Dear Praying Friends,
One of the Scriptures Dr. Buck Oliphant keeps reminding me of is, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:16-18) Buck reminds me that the 3rd command here is: Give thanks in all circumstances. It’s a choice we have to keep on making, a decision we keep acting upon whether we feel grateful or not. Wendell Berry states, “Thanksgiving is the highest form of thought and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” I think he’s right. Thanksgiving traces all our blessings back to the hand of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. “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) Not to be grateful is to deny that everything God created is good and is to be received with thanksgiving (1 Tim 4:3-4).
I was raised in a non-Christian family, but we were taught to “say grace,” a short prayer of thanksgiving before eating. Now that I follow Christ, I’m learning to “say grace” during my walks through the neighborhood and on days when it’s raining and I can’t go out. I “say grace” before and after pastoral counseling meetings, during my reading of Christian and non-Christian literature, when I’m around people anywhere, realizing that these individuals are all God’s image bearers. Here’s the issue: Do we take things for granted…or do we take them with gratitude?
Thanksgiving is the attitude and activity of expressing appreciation and indebtedness to the Lord. He has blessed us so richly without our deserving any of it. I want to be child-like and thank Christ for every way that He provides, pardons, and protects us. “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30) Gratefulness honors the Lord and it’s healthy for our souls too. As we mature in Christ, we learn to thank Him for both the good and bad times in our lives. If you need help priming your “thanksgiving pump”, look at these Psalms and thank Christ:
- Because He is our nurturing Shepherd who knows just what we need (Psalm 23)
- Because He is our best Defender (Psalm 27)
- Because He is our trustworthy Provider with our highest good in mind (Psalm 37)
- Because He is our awesome Creator and full of goodness (Psalm 100)
- Because His love for us never changes, never falters, and never ends (Psalm 136)
- Because He purposefully created us as His intricate work of art and cares about us (Psalm 139)
As we finish November and enter December, we remember God’s supreme expression of love. God cared enough for us and all humankind to enter human life in His Son to reconcile us to Himself. As we grasp the greatness of God’s self-giving love, God the Holy Spirit enables us to love others as God has first loved us. Scripture says that’s the proof that we understand the gospel.
Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and support that allows me to continue serving Christ in Houston for another year as we watch and wait for Jesus’ certain return.
Your grateful brother in Christ, Bob
From the blog
Blog posting soon:
Blogs posted so far in November:
- Thank God for His Bible: Give Me That Book!
- The Power of Prayer and Reality of Revival
- Being a “Deacon” to People Who Have No Deacons
- Boundaries: Ways to Build and Preserve Better Ones
- Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart: Bringing Strength into Balance
- Christian Living Lessons from Golf
- Jesus Christ, Hurricane Harvey & God’s All-Surpassing Power & Peace