It has been a good day today. The weather is quite comfortable (low 70's) with overcast skies. Today's sermon is a positive reflection on some negative things in which the church is becoming entraped. Hope you enjoy!~Kirk
"GIVING THANKS FOR THE WORK BEGUN"
Thanks to Sidney White for the ideas found in the article on “Thanks” as found in, CHRISTIAN MESSENGER, March 24, 2005 bulletin of Algood church of Christ.
A. Illustration: You’re just like my dog.
In his book FOLK PSALMS OF FAITH, Ray Stedman tells of an experience H.A.
Ironside had in a crowded restaurant. Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited him to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, "Do you have a headache?" Ironside replied, "No, I don't." The other man asked, "Well, is there something wrong with your food?" Ironside replied, "No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat." The man said, "Oh, you're one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know
I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don't have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!" Ironside said, "Yes, you're just like my dog. That's what he does too!"
B. One point that is noticeable in nearly every letter that makes up the New Testament is the expression of "thankfulness."
1. In Romans 1:8, Paul is thankful for the faith and influence of the Roman brethren.
2. Philippians 1:3-11, he is thankful for the fellowship in the gospel and prays that their love may abound more and more, that they will approve things that are excellent, and they will be filled with the fruits of righteousness.
3. In Colossians 1:3-6, he is thankful for the faith in Christ Jesus, the love to all saints, the hope of heaven and the fruit brought forth by the Colossian brethren.
4. In I Thessalonians 1:2-10, he gives thanks for the work of faith, labor of love, patience of hope, example to others and the spreading of the gospel.
5. In summary, Paul is thankful for the brethren because of the faith, love of the brethren, fruit brought forth, labor and work, their example and influence and their efforts to spread the gospel.
C. Would the spiritual founders of this congregation write such a commendation of thankfulness to us today?
1. Is God being glorified for our faith, labor, patience, example and soul winning?
II. There is always a need for the local congregation to examine itself.
A. We recognize the need to put our personal life under the microscope from time to time.
B. Should we not recognize that, as the community of the saved, we need to examine ourselves collectively and see how we are doing?
C. Though we are exhorted not to compare ourselves with one another or one congregation to another we can look at what was commended of N.T. congregations and see if we would be considered worthy of thanks.
III. God is not afraid to brag on his children.
A. We do not want to entertain vain boasting, but we should be happy that we can make our God, his Son, the H.S, and his elders, preachers and teachers happy when we follow through.
B. Should God be thankful for this body of people which assemble here this hour? - You decide.
IV. What shall God, our forefathers and ourselves be thankful about this congregation.
A. We may be thankful that faith is manifested in our lives.
1. Faith is something seen not felt! We are considered steadfast when we depart not from the faith (Heb. 13:9) once delivered during the days of the apostles (Jude v. 3). It is evident that we are “unmovable” (I Cor.l5:58) when we have the wisdom to “test the spirits” (1 Jn. 4:1).
a. This kind of faith comes from a diligent study of God’s divine will (Heb. 5:12ff) for a lack of it will prove the man of God unworthy to teach or exercise godliness (2 Tim. 2:15).
b. James says that if a man has faith without works, his claim of faith is useless (James 2:14ff)
2. Would the founding fathers look upon us this hour and praise us for our stand on the “issues?” More importantly, would God appreciate our views or have they gotten all mixed up with the world - remember he said, “Whoever is a friend of the world is THE enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4).
B. We may be thankful for the love which is evident among one another.
1. Love is more than mere words. Jesus said it is the proof of one’s
discipleship (Jn. 14:35).
a. Love is evident by the way we behave toward one another (1 Jn. 3:17, 18), when we make no distinction one toward another (Jas. 2:1ff), when we prevent envy and strife from arising in our heart (Jas. 3:14-16).
2. Love should not be feigned (faked) (1 Pet. 1:22).
STORY: This livestock judge tells a story where he was attending a junior stock show when a grand-champion lamb, owned by a little girl, was being auctioned. As the bids reached five dollars per pound, the little girl, standing beside the lamb in the arena, began to cry. At ten
dollars, the tears were streaming down her face and she clasped her arms tightly around the lamb's neck. The higher the bids rose, the more she cried. Finally, a local businessman bought the lamb for more than $1000, but then announced that he was donating it to the little girl. The
crowd applauded and cheered. Months later, he was judging some statewide essays when he said he came across one from a girl who told about the time her grand-champion lamb
had been auctioned. "The prices began to get so high during the bidding," she wrote, "that I started to cry from happiness." She continued with: "The man who bought the lamb for so much more than I ever dreamed I would get returned the lamb to me, and when I got home, Daddy barbecued the lamb--and it was really delicious." Joe Wager, in Reader's Digest. Moral of the story is that one can only tell if another loves us by what we are willing to do for another when the crowd is not looking. Dwight Morrow, the father of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, once held a dinner party to which Calvin Coolidge had been invited. After Coolidge left, Morrow told the remaining guests that Coolidge would make a good president. The others disagreed. They felt Coolidge was too quiet, that he lacked color and personality. No one would like him, they said.
Anne, then age six, spoke up: "I like him," she said. Then she displayed a finger with a small bandage around it. "He was the only one at the party who asked about my sore finger." "And that's why he would make a good president," added Mr. Morrow. Bits & Pieces, February 4, 1993, pp. 18-19.
Love notices the little things. It is observant, not showy, does not boast about itself, is not self centered, but is patient, kind thinks no evil, and is not easily provoked (1 Cor. 13). When Paul wrote about his thankfulness toward the brethren it was because of a love for ALL the brethren, not just some of the brethren. Do we love and fellowship all our brethren, or just a select few with whom we may have common social interests? If Tamara had a bandaged finger would it be noticed by you as much as if it were on Kate’s? Love is not love when measured unequally!
James said that “Ye despise the poor” because they were partial in their association.
What would the founding fathers think about us today? Would they be thankful? Is God praised by the unfeigned love of the brotherhood here?
C. We can be thankful for the fruit that has been brought forth as the result of our efforts.
1. When we look at the number of people that have been baptized, the number restored and the lives that have been rededicated and strengthened, we can be thankful for them.
2. But we should never be satisfied with those efforts. How much effort
have we put forth in the last few months to baptize an alien sinner, to restore a brother or sister overtaken in a fault or to strengthen some weak brother or sister?
3. But shall we not look at spiritual fruits in another light? Here are five ways one is noted as bearing much fruit. “Number ONE, a developing Christian character is fruit. If the goal of
the Christian life may be stated as Christlikeness, then surely every trait developed in us that reflects His character must be fruit that is very pleasing to Him. Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in nine terms in Galatians 5:22-23, and Peter urges the development of seven
accompaniments to faith in order that we might be fruitful (2 Peter 1:5-8). Two of these terms are common to both lists: love and self-control. The others are joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, virtue, knowledge, endurance, piety, and brotherly love. To show these character traits is to bear fruit in one's life. TWO, right character will result in right conduct, and as we live a life of good works we produce fruit (Colossians 1:10). [We are
what we are, not by what we say we are but what our conduct proves we are K.W.] This goes hand in hand with increasing in the knowledge of God, for as we learn what pleases Him, our fruitful works become more and more conformed to that knowledge. When Paul expressed how torn he was between the two possibilities of either dying and being with Christ or living
on in this life, he said that living on would mean fruitful labor or work (Philippians 1:22). This phrase could mean that (1) his work itself was fruit, or (2) fruit would result from his work. In either case, his life and work were fruit. So may ours be. THREE, those who come to Christ
through our invitation & conduct are fruit. Paul longed to go to Rome to have some fruit from his ministry there (Romans 1:13), and he characterized the conversion of the household of Stephanas as the first fruits of Achaia (I Corinthians 16:15). FOUR, we may also bear fruit with
our lips by giving praise to God and thankfully confessing His name (Hebrews 13:15). In other words, our lips bear fruit when we offer thankful acknowledgment to the name of God. And this is something we should do continually. FIVE, we bear fruit when we give money. Paul
designated the collection of money for the poorer saints in Jerusalem as fruit (Romans 15:28). Also, when he thanked the Philippians for their financial support of his ministry, he said that their act of giving brought fruit to their account (Philippians 4:17, KJV)." minor adaptations Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation, Victor Books, 1989, pp. 49-50.
4. Our fruit rests on what kind of soil (heart) we maintain (Lk. 8:4ff), if our heart be evil, we will bear only bad fruit (Matt. 6:23).
5. Would the founding fathers be thankful for the fruit in which you and I are producing? Do you think God is satisfied with the fruit we bear this hour?
D. We can be thankful that our work of faith and labor of love has been of such nature that it brings glory to God and not to an institution.
1. There is so much work to do inviting people to services, setting up and conducting Bible studies, visiting and encouraging negligent members, helping the needy, preparing and teaching classes involving countless hours and many other things that could be done. How involved have you been in specific works to promote the cause of Christ?
2. Are you thankful for what you have done? "The hardest thing about milking cows," observed a farmer, " is that they never stay milked." Bits & Pieces, August 18, 1994, Page 3. There are three kinds of workers. For example, when a piano is to be moved, the first kind gets behind and pushes, the second pulls and guides, and the third grabs the piano stool. Which one are you?
A manager and a sales rep stood looking at a map on which colored pins indicated the company representative in each area. "I'm not going to fire you, Wilson," the manager said, "but I'moosening your pin a bit just to mphasize the insecurity of your situation." Bits & Pieces, May 26, 1994, age 9. If you worked on your job as you do your church work, how long
would it be until you got fired?
3. Like a working mother, the Lord’s work is never done. So, work
while it is day, for the night comes when no man can work (Jn. 9:4).
4. Would the fathers be glad to see the works in which we are
involved? Is God thankful that we have joined with him in his work?
E. We can be thankful for the influence we put forth for the world to
1. “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good
example.” Mark Twain. "One Sunday morning in 1865, a black man entered a fashionable church in Richmond, Virginia. When Communion was served, he walked down the aisle
and knelt at the altar. A rustle of resentment swept the congregation. How dare he! After all, believers in that church used the common cup. Suddenly a distinguished layman stood up, stepped forward to the altar, and knelt beside the black man. With Robert E. Lee setting the example, the rest of the congregation soon followed his lead." Today in the Word,September, 1991, p. 15.
a. Does the world, our friends, neighbors, enemies, see us seeking first the kingdom of God? Do they observe that we are present and involved in every service of the church or only coming when it is convenient?
b. Do they see us dress as God fearing people or become immodest before their eyes?
c. Do they hear a speech that is evidence of Christian character or language which curses men?
2. By the example that we put forth, are our friends and neighbors able to see that we are indeed faithful and dedicated servants of God or that we serve just to get what we want?
3. Shouldn’t we be thankful for the influence we have on the world.
A man once took a seed catalog and started out the door. "Where are you going with that?" his wife asked. "I'm going to show this picture of these tomatoes in here to my tomatoes out there. They need to get with the program." The pictures we see of Jesus in the Bible must make it to our lives. If the gospel is planted a Christian is what should be seen growing.
4. We get to represent our heavenly Father. The one who purchased us with the blood of his son. We wear the name of his son. We represent all his name stands for, goodness, mercy, love, peace, righteousness, purity, holiness. Let us be thankful that we are privileged do that.
5. But are we doing that? Can our forefathers look upon us with a sparkle in their eye and say, “Just look what we started, see what we planted. They look just like Jesus in the Bible.” Do we think they can praise the Lord for the work they began in us? Is God pleased with the influence we have among our peers and in the community?
F. Finally, we can be thankful that we made an individual effort to spread the gospel.
1. There are many things you may not be able to do, but you can invite someone to come hear the gospel or give them a tract that will show them the way. "It is easy to determine when something is aflame. It ignites other material. Any fire that does not spread will eventually go
out. A church without evangelism is a contradiction in terms, just as a fire that
does not burn is a contradiction." (Christian Theology in Plain Language, p. 162.)
2. The Lord has called us to be--like Peter--fishers of men. Have we turned the commission around so that we have become merely keepers of the aquarium. Do we bring in missionaries to tell us about a work and give them money but do little fishing ourselves?
3. There is no fun in watching edible fish in a river If we want to eat, we must be about catching them. Likewise, there is no joy in watching unsaved people swimming in the river of life. We must be about catching them before they reach the waters of contamination and die. If Paul or our forefathers were to address a letter to the church here, would it contain the points of "thanks" that his letters to Rome, Thessalonica and other churches contained? Something to think about, isn't it? We have great potential here and we must apply it. Remember that God is with us (Heb. 13:5-6); we can accomplish great things with Christ's help (Phil.4:13).
Let us be about the work of the Lord! Let us show a regard of thankfulness about our faith, by upholding the word of truth taking a stand on the issues where Jesus would stand.
Let us demonstrate our thankfulness of God’s love by loving everyone equally.
Let us be thankful that we have opportunity to bear good fruit to the glory of the Sustainer and Giver of life. Let us give God all thanks for being able to labor and work in love for
the personal growth and development of our church family. And let us give thanks that we can speak words of encouragement by inviting the lost to hear the gospel at church, or in our homes. Would God be thankful for us collectively by our conduct this hour? Have we lost sight of the goal? Would we bring honor to those which began the faith in us?