Soundtrack Part 2 - Overflowing with Gratefulness

March 4, 2018

 

In this message you will learn: When we recognize the presence of God in our lives, the response that makes sense is gratitude.

Last week Pastor Clay began this series we’re calling Soundtrack: What does your life sound like? Pastor Clay shared that God wants to walk with us before He works through us. That God is at work in each of our lives, but we need to live with the conscious awareness of God's presence in our lives… What I took away from the message is that I need to pay attention to the Soundtrack. 

 

Sometimes I feel like I have a soundtrack; like there is a strip on the edge of my life where sound is recorded. It is as though I can run the tape back in my mind and watch the scene again.

 

Sometimes I’ll be driving down the road listening to the radio when a song comes on, and my mind is immediately transported to a place in my personal history where that song has left some sort of impression; almost like a bookmark. I can remember where I was, and who I was with. Let me give you some examples; random examples because this happens all the time.

 

Wildflowers by Tom Petty - I’m at the home of another friend, who built his own cabin in the woods behind his family’s house. There may or may not have been some misbehavior associated with that cabin. I can neither confirm nor deny.

Ants Marching by Dave Matthews Band - I’m shooting baskets in the driveway of my childhood home, where my dad said upon hearing this song, and I quote, “That band will never make it.”

Let’s Get it On by Marvin Gaye - I go back to my wedding reception where my wife’s brother played this song from the DJ booth, in the fellowship hall of the very conservative church, where there was supposed to be no dancing… and much to the mortification of my new bride, we danced.

 

Can you think of some similar moments in your own life? Moments to which you are immediately taken back when you hear a particular song? It is fun isn’t it? At least it can be, I guess, unless those moments are sad and painful. I have those too.

 

I also have moments on that film of my life, where there may not necessarily be a song associated, but I know God was there.

When I received the phone call that my Dad had been diagnosed with Cancer, I can tell you where I was standing. I remember being terrified in a way I had never experienced, and I remember a sense of peace; that I could trust God no matter what. I had a moment with God.

I have experienced the birth of my 3 sons. To be fair, I observed the birth of my 3 sons from behind my wife’s left shoulder. Every time. That was my sweet spot. In each of those moments when I held my newborn son in my arms, I knew that God was there with Lisa and me. 

And then in the summer of 2016 a beautiful 17 year old girl chose life, and placed her baby in Lisa’s and my arms, and Elliana was grafted into the vine of our family. As we wept over the sacrifice that young mommy made, and wept with joy that our prayers had been answered, we shared yet another moment with God.

 

It is easy for me to look back at the big moments, both good and bad (and there are many many more) and recognize that God was there. But what about the everyday, day in day out, mundane regular days like last Tuesday that seem to have no significance at all. The reality is that God is just as present in those moments, whether I recognize his presence or not.

 

There is a very real enemy in this world, (John 10:10) who comes to steal kill and destroy. This enemy is adamantly opposed to our joy, hope, and peace. This enemy does everything he can to make us forget that God is with us, and he does everything he can to make us believe that we are responsible for our own protection, provision, welfare and success. When we buy the lies the the enemy is telling, we depend on ourselves for those crucial elements, and are robbed of the satisfaction found only in life with God.

 

The enemy doesn’t want us to be reminded that God is with us. He is happy for us to cruise through life on our own, numb to the presence of God, and oblivious to God’s constant pursuit of a relationship with us. Why? Because if we recognize that God is with us not only in the Big moments, but in the everyday moments, we’ll discover more about his incredible love for us.

 

If we discover more about God’s love for us, we may figure out our true identity as sons and daughters of the king. We may figure our that our identity in Christ has nothing to do with what we do, but everything to do with who we are because of what Jesus has done on our behalf. As I said a couple of weeks ago, we might figure out that in him we are forgiven, free, fulfilled, and that By faith Jesus to lives through us.

 

There is something that happens when we realize what we have been given. Think about it, when someone recommends you for a job or a promotion, when someone appreciates your service and gives you a referral, when you have a need and someone comes through for you. Something happens when we realize what we’ve been given. We become grateful.

 

If you don’t remember anything else I say today, remember this: When we recognize the presence of God in our lives, the response that makes sense is gratitude.

 

Col 4:2 - Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

 

The book of Colossians is a letter written by the Apostle Paul, to the followers of Jesus who lived in the town of Collossae. Christianity faced one of its most severe challenges in the complex and confusing intellectual climate of ancient Colossae. What had begun well faced a major threat to Christianity’s very existence. False teachers were urging the people to move away from their Christian roots and to accept other religious ideas. Paul’s letter encourages the believers to continue in the faith, and is full of teachings about the person and work of Christ, about Christian living and relationships.

 

Paul ended his letter as he opened it, urging his readers to prayer. “Devote yourselves” means “to persist in.” He said something similar In 1 Thess 5:17; Paul said “Pray without ceasing”

 

The Colossians were to pray with mental alertness; awareness that God is actively involved in the details of life.

 

And Gratitude (thankful heart)

According to the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, Gratitude is a Natural expression of thanks in response to blessings, protection, or love. Gratitude is a joyful commitment of one’s personality to God.

In the OT, gratitude to God was the only condition in which life could be enjoyed. For Jews, when they received good news they thanked God for his goodness and great deeds. An example of this is found in 1 Chronicles 16:7–9. Under David’s leadership the Ark of the Covenant was moved into the tent prepared for it in Jerusalem. 

1 Chron 16:7On that day David gave to Asaph and his fellow Levites this song of thanksgiving to the Lord:

 

8Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.

Let the whole world know what he has done.

9Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.

Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.

 

 

 When they received bad news, they also gave thanks, trusting that he was a just God. We see this in the story of Job. Job learns that pretty much everything he owns and everyone he loves has been taken away. (Job 1:21)

21He said,

 

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,

and I will be naked when I leave.

The Lord gave me what I had,

and the Lord has taken it away.

Praise the name of the Lord!”

 

When they received good news they were grateful. When they received bad news, they were grateful. What does this tell us about these ancient people? It is this: They did life “with God.” They were aware of his presence in their lives, and as a result they were grateful.

 

The Psalms are like the soundtrack of the Old Testament, through which the people of Israel thanked God for his faithfulness to His promises. Several of these that stand out are:

  1. Deliverance from enemies - Psalm 18:17 (16-19)

16He reached down from heaven and rescued me;

he drew me out of deep waters.

17He rescued me from my powerful enemies,

from those who hated me and were too strong for me.

18They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,

but the Lord supported me.

19He led me to a place of safety;

he rescued me because he delights in me.

 

  1. Forgiveness of sin - Psalm 32:5

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you

and stopped trying to hide my guilt.

I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”

And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

 

  1. Answers to prayer - Psalm 28:6

6Praise the Lord!

For he has heard my cry for mercy.

 

  1. Compassion toward those in need - Psalm 72:12

He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;

he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.

 

  1. Executing justice - Psalm 99:4

Mighty King, lover of justice,

you have established fairness.

You have acted with justice

and righteousness throughout Israel.

 

  1. Continuing guidance - Psalm 32:8

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.

I will advise you and watch over you.

9Do not be like a senseless horse or mule

that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”

10Many sorrows come to the wicked,

but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.

11So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!

Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

 

The People of Israel were aware of God’s presence in their lives, and as a result , they were grateful.

 

In the NT, the object of thanksgiving is the love of God expressed in the redemptive-work of Christ. The apostle Paul thanked God for 

  1. The gift of grace - 2 Corinthians 9:15

Thank God for this gift, too wonderful for words!

 

  1. The ability to preach the gospel -  2 Corinthians 2:14

14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 

 

  1. Spiritual gifts - 1 Corinthians 14:18

After Paul explains the Spiritual Gifts in Chapters 12-14, he thanks God for the gift he has been given when he says, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you.” A little arrogant, maybe! But Paul recognized the presence of God in his life and was grateful. 

  1. Love and faith among believers - Philippians 1:3–5

3Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.

Romans 6:17 - 17Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

 

Because the expression of gratitude is tied so closely to the response of faith, Paul encouraged believers to give thanks in all things. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - 16Always be joyful. 17Never stop praying. 18Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

 

Much of Paul’s instruction for believers is to express gratitude to God for all he has done, and for his presence in their lives. Paul anticipated that believers in Jesus Christ would be active participants in their faith, and would therefore be witnesses to the active involvement of God in their lives

 

How do you recognize God in your everyday? Are you doing life with God, or do you show up at this place to meet with him? 

What I want you to see is that even when you don’t realize it, God is with you at all times, and God is for you at all times.

 

Priscilla Shirer is a talented author and speaker whose focus is on women, but her teaching always has an impact on me as well. My wife, Lisa, is currently doing one of Pricilla’s Bible studies called “Discerning the Voice of God.” When I told Lisa what I was going to be sharing today, and this idea that even when we are not aware, God is present and working in our lives, Lisa grinned a little bit. It was like she knew something. She was like, I just heard something about this very same idea… and she shared with me something that Priscilla had said in her teaching.

Priscilla was having a conversation with her youngest son who was bout 8 years old. The conversation was essentially a mom speaking life into her son, and telling him he could be anything he wanted to be when he grew up.

 

Watch clip. 3 min.

 

"Page after page. Chapter after chapter. Story after story. Detail after detail, weaving together a masterpiece with your life.” It may not always feel like God is directly involved in the details of your life, but just because it doesn’t feel like God is with you, doesn’t mean he isn’t with you. He is!

 

Psalm 139:7-12 says:

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

if I go down to the grave, you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning,

if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me

and the light around me to become night—

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

 

Verse 17 Continues:

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, They cannot be numbered!

18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!

And when I wake up, you are still with me!

 

When we recognize the presence of God in our lives, the response that makes sense is gratitude. 

 

One step in recognizing the presence of God in our lives is actually having a relationship with God through Jesus. You can begin a relationship with God today by trusting in Jesus alone as the only way to the Father. John 14:6 Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life and no-one comes to the father by through me. Trusting in Jesus means understanding that there is nothing you can do satisfy the debt that you owe because of the sin in your life. The only way for your debt to be paid is by a perfect sacrifice. When Jesus shed his blood and died on the cross he paid the debt that we owed by dying the death we deserved. As we will celebrate a month from now, death could not hold him and he defeated Hell and the grave when God raised him from the dead. He came back to life, and is very much alive and well today. The choice is yours to follow him. What I’m talking about is not sin management, or behavior modification. What I’m talking about is life change that is only possible by turning away from sin, and living a life of obedience and devotion to God. In just a few minutes we’ll have a team of people who would love to talk with you and pray with you, if you are ready to take this step in your faith.

 

For those who are walking with the Lord, how can we recognize the presence of God in our lives? I know it seems obvious, but… Pray. There is no better way to draw near to God than through prayer. Jesus set the example, and I’d bet we could all testify that when we are intentional about praying, we FEEL closer to God. Mark Batterson, who has written books regarding prayer, says, “We don’t doubt the Lord’s ability to keep the planets in orbit, but we have a difficult time believing he can keep our lives in orbit… The truth is that we already trust God for the big things; now we need to trust him for the little things, like healing our cancer, getting us out of debt, helping us conceive or helping us find our soul mate. I’m certainly not suggesting any of these situations are small. They are giant mountains to us. But prayer can turn them into molehills!”

 

When we pray (and keep praying) and become aware of what God is doing in our lives, the response that makes the most sense is gratitude.

 

So today, I want to conclude with a challenge; A challenge to put Colossians 4:2 into practice. Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

For the next 6 days, I want to challenge you to be very intentional about prayer. Write some things down that you want to commit to prayer. Maybe you just want to know God’s love more, or maybe you need God to come through for you in some way. Pray about those things. Then, be alert for those things that God is doing in your life without you even being aware. When you are aware of what he is doing, the response that makes the most sense is gratitude. 

Here is the action of the challenge… Post your “with God” moments on social media and use #soundtracknlc and @nextlevelclt.

Spend the next 6 days looking for “with God” moments. On social media use #soundtracknlc and @nextlevelclt.

Let me give you an example…

Let’s see what God might do among us when we decide together to Devote ourselves to prayer with alert minds and a thankful hearts. I will bet that When we pray and become aware of what God is doing in our lives, our response will be gratitude