Thanksgiving

1 Chronicles 29:14 : But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You.

2 Corinthians 9:7-8 : So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Thankfulness

Synod Armadale 1956 decided to advise the churches to arrange an annual service for prayer and thanksgiving for harvest and labour on the third Sunday of the month of February. That is 16 February for this year.

Thanksgiving, that is something that comes from the heart. We cannot be thankful on command: we are thankful because we know that we have something to be thankful for. Because we have received blessings. Then we see our blessings and rejoice.

Out of thankfulness we then offer to the LORD our sacrifices of thankfulness.

In Romans 12:1 the apostle Paul beseeches us to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice. Our entire life is a life in thankfulness, because we know that we are saved by Jesus Christ and now want to live for Him.

There are moments that we show our thankfulness in a specific way, for instance by giving our financial donations. Many of us do so especially on the Thanksgiving Sunday. The Bible teaches and encourages us to do so.

I quoted two texts at the beginning of this meditation, in which the Bible emphasizes that those sacrifices of thankfulness must come from a willing heart and should not be imposed on the congregation.

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New Year’s Resolutions

I read a story some time ago about a high school principal. At the beginning of a new year he decided to post his teachers’ New Year’s resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board to read one another’s resolutions, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining: “Why weren’t my resolutions posted?” She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk. As he read her resolutions he was astounded. Her first resolution was not to let little things upset her in the New Year.

Or how about this one? A son called his parents from overseas to wish them a happy new year. When his Dad answered the phone, he asked his Dad: ”Well Dad, what’s your New Year’s resolution?” His Dad replied: “To make your mother as happy as I can all year.” When his Mom got on the phone he asked her the same question. His Mom replied: “My resolution is to see that your Dad keeps his New Year’s resolution.”

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The Invisible Hand of God

All around us in creation, we can see God’s hand, and His awesome handiwork. One ancient psalmist wrote: “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands” (102:25). In another psalm, the author knew that his existence came from God’s hand: “Your hands have made me and fashioned me” (119:73). It is also from God’s hands that all blessings flow: “You open your hand, they are filled with good” (Psalm 104:28). “You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15).

And no matter where we are, or where we go, “Your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:10). When we are in trouble, we can cry out to God: “Stretch out your hand from above; rescue me and deliver me” (Psalm 144:7). When I read all these passages from the Psalms, I feel so wonderfully safe and secure in God’s hand, for nothing in heaven above, or on earth below is able to snatch me out of the loving, wise and powerful hands of my Father and Saviour (cf. John 10:28-29). 

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Humility: The Key to Entry

In his Sermon on the Mount, our Lord Jesus taught us to pursue things that our society mocks. In the first place, He blesses the humble: “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt 5:3).  To be poor means to be destitute before God. Just as this word describes the poor widow whose worldly possessions were two coins, so being poor in spirit means that you are utterly destitute before God in your spirit. You have nothing to claim before God, but you stand before him with utter humility, completely dependent upon him for all things. Christ says that this is a defining feature of those who would share in the kingdom of heaven. 

Today, humility is out of vogue. In a world where everyone is trying to collect as many friends and likes as possible, the norm is self-absorption and self-promotion. Even in the church, humility seems to have lost its place. Some churches pride themselves on their progressive stance; others on their doctrinal purity. The topics that generate books and conferences are mission, evangelism, church planting, pastoral burnout, or doctrines like creation or justification. When is the last time you attended a conference or read a book on humility? Or let me make it personal: How do you evaluate personal spiritual growth? You might include things like church attendance, prayer and Bible reading. But is that really the best measure of spiritual health? The Pharisees had these in abundance, but Jesus rejected them. What about humility?

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