Volume. XXXI, No. 15
Sunday, 09 October 2016


Thankfulness


Introduction

The occasion of David’s thanksgiving described in 1 Chronicles 16:1-36 was the return of the Ark to the Tabernacle in Jerusalem.  As we read in Chapters 4 to 7 of 1 Samuel, the Ark had been captured by the Philistines in battle when the Israelites incorrectly thought that having the symbol of God’s presence with them would secure victory over the Philistines instead of turning to God Himself for deliverance.  Having captured the Ark, the Philistines were more than happy to return the Ark after being smitten by God, where many died and others suffered diseases.  However, when the Ark was returned, there was a great slaughter of the irreverent Israelites, who held not the things of God in awe, but dared to look into the Ark, which even the High Priest might only look upon once a year (and not even into).  Out of fear, the Ark was then brought to the city of Kirjath-jearim into the house of Abinadab.  There it lay for 20 years before King David sought to return the Ark to Jerusalem.

Since the Ark was the symbol of God’s presence among the Israelites (1 Samuel 4:21-22), it’s return to Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel, signified the return of God among His people, and hence was a great occasion for rejoicing and thanksgiving.  1 Chronicles 16:1-36 then describes the sacrifices David made that day, the appointments he made for the Levites to minister before the Lord daily, and also gives us David’s wonderful Psalm of Thanksgiving, which we have just been blessed to hear during the Scripture reading.

The Psalm of Thanksgiving recalls the wonderful works of God towards His chosen ones, His righteous judgements, the everlasting covenants God has made, His deliverance of His anointed, the greatness and glory of God and His power over all things.  This is a Psalm that we too can adopt to praise the living and only True God for His goodness to us.

THANKSGIV'ING, or giving thanks, is the act of rendering thanks or expressing gratitude for favours or mercies received. [adapted from Websters 1828 Dictionary]

The Bible clearly teaches us that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28), which is the reason why we are called to “[Give] thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Ephesians 5:20) and “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So giving thanks is not something optional in a Christian’s life, but a command and an expectation that, far from burdensome, we will desire to do anyway as we grow in Christ and appreciate more and more of the goodness of God.

There are many things that we can give thanks to God for.  Let me touch on some of these things.

Our salvation and eternal life

As Christians, we can always be thankful for our lives and salvation in Christ Jesus.  No matter what our earthly situation might be, we know that it is only temporal and that we will live as joint heirs with Christ for eternity - “heaven and earth shall pass away” Matthew 24:35 says, and Romans 8:16-17 tells us that, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."  How grateful we ought to be, to be a child of God.

Our well-being

There is an illustration from the devotional, "Our Daily Bread (for 20 Feb 1994)", which I trust will help us to appreciate what we have every day.

"EVERYDAY THANKSGIVING

Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings, thank you, Lord, that I can hear.  There are many who are deaf.  Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible, thank you, Lord, that I can see.  Many are blind.  Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising, thank you Lord, that I have the strength to rise.  There are many who are bedridden.  Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned and tempers are short, my children are so loud thank you, Lord, for my family.  There are many who are lonely.  Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced, thank you, Lord, for the food we have.  There are many who are hungry.  Even though the routine of my job is often monotonous, thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work.  There are many who have no job.  Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest, thank you, Lord, for life."

This illustration is not meant to make light of those who are suffer from disabilities or dire circumstances, but to help us appreciate what we have.  Even if we were born without limbs, there can be so much to be thankful to God for.

"Nicholas Vujicic (pronounced VOY-a-chich) ... was born in 1982 in Melbourne, Australia, without arms and legs.  [His] early days were difficult.  Throughout his childhood, Nick not only dealt with the typical challenges of school and adolescence, but he also struggled with depression and loneliness [and even contemplated suicide].  Nick constantly wondered why he was different than all the other kids.  He questioned the purpose of life, or if he even had a purpose (how he would finish school, how he would find a job, enjoy relationships and not be a burden to others).  According to Nick, the victory over his struggles, as well as his strength and passion for life today, can be credited to his faith in God."

Nick says that, "Being born without arms and legs was not God’s way of punishing me. I know that now. I have come to realize that this “disability” would actually heighten my ability to serve His purpose as a speaker and evangelist. You might be tempted to think that I’m making a huge leap of faith to feel that way, since most people consider my lack of limbs a huge handicap. Instead, God has used my lack of limbs to draw people to me, especially others with disabilities, so I can inspire and encourage them with my messages of faith, hope, and love."

In spite of not having limbs, he is able to give thanks to God for what he has.  How about us? His life is so full of hope that he has become a motivational speaker and an evangelist to bring others to Christ.

Our enjoyment of food

Food is an essential part of life, but I am sure many of us do not simply eat for survival, but actually derive some enjoyment from the food we eat.  Isn’t this why recipe books and cooking shows are so popular, and many people post pictures of food on the internet?

A few weeks ago, my family and I went out for lunch, and I burnt the front part of my top palate while carelessly eating a Spanish dish - egg and spicy beans covered with melted cheese cooked in a clay pot.  For the next few days, food rubbing against my damaged palate was painful, spices would sting and even a cup of coffee had to be drunk gingerly with care.  The joy of eating was suddenly replaced with suffering, and with much self-pity I miserably ate just to fill myself.  Imagine how thankful I was when my mouth healed and I could eat and taste normally again; I could enjoy the taste of food again.  I could enjoy eating again.

If I may share another food deprivation experience.  As some of you know, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes some years ago, and since then have had some diet restrictions placed on me.  I used to be able to enjoy eating to my heart's content (or rather to the capacity of my stomach) my favourite things, such as lovely white bread or toast heavily buttered and topped with peanut butter, jams or spreads, and also steamy aromatic jasmine rice with sumptuous dishes cooked by my wife, and not to mention snacks.  All that was drastically reduced with my diagnosis; not only was the food I loved replaced with healthier versions (which to us guys translates to unpalatable and tasteless) but portions were reduced as well (not that I could have eaten much of the healthier versions anyway).  Now that my family (and certain carers) have done such a good job that I've managed to shed some weight, which has helped improve my diabetic condition, I am allowed "food holidays" on special occasions (I think every day is a special occasion, but my carers aren’t convinced).  You can imagine how appreciative I am of the "food holidays" I get every now and then.

From these, I know that one of the things that we can be thankful for is the ability to eat, taste and enjoy the wide range of food God has given to us.  Isn’t this one of the reasons for us to say grace before our meals?

….to be continued next week.

(This message was preached by Dn Colin Gan on The Lord’s Day, 25 September 2016)

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Kitchen Roster - Helpers this week: Bros Edwin D’Mello, Daniel Ki & Daniel Volvricht. Helpers next week: Bros Houston Li & Jae Hoon Mun; Sis Kristy Low.
*Welcome to our pulpit today: Rev Dr Johnson George.
*Devotional materials: Daily Manna, Junior & Adult RPGs for Oct - Dec QTR available on foyer table. (Donation: $1 per copy).
*YAF Activity: please check with group leaders for locations.
*Fellowship Lunch is catered today.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Ps Okman & Sis Myung Ki;Elder David & Sis Giok Yeo & family (S’pore); Retreat participants (Nunyara/Adl) & others arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in the past week.
Successful procedure: Rev George van Buuren
Ebenezer BPC’s 17th Anniversary Thanksgiving.
Sparks4Christ-YAF Retreat: Spirit-filled messages & good attendances.

Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Pastor Ki; Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; & others in affliction.
Special Prayer: Rev George van Buuren (post-procedure); Bro Grant Munchenberg; Mr Ballan Sanders (Hampstead); Sis Julie Tan (shingles).
iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne & VBS in Providence BPC (8-14 Oct).
Cambodia Missions:
IBPFM: Rev Keith Coleman & Missionaries.
New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for Task Force & congregation.
Theological studies for Dn Sung Hyun Ma & Bro Kevin Low & families.
Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.
God’s guidance for Covenant, Ebenezer, Hope & Providence BPCs to form an Australian B-P Presbytery.
Journey mercies: Rev Dr & Mrs Johnson George (India);  & others who are travelling.
Postnatal health - Sisters Maritas Mangco (Cebu) &  Emily Zhang.  Health for their  newborn babies.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
Year 12 students preparing for exams: Bros Timothy Gan & Benjamin Wong; & Sis Emilie Kour.
God’s guidance for trouble-free settlement of new church on 20 Jan 2017.
Australia - Salvation of Australians & for our politicians not to pass any legislation that is against God’s Law.
 Jobs - Those seeking for employment.
 Believers under persecution in Islamic countries.
Holiday Bible Club this week: Speakers: Rev Dr Johnson & Mrs Susan George, teachers, organisers, parents, helpers & students.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063