Obstacles, calamities, difficult problems, and trials may come but we will never stop from worshiping God. We will recall with humility and gratitude all of His kindness to us.
AS ANOTHER YEAR comes to a close, we, members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ), prepare to gather in our respective places of worship to offer thanksgiving to God. We do this every year with a joyful heart in spite of the fact that we also have our share of sad and painful experiences. This is because, in truth, as the Bible tells us, we have received a lot of good things from God as His true servants. It also makes known what we must keep on upholding for God to keep on helping us.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the spiritual gifts that God has given to the members of the Church Of Christ. He said, “Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world” (Eph. 1:3 Good News Translation). Not only have members of the Church received material blessings, as well as life and strength, but we have also been blessed with every spiritual blessing because of our union with Christ.
These spiritual blessings were known to the first-century Church. The Bible records: “We thank God for the power Christ has given us. He leads us and makes us win in everything. He speaks through us wherever we go. The Good News is like a sweet smell to those who hear it” (II Cor. 2:14 New Life Version). The Church received power from God, through Christ. It is that power that enabled the administration of the Church back then to speak the Good News wherever they went. It is that power that made them win in everything.
God’s amazing deeds
Due to God’s amazing deeds, His servants were moved to say:
“Praise the Lord! I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord! He gives food to those who fear him; he always remembers his covenant. He has shown his great power to his people by giving them the lands of other nations. All he does is just and good, and all his commandments are trustworthy. They are forever true, to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity. He has paid a full ransom for his people. He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever. What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!” (Ps. 111:1-9 New Living Translation)
Everything God does reveals His glory, His majesty, and His righteousness that never fails. Truly, God is gracious and merciful to His servants. To them He says:
“Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.” (Isa. 41:10 Amplified Bible)
God’s promise to Brother Felix Y. Manalo, His Messenger in these last days, and to the Church Of Christ, as contained in this prophecy, ought to banish whatever fear any member may feel when faced with difficulties. The Almighty is our God and He is with us. God will strengthen and harden us amidst difficulties; He will help us and hold us up.
God’s help, His power through Christ, is evident in the Church. Despite persecutions and obstacles, the Church continues to succeed as manifested in the increase in the number of converts, ministers, ministerial workers, officers, local congregations, ecclesiastical districts, and houses of worship—a constant parade of triumphs. Brother Eduardo V. Manalo and his helpers in administering the Church fearlessly speak and uphold God’s words written in the Bible. They exhort us to uphold the intensive renewal of life so as not to allow sin to make us lose our courage (Ps. 40:12).
And if ever there are those who do become discouraged, they are reminded to never abandon serving and praising God. For it is written:
“But, O my soul, don’t be discouraged. Don’t be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise him for all that he will do. He is my help! He is my God!” (Ps. 42:11 The Living Bible)
As God’s servants, we are told that we can hope for God to act for us. Thus, there is no reason to turn our backs on Him. In fact, all the more should we draw near to God because He provides the solutions to our difficulties. God gives us plenty of reasons to thank Him, despite our troubles.
Honoring God with thank offerings
So, as God’s servants in the past brought the sacrifice of thank offerings to honor Him (Ps. 50:23), the members of the Church Of Christ today do the same. We bring thank offerings when we gather in our respective places of worship to honor God. And as the first-century Christians continued to be “always thankful to the Father … the only condition is that you fully believe the Truth, standing in it steadfast and firm, strong in the Lord, convinced of the Good News that Jesus died for you, and never shifting from trusting him to save you” (Col. 1: 12, 23 lb), the members of the Church Of Christ in these last days also continue to be thankful to God.
We are fully convinced that Christ gave His life for us in order to save us (Eph. 5:23, 25; Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). This is another blessing for which we are all the more thankful for—that we remain in our divine election as members of the true Church.
That is why we fulfill the same vow made by God’s early servants who said:
“I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of his glories and grace. I will boast of all his kindness to me. Let all who are discouraged take heart. Let us praise the Lord together and exalt his name. For I cried to him and he answered me! He freed me from all my fears.” (Ps. 34:1-4 lb)
Whatever happens, we will praise God. Obstacles, calamities, difficult problems, and trials may come but we will never stop from worshiping Him. We will recall with humility and gratitude all of God’s kindness to us. We will obey Him and live a holy life. We will strive to be found always thankful to the Father.
This article was originally published in the Pasugo: God’s Message magazine.