Acknowledging the Source

Series: Thankfulness, by Rosie Moore.

A former congregant of our Church, who is struggling with a brain tumour, has written a wonderful little book titled “Have you heard of Eternity?” After considering how God has revealed himself in the tiny details of the human body and the world of nature, Marius Le Roux writes:

“Evolution postulates that life on earth arose from non-life, that is, from the inorganic, mineral compounds and substances of the earth…

But there is another worldview…based on the reality of a living, personal God who created all that there is, including the human race. This is the God of spotless purity and holiness. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne. This is the covenantal God who entered the human domain to reconcile himself with a failed humanity….It is the God who promises us a future, stretching into eternity”.

Despite his own personal suffering, every page of this book is saturated with the author’s thankfulness and wonder at the “everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth…who gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isa 40:28-29). I would highly recommend that you download this little book “Have you heard of Eternity?” as an ebook or order a hard copy from Marius. It will remind you to acknowledge the Source.

Who do you thank?

GK Chesterton said, “The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful but has no one to thank.”

Who do you thank when your immune system is gathering its troops and beating off the coronavirus?  Who do you thank when you look at your loved ones and feel utterly blessed? Who do you thank for a beautiful sunset, or a brilliant little bird that knows exactly how to build its nest? Who do you thank for an eternal home kept safe for you in heaven? And who do you thank for the certainty of a new world and a restored body?

Do you thank your lucky stars? The Universe? The Force? Or do you thank the sovereign, eternal God, who created the universe and everything in it?

This week I’ve felt like we’re fighting a war against an enemy that changes its face every few days. I haven’t felt brave or strong at any stage. In this third wave of Covid, the hospitals are full and many loved ones are in their homes fighting for their lives. We’ve had to face the stark reality that even oxygen in our bloodstream cannot be taken for granted. As Paul reminded the Athenians, God “himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). And, as Paul rhetorically asked the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7). We owe everything we have and everything we are to God.

“To whom will you compare me?”

In Isaiah 40, the prophet describes God’s power to create, his provision to sustain and his presence to help his people, Israel. No person or thing can be compared to God, but even so, he cares for each of his flock personally:

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young (Isa 40:11).

Here are some of my favourite verses from Isaiah 40, which have reminded me this week not to underestimate God, nor to stop thanking Him for the many small ways that He is revealing his love to us in Jesus Christ. Even the strongest people get tired and defeated at times, but God’s power and strength never diminish. He is never too tired or too busy to listen to our cries and to help us. His strength is our source of strength. This is a great reason to give thanks.

“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint (Isa 40:21-32).

The Bible speaks about a particular kind of gratitude that is directed specifically at the author and source of life and salvation—God himself. If our soul is awake to Him, we will recognise His good gifts all around us, and give thanks for them. We will never take things for granted, as though we are entitled to them. As Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth writes,

“If we take it all for granted, if we think life just shows up with this stuff already in place, if we trick ourselves into believing that everyday household items come from the grocery rather than from a gracious God, we walk right past countless reasons for worship (and, I would add, for giving thanks), without even knowing it.”

Acknowledging the Source.

The Bible says that ingratitude to God as Creator and sustainer of the universe is at the heart of sin. Refusing to give thanks or credit to God as the Source of everything, is in fact, the root of all manner of unrighteousness. It actually turns us into fools: “Although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:21-2229).

But sadly, the great delusion of our time is the humanistic worldview which arrogantly holds that there is nothing more than the natural order. Science is god, we are god, mother earth is god. But in reality, there’s no God, no Creator, no higher authority, and certainly no Father with whom we can have a personal relationship. This atheistic worldview suppresses the truth of God. It insists that Creation merely exists, without cause or reason. Nothing happens at the end of life. Our lives are accountable to no one and therefore count for nothing. Our lives will end and be extinguished forever. Every honest atheist must reach the same logical conclusion as Betrand Russell did, “The whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.” But this atheistic worldview is a lie.

How different is the worldview of David, who worshipped God as the Creator 3000 years ago, as he gazed up into the night skies. They are the same heavens that cover us in the 21st century:

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
    I will recount all of your wonderful deeds….” (Ps 9:1).

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth (Ps 19:1-6).

Thankful worship.

Thankful worship is the right response of anyone who understands that God is the everlasting Creator and caring Shepherd of his people. And thankful worship is the natural outlet pipe of a heart that is radically transformed by the Holy Spirit, when the Word of Christ dwells richly in us (Col 3:15-17). In all circumstances and for everything, it’s God’s will for us to give grateful thanks to Him (1 Thess 5:18).

If we don’t give thanks to God for who He is, for who He has made us, and for the wonderful things He’s done and is doing, then we’re the ones who will suffer for our ingratitude. God’s glory is self sustaining and not dependent on our thanks. Even the stones would cry out if we were silent (Luke 19:40).

Listen to this wonderful song by Sandra Mc Cracken, which reminds us that God is altogether good. And that’s why it’s altogether good for us to direct our thanks to Him, and to thank those whom God has provided to help us on life’s journey.

Thanking our Father…and our dads too

Series: Thankfulness, By Rosie Moore.

This Sunday is Father’s day. For many people, it’s a day that brings up painful memories because of a less-than-perfect father. But as Christians, we should see our own earthly fathers through the lens of our great heavenly Father, who is the Father of the fatherless and protector of the widow (Ps 68:5). He is the Father who loved us so much that He gave up his firstborn Son, so that we too may be called his sons and daughters (1 John 3:12 Cor 6:18). No wonder John exclaims,

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) The Fatherhood of God is almost unbelievable!

Jesus died, so that we can live with our Father in an eternal home that is being prepared for us (John 3:1614:2). Jesus the Son reveals the Father to us and is the only way to know God as Father (Matt 11:27). And even now, Jesus is interceding for us at our Father’s throne, holding securely onto us, even when we can’t hold onto Him ourselves (Heb 7:25Rom 8:34). Do we grasp the Father’s love for us, not just in our heads, but in our hearts too?

No fear when Father is near.

Why would we not give thanks to God for this wonderful privilege of adoption? It is the reason why we have no need to fear again: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba? Father!” (Rom 8:15). There’s no fear when our Father is near. And He is always near to us through His Spirit.

God is our personal, loving, ever approachable Father, who has our very best in mind. Unlike our human fathers, who are flawed just like us, our heavenly Father’s ways are always upright and just (Deut 32:4). He is always faithful and does no wrong (Deut 32:4). In the security of this perfect Father, we can thank our human fathers for all they have done in our lives, even if they haven’t been perfect. In the embrace of our perfect Father, we can overlook their wrongs and weaknesses as human fathers.

My own human father loves to read the final chapter of Packer’s book, Knowing God, over and over again. The chapter is about the unique Christian privilege of calling God our Father. And the reason that dad reads it so often is because he says that he’s apt to forget just how loved he is in Christ. Most of us are forgetful of this awesome reality. This is how Packer starts his chapter on the fatherhood of God,

“You sum up the whole of New Testament if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.

For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God. Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God)

Thanking our Father.

It’s only right that we direct our thanks at God the Father because:

Things haven’t gone well in our household this week. Covid has struck, including my mom and dad. My dad, who is usually sprightly and brimming with energy, is looking frail and tired. But human dads are sons of God too, and I hope this devotion will remind him, and all fathers, of how much their heavenly Father loves and cares for them. Jesus described the heavenly Father to whom every son and daughter must ultimately look for everything:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself (Matt 6:25-34)…

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).

When we thank our Father for his good gifts; his faithfulness; his beautiful Creation; his generous provision; his loving correction and his amazing capacity to make all things work together for good, gratitude flushes the debris out of our eyes. We are able to see clearly how truly privileged we are. And when we give thanks to our Father, even for our sufferings, even in the midst of our sufferings, we are entrusting ourselves to our Father’s kindness and goodness. Hope and expectancy spring from knowing God as our caring Father.

Our Father never slumbers.

When we thank God as our Father, we are reminding ourselves that He is at work every minute of every day and night, fulfilling his sure and good purposes (John 5:17Rom 8:28-31). Our Father will not let our feet slip, because he never slumbers nor sleeps (Ps 121:3).

And so, Christian thankfulness is so, so much more profound than the world’s idea of positive thinking or good manners. Thankfulness takes the believer’s focus off ourselves, our grievances, our weaknesses and fears, even our genuine suffering, and turns our hearts towards God our Father. It is like the north star that leads us back home.

Let’s thank our heavenly Father and our earthly fathers today.

Let’s pray.

Our Father in heaven,

Even as we address you as Father, we can hardly fathom what a great and awesome privilege that is. Today, we thank you for creating us, and for giving us the opportunity to live in a right relationship with you, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Father, for your undeserved grace, which covers us every day, even while we are sleeping.  Today we trust in your promise to be with us in everything–in the present and the future, through trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, sickness, danger, in life and even in death. You’ve said that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, and we stand firm on that truth today.

Father, we pray for your blessing on each father and grandfather in our church family. Give them the means to provide for their families during these difficult times. Help them to love you before all else, so that they may love their wives and be faithful to them. Help them to bring up their children to love and serve you with whole hearts. Thank you for the human fathers you’ve given us and help us to remember to thank them for all they’ve done for us.

Heavenly Father, when fathers are discouraged, weak or tempted to sin, turn their hearts towards you, so they may have the strength they need to lead their families in your ways. May each father be convicted to read the Bible with their children and pray with them. Help Christian fathers to model your fatherly goodness, grace and discipline in their own homes and families. Do not allow them to exasperate or neglect their children, but give them the grace to be a blessing to their households.

Most importantly, remind us all daily of our real identity and destiny in Christ:

“I am a child of God, God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Saviour is my brother; every Christian is my brother and sister too.” (Packer)


Thanksgiving is like sunshine.

This is the first in a series in Thankfulness, by Rosie Moore.

“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:19-20).

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:16-18).

The Bible commands us to give thanks always and for everything. Thankfulness is not an optional extra reserved for sunny personalities! Paul reminded first century Christians that thanksgiving doesn’t hinge on our circumstances or warm feelings, but is appropriate in every circumstance, come rain or shine. We don’t need to ask if it’s God’s will to say thank you. An attitude of gratitude is always appropriate and beneficial for those who have tasted and seen that God is good.

It’s why the Psalms are full of thanksgiving:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. (Ps 136:1)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations” (Ps 100:1-5).

Gratitude is like sunshine.

Gratitude is a bit like sunshine. What I love most about living in Gauteng is the sunshine in winter. This week, the south-facing room where my computer normally sits has been like a freezer, so after a few hours of clicking away on my keyboard, my fingers turn blue and even my bones feel like ice blocks. It’s dark and cold in there, so I move around from place to place, ferreting for warmth and following shafts of sunlight. My favourite thing is to go outside at noon and sit on the warm grass, with the sunlight on my skin, feeling its rays begin to thaw me right to my core. It helps that our furry golden retriever makes his home on my lap too!

Sunshine makes us thrive as human beings. We desperately need it for our physical and mental wellbeing. And likewise, our hearts desperately need to give thanks to God, our good and caring Creator. A heart that overflows with thanksgiving is a sure sign that our relationship with Christ is healthy and thriving, that we are “rooted and built up in Christ and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Col 2:7). Conversely. there’s nothing that sours a family relationship more than an ungrateful, entitled child.

Like sunlight, thankfulness thaws our cold, complaining hearts. It fills us with the warmth and wonder of our Father’s blessings all around us, even in our struggles and suffering. An attitude of gratitude proves that God’s peace is ruling in our hearts and that we are acting and speaking in Christ’s name (Col 3:15-17). In fact, if you think about it, thanksgiving is the natural outlet pipe of the gospel as it works its way through our lives.

Gratitude is like Vitamin D.

Apart from the sun’s warmth and energy, one of the great and invisible benefits of sunshine is Vitamin D. Its benefits are not merely skin deep, but profound and far reaching in the human body. Much has been said about the importance of Vitamin D in recent months. It is called the ‘sunshine hormone’, because our bodies produce it naturally when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D has been shown to be essential to maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscles; to regulate blood pressure and mood, even to ward off depression. Vitamin D also helps the immune system act like an army that prevents invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, from taking over the homeland – our body.

Like the master key to a rich storehouse, Vitamin D enables the body to absorb other beneficial nutrients like calcium and magnesium. It is truly a wonderful fighter/protector vitamin that we can’t live without.  Actually, Vitamin D is so essential to human wellbeing that a few studies have even suggested a link between its deficiency and Covid deaths.  But sadly, over 1 billion people worldwide are short of this accessible, cheap and essential vitamin. Vitamin D reminds me of gratitude in the life of a Christian:

It doesn’t cost us much to say thank you, but it’s essential to a holy and happy life. Gratitude protects us from the life threatening diseases of idolatry, especially the idol of self. Gratitude guards and nourishes our hearts, releasing the sweet nutrient of peace, contentment and joy in our lives. We dare not neglect this essential virtue which is the key to unlock many other benefits. In his wonderful little book titled, Practicing Thankfulness in All Circumstances, Sam Crabtree concludes:

With gratitude, everyone wins. You get more delight in God, God gets more glory from you, and people around you find enjoyment from your words and gestures of appreciation. The consequences flowing either from thankfulness or from ingratitude are universal and not optional. No one can escape the fundamental order God has wired into the universe, and that includes the dynamics pertaining to gratitude and ingratitude.

The benefits of gratitude.

Like vitamin D, gratitude opens the door to a storehouse of beneficial byproducts. Because it draws us away from our own orbit into God’s orbit, thankfulness protects us from the invasion of natural predators and parasites that our sinful human hearts manufacture on a daily basis.

Have you noticed that it’s impossible to be truly thankful while simultaneously grumbling, complaining, stressing, criticizing, despairing, demanding, plotting revenge or envying?! There’s just not room in our hearts for both! We cannot worship at the altar of self and be grateful at the same time. So, gratitude protects our hearts from our own feelings and desires which draw us into the deadly black hole of self.

As Jon Bloom puts it, “Gratitude is both a vital indicator of our soul’s health and a powerful defender of our soul’s happiness.”

Expressing thanks is much more than cultural niceness or warm feelings. It’s not a“name-it-claim-it” technique that releases God’s blessings in our lives, nor a tool of flattery to get what we want from people. But, like all God’s good commands, thankfulness is essential to our wellbeing. For thousands of years, the Bible has been telling us what science is discovering:

The Power and Practice of Gratitude.

In 2003, two classic studies—showing that expressing and experiencing gratitude bring peace of mind, satisfying personal relationships and well-being, were conducted by McCullough and Emmons. They formed two groups over 10 weeks. One group wrote a list every day of things they were grateful for. The second group focused on things that had irritated or displeased them (negatives). This was the ungrateful group. At the beginning, the participants had reported similar levels of happiness, but after the 10 weeks were up, they discovered that the grateful group were far happier and their bodies were healthier than the ungrateful group. They also noted that neither group changed their lifestyle at all.

Physical benefits of the grateful group included: Stronger immune systems; Less bothered by aches and pains; Lower blood pressure; Exercise more and take better care of their health; Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking.

Psychological benefits included: Higher levels of positive emotions; More alert, alive, and awake; More joy and pleasure; More optimism and happiness.

Social benefits included: More helpful, generous, and compassionate; More forgiving; More outgoing; Feel less lonely and isolated.

So, even world experts know that gratitude is an attitude, not a feeling, and it has a huge impact on our lives. There will always be irritants and frustrations, grievances and complaints in life, but if we choose to focus on these, we will become self-absorbed, depressed and anxious. We will fail to see how we’ve been supported and helped by other people. And worst of all, we’ll fail to honour God or see his good purposes in everything.

But, like sunshine, expressing thanks has many beneficial byproducts. One of them is that we begin to see ourselves as rich, blessed and privileged, even if our outward circumstances appear the opposite.

Follow the sunlight.

For a Christian, the expression of thanks is the supernatural response of a heart that sees the sunlight of God’s presence and provision, basking in its shafts of light wherever we find them. Thanksgiving flows out of a right understanding of ourselves and God’s good provision. Even Jesus humbly gave thanks to the Father, because He understood his role of submission to the Father (Matt 11:25Luke 10:21John 11:41).

“Gratitude is the divinely given spiritual ability to see grace, and the corresponding desire to affirm it and its giver as good”(Sam Crabtree). It is to bless the Lord, just as He has blessed us.

Next week, in “Acknowledging the Source”, we will look at the uniqueness of Christian thankfulness.


Lord, we are not naturally grateful people. Please forgive us for the grumbling, complaining, jealous words which often tumble from our mouths, out of our sinful hearts. Give us eyes to see the wonder of your blessings all around us. Thank you that, in Christ, we are your people and the sheep of your pasture. Thank you that you are good and your love endures forever. Even as we pray for our needs and tell you about all our troubles, we thank you for your provision– yesterday, today and tomorrow. Keep us out of the cold, dark room of our own wrong expectations, and draw us into the wonderful sunlight of gratitude. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who enables us speak the universal language of thanksgiving. In Jesus precious name, Amen.