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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Expressions of Gratitude

Have you taken the time to give thanks to God today?  How have you expressed your gratitude for the forgiveness, grace and love of Jesus Christ?  How have you given thanks for the many gifts and blessings that we can count each and every day?

We talked about gratitude this past Sunday and importance of finding concrete ways of expressing our thanks to God:

  • through words of gratitude spoken to God in prayer each day

  • through spending quality time focused on God in worship each week

  • through giving of gifts through our tithes and offering and contributing to those in need

  • through acts of service sharing the compassion and mercy of Jesus.

Below is summary of Pastor David's sermon from Sunday.  You can see the sermon video on our website: http://fumcocala.org/sermons/


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Sermon Summary: November 12, 2017
Thy Kingdom Come: Gratitude
Rev. David Fuquay


Jesus was traveling towards Jerusalem. As he entered a village ten men with skin diseases called out to him, "Jesus, Master, show us mercy!"  Jesus saw them and told them to go show themselves to the priest. As they left they were cleansed. One of them returned and praised God. He fell on his face at Jesus' feet and thank him. Jesus replied, "Weren't ten healed? Where are the other nine? No one returned to praise God except this man?" Then Jesus said to him, "Get up and go. Your faith has healed you." (Luke 17:11-19 paraphrased)

One man ran to Jesus to praise God and express his gratitude by saying "Thank You!" 

All were healed, of course.  Jesus did not wait to see who was really deserving or appreciative before cleansing them. That is the nature of God’s grace! God is merciful and good.

But the one who came back received something deeper than mere physical healing and social restoration.  The one who returned received a deeper healing made possible by his faith expressed in gratitude and thanksgiving.

I have often wondered why the other nine did not return. We can only guess. But my best guess is that they were probably thankful deep in their hearts.  How could they not be? In their hearts, they were grateful. They couldn’t wait to get back to their loved ones to celebrate.

But here is the key insight – gratitude needs to be more than an attitude. Gratitude needs to be more than sentiment and something we feel in our hearts. Gratitude starts there but it cannot end there.

One man took the next step. He came back to offer concrete expressions of his gratitude to Jesus for this gift of healing.  His actions of gratitude made all the difference.

How do you practice gratitude? 

Like the one man who returned, we need to move beyond gratitude being a mere sentiment or something we feel in our hearts. We need to take the next step. We need to find concrete expressions of our gratitude. Our actions make all the difference. 

Sentimentally I love Rwth in my heart. That’s important but it is no way to have a healthy marriage. Our love must be expressed concretely if it is to become a lived reality. It’s the expressions of love that keep our marriages, our families, our friendships strong.

I think that is why The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman, has been popular for over twenty years. I found the book helpful in raising awareness how important it is to not just "feel love in our hearts" but to express that love in a multitude of concrete ways: 
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality time
  • Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch.
Likewise, we need to not just feel grateful, but to express our gratitude in a variety of concrete ways.  We need “Gratitude Languages.”  We need tangible ways to return to Jesus, to say thank you, and to cultivate gratitude as a central part of our life and faith.

1 – Words of Thanksgiving

Start with prayer. The one who returned actually said the words – “Thank you!”  We should be saying the same words to God each and every day. Start and end your day making a list of all the gifts and blessings in your life for which you are thankful. And then say the words: "Thank you, God!"  Saying the words helps ensure you do not take your life for granted.

2 –Quality Time 

Spend time in worship.  The man physically returned to Jesus and fell on his face to worship God. We should physically come to church.  Coming each week to thank and praise God will root the practices of thankfulness deeply in your life. There is something about the set aside, set apart time for Sabbath worship that keeps our lives in perspective. We need to set aside quality time each week to express our gratitude through worshipping together. 

3 – Gifts

Offering is a part of worship.  From the beginnings of the Bible, we have worshipped God by making an offering – a sacrifice. Something that is of value to us. Something of substance. Something concrete. Offering our gifts to God is one of the most tangible acts of thanksgiving and gratitude. And we make our offerings with joy when we are deeply in touch with how God has healed us and saved us.

4 – Service 

When I ask people what lead them to volunteer their time in service, the most common response I hear is that it is their way of giving back. I think that is exactly right!  We give of our time, our energy, our passion, and service in gratitude.  We know we cannot repay all that God has done for us in Jesus Christ but we can pay it forward. We have been healed so we work for the healing of others. We have been forgiven so we work to make sure others know of God’s forgiveness. We have been touched by God’s grace so we make sure others know and experience that grace. 

I am sure there are other ways to concretely express our gratitude to God. But start with these four. Offer your words of thanks, commit to quality time with God in worship, offer your gifts to the church and your service to those whom God loves. 

That is how we return to God and say thank you.  And I really do believe as we go back to God time and again to give praise and thanksgiving, we will hear the words of healing and salvation spoken by Jesus to each of us - "your faith has made you well."