“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Being Thankful — A Way of Life (Tom Edwards)
Being Thankful — A Way of Life
Thanksgiving Day is an enjoyable time for many people – and, perhaps, for some it is their most favorite time of the entire year in getting together with family and friends; enjoying good food; and, for probably millions, watching an afternoon football game — which is a tradition that even began way before the age of television. For soon after football was invented, it was played on Thanksgiving Day in 1876 when more people were off from work and would be able to watch it. Many of us are glad and thankful for this national holiday.
And, as I’m sure you know, thankful feelings are good to have! They are uplifting! Isn’t it, therefore, great to know that God desires for all to enter into a relationship with Him, in which these feelings of gratitude may always be a part of our lives. So not merely for just a day or two, or just for those “special occasions,” but a thankfulness that continues with us throughout the entire year, as well as throughout all the years to come – and then into eternity itself with God forevermore!
Notice, for instance, Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
In considering the above instruction, what “day” or “days” are we supposed to do these things? I think you know the answer.
One of the ways we can express that thankfulness is in what Paul goes on to say in the very next verse:
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (v. 16).
In doing so, we are not only expressing our thanks unto the Lord, but also feeling good in our obedience to Him and knowing that the singing of these spiritual songs will also help build one another up in the faith and instill encouragement for persevering in Christ toward that ultimate goal of eternal life in heaven.
For Paul then shows in the following verse that our thanks to God is to be offered through Jesus Christ: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (v. 17).
This, therefore, is how God wants us to do it – to give thanks through His Son Jesus! For we know it is because of Him that we who are Christians have been enabled to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:14-16). For “we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:19-23). Of all things to be thankful for, what God did for us to make our salvation possible should be at the top of our list!
The Bible specifies some of the things that God has done for each one of us – whether we are Christians or not: For “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45).
A reason Jesus gives for why His followers should love even their enemies is because God Himself “is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35). And that kindness we certainly see in the giving of His Son Jesus to die for every sinner (cf. Rom. 5:6-10). No wonder Paul had also said three chapters earlier (Rom. 2:4), “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?”
In addition, when at Lystra, Paul had taught that God is the one “WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM” (Acts 14:15). And that “He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (v. 17).
What do we have that God has not made possible? One might say that “God did not make my computer, nor my refrigerator, nor my car, nor anything else that I own.” But did not God have some involvement in all of that? Did not He provide man with the natural resources to make these things? What if He took all that away? And did He not also give man a mind that was able to acquire the know-how of designing and developing these products? What if God took away that ability? And did not the Lord give us the ability to work, that we could earn a living and be able to buy the things we need? We could also mention other necessities that God has provided that make our life possible. For how long could we exist without the food the Lord has supplied our planet with? Or how long could we exist without water? Or without the air? Or without the sun? Or without numerous other things that are all essential for our very existence – and, therefore, have been brought about through the foresight, wisdom, and concern of God for His creation!
James, the Lord’s half-brother, declares that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).
Every good thing we have, God has made possible. We should think of that when we sing the song, “Count Your Blessings.” For we all – regardless of who we are – have had many blessings in our lives (and much more than we can even now remember).
So we should be able to see that God truly is to be thanked for every blessing that we have — and whether it be of a physical or a spiritual nature. And is this not also why we should ALWAYS be a thankful people every day? For being thankful is part of the way of life for the child of God, and it also helps us toward heading in the right direction. For let us not forget that in that long list of specific and abominable sins in Romans 1:21-32, Paul begins by showing what it was that first led these people off course and away from God, and then to become even more and more corrupt. It started with the fact that “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (v. 21).
May that never be true of us. Let us, therefore, continue in our study of God’s word, of communing with God in prayer, in assembling with the brethren, in abiding in our Lord by striving daily to keep His word. For this will also help us in better developing that attitude of thanksgiving. For the more we know of God and live for Him, the more we can be thankful.
May it be so of each of us that we can do as David writes in the short psalm, Psalm 100:
“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His court with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.”
— All Scripture from the NASB.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible classes)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)