29th Dec 2013

Thank offering 'Carol' service

By Stephen Bones

SHARING ONE – THE PAST

In the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day she encouraged us to reflect on the past, as well as plan for the future.  Today that’s what we want to do.  Consider Psalm 103:

Ps 103:1-5 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (NIV)

It’s good to reflect on God’s ‘benefits’ to us.  However, the word translated ‘Praise’ in verses 1 and 2 is the Greek word ‘Barak’, more accurately translated ‘to declare blessed’.  The same word is used in the priestly blessing:

Num 6:24-27 24 "'"The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." ' 27 "So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them." (NIV)

Today we want to bless the Lord, and we can!  At Christmas we receive and give presents, but God has given us the greatest gift of all, his Son Jesus Christ.  And Jesus willingly gave His life for us on the cross.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; (NIV)

Let’s us also reflect on the character of God whom we worship, that our faith and trust in Him may grow.  Five aspects of the character of God are:

1.      His immutability         He is unchanging, the same ‘yesterday, today and forever’

2.      His omniscience          He knows everything

3.      His omnipresence       He is everywhere ‘where can I flee from your presence?’

4.      His omnipotence         He is all powerful ‘with God nothing is impossible’

5.      His eternal nature       He always has been and will be, outside of time. Stephen Fry got it wrong in his discussion with Bear Grylls over Christmas when he said if you believe that the world was created by a God, who created that God?

Communion

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."  25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."  26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.  (NIV)

We have so much to be thankful to God for, whatever our current circumstances – Jesus’ birth; his death in our place; our sins forgiven and washed away so we can have fellowship with a Holy God new.  Let us now have a time of thinking God in prayer – needn’t be a long prayer, as it’s the heart that God sees!

SHARING TWO – THE PRESENT

It is also good to reflect on what God has done for us in our lives today.  God has already blessed us in our walk with him.  Let us remember some of His promises to us for now:

Phil 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Phil 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV)

Phil 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

And that is just one chapter!!!!

Ps 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (NIV)

Even in difficult times, God is faithful. It would be good for some to share their testimony of how God has blessed them in this life, so as to encourage one another to preserve, and to give thanks to God.

SHARING THREE – THE FUTURE

We have a hope!

Ps 73:24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. (NIV)

Rev 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (NIV)

Jesus is coming again soon!  Hallelujah!  Let us not be discouraged but spurred on to love and good works, and thank God for all his wonderful promises (gifts) to us.

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;

his faithfulness continues through all generations.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:2-3

2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 13:15-16

15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Download Sermon Notes