Ikthus-Villa Angela Sermon (November 2013)

BUILDING A LIFE OF THANKSGIVING

TEXT: Acts 16:22-34

INTRODUCTION:

In spite of the crises we have recently faced both individually and as a nation we nevertheless give thanks in everything. Why? because we are the people of God. And thanksgiving is the constant characteristic of God’s people. To be thankful is what it means to be one of God’s people.

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you for ever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”  (Ps. 79:13)

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”  (Col. 3:15 ESV)

I. THE FOUNDATION OF THANKSGIVING

“I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1 KJV)

Thanksgiving is the logical, expected and natural response of a redeemed heart to God’s manifold mercies.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me; bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine inquities, who healeth all thy diseases, who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Ps. 103:1-5)

II. THE EXPRESSION OF THANKSGIVING

A. BY SINGING TO HIM

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” (Acts 16:25 KJV)

“Sing out your thanks to Him; sing praises to our God…” (Ps. 147:7 LB)

Music has the power to make men happy. It lifts them up on the wings of joy. It is therefore a very appropriate means of expressing our gratitude to God because music can heighten our feelings of joy. This is one reason why God gave us the gift of song and music.

Worship is not meant to be merely a matter of intellectual engagement – a dry, intellectual exercise. It involves the whole person, and therefore involves his emotions as well.

“Shout with joy to the Lord. Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are His… Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name… For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever…! (Psalm 100 NLT)

But worship should not degenerate into mere sentimentalism and emotionalism. We do not sing in worship merely to feel good or because it feels good to do so. We sing because we are moved to do so by the great and powerful spiritual truths of God’s Word.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16 ESV)

Teaching, singing and thanksgiving are the overflow of the rich indwelling of Christ’s word. It is implied that these activities are informed by Christ’s word, i.e., they are vehicles of his wisdom. They are means by which the wisdom of Christ is communicated to us. In fact, this verse can be taken to mean that spiritual songs are a form of teaching the word of Christ so that is may dwell richly in us. That is why the songs we sing matter, and the lyrics of the song come first. The music should serve the words and not the other way around. Our singing as a form of thanksgiving is supposed to be a grateful and intelligible response to the truths that we learn from God’s word. Singing that is truly an expression of thanksgiving to God must be an intelligible response to or communication of the truths of God’s word for the sake of edifying God’s people. The keywords here are: enrichment in wisdom and edification of the church.

“What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.” (I Cor. 14:15-17)

“Strive to excel in building up the church.” (I Cor. 14:12)

B. BY PRAYING TO HIM

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” (Acts 16:25 KJV)

“Give thanks to the Lord and pray to Him.” (Ps 105:1 NCV)

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6,7 KJV)

The word “prayer” means worship and adoration. When we pray let us remember that we are coming into the presence of our great God. Let us forget all about our troubles and worries. Let us remember how great and glorious and wonderful our God is. And when we do this we gain a proper perspective towards all our troubles. We then begin to see how small they are compared to our great God who is for us. This in fact is already sufficient to cast out the spirit of worry and to raise in our hearts a spirit of joy and thanksgiving! We begin to see that what troubles us is but an anthill compared to the mountain that is God. So let us not rush into God’s presence with our worries and needs. Let us focus first of all on the greatness of our God. The remembrance of God’s greatness and goodness will give rise to confidence and gratitude in our hearts, then we can present our petitions to him and we will in the process experience his peace.

Also, in Psalm 103 take note that David first reminded himself of the benefits he received from the Lord, and as a result he was able to put himself in a proper frame to praise and thank him.

C. BY GIVING TO HIM

“And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” (Acts 16:33-34 ESV)

Going back to Rom. 12:1 you will note that giving is the natural response of the redeemed heart to God’s mercies. But it is not our possessions we first give to God but ourselves. This is what the Corinthian Christians did. We learn from II Cor. 8:5 that they first gave themselves to the Lord and then they gave to relief of the saints. This is necessary if our giving is to be cheerful rather than forced.

“Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (II Cor. 9:7 ESV)

Incidentally, the reason why God has blessed us so much is so that moved by gratitude for his blessings we might minister to the needs of God’s people.

“And 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.” (II Cor. 9:8 ESV)

“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. (II Cor. 9:11, 12 ESV)

D.  BY SHARING MY TESTIMONY ABOUT HIM

“Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.”  (Acts 16:30-32 ESV)

“Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.” (Isa. 12:4 ESV)

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you for ever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”  (Ps. 79:13)

“What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” (Ps. 116:12-14 ESV).

CONCLUSION:

The Lord has done great things, things for which we must be thankful. He made us and he has provided for all our needs. Above all, he has provided for our salvation. He has sent his only begotten Son to die on the cross of Calvary in order to pay for our sins and save us from the penalty of sin, which is everlasting death. And to all who receive him he promises to give forgiveness of sins as well as the right to live forever as his children in his eternal kingdom. The question is: have you received him as your Lord and Savior? “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

And for those who have already received him and are now his children the question is: have you in view of God’s mercies presented yourselves as living sacrifices to God? Do your hearts overflow with gratitude towards him who out of mercy towards you gave his life for you? Do sing to him? Do you pray to him? Do you give to his ministry? Do you share with others the blessings he has blessed you with? Do you testify of his goodness to others? I pray that you do and that you will do so more and more.

(NOTE: The outline for this message was adapted from a sermon by Rick Warren)

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