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Overflowing with Thankfulness, Part Two

Overflowing with Thankfulness, Part Two

From Series: Thankful Living

Thankfulness is expressed not only with words, but more dynamically, with actions. God’s instructions for the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus began with an offering brought by each one, whose heart was prompted to give. In this way, everything necessary to build the Tabernacle was provided in abundance. Alistair Begg reminds us that recognizing God has provided all we have should result in joyful giving in response to overflowing thankfulness.


Sermon Transcript:

I invite you to turn with me to Exodus, to the second book of the Bible and to chapter 35. Exodus chapter 35, and we’re going to read from verse 4 through to the seventh verse of chapter 36. And here instructions are being given for, another time, a second time, concerning the materials for the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God and for how they’re going to be provided for.

“Moses said to the whole Israelite community, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: From what you have, take an offering for the Lord. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the Lord an offering of gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

“‘All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded: the tabernacle with its tent and its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; the ark with its poles and the atonement cover and the curtain that shields it; the table with its poles and all its articles and the bread of the Presence; the lampstand that is for light with its accessories, lamps and oil for the light; the altar of incense with its poles, the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; the curtain for the doorway at the entrance to the tabernacle; the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the bronze basin with its stand; the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the tent pegs for the tabernacle and for the courtyard, and their ropes; the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary—both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests.’

“Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him, came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord. Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the Lord, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work of the Lord through Moses that he had commanded them to do.

“Then Moses said to the Israelites, ‘See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, [one] of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers. So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.’ 

“Then Moses summoned Bezelel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work and said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.’

“Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: ‘No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.’ And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.”

Amen.

And Father, as we turn now to the Bible, we pray that we might hear from your voice. We marvel at this great peculiar experience, whereby the voice of a mere man becomes to us as we listen in faith and in obedience the very voice of God to us. So we wait expectantly and humbly that we might hear from you and no one else. And that we might respond solely to the prompting and work of God the Holy Spirit. To the glory of God, the Son, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Those who were present last Sunday will perhaps remember that we gathered our thoughts around one phrase that is found at the end of Colossians 2:7, and that phrase is, “overflowing with thankfulness”—overflowing with thankfulness. Throughout the days of the week that has passed, I have found myself returning to that phrase again and again, and I have a feeling that others along with me might have done the same, not always to great encouragement but sometimes to great challenge, monitoring my response to things or my attitude to things, in light of the challenge of the phrase. Is the way in which I have just responded, or I’m about to respond, an expression of overflowing thankfulness? And it has served as something of a chart and compass to me, and I don’t sense that it’s going away anytime soon. We reminded ourselves that the foundation of this overflowing gratitude lay in the grace of God as our creator and redeemer and the sustainer of our lives. We paid attention to the important distinction between the kind of natural gratitude, which says “thanks” when everything is going well, but fails to find any reason for thankfulness when the circumstances of life overtake us, and gracious gratitude, which triumphs and glorifies God even when things are not the way we would desire them to be.

We ended our time by thinking about expressions of this same thankfulness, and we focused primarily on the notion of this thankfulness being expressed in the lives of those who would have reason to doubt, perhaps, whether what had happened to them was something that they ought to rejoice in and be grateful for; and we ended with the illustration of two women, you will perhaps recall—Sarah Edwards, the wife of Jonathan Edwards, and the lady with the long Swedish name who lost her father on a sailing trip to Gothenburg.

But I want to come back to this notion of expressing gratitude and the expressions of overflowing thankfulness, and I want, as you would have already deduced from our Scripture reading, to think of an expression of thankfulness in terms of generous giving to the work of the Lord.—generous giving to the work of the Lord. And I have read purposefully from Exodus 35 because it gives us one of the wonderful illustrations from the Old Testament of God’s people overflowing generously in response to God’s grace. Let’s just highlight it by looking at Exodus 35:20-21 as we begin: “Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and his heart moved him came and brought an offering to the Lord …”

Now we need to say something, concerning the context of this, lest we fiddle with the Bible. And the context is the whole Bible and is certainly the book of Exodus, but we can’t start at the very beginning, so let me encourage you if you want just to follow a couple of references with me, to begin by looking at Exodus 25:1, where we have the first indication of the Lord giving instruction for the construction of the tabernacle. And it is there, as you will see if you’re using an NIV, in fact they give that the heading, “Offerings for the Tabernacle.” And what God is doing there is he’s giving to his servant, Moses, the directives which are to be passed on to the people, concerning the place of meeting. In other words, the Ark of the Covenant set within the framework of the tabernacle was to be the place where the people of God, symbolically met with God, that this was emblematic of his dwelling among them. God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s direction. And it was in this tabernacle that they were to be reminded of three things: one, of God’s awesome holiness, that he was distinctly unlike his creation in that they were sinful, and he was without sin; secondly, of the people’s need of cleansing, which becomes apparent when we are confronted by unfettered holiness; and thirdly, the provision of atonement for sin in the sacrificial system that was in place, always pointing forward to that final sacrifice in Christ himself.

Well, this was all very well and it was a good start there in Exodus chapter 25, but before ever things got to where they needed to be, there was a dreadful delay that kicked in. And that delay is described for us, sadly, in chapter 32. And here if you know anything of Exodus or know anything of the Old Testament, you may know something of the fact that the people of God made a golden calf, and they bowed down to it. Well, it’s here in Exodus 32 that we discover the event for ourselves. God had provided for his people in the exodus from Egypt. You may remember that when he told the people to get ready and to make the provisions for the Passover, that when they were then redeemed from the bondage of Egypt, one of the things they should do was to plunder the Egyptians. It may sound rather strange. He said that they should actually ask their Egyptian landlords and owners for their gold and their silver and their clothes, so that they might take those provisions with them when they cross over into the promised land. And when you read that in its bold simplicity or bald simplicity, you may say, “Well, why was God doing that? Just as a further punishment to the Egyptians?” I don’t think so. “Just to line the pockets of his people?” No, I don’t think so. He was doing that because he knew that that which he was providing for them in this somewhat strange way was going to be the very means that would be employed in fulfilling his purposes in relationship to the construction of this tabernacle.

And with the delay of Moses in meeting with God, Aaron, we’re told, takes matters into his own hands, and he asks the people to take the stuff that they had and essentially to squander it in the creation of a golden calf. And Exodus 32 describes that for us. And at the end of Exodus 32 with the return of Moses, Moses comes back in verse 31 to go to the Lord and say, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold …. Please forgive their sin …”[1] “This should not have happened,” he said—this should not have happened. And if you go to 34:8, you have a picture there of Moses bowing down to the ground, worshipping God and saying, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes … then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”[2] In other words, you’re the God who has made a covenant with your people. Keep your covenant. Even though we have made a horrible mess of things. Even though we have taken what you have provided for us and squandered it in the construction of false gods, please do not leave us alone! Please do not abandon the work of your hands. And here we see the indications of what we finally find in its fulfillment in the New Testament, where in Christ all the promises of God, as we have sung, find their yes and their amen.[3] And all of the promises of him keeping his people, completing the good work that he has begun in them, are found in the essence of Jesus himself.

And it is a good and a helpful reminder to us, isn’t it, that given that we are prone to wander and prone to leave the God we love,[4] that God is never the author of unfinished business when it comes to his children. And so it is in light of that that we get back to 35, he has given the initial directive that has been prolonged by the rebellion and by the worshipping of false gods, and now here Moses once again assembles the Israelite community, reminds them of the importance of the place of the Sabbath, and then in verse 4, as we have read, gives them the directions for this construction.

“From What You Have”

Now let’s just notice them, very straightforwardly, verse 5, notice the phrase, “from what you have,” “From what you have, take an offering …” From what you have. What did they have? What do we have? Only what God, the creator, has provided. Only what God the redeemer has granted them in their exodus from the bondage of Egypt. Only what God, who has sustained their lives, makes possible for them now in light of the project that is before them. If you like, we might say that everything we have is stamped with the seal of God’s ownership. Everything in the universe, there’s not a place, as Kuyper, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands many years ago, he says, there’s not one inch in the whole universe at which God does not look and say, “This is mine. This is all mine.”[5]

This is vastly different from our contemporary culture, isn’t it? Where Pantheism suggests that the earth is God and everything is God, and since we are part of everything, somehow or another we are part of God. Not so, says the Bible. The earth is the Lord’s, Psalm 24:1, “The earth is [the] Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.”[6] In other words, the earth belongs to God and everything that grows and is dug up out of the earth, everything that exists in the entirety, belongs to God.

Sometime ago, and I say this at some risk, but there’s no malice in it. Sometime ago the administrative people here at Parkside decided that we should put a sticker on everything announcing the fact that it was the property of Parkside Church. It seemed to me such a crazy exercise, but it went ahead without any reference to me. They don’t really care, but the fact is, I just got such a charge out of going and picking up, like the garbage cans out there, you know, and turning them on their side or upside down and looking at the little sticker that said, “This belongs to Parkside Church,” you know. I said, “Well, what did you expect? That someone was going to steal a garbage can and then they turned it up and said, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize it belonged to Parkside Church. I guess I better put it back down.’” Or, they even had one on the grand piano, you know? And somebody said, “Oh, the grand piano belongs to Parkside. I should have known better. I was just going to take it home to my living room. I really shouldn’t have done that.” No, I thought it was a futile exercise, but anyway, nobody really cares! But by the time David is involved in the prospect of building the temple, he makes the point very clearly as he says in 1 Chronicles 29, “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”[7]

On every inch of the universe, God’s ownership is established.

So, we understand this fundamental notion. The directive is, “from what you have.” What do you have? Only what God has given you. By the time you get to 1 Corinthians 4, he says, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you glory as if you did not receive it?”[8] I mean, why would you walk around like you’re a self-made man or a self-made woman, or whatever else it is? No. On every inch of the universe, God’s ownership is established. Therefore, everything that these people to whom he gives this directive had, was a result of God’s grace.

“Everyone Who is Willing”

Second phrase to help us understand the directive is the phrase, “everyone who is willing.” That’s also in verse 5. “Everyone who is willing.” In other words, this is not a matter of legislation. This is a matter of personal conscience. This is not a matter of Moses as the leader, laying an obligation or a guilt trip on the people under his care. No, he says, “God asked me to say to you that from what you have, and you know that everything you have is God’s, from what you have, bring an offering to the Lord, everyone who is willing.”[9]

The giving of the people of God in response to the grace of God is thanksgiving. It is overflowing gratitude. Overflowing thankfulness revealed in overflowing generosity.

Some people see giving as a grudge—“Well, I guess I have to. I suppose I should”—or as a duty—“I ought to do this.” Or perhaps in response to some measure of guilt—“I’ve been a bad person. I just think I should try and be a good person now” or “I think I better give something or something bad might happen to me.” All of these things are absolutely against the principle which is here in Exodus 35 and runs throughout the Bible. The giving of the people of God in response to the grace of God is thanksgiving. It is overflowing gratitude. Overflowing thankfulness revealed in overflowing generosity. How will God know that we are overflowing in thankfulness? By our overflowing generosity!

The principle’s obvious. Now given the notion of willingness, we must always beware of anybody who is heavy handed or who is overly directive in the matter of giving. And you know, we say very little about giving here at Parkside Church. I’ve chosen to do so today for a number of reasons, but I think I didn’t do this for at least two years, and before that, I think it was twelve years. So just in case you’re visiting today and would want to extrapolate from this, really you’d have to wait some considerable time before there would be any mention again of these things.

No, Aaron was the one who was heavy handed. Aaron is the one who told them what to do with their earrings. Moses doesn’t give any expression regarding earrings. He just says, anybody who’s willing and whose heart has been stirred up, should bring an offering to the Lord. He doesn’t tell them what to do or how to do it. And you will notice that—and this is the third phrase—that this is to be brought to the Lord. From what you have, take an offering for the Lord. Moses is telling the people that the Lord is willing to receive from all who are willing to give. That the Lord, who is in need of nothing, is willing to receive from those who are the beneficiaries of everything, when we, the beneficiaries of his grace, as an expression of our overflowing thankfulness, reveal our hearts in overflowing generosity. And when that happens, God is glorified! When that happens, glory and praise is given to God.

What is your response to be and my response to be? Look at the response of the people. When he had given these directives, and he gave them with great clarity, with no manipulation, no funny business, verse 20, then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence. They said, “Okay, we’d better go away and think about this.” And having withdrawn from the presence of Moses, notice what happened. Everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him, or whose heart was stirred up, brought an offering, notice again the phraseology, to the Lord for the work.

You see, if people have to be cajoled in relationship to the work, “Well, you’ve gotta explain to me what this is,” or “You’ve gotta explain why that’s happening. You gotta explain the next thing.” Then they don’t understand, I don’t understand then what it means to give to the Lord. I’m giving this to the Lord. Yeah, but who’s looking after this? Well, in this instance the elders of the church. In that instance, the elders of Israel.

You notice that they didn’t only give from what they had, but they also gave on the basis of what they were and the gifts that God had given them. And we don’t have time to go through this, but I read it as purposefully and as clearly as I could, and it’s not an easy passage to read, but weren’t you struck by the way in which God fills people with his Spirit for artistic endeavors? That he fills these two characters particularly and expressly in this way, in order that by the arts, which is essentially what it is, by the arts, by the creativity, by the use of fabrics, by all of these things, by the fragrance of incense and the gems on the ephod and the breastplate of the ministering priests, by all of these things, the work of the Lord was set forward. Another time we’ll come back perhaps and look at Exodus 35 in terms of a Christian view of the arts. But it’s all here in the Bible, and it’s really pretty clear. And so the people understood this. And I won’t belabor the point, but if you go through later on, and just underline “to the Lord,” or “the work of the Lord,” you will find that this is the recurring emphasis. And in response to the directive, we discover that eventually they had to call a halt to it. I think there’s a measure of humor in verse 4 of 36. I hope you do too. So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary, downed tools and went to see Moses and said, “Listen, enough already. The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” You see, they were overflowing in generosity. What happened? They were reminded of the immensity of God’s goodness, “from what you have.” What do I have? Everything he gave me. Who am I giving this to? To the Lord. Why should I do it? Because he stirred my heart. Are we being manipulated? No. Just those who are willing. Just those who are willing.

And the crowd that was willing was obviously a significant crowd, and the way in which they brought their stuff was obviously more than overwhelming, and as a result, Moses has to issue a second directive. And he sent the word throughout the camp, verse 6. Don’t you love this? “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary. And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.” In other words, what’s today, the sixth, then you go to the thirteenth, you go to the twentieth. So, on the twentieth let’s say, two weeks today, I stand up and I say, “Hey listen, no more of that budget stuff. We’re completely done with the budget. Please do not give any more at all.”

God does not administer his grace in percentages. He lavishes his grace upon his people, and out of the abundance of his heart, in Jesus, he has given to his people one blessing after another.

Overflowing thankfulness revealed in overflowing generosity. God does not administer his grace in percentages. He lavishes his grace upon his people, and out of the abundance of his heart, in Jesus, he has given to his people one blessing after another.

Let’s then say a word concerning our reaction to this, or the application of their reaction. God has come to Moses, and he said, I have a plan for my tabernacle. I want you to convey this to the people so that those who are willing may respond accordingly. We read our Bibles and essentially the story is the same. God has a plan for saving people through the work of his Son, and he says, “I want those who have their heart stirred up and who are willing, to help by giving to gospel work.” To help by giving to gospel work.

When I have occasion to write a thank-you note for those who’ve given to the work of Truth For Life, I try always to write with the same phraseology. I’m sure I mistake sometimes, but I’m careful to say, “I want to thank you today for the gift that you’ve given to the work of the gospel via Truth For Life.” You’ve given a gift to the work of the gospel via Truth For Life, but your gift is a gospel gift. And the people here realized that they were involved in something that was far bigger than anything they knew about God meeting with his people, about God reaching out beyond his people to the alien peoples and so on. And in the same way, you and I become part of a great missionary project when we do as we pledged to do. We’re involved in the work of the gospel. And what the Bible says is, given that this is our privilege and our opportunity, would we not give ourselves in response to overflowing grace with overflowing generosity? There’s a wonderful epitaph on the wall of a military officer in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, which reads as follows: Sacred to the memory of Charles George Gordon, “who at all times and everywhere, gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his sympathy to the suffering, [and] his heart to God.”[10] Actually should start with, “he gave his heart to God,” and then from there.

I need to draw this to a close because some of you are staring at me. But this notion of overflowing generosity needs to be seen in light of a few things, and I can’t work these out, but let me just give them to you.

Number one, an unreserved commitment to Christ. An unreserved commitment to Christ. I am not committed to Christ if my wallet is not involved. The rich young ruler went away sad, having asked all the right questions, was concerned about eternal life, but he was not prepared for unreserved commitment to Christ. Any giving that doesn’t begin with our unreserved commitment to Christ is not Biblical giving.

Secondly, such overflowing generosity must be exercised in keeping with what we have—in keeping with what we have. Now when Paul writes to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 16, he says that “your giving should be according to your means.”[11] According to your means. In other words, he says I don’t want you to get involved in an emotional surge. I don’t want you to take your brain out in relationship to this. I want you to think about what’s going on. And our means at one time may be better than at another time. The earning capacity of an individual in his middle years will be different from that retired person in most circumstances, and so we would be able to discriminate. But once again, it is the stirring of the heart, the willingness of the spirit, unreservedly committed to Jesus, and in keeping with what we have.

And also such overflowing generosity has to be exercised in light of our obligation to our God-given economic duties. In relationship to our God-given economic duties, which are what? Well, what is it, 8½ percent sales tax? Whatever the basic rate of income tax and then some on top? Or whether you like tax, don’t like tax, like the idea of it, whatever else it is, doesn’t matter, Romans 13 says we have an actual God-given obligation to play our part in these things.[12] Therefore, what we do in relationship to a willing, stirred heart in terms of overflowing generosity, has to be seen in light of that—our obligation to the state, and our obligation to our families.

Some day at another time, I will speak to this issue, but I think there are two things by observation that are totally crazy. You don’t need to care about this, and you don’t need to pay attention to what I’m telling you. But this is my observation. I personally think it’s wrong to pass on to our children unbelievable debt as a result of their education. I don’t believe that is clever parenting. People disagree with me. That’s just my view. They start off so far behind that it’s almost impossible for them to catch up, and it encourages all kinds of bad activity, vis-à-vis their responsibility, and vis-à-vis credit and everything else. And at the other end of the scale, I don’t think that we should be so quick to buy the contemporary western notion that what you’re supposed to do is labor all your life to make sure that you’re not a burden to your children. That’s contemporary view. But I’m trying to make this simple point that there are divine obligations to state and to family that play into this.

And also, and finally, that such overflowing generosity needs to be exercised in light of what I might refer to as the law of equivalent returns—the law of equivalent returns. “Where’d you get that from, the Economist or something,” somebody says? No. I got it from Proverbs 11. “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”[13] That’s what I’m referring to as the law of equivalent returns. Proverbs 11:24, one man gives freely, and he figures he’s got even more to give. Another man says, “Oh no, I can’t, I can’t give to that. If you saw where I am right now, there’s no way that I, no. No.” One man withholds unduly. The key is in that—is that an adverb? I don’t know—but comes to poverty. “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.”[14] In other words, well, no, that’s going to sound like Reaganomics. I’ll just leave that one alone, but the fact of the matter is I think it may well actually be right there.

Let me finish with a lady, as I did last Sunday morning. You know this lady well. She showed up at the house of Simon the Leper.[15] Jesus was there. It was a routine kind of evening. That was right up until the point that she came in and started smashing a jar of perfume. She had an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, the equivalent of a year’s wages, apparently. Not just some little trinket that she picked up at Dillard’s. But something that would have been used either for a dowry on the occasion of her wedding or would be used for the embalming of a loved one at the occasion of their death. And this lady came to Jesus and she took this, and she created a stink with it, a beautiful fragrance that would have hung on people for a long time, and people would have said, “Man! Boy do you smell good! What is that? Where were you?” They said, “Well we were at the house of Simon the Leper, and the lady showed up, and she smashed this alabaster jar of perfume.” “Must have been some perfume that you are so …” Yeah! It was costly in its bestowal. It was thoughtful in its uniqueness. It was timely in its provision. And it was challenging in its impact.

That’s why the people immediately began to say, “That’s ridiculous. I can’t believe she did that! This could have been sold for a year’s wages, and all could have been given to the poor.” Jesus says, “Don’t play the poor card right now. That’s not the card to play right now. You know that’s not the issue,” he says. “What this lady has done will be reported throughout the world forever.”[16] Why? Because it was an expression of an overflowing generosity that stemmed from overflowing thankfulness, which was the response to overflowing grace.

Every tightfisted believer will inevitably have our fists opened when we stand before the cross of Christ.

Every tightfisted believer will inevitably have our fists opened when we stand before the cross of Christ, and we say with Andraé Crouch, “How can I say thanks for the things you’ve done for me?”[17] And who are these people? Those who are willing, whose hearts have been stirred, who bring an offering to the Lord for the work. What work? The work of seeing unbelieving people become committed followers of Jesus Christ.

And then people withdrew to think this out.

And so will we, in a moment. But let us pause in a moment of silent prayer and ask God just to bring what is of himself home to our hearts and minds so that we might be free of any notion of human coercion or manipulation. Instead, that we might only be responding to what God, by his Spirit, would say to us.

Father, we hear your voice as it says, “I beseech you brethren, by my very mercies to present your bodies, a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable unto me, which is your spiritual service of worship.”[18] And so then may your love draw us afresh to you. May your Spirit kindle within our hearts a willing spirit and an increased desire for your glory. May your peace champion all our uncertain thoughts and all our anxieties, and may we go out from this place confident that you, our heavenly Father, know best about everything, and that we may trust you. And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, rest upon and remain with each one, now and forevermore. Amen.


[1] Exodus 32:31–32a (NIV 1984).

[2] Exodus 34:8–9 (NIV 1984).

[3] 2 Corinthians 1:20 (paraphrased).

[4] Robert Robinson, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (1758).

[5] James D. Bratt, ed, Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998), 488 (paraphrased). Quote from Kuyper’s inaugural address at the dedication of the Free University.

[6] Psalm 24:1 (KJV).

[7] 1 Chronicles 29:14b (NIV 1984).

[8] 1 Corinthians 4:7 (paraphrased).

[9] Exodus 35:5 (paraphrased).

[10] Tomb of Major General Charles George Gordon, C.B., in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Photos and inscription available at http://www.victorianweb.org/sculpture/pomeroy/55.html (accessed August 25, 2016).

[11] 1 Corinthians 16:2 (paraphrased).

[12] Romans 13:6–7 (paraphrased).

[13] Proverbs 11:24 (NIV 1984).

[14] Proverbs11:25–26 (NIV 1984).

[15] Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9 (paraphrased).

[16] Matthew 26:8–13; Mark 14:4–9 (NIV 1984).

[17] Andraé Crouch, “My Tribute: To God Be the Glory” (1971).

[18] Romans 12:1 (paraphrased).

Thankfulness: A Mark of Grace
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