#800. EXPRESS GRATITUDE (25/4/23)
This week, as we take a break from our series on Praying Together, our devotionals are based upon our Sunday message from Dale Barlow about the church being a family.
Summary: Praise and gratitude for our salvation and adoption fans the fire of love
You can watch this devotional at:
It’s a mark of childhood to take our parents for granted. Initially, we have no comprehension of the price that our parents or carers are paying for our health and happiness, and we get annoyed when we don’t get what we want. As we mature, ideally, gratitude grows. We begin to be thankful and express our appreciation. In our response to God’s choosing and adopting us, are we grateful or entitled children of God?
‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…’ (1 Peter 1:3-4)
Peter expresses praise to God the Father for His ‘great mercy’ and ‘new birth.’ Expressing praise is right and it’s also beneficial for us. Expressing gratitude for grace and adoption is right; It’s God’s will that whether its to God or to others, we expresses thanks. However, this is also good for us. Praising God for adoption and new birth reminds us and reinforces these truths within us. This principle is crucial: when we feel down or distant from God, offering praise for His abundant blessings can enliven our souls and renew our connection with Him.
‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.’ (Ephesians 1:3-6)
Like Peter, Paul sets an example for us by praising God for His abundant blessings, including our adoption. Paul, however, goes even further back in time, expressing that our adoption was planned ‘before the creation of the world’ and was ‘predestined according to God's pleasure and wil’l. So, what should this result in? ‘Praise of His glorious grace.’ The truth of our adoption should be a source of overflowing and never-ending praise.
Tim Chester writes of the importance of not taking our new relationship with the Father for granted (He doesn’t expressly mention gratitude, but this should be included).
‘Imagine two sons. Jack makes breakfast for his father every day and they chat for half an hour while they eat it together. Later in the day Jack and his father hang out together—flying a kite, playing football, reading a book. Meanwhile Jack’s older brother, Phil, is embarrassed by his father. Phil stays in his room all day with his music turned up loud. On the rare occasions when Phil communicates with his father, it normally takes the form of dismissive grunts. How many sons does the father have? The answer, of course, is two. And what did they do to become sons? Nothing. They were simply born as sons. But only Jack enjoys being a son. Only Jack experiences a good relationship with his father. Praying and reading your Bible won’t make you more Christian. And not doing these things won’t make you less of a Christian. Somewhat like Jack and Phil, we become children of our heavenly Father by being born—the difference being that Christians are born again. We’re saved by grace alone through faith in Christ. Our status as God’s children is a gift. But how much we enjoy that communion depends on what we do’ (Tim Chester, Enjoying God)
Praise and gratitude for our salvation and adoption fans the fire of love. If you are feeling low or distant from God, I encourage you to offer praise to Him. You can use, for example, one of the texts from today's devotional or a worship song such as ‘Salvation's Song’ by Stuart Townend (I've included a link below). Let us not be spoiled or entitled children, but rather let us express thanks and praise to God for eevery blessing that He pours so generously on our lives.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week and how has this helped you / affected your life?
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
Please read John 1:12-13 & 1 John 3:1
Did God speak to you or did anything strike you from Sunday's message?
How does one enter God's family?
How does, or should, being a child of God affect our prayer life?
What are the benefits of being devoted to our church family?
What are the benefits of a local church in being part of a family of churches such as New Ground?
Let's take time to pray for our church family together.
SIV (Serve, Invest and Invite) Why does a healthy church family grow?
SIV - Pray for specific people in your community that God wants you to reach.