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Let's thank God!

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Celebration of God's blessings.

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Read 1 Sam 7:11-12
I vividly remember that end of the summer of 1985. I came, on a Saturday, for the first time to La Habra. I had been invited to consider the possibility of planting a Hispanic church. I did not know anyone in La Habra. As we drove some of the streets of the city, I told the inviting pastor, “I do not see any Hispanics here”. He replied, “you will see them”. I found out that the city was only 19% Hispanic. Now, is almost 59%.
32 year later, we can say, “thus far the Lord has helped us”.
As we celebrate our church 32nd anniversary, we cannot but thank God for His faithfulness. Not many churches reach a 32nd anniversary (house churches last an average of 5.06 years); not many pastors stay in the same church for 32 years (according to a poll by Lifeway Research, the average is 3.6 years; another researcher suggest between 5-7 years); and not many members stay in the same church for that time (a poll among 1184 adults showed a median of 6.6 years).
For a moment like this, three things for which we should be thankful come to my mind: God’s faithfulness, kindness, and providence.

For His Faithfulness.

Faithfulness (fidelidad) lit. means “having all faith”. In English and Spanish, faithfulness indicates “trustworthiness or dependability”.
Throughout these 32 years, the Lord has taught us to acknowledge His faithfulness:
Deuteronomy 7:9 NASB95
“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
Dt 7:9
If it wasn’t for His faithfulness, this church would have already closed its doors.

We have learned to depend on Him.

Dependence on God is learned thru failures. Failures forces to acknowledge that we cannot do it on our own and to look for help from Him.
When the church has failed to be good administrators on the wealth entrusted to us and we have not tithed as we should, we have depended on Him to cover the expenses, like a child who does not administrate well and recur to dad asking for help. He has been faithful!
When the future of the church has been uncertain for different reasons, we have not done anything else but to wait on Him. The church is still here and alive because He has been faithful.
When the number of believers has not grown due to negligence of the congregation reaching the lost, the Lord has sent unexpected people. All because He is faithful!

He has remained with us.

It has not been a moment when He has abandoned us. He has fulfilled His promises to be with us:
Matthew 28:20 NASB95
teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Hebrews 13:5 NASB95
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
heb 13
As a church, we have seen His presence accompanying us every single day of the existence of the church. Often, we have come to conclude that the only explanation why IBF still exists, despite the difficulties he have faced, is that God has been with us.
The devil has tried, in different occasions, ways, and people, to destroy this church, but the Lord has protected us as a church, and me, as the pastor. He has remained with us because He is faithful!

For His Kindness.

“Kindness” (benignidad) refers to the compassion God shows and the good He does for others. Includes generosity and amiability.

He has given us only goodness.

There is nothing that has happened to this church and its members that is not for its own benefit.
We cannot deny or take lightly the kindness God has show to us for many years:
Romans 2:4 NASB95
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
He allowed that we were expelled from 1st Ave to give us something better (Leffingwell), and losing that place, a few months later, to take us to the Community Center for only 5 weeks. What was the purpose? To teach us to depend on Him and to bring us here and giving us this building. Goodness after goodness, because He is kind!

He’s treated us with grace.

If you think He has treated us well because we deserve it, you are wrong! It is only due to His grace. Our rebelliousness make us deserve justice and punishment, but thru His grace, He gives us what we do not deserve!
We have not deserved His patience, but He’s been patient during these 32 years giving us chance after chance, just because He is kind.
He had not to be tolerant with our disobedience, but His grace was greater than our sin. Why? Because He is kind!

For His Providence.

Pro-vidence (see in favor of).
Although the word “providence” does not appear in the Scriptures, it is used to indicate God’s characteristic by which He provide all things to man.
Such providence is described by the psalmist saying,
Psalm 145:15–16 NASB95
The eyes of all look to You, And You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

He has provided for all our needs.

One of the main problems we have faced during these 32 years is not having enough money for the ministry. When believers are stingy and do not tithe, the money is always scarce in their life and the church’s ministries.
But God has provided for all our needs according to His riches in glory.
Romans 8:32 NASB95
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Although many times when have run short in our budgets, the Lord has always provided one way or another. We have paid every financial responsibility. God has provided for electricity, water, equipment, repairs, mortgage, and salaries.
Rom 8:32
Although many times when have run short in our budgets, the Lord has always provided one way or another. We have paid every financial responsibility. God has provided for electricity, water, equipment, repairs, mortgage, and salaries.
Despite some believers stinginess, sometimes God has used outside people to fulfill our needs. May the glory be only for Him!

He has converted our failures into blessings.

The concept of “providence” points to a God that created everything, that provides everything His creatures need, and that is in control of everything. That should result in an increasing attitude of trust in Him and His will.
Because He is in control, we may believe the words of Rom 8:28
Romans 8:28 NASB95
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
He even control the result of our failures and transform them into something good for us.
Because of His providence, we can live trusting that He will provide for us and the church. Therefore, we must take to heart the words of Jesus to His worried disciples:
Luke 12:29–30 NASB95
“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. “For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.
Luk 12:29-30
Even if we do not have the money we think we need, let’s not worry. His providence is greater than our stinginess or than our need.
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