These are notes on the sermon, The Cure to a Dissatisfied Life, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, 26 June 2023, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!
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God desires for us to be beneficiaries of His blessings. His heart is to provide for us. Rather than us feeling the need to strive to provide for ourselves, God wants to be the one to bless and provide for us. Just as He placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden to enjoy a finished creation (Gen. 2:15–17), God’s desire is for us to enjoy the blessings He has already prepared for us. Our part is just to freely receive them.
We get to enjoy these blessings not because we deserve them through our own works or merits but because of the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him, we have received grace and mercy and “all spiritual blessings” (Rom. 5:17, Eph. 1:3).
However, the enemy is trying to deceive us into thinking that we need to work and earn these blessings. Back in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve fell because they believed the lie from the serpent that they were lacking and had to be something they were not. Today, the enemy is using the same tactics, blinding us to our true identities as sons and daughters of God. As a result, we find many believers striving to keep the law, trying to earn their righteousness and work for their blessings that have already been provided for them through our Lord Jesus’ finished work at the cross.
When we continually strive to earn God’s blessings in our lives, we end up perceiving these blessings as entitlements we deserve. This could manifest in our relationships where we take our loved ones for granted or even place certain demands on them because we think it’s a right we deserve. And instead of appreciating them for what they do for us, we end up finding fault with them and complaining. We might also find ourselves dissatisfied with our lives because we keep comparing our lives with others, feeling that we deserve better or more than what we actually have.
Pastor Prince cautions against this spirit of entitlement as it can result in resentment, bitterness, and anger. Instead, he encourages us to cultivate a spirit of grace by having a heart of thanksgiving and practicing gratitude in our daily lives.
As we go through life and experience challenges or difficult circumstances, our natural tendency can be to complain. Many of us think that complaining is a “small” thing or a “natural” response to the hiccups we face in life. But the Bible warns us of the dangers of complaining:
“Nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”
—1 Corinthians 10:10 NKJV
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
—1 Peter 5:8 NKJV
Notice how 1 Peter 5:8 says that the enemy goes around seeking whom he may devour. He isn’t able to just devour any of us. But when we complain, we become susceptible to the attacks of the enemy!
Complaining also causes us to remain in trouble. The Hebrew translation for the word “complain” is “lûn,” which also means to “spend the night.” This means that when we complain, it is akin to us spending all night or abiding in our troubles.
Because complaining has such adverse effects on our lives, it griefs God when we complain. We see an example of this in Numbers 21. Even though the children of Israel had experienced God’s miracles and provision all through their exodus journey out of Egypt, they soon forgot His faithfulness and kept murmuring, even speaking against God. Their complaints and lack of faith in God’s heart for them not only grieved Him so much, but also allowed fiery serpents to come in amongst the Israelites. And we know that many of them were bitten and eventually died.
Instead of complaining, we can choose to give thanks for what God has already done for us. For example, even if we are going through a health situation, we can still give thanks for the rest of our bodies that are still healthy. And when we choose to praise, we will arise victoriously!
Being thankful is not just a good or polite thing to do; there is a transformative power in thanksgiving.
Before we go into the power of thanksgiving, let’s look at the consequences when we do lose our sense of thankfulness:
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their senseless hearts were darkened.”
—Romans 1:21 NASB
As a result of their lack of gratitude, the people’s hearts were darkened, and their reasonings, that is their thought processes, became futile. And these paved the way for more moral degradation.
On the other hand, as believers, we receive the power to reign over every challenge and sinful habit in our lives when we receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness that our Lord Jesus has wrought for us through His finished work at the cross (Rom. 5:17). And we honor the Lord by giving Him thanks for His sacrifice. When we freely receive His finished work for us with a spirit of thanksgiving, we unlock His grace and unmerited favor in every area of our lives.
Our Lord Jesus demonstrated the power of thanksgiving in the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.
When we think of this story, most of us would remember that our Lord Jesus multiplied the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish (a boy’s lunch) and fed 5,000 men, not including women and children.
But let’s look at what the Holy Spirit sees:
“The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks.)
—John 6:22–23 KJV
Even though our Lord Jesus performed such a wonderful miracle, it was His act of thanksgiving that pleased God! So much so that when recounting the same story, the Holy Spirit described the miracle as the event where Jesus fed the multitude with bread after He had given thanks! His focus was not on the miracle Jesus had done but on the Lord’s act of thanksgiving and worship.
From this passage of Scripture, we can see that:
a) God delights in our thanksgiving, and
b) we experience God’s blessings in an even greater measure when we honor and give thanks for what He has already given us. Our Lord Jesus did not despise what was given to Him. He did not see the impossible demand placed on Him to feed the multitude with a young boy’s lunch. Instead, saw the supernatural supply in His Father’s kingdom. And so He gave thanks to His Father for His provision and saw a huge multiplication!
What is it that you need today? Whether it’s a health challenge or a financial situation, don’t complain about the seeming lack you see. Give thanks for even the “little” that you have, and trust that God will cause a huge increase in your life!
Studies have shown that gratitude can improve our mental and physical health. When we respond with thanksgiving, It can lead to reduced levels of depression, lower blood pressure, and even improved sleep quality.
More importantly, we ought to give thanks because it is the will of God for us!
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
Regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, whether good or bad times, God wants us to keep a heart of gratitude because, ultimately, it is for our benefit.
Some of us might wonder, “How can I give thanks when all I see are problems around me?” Just like how Caleb saw the giants in the promised land and called them bread (Num. 14:9), we can choose to see our problems as bread that will nourish and strengthen us. This is how we can keep a posture of thanksgiving regardless of the seasons we go through!
So my friend, make it a habit to appreciate what you have, and give thanks for the goodness that you see in your life and around you. You not only please your heavenly Father, but you also set yourself up for increase and better physical and mental health!
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These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.