Everything Includes Custard

“Thank you Lord for the rhubarb crumble and for the custard,” prayed the grateful pastor, as he beheld the dessert set before him. He didn’t usually say grace for pudding as well as before the main course. Today, however, he was moved to thank the Lord for the custard.

His relationship over the years with custard had waxed and waned. He was never too fussy about cold custard, though that was okay if it was safely tucked away in a trifle. His mum’s – hot – custard was always top class, but then there was school custard. The stuff he got at school brought about a wariness towards custard. In fact, it brought about a deep distrust of institutional custard.

But all the bad memories were washed away by the vision of the thick yellow stuff that topped his crumble like snow topping a Swiss mountain and the words of Ephesians 5.20 rang in his ears:

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thankfulness. Thanksgiving. Giving thanks. Just do a quick search and you will find it all over the Bible.

It’s simple. It’s the obvious thing for people who have experienced grace to do. But it is so easy to forget to do it.

Why?

We forget how blessed we are

Perhaps one of the best known Bible stories that illustrates the point is the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17.11-17). Ten were healed, but only one returned to give thanks to Jesus.

Somehow we very quickly lose sight of our blessings. We begin to take for granted that everything we have, every blessing, is a blessing from God:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1.17).

We focus on what we haven’t got rather than being thankful for what God has given us

It is a great temptation when we are going through a time of difficulty or restricted circumstances to become preoccupied with what we haven’t got rather than to remain thankful for all that God has given us.

Paul said that he had learned to be content whether times were hard or times were good:

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4.12-13)

We lose sight of God’s faithfulness and His promises

We need to remind ourselves that God is faithful. His love does endure forever. When we focus on His faithfulness, thanksgiving begins to flow once again:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures for ever.” (Psalms 107.1)

We allow the world to frame our values rather than God’s Word

In a materialistic age it is easy for even the most devoted believer to fall into the trap of thinking that having things matters much more than it really does. We live in an era which has reversed Jesus’ words “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12.15)

What we forget is, that we can have loads of “stuff” but still be very unhappy. Proverbs 17.1 says “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.”

Listen to Paul’s words once again: “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And everything includes custard.

Music to my ears

Just recently a national newspaper carried a story about a band called The Hustlers.The Hustlers began their career as a band over fifty years ago. Eventually the men who made up the band went their separate ways, mainly because, one by one they got married. Twenty-two years ago some of the band members decided to try and bring everyone together and reform the band. But it didn’t happen. Someone reported that the drummer was now dead and the rest of the band decided ditch to the idea.

Rumours of the drummer’s death, however, were greatly exaggerated. He was very much alive and fifty years on The Hustlers are playing gigs again!

Years had gone by without them making any music, all because of a piece of misinformation.

Individuals and churches can go years without “making music” because of misinformation or forgotten revelation. This is particularly true with respect to the Holy Spirit.

Even the way we talk about Him sometimes – referring to Him as “it” – reveals a way of thinking about Him that has more to do with Jehovah’s Witness teaching than the Bible!

Sometimes we focus on those – important – passages of the Bible that emphasise His power and the affects of His power but overlook those scriptures that reveal His personality.

And sometimes, life just gets on top of us and we quietly forget His presence in our lives.

If we want to begin “making music” again, we could do no better than taking another look at what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit. He referred to the Holy Spirit as another parakletos (John 14.16,26; 15.26; 16.7). I have deliberately left the word parakletos untranslated, because it has such a wealth of meaning. It is variously translated comforter, advocate, friend and helper.

The Amplified translation of John 14.26 highlights the incredible range of meaning:

But the Comforter (Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. 

Personally, I love the translation Helper – we have a Helper!

Whatever the most accurate translation, all of these words show us one thing about the Holy Spirit: He is for us! He counsels us. Teaches us. Stands up for us. Strengthens us. Backs us up. Helps us.

We desperately need to remember that: the Holy Spirit has been given to us to help us.

And I don’t know about you, but that is music to my ears.