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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN




Giving Thanks Always  - To God!

G. K. Chesterton had a way with words. Consider these: "I suppose it is like this. If my children wake up on Christmas morning and have somebody to thank for putting candy in their stocking, have I no one to thank for putting two feet in mine?" No one indeed. The apostle Paul reminds us to whom we owe thanks in Ephesians 5:20 - "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul was in prison when he wrote those words (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). In prison, but prison was not in him. His hands and feet might be chained, but his heart and soul were still free. He understood what so many struggle to see. Even in a prison cell, there for no wrong-doing except being a Christian and preaching Christ, even in those bad and unfair and uncomfortable circumstances there is much to thank God for! Earlier in this same epistle, from that same prison cell, Paul had burst forth with some thanksgiving and praise of his own — "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (1:3). From that prison cell, with a chain on his wrist, Paul rose to give God a standing ovation! Vine's Expository Dictionary of Theological Words says the word 'blessed" in this verse is the adjective form of the verb eulogeo (pronounced yoo-log-eh'-o) which means, "literally, to speak well of, to praise, to celebrate with praises." So what can you thank and bless God for from a prison cell with a chain around your wrist? The answer, from the spiritual blessing perspective, is everything you can thank and bless God for from outside a prison cell! Paul understood in his heart what many of us grasp only in our heads — in every place and time and circumstance, in sunshine and in rain, whether life is good or bad — God is good ALL the time and ALL the time God is good! Physical circumstances cannot change or rob us of even one of the host of spiritual blessings and the spiritual standing we have in Jesus Christ, so long as we keep faith in and with Him! So, Paul says, 'give thanks always to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

I hope you can say the following words (or at least similar ones) and mean them from your heart, whatever circumstances you find yourself in this day:

I am thankful for the word of God That guides me from above; Thankful for the Father's care And the Savior's love.  / I am thankful for the light of day When I open up my eyes; Thankful for the sun that shines Above me in the sky. / I am thankful for legs that walk And for lungs that breathe. Thankful for a heart that beats And a mind that can believe. / I am thankful for a helpmate, My faithful, loving wife. I am thankful we are together. As we journey through this life. / I am thankful for my children Who share my love for God; Thankful they are in His care As through this world they trod. / I am thankful for the Savior Who hung upon the cross; Thankful for the church He bought At such an awful cost. / I am thankful for the hope we have As we walk the narrow way, A hope that leads to Heaven If we live our lives by faith. I am thankful for God's promise To be with us here below, To love and never leave us As through this world we go.

We give thanks to You, 0 God. We give thanks" (Psalm 75:1)

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ