Annual Congregational Meeting – A Time for Thankful Recollection & Dedication

Dear Gethsemaneans,

Our church’s ACM will be held today at 2.00pm. Please remember to attend.

Come with a heart of thanksgiving to God for all His wonderful grace that has guided, provided and preserved us throughout the past financial year. In a business meeting such as this, we, being a church, must always maintain a God-honouring, thankful spirit for all that He has done among and through us. All that we have contributed, and all that we have rendered in service, are entirely the outworking of divine grace. Each of us should say before the Lord, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

May the Lord grant us an orderly, cordial and profitable meeting, wherein every communicant member of the church conducts himself or herself according to the operations of the Holy Spirit. “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). By God’s grace, all these years when we held our ACMs, reverence, decency and orderliness had been the order of the day! May it be so even today.

Remind Ourselves to be Thankful

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2).

These are the first two verses of a psalm of praise which glorifies the LORD for all His gracious blessings. The object of praise in this psalm is the LORD; that is clearly set forth right at the beginning of the verse, where it says: “Bless the LORD”. The LORD is worthy of our praise at all times. As Psalm 145:3 tells us, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised” (cf. Psalms 48:1; 96:4; 147:5).

Our blessing the LORD is a grateful acknowledgment that He is the source of all our blessings. When we joyfully recognise and exclaim that the LORD has done great things for us, and praise Him for His blessings, we “bless the LORD”. Each of His children must say, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1; cf. Deuteronomy 8:10; 1 Chronicles 29:20; Nehemiah 9:5; Psalms 16:7; 26:12; 34:1; 103:1-2, 20, 22; 104:1; 115:18; 134:2; 135:19-20).

Like the psalmist, we must exhort ourselves, saying, “Bless the LORD, O my soul”. The psalmist has summoned all his powers and passions to praise the LORD – “and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Every genuine worshipper would employ his heart, his mind, his emotions and all his strength to render praises to the LORD.

Not just once, but twice did the psalmist urge himself to bless the LORD. He added another reason for the worship of the LORD, namely, the fact that the LORD is holy. So he says, “bless his holy name”. It is most reasonable that we bless the LORD, for He is holy. Before the LORD who is holy, we must bow in humble and solemn prostration. Like the seraphims, the angelic hosts that surround the heavenly throne, we must worship the Lord, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whose earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Psalm 99:5 also teaches us: “Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.”

Another major reason for our thanksgiving arises from the divine favours that we have received. Thankfulness leads the beneficiary to worship the Giver, who is the LORD. Thus, for a third time, the psalmist says, “Bless the LORD”. Such repetition denotes the earnestness of his desire to express his gratitude.

Besides, he stirs up his soul to employ itself in grateful worship of the LORD – “O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” The worship of the LORD must arise from the inner man. It is a soulwork. Jesus reprimanded those who engaged in “lipworship”. Citing Isaiah, He said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8; cf. Isaiah 29:13; Ezekiel 33:31). No worship exists when the heart is not sincerely and earnestly employed in praising the LORD.

In Deuteronomy 8:10-14, the LORD warned Israel against forgetting His benefits – “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God …”

Recollecting and recognising the LORD’s help, guidance, rebuke, promises, spiritual blessings, physical provisions, strength, hope, etc. will provide genuine impetus for the worship of His name. Grateful emotions make the soul yearn to bless the LORD. Recognition of the LORD’s blessings in his life caused the psalmist to cry out: “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people” (Psalm 116:12-14).

In order to mould oneself to be a better worshipper of the LORD, one should awaken one’s memory to the benefits one has received from the LORD. Our memory is like a large storehouse. Recollection will bring to our present awareness those things stored up in the memory, producing powerful emotions of gratitude and worship in our hearts.

Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy, 30 September, 2018