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Increasing Our Thankfulness

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
—Colossians 3:15-17
For the Christian, giving thanks to God is as essential as breathing. It is supposed to be part of the natural rhythm of spiritual life. And yet it is not natural. What is natural is discontentedness, disappointment, a complaining attitude, bitterness toward God, even for those who claim to know him and love him. 
Therefore Paul prays for the Colossian Christians that God would enable them in their spiritual growth to be able to give thanks. In the opening chapter of his letter, he prays that they would be filled with the knowledge of God's will (1:9), pleasing to him and fruitful (1:10), strengthened through God's power (1:11) "for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father. . . ." (1:11-12). We often come up against hard and trying circumstances, times when we need endurance and patience, but our natural reaction isn't joy and thanksgiving. It's grumbling and complaining. That's why we need God's help, and that's what Paul prays for—that in Christians who are facing disappointments and difficulties, God might bring about the unnatural response of rejoicing, knowing that he is in control and doing a good work even through—maybe especially through—the circumstances that we would rather avoid altogether.
Whether it's pandemic fatigue that is causing you the soul sickness of discontentment or whether it's a Thanksgiving holiday spent away from loved ones, stress at work, a relational conflict, or a hundred other possible causes, what we are doing when we gather with other believers to worship God is the remedy, if we follow Paul's prescription in Colossians 3:15-17. He mentions thanksgiving three times in these three verses to emphasize the need for having thankful hearts.
The first instruction is to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. Hearts where Christ rules as Lord are thankful hearts. When we know that he is the King on the throne, sovereign over everything that we face in life, we can have peace in his loving care for us. We also have peace in our hearts because of Christ's work on the cross. Christ has won peace for us by destroying enmity between us and God. Our sin was our declaration of war against God's ways, but Christ's sacrifice was the act of perfect love that changed our hearts to make us cease our striving against God and return to him as our forgiving Father. Let's remember again that true peace is a gift we have received in abundance from God through Christ, a peace that is stronger than anything that would cause unrest in our hearts. And let's be thankful for that gift.
Second, thankfulness is kindled by the flame of praising God. Through our singing of praises, recounting God's greatness and the great things he has done, thanksgiving rises up in our hearts. How can we sing about God who has created all things, blessed his people, shown his power, triumphed over sin, defeated his enemies, revealed his perfect will, promised his undying love and presence—how can we sing about all these things and not have tremendous gratitude well up inside us? Let's sing, and let's allow our singing of the truth of God to bring a richness and fullness to our hearts, satisfying our hungry souls like feasting at a holiday banquet table.
Third, all our words and deeds are to be expressions of thanks to God. As we are molded by God's Word, as we yield more to his Spirit, more and more of what people hear coming out of our mouths (or read from our online posts) and what they see in our lives gives proof that we are thankful people. Instead of being known for being negative and critical, we are known for being cheerful and encouraging. Our words and attitudes become the things that build others up rather than dragging them down. The extraordinary uniqueness of the kingdom of God is displayed for all the world to see when we start to view every challenge, every trial, every setback, every pain as God's gifts to us. We give testimony to the fact that our God is a loving Father who only gives good gifts to his children and who works all things ultimately for our lasting joy.
Giving thanks is not always easy, but in coming again and again in worship and adoration and surrender to the One who is all-good and all-glorious, we are transformed to be able to offer sincere thanksgiving.
We hope these songs we sing today will help us do that.
King of Glory
Amazing Grace
The Passion
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Posted by Kendall Ellis with

The Lord is My Strength and My Song

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 12:1–2

When we gather for corporate worship, some of us feel we have strength, and some of us feel we lack strength. Some of us feel we have a song to offer to the Lord, and some of us feel that we can barely muster the emotion to sing a single hallelujah. For those who feel a lack of spiritual power and a damper on the affections that would lead us to praise—and let's be honest, we're all in that place sometimes—there is encouragement that the Lord God himself IS our strength, and he IS our song. As we look to him and away from our own resources, strength and faith rise within us, and before long, a song starts to burst forth.

But how do we look to God to be our strength and song? What should we see in him to cause us to be built up and joyful?

The first lines of this song from Isaiah give us a simple answer. These verses remind us of two fundamental truths that should resonate in our hearts and feed the flame of our love for God whenever we approach him in worship: one, that our sin has most assuredly brought about the anger of God, more so than we are usually aware, and two, that God has turned away his anger and promised to comfort us, his people, rather than condemn us. Over and over again, we come back to these truths in order to stand firm in our faith and delight in God, because without an ongoing, honest recognition that our sin deserves the just wrath of a holy God, we won't delight in the greatness of a Savior who rescues us from that wrath. So we admit again and again that we have angered a God who gave us life and breath and everything—turned on him, belittled him, ignored him by our selfish thoughts and deeds. We acknowledge in our souls the truth that the eyes of our heart can see the face of our heavenly Father, who longs to bless us but is disappointed that we treasure so many other things above his loving gaze. And as we acknowledge that we have angered our Father, there is a softening of our hard hearts, sometimes a breaking. But the breaking is only for the purpose of rebuilding. Hope and peace and love are re-formed out of our brokenness as we hear the promise again: God's anger is forever turned away from us! Only because of Christ and his sacrifice in our place. And God's comforting love and steadfastness and faithfulness are forever pouring in our direction! Only because of Christ.

This is our salvation. We're raised from the depth of hideous sin to the height of glorious, undeserved forgiveness. As we remember all that God has done in his love for us, let our strength in him and joyous singing of his worth return, even to the weariest among us.

Here are the songs and Scriptures for this week’s service:

-Call to Worship from Isaiah 12:1-2
-All Creatures of Our God and King
-He Is Our God
-Kingdom Come
-Sermon from Matthew 6:10
-I Stand Amazed



Posted by Kendall Ellis with