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Sermons, Joy and Thanksgiving

Minkir Dawaki

Minkir Dawaki

July 20, 2022

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. – 1 Thessalonians 1: 6-7

A couple of months back on the blog we explored how preaching and listening to sermons are important means of Grace. We mentioned that the means of Grace are God’s appointed instruments by which the Holy Spirit enables believers to receive Christ and the benefits of redemption. Being a part of God’s kingdom is one of the benefits of this redemption and according to Romans 14:17, righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost are the key ingredients of this kingdom. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Sermons provide a great reminder through which believers can always maintain a heart of joy by glorifying God through thanksgiving. In this article, we will delve deeper into the transformative power of sermons, exploring how they can cultivate joy in the hearts of believers through the practice of thanksgiving and how this joy can radiate to inspire others in their faith journey.

In the Gospel of John from chapters 14-17, we see Jesus’ final sermon to His disciples and also to all who have believed through the centuries. Jesus in verse 11 of chapter 15 mentions that one of the reasons for his exhortation is so that their joy may be full. This is very important to this day. Sermons provide a means by which believers can be uplifted and inspired as they’re reminded about the love of God and His constant faithfulness. Sermons centred around Christ will always cause us to look beyond ourselves and our situations to the endless riches that can be found in Christ. When we look at the response of the Thessalonians to the Word of God as seen in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, we see a pattern of enjoying God despite the circumstances that surrounded them. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 tells us the reason why they could have this response, it was because they received the word as not the words of men but that of God. This is the same way we should approach listening to sermons, looking at it through the lens of scriptures and hearing God speak.

Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
O Lord, God of hosts.

Jeremiah 15:16

“If gratitude is not rooted in the beauty of God before the gift, it is probably disguised idolatry. May God grant us a heart to delight in him for who he is so that all our gratitude for his gifts will be the echo of our joy in the excellency of the Giver!” – John Piper

The above quote neatly summarizes how a sermon focused on Christ and His finished works will spur thanksgiving in the heart of the hearers. When believers look beyond themselves and their situations and focus their thanksgiving on Christ, gates of boundless joy are opened. Psalms 103: 2 reminds us to bless the Lord and forget not His benefits, going down a couple of the benefits are then listed. It is therefore important for the believer to be constantly reminded of these benefits from the pulpit, but beyond that, we also have a personal responsibility to reflect, pray and acknowledge the goodness of God in every situation. This is the path of lasting joy.

The Ripple Effect of Joyful Believers

The impact of sermons and the practice of thanksgiving goes beyond individual transformation; it can also have a powerful ripple effect on others. The Thessalonians serve as a remarkable example of this truth. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7, we see how their joy in the Holy Spirit became an inspiration to believers in Macedonia and Achaia. Their unwavering joy in the face of affliction served as a beacon of hope and encouragement to fellow believers.

When believers genuinely embody joy in their lives, it becomes contagious. It radiates outward and has the potential to inspire others on their faith journey. As we reflect on the example of the Thessalonians, we can draw valuable insights on how our own joyful disposition can positively impact those around us.

Firstly, joyful believers display a different perspective. When we encounter sermons that remind us of God’s love and faithfulness, our focus shifts from our circumstances to the eternal riches found in Christ. This shift in perspective allows us to navigate challenges with the confidence that God is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). Others observing our unyielding joy amidst trials may be prompted to seek the source of our hope.

Secondly, joyful believers embody gratitude. The practice of thanksgiving becomes a natural outpouring of a joyful heart. When we express genuine gratitude for God’s blessings and faithfulness, it creates an atmosphere of praise and thanksgiving. This culture of gratitude can inspire those around us to cultivate a similar attitude of appreciation, transforming their outlooks and fostering a deeper sense of joy in their lives.

Thirdly, joyful believers exhibit contentment. Sermons that focus on Christ and His finished work remind us of the true source of joy. By finding satisfaction in Christ rather than in worldly pursuits or temporary circumstances, we demonstrate a peace and contentment that is often lacking in the world. This contentment is both attractive and contagious, encouraging others to seek a more lasting and fulfilling source of joy.

In conclusion, sermons and the practice of thanksgiving have the power to cultivate joy in the hearts of believers, transforming their lives and inspiring others. The example of the Thessalonians serves as a testament to the ripple effect of joyful believers.

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