Hope Chapel Blog
Learning and living the Way of Jesus!
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, August 15,2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Ingrates”
Text – Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14; Philippians 4:11-13; various ‘grateful’ passages
What is the meaning of the word ‘grateful?’ Online definition: “feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.”
GOD’S VIEW OF GRATITUDE
We’re going to take some time today to research what the Bible has to say about ‘gratefulness’ and/or ‘thankfulness?’ [Look up and discuss following verses.]
Colossians 4:2 – “2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
Our prayers should come from a heart of gratitude, not simply state our gripes.
Ephesians 5:18-20 – “18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our gratitude is an indication of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.
Colossians 2:6-7 – “6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
Gratefulness is a marker of spiritual maturity.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 – “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!”
Ingratitude is included in this list of character traits of people we are to avoid for our own spiritual well-being.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Thankfulness is not determined by circumstances; you can be thankful ‘in’ all circumstances, without being thankful ‘for’ all circumstances.
Hebrews 12:28-29 – “28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.”
Our reason to be grateful is because of the unshakable Kingdom which we will come to possess.
Hebrews 13:15-16 – “15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”
Our gratitude is a pleasing offering to God and voices our loyalty to Him alone.
There are many more biblical passages we could examine concerning the topic of God’s view on gratefulness, but from our quick study today, how seriously can we assume that God takes our need to be grateful/thankful?
THE ISRAELITES COMPLAIN…AGAIN!
If you have any doubt concerning the seriousness with which God will deal with ingratitude, we need only return to the story of the Israelites, now destined to wander in the wilderness for forty years for having rejected God’s clear directions.
Numbers 21:4-9 – “4 Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, 5 and they began to speak against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?’ they complained. ‘There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!’
6 So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. 7 Then the people came to Moses and cried out, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.’ So Moses prayed for the people.
8 Then the Lord told him, ‘Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!’ 9 So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed!”
First for a little context. The Israelites are now in the process of completing their final year of wilderness wandering—they are in year forty and are eager to move into the promised land. Most of the older generation have died in the wilderness, including Miriam and Aaron. In their desire to move the timeline ahead, however, they complain against God and Moses. As they see the time drawing to an end, they become increasingly impatient.
What is their accusation? [there’s no water to drink or food to eat, and manna is gross!]
Water may have been hard to come by, but they must have had it, not just when God miraculously provided, but on a regular basis, or they would all have died by now. As to food, they had all the food they needed…a little lacking in variety, yes, but many in the crowd, having been born during the forty years of living in the wilderness, wouldn’t have known any food other than the manna God had provided for them.
The problem wasn’t that they were in need, but that they were ungrateful with what God had given. It would be like us complaining about our clothes…they getting worn looking, but at least we have clothes; or where we live…yes, there may be nicer places but we still have a roof over our heads; or whining that we can’t go out to eat…when we have food in the fridge at home.
What is God’s response? [venomous serpents bite many and many die]
God provides them with an immediate reminder of how grateful they should be for His continued help in the wilderness. Without Him, they cannot even protect themselves against a bunch of snakes! But in His mercy, He also provides them with the cure. They just need to look at the replica serpent on the pole and be healed.
The Israelites had grown tired of living in the wilderness, but had forgotten that the only reason they were still there was because of their own rejection of God’s original plan. How like us! We find ourselves living in a world contaminated by sin…it’s not an easy life. But to complain to God about it is to attempt to place the blame that is ours onto the One who continues to sustain us despite our rejection of His great plan.
If there is one thing we can derive from this portion of the Israelites’ story it is that God is not to be treated as a ‘complaints department’ where He is merely an ‘employee’ trying to make all of us ‘customers’ (who are always right, of course) happy.
He is the only reason we can have any hope at all. Rather than turning an accusing finger in God’s direction, we need to look to Him for our rescue. The people found themselves dying because of the snake bites, so God provided a new bronze serpent for the people to merely look at and be made physically healthy once again. For us, this story acts as an archetype of the ultimate rescue God provided for us all. It was because of humanity’s rebellion that we all find ourselves dying eternally; but God gave us a new human-God to look upon and be spiritually healed.
JESUS IS OUR BRONZE SERPENT
John 3:14 - “As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”
If we are among those who have found spiritual healing from the poisonous venom of sin through Jesus, we should be amongst the most grateful people on the planet. Our relationship with Jesus is to be the source of our gratitude. No matter what is happening in the course of our daily lives, there is one constant we need to never lose sight of. This planet is only our temporary home. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we have hope of an eternal home. Because we have come to know Him and have received His forgiveness, the Holy Spirit—the Comforter—lives in us. So to be ungrateful is like spitting on His gift…just as the Israelites did with God’s gift of manna.
But as necessary as it is for us to maintain an attitude of gratitude, it just doesn’t come naturally to most of us. What are we missing? I believe we can find the ‘secret’ to remaining grateful in the writings of the Apostle Paul.
THE SECRET TO REMAINING GRATEFUL
Philippians 4:11-13 - “11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
What was Paul’s secret? His reliance on God was so encompassing, his contentment so complete, that ‘need’ was a condition he no longer experienced, “not that I was ever in need…” If he truly needed anything, He trusted God to come through for him…and this allowed him to remain unwavering in his gratefulness toward God.
Does this mean that Paul had it easy and blissfully coasted through life? Absolutely not! We know from 2 Corinthians 11:21-27, when Paul felt compelled to defend his ministry against those who accused him of having ulterior motives, that his life was more difficult than most of us will ever experience, “But whatever they dare to boast about—I’m talking like a fool again—I dare to boast about it, too. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.[c] 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”…yet he remained grateful!
For Paul, one of the keys to remaining grateful was to trust God implicitly. And as he came to rely solely on God, he learned to be contented. He allowed God to define what his needs were…if God hadn’t given, he hadn’t needed. WOW!
· The Bible tells us that God cares about our level of gratefulness.
· The Israelites were punished for their ingratitude. They disdained God’s provision of water and manna and so He removed His protection and they found themselves victims of a snake infestation.
· God had Moses make a new snake, a bronze replica, through which the people could be healed if they would choose to look at it.
· God made a new human-God when Jesus came to earth and it is through Him that we can know spiritual healing, if we accept God’s terms and choose to turn to His Son.
· Gratefulness should be the most natural thing for the believer—it should serve as one of the foundations for our prayers and worship of God; but our sinful humanness naturally slides into ingratitude if we do not learn to trust God entirely and to content ourselves with the ways He chooses to work in our lives.
· Our goal should be the same as Paul’s, to learn to be content by allowing God to define what our needs are and trusting Him to fully take care of us…come what may!
For Further Study
“The Old Testament Timeline” - https://theoldtestamenttimeline.com/in-the-wilderness/
Sunday, August 22, 2021- “Can’t Curse What God Blesses” (Numbers 22-24) - In-person and Online
Weekly lessons are now being made available on Youtube – “Pastor’s Study” - Go to our website: hopechapelcollingwood.ca and click on the Youtube icon or click on the link below https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrF8GWFnLjTmRyXjYnq1Ytw
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!