12 November 2012

Thanksgiving Challenge, Days 11 & 12

 Day #11: I'm thankful that what God most wants from me is for me to enjoy him.

Yesterday's sermon at Southside Fellowship was a continuation of a series on the core values of our church. Last week was Magnifying Grace; this week was Enjoying God. What follows is my summary of Matt's teaching. If you'd like to hear the original message, you can do that here.

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, he responded with "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:29). God's highest goal for us is to love him. But it's not a love that's characterized by simply obeying or serving or fearing. In human relationships, a spouse that does a bunch of stuff for the other but has no desire to be with that person and gets no joy from his or her presence would not be considered loving. It's the same with God. His ultimate goal for us is that we delight in who he is and in the relationship we share.

So what does that look like? Matt offered two simple thoughts: enjoying God means delighting in what he has made, and enjoying God means delighting in what he has done for us in Christ. God has made so many beautiful things for us to appreciate with all our senses. As we delight in seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching what he has made, we should be drawn to delight in the One who made them! It's okay to enjoy life! In fact, it brings God glory when we do because he is the one that gave us what we are enjoying. 

But so often, we worship the created things instead of the Creator. And that is why we need a Savior. Sin has stolen our hearts from the God we are to enjoy, and our relationship is broken. But God sacrificed himself to restore that relationship. He did everything necessary to bring us back to himself. As we revel in the fact that our greatest problem has been fixed and that our relationship with God is secure, we should be filled with joy in him!

So there is no set of "ten easy steps" to enjoying God. It's just the natural outflow of seeing all that he has given us and all that he has done for us in Christ.

Day #12: I thankful that God is a refuge.

In Sunday school yesterday, the children (first and second graders) were learning about how God is our place of safety. The teacher used a security blanket as an example. The children could understand the concept of how they felt safe and secure cuddled with a blanket. I know that when my son is upset, handing him his blanket calms him immediately! But although a blanket can give a child a sense of security, God actually is a secure place. Resting in him, we are safe and protected.

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold" (Psalm 18:2). "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance" (Psalm 32:7). "From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Psalm 61:2). "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart" (Psalm 91:4).

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