“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100: 4)
We praise God for our 10th Anniversary today. It is a B-P tradition to celebrate church anniversaries with a thanksgiving service. Let us therefore come before the Lord with grateful hearts for all that He has done for us for leading us faithfully through the past decade, graciously watching over our little flock, and sustaining us in the Gospel ministry.
o A Time of Thanksgiving
In giving thanks to God as a church, let us also remember His blessings upon our individual lives. The Lord has drawn each of us unto Himself by His saving grace. He has provided for our needs, kept our footsteps in safety, and enabled us to grow in His grace and knowledge. However, we often fail to acknowledge God’s gracious dealings with us. We must be conscious not to take His goodness for granted. That is why the Bible constantly exhorts us to give thanks to God and not to forget His blessings: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Ps. 103: 2); “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5: 20).
“How human it is to forget – not the wrong of others, but their good! And as to God’s goodness? How many a vow uttered in groaning illness, in the throes of writhing pain, in dark moments of grim danger or haunting fear are forgotten on the morrow of deliverance! How many a Calvinistic Christian is obliviously slumbering in his armchair of salvation! Forgetfulness of God’s mercies is a sin of omission” (The Philosophy of Thanksgiving – Message by Rev Dr Timothy Tow).
Failing to give thanks to God may lead to a murmuring and discontented spirit. Consider the Israelites’ example in the wilderness. God’s pillar of cloud and fire guided and protected them (Ex. 13: 21-22). He gave them manna – “bread from heaven” (Ex. 16: 4) and water out of the rock (Num. 20: 11). Their clothes and shoes did not wear out: “And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot” (Deut. 29: 5). Despite God’s gracious care for His people, “they soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel” (Ps. 106: 13).
Like the Israelites, we are prone to forget God, ignore His wise counsel and go our own way. Let us heed the Chinese saying, “Let those who drink the water think of its source”. Remember to acknowledge the Lord’s good hand upon us and give thanks for His blessings upon our lives: “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God” (II Cor. 9: 11).
o A Time of Reflection
A church anniversary is also an appropriate time to evaluate our own lives and service unto the Lord. How will we answer the following questions?
1. Have I faithfully gathered with God’s people for worship every Lord’s Day?
2. Have I manifested a reverential spirit for the Lord by coming on time for the worship service and other meetings?
3. Have I faithfully attended the weekly prayer meeting to pray for the ministry and for the brethren?
4. Have I been a responsible member of the church, in obeying the leaders and setting a godly example for the brethren?
5. Have I been exemplary in my conduct, attitude and service?
6. Have I supported the church’s ministries in prayer, tithes and offerings?
7. Have I grown spiritually?
8. Have I been faithful in my daily communion with the Lord?
9. Do I love my brethren?
10. Am I a blessing to my brethren?
11. Do I harbour a bitter, unforgiving or critical spirit towards others?
12. Am I ready to meet the Lord when He returns?
Today is a happy day of celebration for our church. As we rejoice in the Lord’s gracious favour upon us, let us appreciate His blessings. Spend time to also reflect upon our own lives and take heed to mend our ways.
Brethren, as we serve the Lord together, let us be “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philp. 2: 2). Give of our best to the Master: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Col. 3: 23-24). May the Lord grant us grace and strength to persevere in the Gospel ministry to the glory and praise of His Name. Amen.