The blessing of thanks

Saying ‘thank you’ is a powerful thing. We appreciate people recognising our efforts and we get deflated if we’re taken for granted. These two little words can make all the difference in a relationship. Not that we should do things for the praise of others, but receiving their praise brings joy and encouragement. It puts fuel in our tanks.

I’ve been planning, preparing, leading and teaching at an annual student conference every year since we’ve been in Canberra. Last year was to be my final Focal Point Conference. I finished the week to an emotional farewell and many expressions of thanks from my co-workers and the students attending the conference.

I wasn’t going to be involved this year because we were planning to be 4000 km away in Darwin. But those plans have changed and I was able to attend the teaching sessions each evening. A good friend of mine was the speaker and I was keen to learn from him on the topic of Grace. On the Thursday night, I was to be interviewed about the student ministry in Canberra and the impact it’s had over the previous two decades. However, I suspected something else was happening when I saw my parents seated in the auditorium! They’ve never been to one of these conferences and they live at least 4 hours away.

The interview took place, I shared a few stories, and then my good friend and co-worker Marcus Reeves, stood up to say a few words. To be honest, I don’t remember anything he said! But I know what he was saying. It was thank you! He expressed his and others appreciation to Fiona and I for the work that had gone into all of the Focal Points. We were thanked for the investment we’d made in student ministry in Canberra.

We were presented with two pictures to hang on the wall. The first is a ‘word picture’ containing the names of just about everyone who has ever attended a Focal Point. We’ve put this up in our dining room so that when people drop round they can read through it searching for their names. If you’ve been to one, then maybe you will find your name here! Click on the picture and it will grow!

The second picture is a mosaic of the covers of every book we produced for the conferences. Some of them aren’t particularly inspiring – they’re the ones I designed – but they have a special significance. Each one is a record of our effort to bring blessing to others and the collage is a great blessing of thanks in return. This picture has gone ‘straight to the pool room’ (replacing the framed limited edition 2004 Brumbies jersey)!

However, the thanks doesn’t primarily go to us. It belongs to God. It’s been his work. He’s the focal point of everyone of these conferences. It’s been his word and his work that has changed the lives of the people attending. God deserves all the honour and glory and praise. It was highly appropriate that we spent time that night thanking our great God for what he has done.

The apostle Paul is a good example to us of giving due thanks to God. Notice how he writes at the beginning of a number of his New Testament letters…

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:3-6)

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people — the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.  (Colossians 1:3-6)

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)

Let me encourage you to say thank you. You can be a huge encouragement to others simply by noticing what they do and expressing your appreciation. I don’t think I’m that good at offering thanks to others, but I do want to get better. Giving thanks to others is an important way to bless them.

And most of all, why not stop and take the time to say thank you to God. For the little things as well as the big things. We tend to say thanks before we have meals, but we’ve received a whole lot more than the food we’re about to eat. All we are and all we have is a gift from God. He gave us life and he offers us life eternal through Jesus Christ. Do you think maybe it’s time we gave him the thanks he deserves?

Thank you for reading this. May God bless you.

 

9 thoughts on “The blessing of thanks”

  1. Thanks God and Thanks to Dave and the Focus Staff, focal points were so helpful to me and my spiritual growth and biblical understanding. I am often convicted that I need to be a more thankful person.

  2. “Found” myself . . . phew, only took a minute. (Then promptly “lost” myself, and had to repeat the search.) Wow, the memories. Bittersweet, though, isn’t it? Plenty of names for both the thanksgiving and supplication parts of an “ACTS” prayer.

  3. I’d like to thank you as well for your teaching and leadership of Focal Point over the years. The 4 focal points I went to were SO important in establishing and growing my faith in Jesus.
    Found my name in the pic, searching through brought back so many memories of friends! Can’t wait til we’re all together again with Christ. Praying for you Dave, hang in there.

  4. Hey Dave, I couldn’t remember all I said either, but you know me, I always write things down. Here’s part of what I said on that night.

    “Dave on behalf of everyone here, I want to say thanks.
    Thanks for keeping Jesus at the centre by initiating this conference in the midst of what is already a very busy ministry.
    Thanks for the many hours of service you’ve put in.
    Thanks for leading the ministry of FOCUS and cheering it on and supporting it and being an evangelist for it’s importance. There are not many groups made up of people from different churches where there is such unity and love in the gospel. God used you for that my friend.
    And there’s another thing I want to say as well, even though you are fighting cancer, I want to thank God that you are still putting Jesus first….it is such a powerful encouragement to us all.”

    Our first Focal Point together was in 1991, I’m praying it’s not our last.
    Thanks mate,

    Marcus

  5. Thank you for being such an inspiration even now that I live half way across the world from you. Thank you for sharing such momentous occasions that makes me feel even more blessed to know you. I wish I could have participated in Focal Point. However, I had plenty of opportunities to hear God’s word through you and Fiona. Love to you both!

  6. Extraordinary how the memories came flooding back – brothers and sisters I’ve not thought about for years. My heart is filled with thankfulness, and a weird grief for roads not taken. I cannot tell how all those names will be woven together in the end, but I am looking forward to the day!
    And I will see you next week!

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