Do you want to know what God’s will is for your life? “16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” A. W.Tozer
“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” G. K. Chesterton
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” Harry Ironside
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” Karl Barth
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!” Psalm 100:4
“We need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” J. I. Packer
“There are three requisites to the proper enjoyment of earthly blessings: a thankful reflection, on the goodness of the giver; a deep sense of our own unworthiness; and a recollection of the uncertainty of our long possessing them. The first will make us grateful; the second, humble; and the third, moderate.” Hannah Moore
“In happy moments, PRAISE GOD. In difficult moments, SEEK GOD. In quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. In painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD.” Rick Warren
We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” C. S. Lewis
“A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attuned to the Lord. Thank God in the midst of trials and every persecution.” Billi Graham
The Bible says that we are God's household. The church is a family. Many Christians however refused to belong to any church where they can say "I belong". True, every Christian belongs to the universal church of Jesus Christ, but yet at the same time, if you read the New Testament, the word "church" is frequently used to refer to a local specific group of believers in a specific place like we are here in FECC.
We must understand that it is God's will that we belong to a church family. "You are a member of God's very own family." Many of us seem to think that “I was born into this world, so it is natural that I belong to the human race. In the same token when I was born again by the Spirit, I naturally belong to the church of Christ." Nevertheless, I don't think we will ever be satisfied to just belong to the human race, you want to be a part of a family, like I want to be a part of the "Lao" family. A Christian without belonging to a local church is just like an orphan.
Some reasons why people don't want to join a church are: "I am free to do whatever I want.” "I can go from one church to another, they are all the same." "I have not found a perfect church yet..."What they are really saying is "We want to play ball, but we don't want to be a part of any team" or "I want to play an instrument but not in an orchestra." The fact is if you are strong, we need you and you need us, because we need each other to be strong in our Christian faith.
If you are a Christian, you are a part of the body or Christ. You could be the hand, the ear, the nose, the eyes, the liver... What would you say if the liver said, I think for one week I'll be a part of this body over here, and the next week I'll be a part of that body over there..." Can you imagine the liver floating around every week? No doubt, the unconnected liver will shrivel up and die in no time. You need to be a part of a local church family.
As members of FECC, let us actively participate in the ministries of Christ’s church. Today, as we gather for our annual membership meeting, we ask for your cooperation in making yourself available for this important event. Not only that we can exercise our privilege of attending and voting for the essential matters, we also demonstrate our commitment and love to God and His church.
We are committed to glorify the Lord Jesus, to safeguard the unity of the church, to share its mission, to serve the ministry and to support the testimony of the church. We must always remember that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and we are His body. God loves and cares for His church, and when we love God, we must love His church too.
And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.. Ephesians 2:22
“a dwelling in which God lives...” Ephesians 2:22
The emphasis here is that when we are together, we are the Temple of God. Together, we are a place where God dwells. As the Temple, we are a place where God is worshipped (Heb. 13:15); we are a place where peo-ple can come find God. When Solomon’s Temple was completed, God filled the building with His glory. The Bible says that when we give God praise, there is a special sense of God’s presence (Psalm 22:3). When we are together worshiping God, people will see that God is here. We are also a place where God speaks to His people. And as God speaks, His Word helps us to discern right from wrong, it gives us guidance, and it helps us grow up.
What does this say about how important it is that we are the church? It is not just important for you, for what you get out of church. It is important for what you contribute to the church: the praise and worship you bring, and the people that you talk to.
“… in Him you too are being built together ...” Eph. 2:22
Paul says that we are being built together. Peter says that we are like “liv-ing stones” in that building process. Stones don’t naturally come shaped to form parts of a building. They require shaping and fitting. In a way, this is a picture of the process that God is doing. For those of us who are alive in the world, we live in the “quarry,” getting ready to be put into the heavenly temple. But the process of getting the stones shaped to fit to-gether takes work. God will use other people in your life to shape you. They will be used to knock off some of the rough edges so that the stone has a “finished” quality about it. But that isn’t always fun.
Some people will be a pain in the neck, and God can use them to teach you patience, knocking off the edges of impatience. Others will be quite needy to teach you compassion, grace, and mercy. Others will be there to help you, filling in the holes and cracks in your life.
The temptation is to just stay away from people. You can save yourself a lot of grief if you just stay away from people. But you will never grow if you do. You will not learn the patience and compassion that God so de-sires to build into your life. You will not have others there to encourage you and help you, when you are in need.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Eph.1:3)
Even as a young child, we are taught that when someone extends generosity and kindness, we are to respond with gratefulness and appreciation. Psalm 100:4 is a song of response to the God of unending generosity, of continuous love, and everlasting faithfulness. It truly is beyond comprehension that our God could love us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son to be the propitiation for our sins. We will never run out of reasons not to be thankful to our heavenly Father. He stands unrivaled and unmatched...there is indeed no one like Him.
As a church, we also keenly recognize that God’s presence, protection, and provisions have been upon FECC from the very beginning. Despite the many challenges we face through the years, we have seen and experienced His amazing grace in our church. We have felt and basked in His abiding presence in our midst. God has blessed us in hyperabundance with daily blessings and the many manifestations of His love and guidance. May our will for our church and our lives be aligned to God’s will for us, so that we may access all the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ Jesus.
“God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him” (2 Cor. 5:18). In order to reconcile the world to Christ, we must give what is not deserved (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4-9). We must exchange kindness for unkindness, to extend love instead of hate, and to genuinely care in the face of injustice. To follow Christ’s footsteps, it all begins with a vibrant relationship with Him. As we stay connected to the True Vine (John 15:1-5), He will live His life through us, and that life includes selfless service, generosity, and personal sacrifice. Be mindful that He laid down His life for the sinners and for all those who are broken, even for those who are clothed in spiritual death.
Dear brothers and sisters, in this season of thanksgiving, I encourage you to take some time to reflect upon all the blessings that you have received from God. As the familiar song goes……Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God has done! You will be amazed at how God has blessed you. Acknowledge that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” (James 1:17a) Always remember that all that we have and all that we are have been freely and generously given to us. And with whatever measure we give, we also receive.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18)