Monday, November 18, 2013

Be Thankful - Tell Others About What God Has Done !

“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the  Lord has done  for you and how  He has  had mercy on you.”  (Mark 5:19 ESV)

Soon after I was converted, I learned about the importance of cultivating a  thankful heart  by telling others  what the Lord had done for me. This is  otherwise known as “giving a testimony”. 

Testimonies  that tell about God’s  gracious dealings with us may  be given on  a spontaneous or an  individual   basis  or  in terms of an organised and a   public  forum, such as  a public worship meeting.  
During our evening services at Eastside Baptist Church   we regularly  encourage our people  to give glory to God for what He has done in their lives. This not only fosters  congregational participation  in the act of public worship, but it is also  a wonderful tool  for the encouragement  and exhortation of  believers. Apart from this it may also be an evangelistic tool  by which unbelievers are drawn to Christ.

I would argue that  the giving of testimonies  should  be considered  as  part of the  regulative principle of worship,  for  it truly a biblical activity. The book of Psalms, the inspired hymnbook of Israel  frequently mentions  the act of thanksgiving  in public worship  as a  form of public testimony -  for instance:
  • “I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.“  (Psalm 35:18 ESV)
  • “Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His Name; make known His deeds among the peoples!”  (Psalm 105:1 ESV)
  • “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! “ (Psalm 118:1 ESV)
We need to get away from the idea that  our thanksgiving to God may be given  only through music. It may certainly  include the act of telling!  
  • “All your  works  shall give thanks  to you O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall  speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power…” (Psalm 145:10,11)
  •    The elders should  encourage  and instruct the congregation  in  how to give testimonies.  All good things may  be abused  in the act of worship.  The sharing of our testimonies is not  for the purpose of promoting ourselves and  the rule is  that care must be taken  that glory  will  be given to God.  Self- centered testimonies kill the spirit of biblical testimony  and the elders of the church must  jealously guard  this act of worship. 
  •     It may be helpful  for the elders to tell people  to  give advance notice  in terms of what they  intend to  say.  As  a rule, only trusted members should be allowed to testify. 
  •      Brevity should be encouraged.
  •     An evening service  may be  a good  time  to  start such a practice.  
The giving of  a testimony certainly  helps  the  congregation  to be aware of the fact that God is at work  in our lives  in so many different ways.  It also helps us to  look out for those answered prayers and to count and name   our blessings   as   Johnson Oatman  Jr.  wrote in 1897:

“Count your blessings, name them one by one
count your blessings see what  God  has done
Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings see what God has done.”  

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