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25 December 2021 (Pastoral Page) I THANK GOD FOR ...

By Ps Lee Kok Wah

Christmas is a wonderful time to say: “Thank you, God!” With God’s help, I would like to close 2021 with an attitude of gratitude. Would you like to join me?

Thank you, God, that Christmas means the gift of salvation, found in Christ alone, is received by grace alone. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). That which was from the beginning, is “the Word of life” (1 John 1:1) and is “eternal life” (1 John 1:2). Our Lord Jesus Christ not only possesses eternal life; He not only gives eternal life; Jesus Christ is eternal life. To unite with Him by faith is to have this life. Totally unmerited.

Thank you, God, that Christmas really took place. If the accounts of the Gospels are just stories that inspire us to live a good life like Jesus did, then it does not matter if Christmas really happened. On the other hand, if we are saved by grace alone, then living a good life is not good enough to save us. We are saved not by what we do but by what Jesus Christ has done for us. It is vital that the key events recorded in the Gospels – Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension – happened in real time and space. This is a paraphrase of what John wrote: “We saw Him with our eyes; we heard Him with our ears; we touched Him with our hands” (1 John 1:3).

Thank you, God, that Christmas and the incarnation mean that You went to infinite lengths to make Yourself one whom we can know personally. Christmas means we can have fellowship with God. The Greek word used in 1 John 1:3 is koinonia, that means a relationship of mutual sharing. The English equivalent, “fellowship”, conveys this idea of deep, intimate, multidimensional communion or bonding.

Thank you, God, that Christmas happened so that we can have joy. Christmas means we can receive “glad tidings of great joy.” John effectively said, “My joy will not be complete until you have the same joy of union with God as we do” (1 John 1:4).

Thank you, God, that we can receive this joy through ordinary means because You are present in every situation. The more we are awake to Your presence, the more we can fellowship with You in our everyday life. Then it becomes more natural for us to complete this sentence: “I thank God for …”

Gratitude is rooted in the reality that God is present. We are able to thank God not because everything goes perfectly according to plan but because God is present. So, let’s begin. We thank God for the breath within us. We are alive right now, reading this pastoral page. We thank God for our loved ones – our spouses, children, parents, siblings, relatives, and friends. While our pre-pandemic way of life may have been disrupted, we thank God for homes where we can work from. We thank God for technology that we can use to attend classes and submit assignments remotely. We thank God for CARE Groups (CG), Mentoring Groups and other small groups that keep us connected so that we may avoid isolation and loneliness. We thank God for good health. In times of illness, we thank God for friends who remembered us in prayer. We thank God for material sufficiency. In times of material need, we thank God for those who helped us generously. While our overseas travels have been curtailed, we thank God for the park connectors that we have discovered, the urban wildlife that we have spotted, the new hobbies that we are now enjoying and even the stillness of soul that has increased our awareness of God.

The word count limit of a pastoral page means I cannot continue, but you can! So, please complete this sentence, over and over again: “I thank God for ….” Encourage one another to close 2021 with an attitude of gratitude. Go to our church’s website and write on the Gratitude Wall. Take a photo of your reason for gratitude, add the caption, “I thank God for …” and send to your CG representative. He or she will prepare Pictures of Gratitude that will be screened at 7.45pm on Friday 31 December 2021 during your virtual arrival at our Online Thanksgiving Service. Finally, dear friends in The Bible Church, I thank God for each one of you. Blessed Christmas!

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