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Gratitude: Learn to be thankful in all circumstances

Posted: Friday, July 15, 2005

I hung up the phone ... more unexpected news. It is not necessarily bad news, just another wrinkle in an already hectic summer schedule.

I am still trying to recover from the last phone call. Surprises are way over-rated.

If I make any more adjustments, I will never need to visit the chiropractor again.

I am sure there are some noble lessons to be learned by successfully navigating the unexpected circumstances that seem to enjoy making such habitual appearances. I just don't have the time to learn them.

I have once again been enveloped by the deciduous Alaska summer. As usual, it has taken on a life of its own. I was caught once more in its impetus, carried along like a dry leaf on a windy day.

This past week, I had the privilege of teaching some great kids in vacation Bible school.

One of the memory verses in our class helped put things back into perspective for me. It is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

It says, "... give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Meditating on these words for a few minutes can teach us three very important life lessons.

First and foremost is the relationship we can enjoy by being "in Christ Jesus." The New Testament continually refers to those who are in Christ.

Based upon verses like Romans 10:9, and many others throughout Scripture, anyone can have the assurance of being accepted by God because of Christ's amazing offer.

His sacrificial death and physical resurrection prove he came for sinners like me. When we come on his terms, he welcomes us with open arms, John 6:37.

No other relationship can satisfy like being in Christ.

Secondly, we ought to have a constant gratitude attitude.

Continually giving thanks should be as natural to us as the reception of the blessings we enjoy every day.

Realizing that Christ accepted us when we had nothing to offer him is a staggering concept. It doesn't work that way in human relationships. Even those closest to us have limits in their tolerance.

Yet he accepts, loves and forgives us, knowing how we will so often ignore our responsibilities in this precious bond.

I am so thankful he cares for me, even when I am too busy and too self- focused to appreciate the constant flow of blessings I receive by being in Christ.

Thirdly, we can take comfort in the fact that there are no surprises to God.

Unexpected things happen to us all the time, but God is never caught off guard.

In fact, we are told that — you may want to sit down for this — it is God's will for us to be thankful for all of the circumstances in our lives.

Take another look: "... give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

That may be a hard pill for us to swallow sometimes, but we certainly cannot indict God for somehow making a mistake concerning the events and people in our lives. Ephesians 5:20 reinforces this truth saying, "... always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ."

Even though we do not understand why some things happen, we can trust him. That is why it is called faith.

His word is full of promises that confirm this teaching.

One of my favorites is found in Romans 8:28, where we are taught, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

He can literally take all of the circumstances in our life and weave them together for our good. Only God could do that. Only God is willing to do that.

Knowing this truth enables me to be thankful for all the things he brings my way.

Please take a few minutes to ponder your relationship with the one who loves you so much.

If you are not yet "in Christ," his invitation is always open.

I would love to spend more time on this subject, but you'll have to excuse me. My phone is ringing.

Phil Reemtsma is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, 208 Lawton Drive, Kenai. He can be reached at at 283-7802, e-mailed at cbc@gci.net. The church Web site is www.kenaicalvary.org .



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