. (see below for expounding)

3 … Genuine faith becomes mission. (What impact on lostness, defined by Eph. 2:12, will you have?)

This idea of gratitude to God and Jesus for the work of life and salvation is important.  The Apostle Paul regularly instructs us to “be thankful”, to “overflow with thankfulness”, and “give thanks in all circumstances”.  In our culture today, gratitude and thankfulness usually find themselves directed toward temporal things.  We are thankful for our homes, jobs, cars . . . grateful for food and clothing and even for our “toys.”

One biblical scholar, though notices a different trend in Scripture:

A perusal of the Word provides a full list of large reasons to be grateful.

God is thanked for his deliverance (Ps 35:18), for loving us and being faithful (Ps 52:9; 107:8), for hearing our cry (Ps 118:21), for safe arrival after a long, arduous journey (Acts 28:15), for other believers and for the testimony of their faith (Rom 1:8), for the gift of salvation that enables one not to sin (Rom 6:17), for delivering us from our tendency to sin (Rom 7:25), for the spiritual gift of being able to address God (1 Cor 14:18), for resurrection hope (1Cor 15:57), for testimony, deliverance and victory in the midst of persecution (2 Cor 2:14), for the support of a colleague in ministry (2 Cor 8:16), for other believers (Phil 1:3; Col 1:3; 2 Tim 1:3; Philemon 4), for those who respond to God’s Word (1Thess 2:13), for being able to serve others for God (1 Tim 1:12), and for his attributes (Rev 4:9).  Those are just some of the options for thanksgiving.

Notice that this list includes not one item having to do with things, with possessions.  The occasions for gratitude all have to do with relationships or circumstances in relationship to others. (Bock)

 

 

In light of this, how’s your gratitude toward God, your relationship toward Him and toward others? How might your genuine faith better express itself in gratitude and thanksgiving?

I am convinced that if we consistently expressed the kind of gratitude described above, then the joy, peace and dependence on God that would flow out of our lives would certainly translate into effective mission.  People would see the God-radical nature of our Christ-exalting lives, and they would be drawn to Him.

Consider confessing and expressing some gratitude even now.

 

For the sake of the Name,

Jason