Tag Archives: hope

I am Thankful for Church

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.   Paul to the Thessalonians, book 1, chapter 1, verses 2-8.

I am thankful for my church.

It is the place I have been fellowshipping and serving for the last 21 years.  Like Paul, I have been practicing thanksgiving for the church for 21 years.  God is at work in the church.  He is cultivating faith, love and hope in Christ Jesus.  The people are beloved of God and chosen by God.  I have witnessed growth and the imitation of Christ repeatedly.

Are you thankful for your church?  If not, I would recommend a change of attitude.  Here are some reasons to be thankful for your church.

It is a place of faith.  One of the primary graces of God to you and your brothers and sisters in Christ is the gift of faith.  In the church we find people of faith and since faith results in faithfulness, trustworthiness, and loyalty you can find people who will be faithful to you, that you can trust.  Everyone needs those kinds of relationships and they are to be found in the church.

It is a place of love. God is love.  If we love God we will love one another.  The church is a place of love.  Everyone needs people to love them.  The church is a safe place where love rules.

It is a place of hope.  God is in the business of replacing despair with hope.  No matter what the circumstances around us we can find hope in the worship and promise of the church.  God is in charge.  He works all things together for good, He will never leave or forsake us.

In over 50 years of belonging to the church I have found this to be true, and I am thankful for the church.

If you have a different experience, here is my advice:  start being thankful for the church.  Start small.  Be consistent in thanksgiving and then look for people who need a dose of faith, hope or love and start giving it out to them.  Instead of looking for others to love you, build up your faith and give you some hope, be the person who loves, offers a leg up to someone who needs a boost of faith, and find someone who is more desperate than you and inject some hope into their lives.  I guarantee it will change your experience of the gathering on Sunday that we call church.  If you become a reason for someone else to be thankful, you will start to like being a part of the church too.

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Prayer for True Knowledge

Here is a prayer written by Thomas a Kempis:

Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know,
To love what I ought to love,
To praise what delights Thee most,
To value what is precious in Thy sight,
To hate what is offensive to Thee.
Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes,
Nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men;
But to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual,
And above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Thy will. Amen
(The Moral Compass, William J. Bennett p. 754)

and a corresponding prayer for knowledge by the apostle Paul:

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
(Ephesians 1:15-19 )

After Paul gives thanks he prays that God may give to the Ephesians a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ and that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened.  All of those phrases are knowledge phrases.  He asks that they will be enlightened in three ways:  hope, riches, greatness.  Paul is assuming here that their is a tendency in believers to have misconceptions about appropriate hope, true riches, and the nature of greatness.  Listen to my sermon from this week (will post the link when the sermon is up) for a perspective on true hope, riches and greatness.

A major thrust of the believers prayers should be in the arena of the mind and to renew our mind so that it conforms to the mind of Christ.  Prayer can be defined as mind work.  It is the place where I examine my mind, my thinking, my values, my  hopes, my philosophy, my understanding of truth, my wisdom.  Hence Paul prays that we have wisdom and that the veil over our minds be pulled back and that our hearts may be brought into the light, that is out of the darkness.

Paul had a practice of sharing his prayers with his readers.  As a result we have a treasure of examples of how to pray for one another.  I have made it a practice to use the prayers of Paul as a template for how to pray for others.  Here are some good ones:  Ephesians 1:15-23; Ephesians 3:14-20; Colossians 1:9-12; Colossians 4:2-4; Philippians 1:9-11; Philemon 1:4-6.  Pray for one another.

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