Kia ora Cambridge Baptist and friends,
I can’t tell you how excited I am about the prospect of moving down to Level 2 and re-opening the church. We have a lot to be thankful for as a country. For being saved at least for the moment, from the worst effects of the virus, for having good leadership and for being in a country that can financially help the most needy.
The psalm I have been meditating on this morning, Psalm 50, has a lot to say about thanksgiving.
In verses 7-15 the writer warns God’s people not to fall into the trap of just simply going through the motions of worship. The writer under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells the people of Israel that in reality God needs nothing from his people – he doesn’t need their animal sacrifices to live - if he did, he owns the cattle on a thousand hills. While giving tithes and offerings is fine. While singing songs of praise is fine. While praying is fine. What He really wants first, is a thankful and joyful heart. That is what He seeks above all in his people.
God calls on each of offer to Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving. A sacrifice is something into which we put effort; it costs us. Have you ever asked yourself why the Scriptures stress thanksgiving so much?
Give thanks in all circumstances, says the apostle Paul, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Why is this? It is because thanksgiving only comes as a result of having received something. You do not give thanks until you have received something that comes from someone else. Therefore, thanksgiving is the proper expression of Christianity because Christianity is receiving something constantly from God.
Of course, if you feel you haven’t received anything from God then you feel you have nothing to thank Him for. God is a realist. He does not want fake thanksgiving. I know there are certain people that think that Christianity consists of just pretending to be thankful - even when you go through difficult times. They think it means screwing a smile on your face and going around pretending that troubles do not bother you. However, God does not want us to go around shouting, Hallelujah! I have lost my job through COVID-19. But there is something about difficult times we need to be thankful for. But more often than not we have to sacrifice time and prayer and meditation before we can see what God is doing and why we should be thankful.
This often starts with us first coming to an understanding of God’s character through time in the Scriptures and an acceptance that even though we are going through tough times, and I may not yet understand why, I can trust who God is and what he is doing on the basis on what the has done in the past. So even if I may struggle to thank him for what we are currently going through, we can sill offer a sacrifice of thankfulness for what he has already done for us in and through Christ Jesus.
Lord, I offer to You right now the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Thank You that You are at work for good both in me and through me. Grant that I might follow and obey you out of a heart of gratitude.