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Apr 2011

Sunday Rhythm | God’s People Respond in Grateful Praise | Thanksgiving

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! – Psalm 92:1-5

Our understanding of the gospel is communicated in the rhythm of our Sunday gathering. This understanding goes beyond how and what we preach on Sunday mornings, and seeps into how we choose to order our service. Every week we seek to answer the following questions through the songs we sing, the prayers we pray, and the scriptures we read: Who is God? What has he done for us in Christ? Who are we in light of that? How do we respond? The hope is that when we see who God is, and what he has done for us in Christ, we are reminded of who we are, and the grace and mercy available to us in Jesus. In this we celebrate Jesus’ victory over Satan, sin, and death, and the payment for our sin on the cross. We then rejoice as we are sent out to live this reality in our daily lives through the power of His Spirit.

We begin our services with God calling his people to worship. We then take time to hear God speak to his people through his Word, followed by a celebration of the union with Christ and his people as God strengthens his people at the table. We then move to the portion of service where God’s people get to respond in grateful praise. We previously looked at one element of this response, which is confession. Confession of our sinfulness becomes a natural response to the grace bestowed on us by a divine encounter with God.

Another element of this response to God is simply thanksgiving. An expression of gratitude for the mercy and grace bestowed on us by God through Christ. We see this reflected in the account of Isaiah’s encounter with God. Having received an assurance of grace, and of pardon, the prophet immediately expresses his gratitude in renewed devotion:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me.” – Isaiah 6:8

Scripture teaches us that our lives and hearts continually give response to the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:6). We respond with either hardened hearts, or with brokenness and praise. During this time in the rhythm of our service, we have the opportunity to stand and respond to the Living God with praise. While this typically takes the form of a song that expresses our appreciation for the cross of Christ and the provision of his grace, it also includes the giving of our tithes and offerings. Giving is not a duty, but a part of our worship. It is a response to who God is, what he has done for us in Christ, and the grace that we have been given.

With sincere thanksgiving, we become aware that all we have is from him, and that we depend on his grace, his mercy, and his goodness for everything precious in our lives. Our hearts should then be compelled to earnestly seek him in prayer for our needs, the needs of his people, and his kingdom’s advance in Richmond, Virginia, and ultimately the world.


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