Mother would say that Father greatly blesses those who give lots of thanks to Him, emphasizing the words of the Bible, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Th 5:16-18).
I believe that our brothers and sisters in Zion give thanks and glory to God always, just as Mother said. God fulfills everything: It is God Himself who accomplishes the gospel.
When we believe that and give thanks, glory and praise to God for everything, He will quickly lead all our heavenly brothers and sisters, scattered around the world, to Zion. The gospel does not depend on our abilities.
Realizing that, we should devote ourselves to prayer, with thanksgiving and joy, so that we may fully accomplish the gospel entrusted to us by God.
A musician was conducting a large choir before a hymn contest. He put all his energy into conducting, because the contest was a big event to be held in front of many people. When a rehearsal was held the day before the contest, he directed the choir and the members’ voices were all well-harmonized. The conductor was very satisfied, and he put down his baton to have a break.
Then the baton rolled over to one side and spoke to the stage.
“Stage, stage! Did you see how powerful I was today?”
The stage asked in wonder.
“I’ve never seen you conduct. How can you now say that you’ve directed the choir?”
“Didn’t you hear the choir singing a few minutes ago? How perfectly did their voices harmonize? Wasn’t the sound absolutely massive? How about the dynamic control? I myself conducted the choir.”
As the baton spoke boastfully, the stage laughed and replied,
“It is not you who directed the choir. You are merely an instrument used by the conductor. Do you really not know that?”
The baton suddenly burst into anger and said,
“What are you talking about? Didn’t you hear the music moving to the beat of the baton? The choir was directed by myself.”
While they quarreled with each other, the conductor rose from his seat after taking a break. He looked around but couldn’t find the baton. Then he rolled up a sheet of music, which was held in his hand, and started to conduct with it. Though he directed without the baton, the choir sounded even more beautiful than before.
After the song finished, the stage whispered.
“Did you hear the choir singing? You were just held by the conductor, who waved you.”
This is the important point which we must understand: As ministers of the new covenant, we are like the baton, and God is the Conductor who holds us and accomplishes everything for our salvation.
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” Isa 46:10-11
God directs and manages all things. He has been holding us safe and using us until now; He has granted us the capacity to carry out His work. That is why we have become who we are today. It is not because we have a fluent tongue or special ability that God has called us.
But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior … ” Isa 43:1-3
… “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” Ro 11:25-27
God is our Deliverer in Zion, and we are God’s blessed ones in His hands.
Therefore, we should continuously give glory and praise to God for blessing us with salvation. We were sinners who couldn’t save ourselves, to say nothing of others. However, God saved us and invited us to participate in the work of preaching the good news for the salvation of souls. We should constantly give thanks and praise to God for using us as His instruments for the gospel.
As God’s instruments, we are to move according to His will so that we may display His glory. This is very significant. If God uses us, we will be given honor and praise in the world (Zep 3:14-20). When we are used by God as His noble instruments in His hands, we can accomplish great things like Paul and Peter did.
We must not think that we can do everything by ourselves like the baton. It is not by our works that we are saved and bear fruit.
We are just like the baton; God holds us in His hands and uses us as His instruments. Only God, our Conductor, can create a graceful and harmonized sound. It is not the baton itself that deserves praise, but the conductor. God may use a rolled up sheet of music instead of the baton: He can raise up children for Abraham out of stones (Lk 3:8) and use the stones to reveal His will (Lk 19:40). Remembering this, we shall give more thanks and praise to God.
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more… .” Mt 25:14-17
The Bible teaches that everything we have comes from God. If we each have any talent or strength, it is not our own, but it’s a God-given talent that we should properly use for the sake of the gospel.
Everyone has different talents: If a pastor has no ability to do anything, it can be done by a brother or sister; and new brothers and sisters, full of zeal and thanksgiving, bear more fruit than existing members. Considering this, we can see that God’s work depends on the attitude of the person whom God has used; it doesn’t matter what position or title he/she has and how long he/she has been in the church. God has promised to reward us according to our works. Whatever situations we face, we are to be faithful to God, without neglecting the little things in the gospel.
As a conductor displays his ability through his baton, so God accomplishes His work through us. God alone is worthy to receive all glory. However, He shares the glory with us. We must not think that we are worthy of such glory.
If we foolishly bring the glory to ourselves, we will not enter the eternal kingdom. In the book of Revelation, we find the elders and the living creatures in heaven constantly giving glory to God who lives for ever and ever.
Each of the four living creatures … Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, … ” Rev 4:8-11
“O God, we’ve been saved by Your grace. That is sufficient for us. Moreover, You are now giving us these brilliant crowns. We are not worthy of such glory.” With this thought, the elders took off their crowns and laid them before God. This is the attitude of those who are worthy to enter heaven.
God is our Savior, worthy to be praised forever (Ro 9:5). He alone is worthy to receive glory and honor.
We, who are in Zion, are blessed ones in God’s hands. We should continuously give thanks to God for using us as a mighty baton in His hand to conduct the whole universe. And we should praise God the mighty Creator who made the universe and everything in it and saved us by His grace. God is worthy to receive our praise and glory for ever and ever; for He created and prepared everything for us.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Eph 1:3-6
Thus, the apostles understood the grace of God, and they constantly gave thanks and praise to Him and preached the gospel, full of joy. This is the faith of the Early Church that we are to learn today.
I believe all our brothers and sisters in Zion practice the words, “Be joyful always.” It is God Himself who gives us the gift of joy. Remembering that, we shall keep on smiling and praise God every day. If we thus always smile and praise God, we will deeply understand the providence of God who gives us joy and happiness, and He will not regret having saved us but be completely satisfied in us. Let us commit everything to God and submit ourselves under His hand, preaching the gospel to the whole world as ministers of the new covenant.
In 2003, when the Daegu subway fire tragedy occurred, our brothers and sisters provided free meals for the bereaved families and consoled them for a couple of months. I received many favorable comments on the volunteer work, and I was especially pleased to hear that not only the bereaved families but also other religious volunteer groups were all deeply impressed by our church members and constantly commended them for giving glory to God alone. They said that while other people sought glory for themselves, the members of the Church of God gave all glory to God, saying that God had taught them to do good work and given them the opportunity to do such volunteer work.
Without God’s teachings, we would not become what we are today and the Church of God would not become what it is today, either. We give thanks to God for having called us to be His children. We shall continually give glory and praise to our Heavenly Father and Mother for leading us all.
It is not by the baton itself that a beautiful and harmonized sound is created, but by the conductor’s ability. God is our Conductor directing the spiritual world: He has used us, people of Zion, as His instruments. When we harmonize with each other and give glory, praise, thanks and honor to God for everything, God’s work of salvation will be accomplished quickly.
In order to preach the gospel to the whole world—even to the ends of the earth, we should all be held in God’s hand and guided by Him. Although there is a gold baton, it is useless unless it is held in a conductor’s hand.
Guided by God’s hand, let us create a beautiful harmony and bear good fruit as God’s children.
The more we give glory to God, the more He will use us. Brothers and sisters in Zion, let us all participate in the work of preaching the gospel to the whole world, praying that God will use us for many blessed things and always giving praise and glory to Him.