Sing A New Song Part 2: A Song Of Thanksgiving
On Sunday 8th September we continued our 'Sing A New Song' series .
You can listen to the talk by clicking here.
Below is a summary of the talk.
It’s so easy to say “thank you”… I wonder why we don’t do it more often?
When wonderful things happen, it should be easy enough to say thank you
shouldn’t it? I guess most of us would agree with that and even go along with the idea of doing it more often. But what about those really difficult times? We all have them – and it’s not for me to tell you “Oh well, it’s probably a blessing in disguise!” I certainly wouldn’t appreciate someone telling me that when I’m struggling!
However, having been through some pretty tough times myself,
I can attest to the power of thanksgiving. I think that when we decide to thank God more often – just as when we decide to have a forgiving heart – something special happens to us.
Let me encourage you to read the paragraph above again… and give it a try. I think you will find your life changes for the better when you decide to thank God for things more often. And yes, to find things to thank God for even during and after the bleak times. Doing so helps us make sense of what we have endured and brings us closer to God – and his comfort - rather than distancing ourselves from him.
I can recall a time of severe physical illness that in one way and another led me to discover the power of hope… and my future wife!
I can also recall, all too vividly, a two year period which included redundancy, breakdown and mental illness which led me into a deeper faith in God and eventually into the leadership of EBC!
Blessings in disguise? Well, yes… but they were really, really good disguises! Thank God, I came through and found that God had blessed me so richly and in ways I never would have foreseen. Thank God…? Yes! Thank you, God!
We can so easily bleat about things and run from God or try and tell God how to do it. How easily we forget who we’re talking to! How easily we miss the fact that his perspective is eternal and so much greater than ours. He not only knows how things feel for us right now, but he sees what will happen – what is made possible – because of those things!
How blessed we are to have a loving God to call our Father. How blessed even to exist! How many blessings we have that we take for granted. How weighed down by anxieties we are when we fail to recognise the love and power and majesty of God!
The apostle Paul is a great example of how to trust God through times of adversity. In his time he was shipwrecked, flogged, mocked, stoned and left for dead… And yet he wrote the following (whilst in prison!) to the early church in a place called Corinth:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians chapter 4 verses 4 to 7)
That is how it should be done – with thanksgiving. In fact, despite his many trials, Paul’s approach was FULL of thanksgiving! How is your approach?
Let’s adopt an attitude and a habit of thankfulness to God. Let’s let our thanksgiving overflow into our acts of generosity to other people. Let’s serve and give generously and cheerfully out of thankfulness and as a witness to our faith.
Let’s determine not to be stingy but instead to be cheerful givers. It’s been said that “A stingy Christian should be an extinct species”. So let’s not be lumbering around the gloomy mangroves of our own self-centred ingratitude, singing the same old dirges, but instead let’s sing a new song – the song of the cheerful givers, the thankful ones who sing praises to God and bring hope to others even as we humbly bring our requests to him.
A psalm of thanksgiving.
1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1. Can you recall a time in your life when things felt really grim?
As you look back, did anything good come out as a result of it?
Can you express thanks to God for it?
2. Take few minutes to make up a list of things you can thank God for. Maybe for that aching part of your body – thank you God that I have that part of my body. For that friend who is troubling you – thank you God for my friends. For the one you lost – thank you God that I had them for a time.
3. Can you – will you – build into your time with God a time of thanksgiving?
4. How would you feel if you loved someone deeply – and whom you showered with gifts – just ignored you, never thanked you, or just habitually moaned at you?
5. How can you show your thanks to God in acts of love for him and towards other people?