November 20th, 2016
ICA Sunday Pulpit Message
Be Thankful to God for His Mercy Endureth Forever (Ps 136: 23-26)
It’s good to see you. Greet those around you. Have you had a good week? Today’s title is, “Be thankful to God for His Mercy Endureth”. Isaac Watts is a hymnal composer. He said that there are 2 places where God is. First, we have heaven and the next is in a thankful heart. Therefore, if you have thanksgiving, God will make miracles. Stephen Hawking is a physicist. He said that he lives as he gives thanks to God. He lives with that strength. There is no greater heart than thanksgiving. There are people who say that giving thanks is the greatest moral practice. You can provide kindness and love. Among all those moral practices, thanksgiving is the greatest. Today’s scripture is Psalms 136. Starting from the first verse, he is telling you to be thankful. This chapter is about thanks. In verse 1 it says to give thanks onto the Lord. Why? He is good and His mercy endures forever. Then, it talks about what God has done for us. We should be thankful for all He has done for us. We should look at verses 23-26 carefully. He said that in our low estate, He remembered us. Also, in the next verse, He has redeemed us from our enemies. We should be thankful for God who has given us salvation. He gives food to all flesh. We should be thankful to God, who gives us daily bread. We should be thankful to God because He answers us. Give thanks to God in Heaven. Does that mean that He is in heaven and not on earth? No, He is everywhere. He is watching over us in heaven. He is watching over all of us. Not only that, He is helping us. We should be thankful to God because he is doing everything. What happens if the heart of thanksgiving is in your heart? First, you will be healthier. Then, you will be able to give strength to people around you. If not, you may get sick and have hardships. You may not be able to help others. Therefore, you might be the one who needs help. On the other way, you may get sick often. So, you are not good at what you are doing. Then, you are having a hard time rather that giving strength to people. That’s why you might use certain things. You might use people. This is what happened to me. At this time, you just have to realize. This is the voice of God. What do you need to realize? Your heart is already up. You may think that you are humble, but in God’s POV, you are not humble enough. I won’t use arrogance, but I would say that your heart is lifted up. If you just lower your heart a little bit, you can see a lot more.
1. If you are humble just a little bit, you will be thankful for the blessing of salvation (Ps 136:23-24)
(1) God gave us grace and love while we were sinners (Rom 5:6-10)
(2) He was on the cross in Mount Calvary and solved all problems (Acts 1:1, Jn 19:30)
(3) Once you accept the Gospel, you will receive the eternal blessing of salvation (Jn 1:12)
God remembered us when we were in our lowly state. He is the one who rescued us from our enemies. We must remember that and give thanks. Suppose you are at on your lowly estate, but someone remembers you. How thankful would you be? When I was a junior in high school, I had to move. I moved from the city to the country side because of financial problems. I am the oldest son, I had a lot of thoughts in my head. I had to go to college. I have to help me family financially. Even though I have a lot of thoughts, I only experienced fear. I was supposed to sleep at night, but I had a lot of weird thoughts. God gave me a lot of spiritual experiences. I was afflicted. I had insomnia and sleep paralysis. I was hearing demons. Because of that, I was stuck home. My brother-in-law heard about that and we hung out. He was trying to comfort me. I can still vividly remember that. I am still thankful. I was able to go to college with a scholarship. I am very thankful. I can’t forget. I came to American and lived here. One day, when I was in Dallas, I had to come to Austin to do my pastoral ministry. I was assigned to start a church here. I couldn’t do any preparation. At that time, my wife had a job. My wife had to go to Dallas from Austin to work. When we moved to Austin, my oldest child was a senior in high school, and she had to start her curriculum. At that time, we didn’t have a place to gather, so we would gather at my home. Later, we would gather at an American church. This is an American church, we couldn’t bring Korean food because it would smell. Even though I praised out loudly, I was uncomfortable. I was fearful of what will happen from that moment on. I couldn’t grasp ahold of anything. I haven’t felt more pathetic. This pastor from DC came to me. He came with his own money. He listened to my situation. He prayed for me and gave financial support to me. I was thankful. I cannot forget how considerate he was to me. Even now when I meet him, I try to be kind and considerate to him. If a person remembers you at your lowest state, it will bring joy. What if God does? He gave you salvation. He gave you freedom from Satan. You must be thankful. You must praise God. Romans 5 says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God showed His love for us. While we were enemies, we were reconciled by the death of His son on Mount Calvary. Jesus made a proclamation. He said that it is finished. He solved all of our problems of the past, present and future. If you are a believer, then you must praise God. Once you lower down your heart, you will see how amazing salvation is. You would give thanksgiving. When you eat good, you give thanks. You will give thanks for what you have. If your heart is lifted, you won’t be thankful for your salvation. I bless that you will be humble for the blessing of salvation. Is there a non-believer here? Once you acknowledge Christ with your lower heart, then you will be saved. Even though you can’t believe, once you accept it, you will be saved. You will have eternal salvation. You may ask what Jesus has to do with you? In this time period, will there be more things that you know or don’t know? Your life isn’t even 100 years, so will there be more things you haven’t or have experienced? God gives you that understanding. That grace that makes you believe has come to you. Once you make a confession that you are humble, then you will be saved. Once you confess with your heart and lips, you will be saved.
2. If you pray just a little bit, you will be thankful for the blessing of answers (Ps 136: 25)
(1) He has already given the authority of prayer answers to His children (Mt 7:11)
(2) He guaranteed the works of His kingdoms on the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:3, Mt 6:33)
(3) Once you just use the authority of the name of Jesus Christ, you will receive answers (Jn 16:24)
We must be thankful for the one who gave food to all flesh. He gives daily bread to everyone. He wants everyone to live. His mercy endures forever. What about us? If we have a meal with a friendly person, it is fun. What if you have a meal with someone who don’t like? It is uncomfortable. You won’t be able to digest well. Our mercy is only half of God’s mercy. God is the one who gives food to all flesh. His mercy endures forever. Giving food means that He gives all answers. To His children, He will give answers. You should be thankful. I believe that He gave you the power to receive answers to prayer. This is the authority of prayer answers. We have the authority to request or seek answers from God. He gave us the key to receive answers. He gave us the initiative to open the doors of heaven. Matthew 16 talks about how He gives us the keys to heaven. Whatever you ask for on earth, will take place in heaven. Is heaven first or is the earth first? Things must happen in heaven? This should be released in heaven first? No, it is the earth first! He has a lot of answers that He puts in His basket and it is about to explode. Once you pray just a little bit in the earth, the answers will overflow. Where is the first place where prayers will be answered? Is it heaven or earth? It is earth. That is why we pray. It is written in Matthew 18:19. Whatever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven. Whatever you lose on earth will be lost in heaven. If 2 of you agree on earth, it will be done in heaven. If someone says that they are not receiving answers, then it is their fault. This is the age of grace. That’s why it is written in Mt. 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” We have received the blessings, we just need to open it. He is giving the initiative of prayer answers. I believe that God has guaranteed prayer answers. On the mount of Olives, He explained this to His disciples. He took 40 days to explain the kingdom of God. Do you believe this resurrected God? Once you pray, the kingdom of God will be upon you. When you pray, the works of kingdom of God will happen. Jesus emphasized this so it could stick with them. If you know that Jesus is the Christ and pray in His name, then God will answer you. God doesn’t answer you in a situation basis. There are 3 reasons when God has no choice but to answer. First, He wants to give joy. Then, He wants you to pray in Christ’s name so you can enjoy that name. Once you receive answers, you should glorify God. in John 16:24, it says until now, you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and your joy may be fulfilled. In verse 23, it says, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” In John 14, it says whatever you ask, He will make it work. This is for the Son to glorify the Father. You must know this and have a life of faith. I don’t know Ray very well, but he has good diligence so I have no choice but to pray for him. When I see people with noble actions, I have no choice but to pray for him. I honestly don’t like praying for others, but I have no choice. What does it mean when I continue to pray? God will bless him. At that time, you have to tackle this part. It is true that you give effort to pray and receive answers, but what is the key factor? It is to glorify to Father God, for the mystery of the name of Jesus Christ and my joy. Jesus shared this on the mount of Olives. I bless that you will utilize the name of Jesus. If you pray for just a little bit, then you will receive answers. You have to be cautious of 1 or 2 things. If you do not know the Gospel, then you won’t receive answers. You need to know the Gospel. Jesus considers you more precious than you consider yourself. We try to protect ourselves, but you don’t have to do that because God will do it. If God places you in a weird situation, then God has a special plan. May you have victory. Suppose that you have selfishness or anger, then that won’t lead to answers. If you are cautious towards ill emotions, then you will receive answers.
3. If your spiritual eyes are open just once, you will give thanks regularly (Ps 136:26)
(1) To those who confess that He called them as witnesses, He will give the filling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)
(2) To the saints who gathered in Mark’s upper room, He gave the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4)
(3) Once you just know this spiritual fact, all doors will be opened (Acts 3:1-10)
You must be thankful towards our heavenly God. God doesn’t only exist in heaven. He is watching over us. He knows that and is ruling over us. You have to open your eyes to give thanksgiving every day. You will realize that God has a reason. Once you know this, then God will open the doors of heaven. This will be difficult to realize. That is why He promised the filling of the Holy Spirit. You will realize that God has called me as the witness of the Gospel. Once you make this confession, then God will pour down the filling of the Holy Spirit on you. The 120 disciples of Mark’s Upper Room received the power of the Holy Spirit. The door of ministry of the Early Church was opened from that point. God the Father was pouring down the blessings to His children. They realized that all the things that happened were the process of answers from God. No matter what obstacles or persecution came, they didn’t shake. They were sure that it was a plan of God. All the problems that you face are the opportunities for doors of answers. That is why they weren’t shaken when they had problems. What must we do? If you set a schedule to worship God and pray, then you will receive the blessings and power of God. Once you receive His power, then all doors will open. He will open all doors. He will open all doors for evangelization, mission and disciples. I bless that you will have these answers within your family.
Let’s look at John 6:11, 11:41 and Mark 14:23. There are the Bible verses that Jesus gave thanks. You have to read these verses. John 6:11 says “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” It is the miracle of 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. Jesus took those loaves and He gave thanks. That bread was supposed to be for a child. How many people were there? There were 5000. Jesus was thankful for the smallest things. Miracles took place. Even the smallest things, be thankful for it. In John 11:41, it says, “So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” This was when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He was giving thanks when it was not supposed to be possible. The body was decaying. At that time, He gave thanks. Lazarus resurrected. In Mark 14:23, it says that he took the cup, he gave thanks and they drank of it. It is the Lord’s supper. What will happen after that? Jesus will be crucified. Jesus was thankfully having a meal. Jesus knew of this ahead of time. When Jesus was crucified, what was He wearing? He was wearing a garment and it was taken off. He was showing His body. He was left naked, it was mentally painful as well. He did that for you. Immanuel was cut off. Jesus went through spiritual, mental and physical pain. He was thankful in front of extreme pain. Once you reach this level of thanks, amazing works will take place. There is something in common with these 3 verses. Was Jesus thankful when the food came, or did He give thanks before? When did He give thanks with Lazarus? He gave thanks immediately before. Once you have this mystery, then the blessing of thanksgiving will be completed. You give thanks for being able to praise God. 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It talks about how you should give thanks ahead of time. You have to practice giving thanksgiving ahead of time. It doesn’t matter because it is a spiritual mystery that I can share. I give tithe ahead of time. I give thanksgiving offering ahead of time. May you restore the mystery of thanksgiving and have evidence.
During this thanksgiving season, may we restore the mystery of thanksgiving. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.