We had a wonderful day here at First Covenant this Sunday, enjoying our annual potato bar and Christmas decorating party to get ready for the Advent season -- and yet still getting out of the building and back home before the hard weather kicked in! We even had some familiar faces popping in from out of town, so it was nice to welcome some “classic FCCers” back home.
Speaking of “classic FCCers,” Graham League was successfully married yesterday in Indiana. Yes, I know that Graham isn’t technically part of our church family very much any more, but I’m counting him anyway -- at least for the record here in this Sunday Morning Update. Please keep Graham and his new wife, Leah, in your prayers as they begin their new life together.
You could also be praying for Cliff Johnson, who’s been having some gastric issues recently, and went into the hospital on Monday evening. They decided that his intestines were all twisted up, so they performed surgery to fix the problem, and ended up having to remove his spleen as well. He’s recovering amazingly well at Proctor Hospital, bouncing back physically at an astounding pace (which I attribute to the scores of people praying for him), but I’m sure that he’d appreciate your continued prayer support.
In our message this week, we finished our look at “Giving Our Thanks” by reminding ourselves that in Scripture, a significant number of songs and prayers of thanksgiving have nothing to do with specific actions on God’s part -- they’re more focused on thanking God for His unchanging goodness, His enduring love, and His perfect righteousness.
See, there are days when we don’t “feel” liking thanking God -- in fact, there are days when we might “feel” like we don’t have much to thank God for in our lives. But as the Preacher teaches us in Hebrews 12:28, our active, conscious, and reverent thanks to God is most properly an act of worship on our parts, rather than the expression of appreciation for specific blessings that we usually make it about. We thank God to ascribe worth to God in our lives -- to remind ourselves that God’s character means even more to us than, say, whether or not X or Y happened the way that we’d personally most appreciate in our lives.
So there are days when we may not “feel” like thanking God (or paying back goodness for evil, or seeking joy, or praying, etc.), or we may not “feel” like we have enough happy bits going on in our lives at that moment... but that’s all technically irrelevant. We know that God never changes, so that means that those parts of His character which we’re thankful for are always there, always part of our lives, and always worthy of our thanks (and our God-honoring responses, and our joy, and our prayer, etc.).
I know that’s not natural for us to think of that way -- and Lord knows, I saw enough people still grumpy about things in life, even before they left the building on Sunday -- but we’re not really just the sum total of our old nature or the external circumstances of a given day. We’re new creations in Christ, and His compassions are new every morning.
So let’s live like that.
No, seriously -- let’s live out joy and thankfulness this season, and stop justifying our grumpy, surly, stressed-out, totally natural reactions to our situations.
And let’s do that as acts of worship...