To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Thankfulness’ Category

A New Year Letter.

(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of January 2004)

As the new year dawns it is a time, as a church, to look back and to look forward. Looking back we see what God has done and give Him thanks. Looking forward we commit ourselves to the LORD with a desire to see His Name honoured and glorified among us.

As we look back we can raise our Ebenezer and confess that “Thus far has the LORD helped us” (1 Sam 7:12). We can remind ourselves of all the LORD’S goodness to us. It is so easy to be despondent on account of the apathy that we see around us towards the things of our God. And yet we are reminded that it is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD. We should long for so much more in our church life, and yet:-

  • The faithful preaching that we hear week by week.
  • The love that there is among us.
  • The good number of children who come to Lighthouse.
  • The faithful service of different ones.
  • The regular contact with a number (if only a small number) of outsiders.
  • The preservation of the building.

Are just a few of the issues we can bring into our prayers and say “thank you LORD”.

However, we need to look ahead, but what should we be looking for in the year ahead? Above all, we suggest, that we must be looking for the LORD to find pleasure in us (remarkable as such a concept might be when we consider our essential sinfulness). We should long that His Name should be honoured in our midst. So we do not go ahead looking for new gimmicks to enliven our affairs, but for transformed lives which indicate that God is having dealings with us. But can we be more specific about our goals? Accordingly, let us put some specifics forward for you:-

  • The Word of God to be preached faithfully, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • That we would be a praying church. Praying for His will to be done; crying to Him in all our needs.
  • Growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18a) amongst those who are Christians, so that the Holy Spirit would not grieve over our lives.
  • The celebration of the Lord’s Supper together becoming more and more special as we set our hearts on our Saviour in all of His worth and remember His achievements for us.
  • Salvation to be found among those still not believing. Let us pray for clear conversions so that we truly know that lives have been brought from darkness to light.
  • It would be so good to see baptisms among us as people openly confess their faith in the LORD Jesus.
  • Growth in membership; both in terms of numbers and in terms of spirituality.
  • Fellowship which is deepening as we share together spiritually and practically.
  • Resolving of issues appertaining to the eldership/pastorate.
  • The Lord supplying us with gifts to be used for His glory among us.
  • A greater desire to study and live by God’s Word.

As we mention these things we have the overarching desire that the LORD would be “No 1in all things” in this church. To this end we are due to start the year with a week particularly giving ourselves to prayer (which should of course be mingled with our thanksgivings). One of the prayer meetings is in the morning for those who cannot make it in the evening. It would be good to come together and have fellowship in prayer concerning the Lord’s cause her on Manor Lane. Please come; you never now what benefit might come from you being there.

So as we look ahead we do not know what might transpire given we live in an uncertain world. But we do know all is well with our God and we can trust Him.

We conclude desiring that we would know the LORD’S goodness in the year ahead. And if there are things which concern you in the church then please do not hesitate to speak to us.

Impending Crisis

I was chatting to someone last weekend about the impact of the lack of rainfall and excessive sunshine and heat. He was questioning why it was that the matter was not more of a news item. Two issues are potentially leading to a crisis: they are that of the supply of water and also the supply of food. With reservoirs diminishing and crops either not growing or perishing in the fields there is surely something of an impending crisis. So why is there this lack of prominence given to this issue by the news media?

My response would be that the urbanites of this country are largely detached and unaware of the source of their food and water. For two generations, really since the sixties, we have had a ready supply of food in our supermarkets and water in our taps. The assumption is that it will always be so since, as they perceive, it has always been so.  Accordingly, there is no alarm that it might not be so in the future even the not so distant future. Hence, the news media and the consumers thereof have little appetite for the matter to be a big news issue.

As footnote on this matter, surely it is a time to be reminded that all good things come from God. Largely, as a nation, we have assumed that our food and water will be readily available and there has been no giving of thanks to the Lord God who supplies our food and water. As Christians, we should not be that way. We should always be receiving our daily bread from our God with thanksgiving.

Giving Thanks.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD (ESV); so records the Word of God in Psalm 92:1. In fact one aspect of godliness is thankfulness. However, we see around us today that people are “unthankful” which is one feature of the perilous times described in 2 Timothy 2:1-5. This matter of giving thanks therefore is of great importance. A thankful attitude leads to a thankful life which is a God pleasing life. Unthankfulness, on the other had shows that the spirit of this age has infected our beings.

Giving thanks to the LORD.

A practical illustration of how the giving of thanks displays our attitude towards God is seen in Luke 17:11-19. Here ten lepers were healed, but only one returned to give thanks to the healer the LORD Jesus. The nine who were cleansed, but did not return to the LORD showed that they only wanted to have the blessings that God gave, but did not want to please Him in their lives. The other man by his returning and thanking the LORD proved that He was grateful to the LORD and wanted to honour Him in His life. This last man received, not just cleansing, but the full blessing of God in salvation (see v19).

This reminds us of how the vast majority of people around us take God’s blessings for granted. They have food, clothing, homes and the use of many, if not all, their senses, but they will not return to give thanks to the One who gives these things. Whereas the Christian should regularly be in position of giving thanks to His LORD and master who gives all good things. We should remember every good and perfect gift is from above, and coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. How thankful we should be.

And of course this should lead us to be thankful above all from God’s unspeakable gift in the LORD Jesus Christ. After encouraging the Corinthian believers to give, Paul explodes with His great affirmation. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15). When we think of what God has done in sending forth His Son to be our Saviour; we should regularly be thanking God for His great love towards us in Christ Jesus.

At this point we can challenge ourselves with regard to how easily we forget to thank the LORD for all His goodness towards us. We might ask of Him something in prayer and then forget to give thanks when He so graciously answers. The psalmist says Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all His benefits (Psalm 103:2).

Giving thanks for and to one another.

Paul was a man who was regularly thanking God for His untold mercies. One aspect of his thanksgiving was to be thankful for His fellow Christians. So to the Phillipians he says I thank my God every time I remember you. (Phil. 1:3); to Timothy he says I thank God,….., as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. (2Tim. 1:3); to the Corinthians I always thank my God for you because of his grace given to you in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:4), and to the Thessalonians 2 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.(2Thess 1:3)

But what does this teach us? There are two things:-

  • The first is that we should be seizing opportunities to be thankful in the presence of God for our fellow believers. When we see spiritual progress; we should be swift to be thankful to our God who gives such progress. Such a readiness to give thanks in the presence of God will also act as a bulwark against any roots of bitterness growing in our hearts towards one another. When was the last time you thanked God for his work in a fellow believer?

  • We should be ready to tell others that we are thanking God for them. A consequence of this is that we will be encouraging others to persevere in their Christian life. When was the last time you told a fellow Christian you had been thanking God for them?

This further reminds us that our first reaction to anything good that happens to us should be to turn to God and give thanks. However, the building of fellowship between one another means that we should seize opportunities to appreciate one another. One aspect of this is to be thankful to others when they show us some kindness. This is surely one aspect of obeying our LORD’S injunction; A new command I give you: love one another. (John 13:34).

The benefits of giving thanks.

One critical ingredient of a life that is moving on for God is thankfulness. After exhorting the colossians to live godly lives towards one another, Paul tells them to be thankful. And after exhorting the Ephesians to keep away from sinful things especially in their speech, Paul says that there should rather be “giving of thanks” in their lives. Almost we might deduce from these desires of Paul that thankfulness is the soil which provides the nutrients for the development of a healthy life which is godly in Christ Jesus.

So in view of these things let us, as the chorus says, “give thanks with a grateful heart”.

(Taken (and adapted) from Feltham Evangelical Newsletter May 2004)

Entitlement / Thankfulness.

One of the marks of the last days is that people are ungrateful (2 Tim. 3:2b).  It is a mark of the flesh with all its sinful impulses to consider ourselves to be worthy recipients of peoples’ kindnesses. So it is interesting that earlier in 2 Timothy 3:2 we have the words boastful, proud.  Arrogance breeds a sense of entitlement; it sucks gratefulness from us.

The line of the Chanel advert embodies this thinking: “because you are worth it”. The high view of self breeds an entitlement culture. So we expect people to do things for us and to give things to us. We feel entitled. Mixed in with this is the impact of the welfare state. Although there are many blessings that have come through the provisions of benefits, one of the negatives is that people expect to be provided for.

It is an intriguing observation that that which should lead to overwhelming gratitude has become the source of such angst and bitterness. Rather than being grateful for the government’s kind supply, people are bitter that they are not provided for as they should be.

The people of God should be so very different. At the heart of our faith is brokenness and humility. At the cross we came to realise we only deserve death and destruction, but God in Christ has been so kind to us to rescue us from such a plight.

Accordingly, the Christian knows how truly blessed they are and as such should be relentlessly thankful both to God and the human givers for all good things that come their way. If someone gives me a meal or a present or a lift or an encouragement, in fact anything good it should lead us to be thankful.

It is a contradiction to come across a Christian who is ungrateful. Oh LORD help me to grow in gratefulness; for truly you are so kind and you even cause others to be kind to me. Even me! Amazing!

 

Giving Presents.

I have been reading the testimony of a lady who was brought up in a believing family in Hungary in the 1950’s. One statement she makes is:

All in all, we, as a family, were not “living it up”. But we managed… More, we were happy, as a believing family. Be that as it may, one of the unforgettable memories that have stayed with me was the fact that it was never difficult for us, family members, to delight each other. It was always easy to think of a surprise, be that for a birthday or perhaps Christmas. It was true both ways: for parents to delight their children, or for us, children, to delight our parents. Always easy to think of something that would be appreciated.

How different it is now. Generally, we still live in times of plenty. Even those who are lowest on the financial ladder still seem to find means to have all kinds of gadgets as part of the general apparatus of life. As a result in the midst of the plenty we are starved of the means of of surprising one another and delighting one another. We now find it so difficult to find a way of doing something that will be appreciated by family members. Some observations in the midst of all this:

  • Let us not lose the ability to be thankful. Thankfulness is a wholesome Christian grace. If we lose the ability to be thankful we are moving in the way of the flesh.
  • I must confess that I often default now to giving money in lieu of a tangible gift. It seems so often you can rack your brains for something to buy as a present and it is often unappreciated because “they have that already.”
  • Home made things can often be the things that actually bring the blessing. They show that effort has been made to produce something and not just money expended.

Giving Thanks For Food.

The psalmist says in Psalm 92:1-2:

It is good to praise the Lord
    and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
    and your faithfulness at night,

Giving thanks to the Lord is a good thing. Thanksgiving to our God should be filling our lives. One way we can regularly show our thanksgiving to our God is thanking Him for “our daily bread”. That means thanking Him for the food which we receive from His hand; it means giving thanks for our meals. When we have food placed in front of us it is good to give thanks to our Father. There are three things I want to mention here.

  1. Harvest. For those of us who live in climates where there is a time of year when harvest is focused, it is good to return to give thanks to the Lord. “Harvest” celebrations in church facilitate this. For churches to make an occasion of acknowledging the giver of all our good food seems to be a God honouring thing to do.
  2. Determining to Give Thanks.  There are occasions when we are surrounded by unbelievers or the situation is just not appropriate for publicly giving thanks. In such circumstances we still must be thoughtful of acknowledging our God who the Giver, for the good things in front of us. This can even some times lead to conversations with others about what we have done, although, no doubt, there are also times when it will lead to mockery.
  3. When to Give Thanks. It does not seem that there is a specific instruction on this. We have developed a practice of thanking the Lord for our food before we eat. However, when blessings have been presented to the Israelites we read When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you (Deut. 8:10). This makes we wonder about whether or not we are being more biblical to give thanks after receiving our food.

Giving Thanks For Food.

What do you think about giving thanks to God for your food? Is it something that we should do when we have a meal in front of us as Christians? I want to make some observations from the incident in Mark 8:1-10 regarding the feeding of four thousand. In Mark 8:6-7 we read concerning the Lord that He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. So what do we observe here about our Lord’s actions that we may learn thereby?

  1. He gave thanks in front of those who were going to benefit from the food.
  2. He gave thanks as soon as the food came to Him. He did it before He gave it to His disciples to distribute. This all seems to emphasise that giving thanks to God for the food was a priority for the Lord.
  3. When further food arrived in the form of the few small fish he gave thanks again. He did not include it within the original prayer, He wanted to acknowledge God as the giver again. He was giving a clear message in this that it is essential for believing people to be giving thanks for God’s gifts. In particular to be given thanks for our food.
  4. He as the head of the gathering took the initiative in giving thanks. So fathers in homes, elders in churches and hosts at parties need to take the initiative to honour God in this.
  5. He wants everyone to know that their food is a gift from heaven and not something that they can presume upon receiving. How easily as urbanites we presume that our food will just appear in the supermarkets. No! Every good gift comes from our Father in heaven.

The main thing that strikes me in all this is how the Lord made it a priority to acknowledge the Lord of the good food they were about to receive. As a general principle we should be giving thanks for the good gifts that the Lord gives us.

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