Showing Thanks, Not Just Saying Thank You

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Showing Thanks in All Circumstances
For us as believers, giving thanks isn’t limited to a special Thanksgiving holiday. We “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). And, it also isn’t limited to simply saying thank you but also showing thanks. We “offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” AND we “do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:15-16).

Showing Thanks Reveals What’s Truly in Our Hearts

How easily we can casually say “thank you” and not really mean it. We might “enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Ps. 100:4-5) but then live the rest of the week griping and complaining about all that’s wrong with our lives.

Verbal expressions of gratitude and praise to God for what He has done for us are important but He is most pleased when we take it to the next step of showing our thanksgiving. When we live like grateful people, we tend to rise above the fray of life and think about others and their needs rather than focus on ourselves.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

A very important part of Hebrews 13:15-16 quoted above was not included. These verses begin, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise …”. On our own we tend to be self-centered, but as recipients of His mercy and grace, we have motivation to look beyond ourselves.

This prayer by Samuel F. Pugh says it well:

O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Amen.”

Let’s ask God to help us get beyond simply saying thanks to showing thanks.

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What Are You Thankful For?

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On the Thanksgiving holiday, we express gratitude. So, what are you thankful for? — A Home? Job? Family? Friends?

This thanksgiving, be mindful of the fact that not everybody has a place to call their own. Not everybody has a reliable source of income. Some have lost people they love. And, having a home, job, family and friends now, doesn’t mean you will tomorrow. What will you be thankful for then?

What the Psalmist Was Thankful For

Be Thankful, Give ThanksRead through the psalms and you’ll soon notice how the psalmist’s thanksgiving went beyond material blessings. Notice in the following verses for how his praise, or thanksgiving, was wrapped up in the person of God — who He is and what He has done.

We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds. (Ps. 75:1)

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High … For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. (Ps. 92:1-4)

Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name. (Ps. 97:12)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Ps. 107:1)

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind … (Ps. 107:8)

At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws. (Ps. 119:62)

A Thanksgiving Challenge

This Thanksgiving, and beyond the holiday, let’s keep our focus on our great God, on the fullness of who He is, rather than looking at what we do or don’t have. When our gratitude centers around Him, like the Apostle Paul, we’ll learn to be content “in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Phil. 4:11-13).

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First Steps to Change

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Churches have had to implement change in many ways to stay effective, especially in recent years. How will we help people see where the church is going and their part in that process? Before trying to implement change, especially that which affects the church’s culture or DNA, we need to follow some important first steps to change.

Three Important First Steps to Change

If we’re going to effectively implement change, we can’t rush into it without doing these three steps:

  • Make Sure to Lay the Groundwork

To come onboard, people need to understand not just what changes must be made but why change is necessary. Simply telling them changes we’ve decided on will give them little incentive to do their part. When they are involved early on in the decision-making process, they’ll tend to have more of a sense of ownership of the changes needed and hence be more involved in getting there. We need to patiently lay some groundwork, asking ourselves questions like:

  • What do people need to understand in order to come onboard?
  • What means can we use to help them gain that understanding?
  • How can we consistently communicate that understanding?
  • Make Sure Leadership is Onboard

We will lay groundwork through teaching but that needs to be reinforced by the example of leadership. People must see a consistency between what we communicate formally and what they observe informally. Let’s first get leadership in the church on the same page and then move out to getting the rest of the Body onboard.

  • Make Sure to Get on Page with God

All of this needs to be enveloped in prayer. Undoubtedly heart change must happen, not just behavioral conformity. That requires divine power. If we fail to get beyond behavioral conformity, we probably won’t experience lasting change.

  • Pray in the planning stage.
  • Pray while laying the groundwork.
  • Pray in the implementation stage.
  • Pray when evaluating results.

First Things First Before Implementing Change

Too often we skip these first steps. Then we wonder why change is so difficult or why it doesn’t last or make a real difference. The third step listed above should actually be the first step in the process and infiltrate the other steps. — We need to be on page with God.

First Steps to Change Include Following the Chief Shepherd, Head of the CHurchChanges we make in the church must be more than the idea of an individual leader or leadership team. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4) so we follow Him. We, as the entire Body of Christ, need to be following the direction of the Head of the Church.

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Eph. 1:22-23)

… Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. (Eph. 5:23)

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Col. 1:18)

So, first things first. Get on page with God, make sure leadership is onboard, and be sure to lay the groundwork with the rest of the Body. Then it will be time to start implementing change.

Also Check Out: Church Leaders & Change Management

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Spirit & Truth in How We Worship

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Jesus brought the perspective of spirit AND truth in how we worship in John 4. The Samaritan woman identified two different styles of worship, questioning which way was acceptable.

Samaritan Method of Worship: In John 4:22 Jesus said of the Samaritans, “You worship what you do not know.” They were limited in knowledge, accepting only the Pentateuch of the Old Testament. Their worship was enthusiastic but they lacked the proper knowledge. — “zeal without knowledge”

Jewish Method of Worship: They accepted the entire Old Testament and hence did not lack knowledge but their hearts weren’t in it. In Mark 7:6 Jesus used Isaiah’s words to describe them, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” — “knowledge without zeal”

God Seeks Spirit & Truth in How We Worship

Grace and Truth in How We Worship
(Click to enlarge image in Pinterest & repin.)

Jesus responded, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (Jn. 4:23-24)

The Father seeks both zeal and knowledge when we worship Him. He looks for fluidity of life and absoluteness of truth, enthusiasm and sound doctrine. It isn’t a matter of balance but rather BOTH spirit AND truth. We show our love for Him through worship with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Lk. 10:27).

Why God Seeks BOTH Spirit AND Truth in Our Worship

Let’s remember why Jesus said we’re to worship in this way — “God is spirit” (Jn. 4:24). To truly connect with God in worship, we must approach Him on the basis of who He is.

To worship without spirit misses the personal reality, or essence, of His very being. Our spirit must connect with His spirit for God is not contained in a body like us. Consequently, true worship isn’t about where we worship. Nor is it about the means of worshiping. We worship from the heart so we don’t turn into the hypocrites Jesus spoke of, merely going through the motions, when He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain” (Matt. 15:8-9a)

To worship without truth leads to missing the awesome reality, or true God, He is. When we worship, we “ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name” and we “worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (Ps. 29:2). When worship is void of truth, it will be anemic at best, if not a pure sham. How can we say we’re worshiping God if we aren’t acknowledging who He Himself says He is? We may be worshiping some semblance of a god but not the God of the Bible.

Are you worshiping in spirit AND truth?

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Grace & Truth in How We Speak

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So often we think we must achieve a balance of grace and truth in how we speak — just enough truth, just enough grace. Not wanting to be at one extreme or the other, we look for balance. Or, perhaps we feel there are times for grace but other times we must primarily speak truth.

Grace & Truth Isn’t Really a Matter of Balance

Jesus’ life shows us that grace and truth isn’t a matter of balance. He was 100% grace and 100% truth. He did not lay aside the one to become the other.
Grace & Truth in How We Speak When Christ-like

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:14 )

For the law was given by Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (Jn. 1:17)

Consequently, exercising grace and truth in how we speak is Christ-like. (Resource: Christ-like Communication for Church Leaders)

The Defense for Both Grace AND Truth

“But they’re sinning,” you say. “Sometimes people just need to hear the truth.” You point to Scripture which clearly states that God uses truth to sanctify people (Jn. 17:17) and set them free (Jn. 8:32). And, we’re to stand firm “with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Eph. 6:14).

You would be right because truth is essential but so is grace. When people sin, they also need grace. The same grace that saves us “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12). We’re to stand firm in truth but we’re also to stand firm in grace (1 Pet. 5:12).

Scripture Exhorts Us to Speak with Both Grace and Truth

We are exhorted to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Notice that it doesn’t say “Show some love and then hit them with the truth.” Nor does it say “Speak the truth and follow it up with some love.” Both love (at the root of grace) and truth are to be present at the same time.

Grace AND Truth must be evidenced not only in the actual words we speak but also in attitudes and any resultant actions.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. (Gal. 6:1-3)

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

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Bible Teachers Have a Multifaceted Role

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To make the most impact on students’ lives, Bible teachers need to see themselves as more than communicators. Bible teachers have a multifaceted role that takes them beyond merely dispensing knowledge to being used by God to change lives. It’s about making a difference for eternity by truly caring and investing into people’s lives.

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (1 Thess. 2:7b-8)

Impacting Bible Teachers Have a Multifaceted Role in Students’ Lives

Here are eight different facets of a Bible teacher’s role that, when all seen as a part of a teacher’s responsibility, will help them make a true difference in people’s lives.

Communicator

verbally informs students of what God’s Word says in ways that hold interest, fit their age level, accurately represent God’s intent, and encourage students to do something with what they learn

Conduit

lets God’s message flow through them in ways that pull on God’s power and guides students to faith by not only words but also demonstrating its reality

Disciplemaker

helps students know, love, follow and serve Jesus and become more like Him in all they say and do

Equipper

looks for opportunities to train students to serve and become more of who God desires them to be, preparing them to live for God in all kinds of situations

Friend

comes alongside of students, taking steps to get to know them, personally relate with them, and care about them as individuals

Model

not only tells students what they need to know but demonstrates it by their own lives through actions, words, and attitudes both in and outside of the classroom

Motivator

connects with students’ needs, interests, and development in ways that spur them on toward belief and application of God’s Word

Servant

willingly sacrifices one’s own time, convenience, and effort for students, exhibiting not only Christ-like actions but also attitudes that demonstrate His love and grace

Bible Teacher's Multifaceted Role
Check out the 70 page Bible Teacher’s Role training resource that looks at each of the above facets of a teacher’s role in greater depth with some questions that should spur you own to enhancing your effectiveness in these ways.

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