Thanksgiving For What God
Is Making Us - Part 2
Pastor Arn Buck
Heart Song Worship Center
Exercising Our Faith
One of the most effective ways of increasing our experiential knowledge of God is by exercising our faith. This provides God an opportunity to prove that He is what His eternal truth claims. It renders us stronger and better able to serve Him in difficult situations. We found a Biblical definition of faith in Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Faith directly impacts our relationship with God. Trust is an important element in any relationship and it is absolutely essential to any love relationship. Real trust is a rarity in today's self-serving society. Promises and even contracts have less and less significance as they are so frequently broken. Love requires an openness and a voluntary surrender renders very vulnerable. Higher levels of trust produce greater levels of intimacy. As we exercise our faith God builds our trust in Him. It is isn't easy but it is His way and it works. A well know passage should be more meaningful when interpreted from this point of view.
Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
The exercise of faith typically costs us something. Faith is a sacrifice. In obedient faith we sacrifice our will and our desires to please God. Often we find ourselves giving up our sense of security for something promised but not seen. When exercising faith as an expression of love, we show a willingness to our surrender our comfort in order to bring pleasure to God. It reflects the sacrificial love mothers naturally have for their children.
Developing An Attitude Of Gratitude
We have a natural tendency to grumble and complain. The world's value system brainwashes us not to be satisfied with what we have. We also need something bigger, newer, or better. These things keep us captive and cause us to focus on ourselves and our needs. As key for freeing ourselves can be found in Colossians.
Colossians 3:15-17 (NLT) And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Three times in this short passage we find commands to be thankful. As we focus on what we have to be thankful for our attention will move toward the provider of these things. This displaces self-focus and helps to free us from the world's value system. Learning to appreciate what we have brings a genuine sense of joy and peace into our lives.
Scientific studies are showing that learning to be grateful has many benefits including better health, sleeping better, feeling better about ourselves, and having a greater desire to help others. If the world can benefit from this without God, imagine how much we have to gain with God helping us.
The ultimate sense of gratitude is sensing how every moment that we have in fellowship with God is precious. There will be times while worshiping Him that we will wish that time could just stop at that moment. If only the joy and peace of that moment could last for all eternity. We have found a place a refuge that is so secure that the world could disappear without us knowing it.
Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV) Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
Psalms 84:1-2 (NLT) How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven's Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.
The Ministries of the Holy Spirit to Us
Before Jesus was crucified He told his disciples of the comforter that He would be sending. Little did they realize how the Holy Spirit was going to use them to change the world. That same Spirit dwells within all believers today. He provides so much of what we need to serve God and be victorious in all that He calls us to do.
- He Provides Access to the Father
- He Teaches Us and Reveals God's Truth to Us
- He In-fills and Empowers Us
- He Reveals God's Righteousness and Judgment and Convicts Us of Sin
- He Gives Gifts for Service to the Body
- He Sanctifies Us and Produces Fruit
The servant's heart that Jesus portrayed in the Gospel is still demonstrated daily in the form of the Holy Spirit ministering to us. Do we realize how blessed we are to be called the children of God? How much does God have to convince us that He so desires us to be the "over-comers" that He refers to in Revelation chapters two and three. If we ever feel forsaken by God, if we ever feel that we are not important to God, if we ever feel that we do not have the ability to do His bidding then we have to know that we have allowed ourself to be greatly deceived. We are so blessed by the Holy Spirit - the part of God who touches us.
Being Prepared for Battle
Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
We have learned that we are participants in a great spiritual war that is waging between God and Satan. They are both vying for our worship. Whether we participate or not, we are affected by this war. Although we know that God is the ultimate victor, battles are still raging. The decisions we make and the course of action we choose can have eternal ramifications. Our individual struggles with obedience to God can have lasting affect on ourselves and others.
Surprise attack can put us at a disadvantage. Knowing this we should do our best to always be prepared. By looking at Biblical examples we learned three methods of preparing for battle. These include:
- Being strong and courageous in the knowledge of
- Knowing God's strategy for the battle.
- Allowing God to take away that things we find security in so that He ultimately receives the credit for the victory.
The first method helps to support our need to know God as well as we possibly can. King David was able to defeat Goliath because he saw how God's strength enabled him to defeat a lion and a bear. Goliath was the step in David's development. This in turn would be followed by defeating entire armies. Does the church truly know His strength? If so why is the Church of Christ so weak? We do we turn to the world and its system for help?
We examined Habakkuk's honest and open dialog with God. As a result of that dialog Habakkuk's faith in God was restored as he saw God's plan for His people and the Babylonians we God had allowed to judge them. We too can learn God's strategy for battles by listening carefully to the Holy Spirit.
We have just seen so much that God has given us to help us become all that He wants us to be. These are things that we have to put into practice to have any affect on our lives. Knowing it is like having money in the bank without experiencing the purchasing power of it. We don't have to just imagine being strong in Him - we can actually experience His strength working through us. God can be a greater reality in us.
We have something else to be thankful for. This year God created an opportunity for Heart Song Worship Center to become a reality. How many times have you found yourself in church feeling limited by the condition of the church or the vision of the leadership. This is a fresh start. We are new. We can be a breath of fresh air to those around us. It is up to us. We can become another place where people can attend each Sunday or we can become what God has called us to be. We can exercise our faith together and let God become a greater reality to us in such a powerful way that it spill over to those around us. We can make a difference and bring His love and faithfulness to a desperate world. It is up to each of us. God has set the stage - what we do on it can have an eternal impact.
Ephesians 3:10-11 (NLT) God's purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.