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Overflowing with thankfulness

“6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”- Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches (Can you believe it?), it’s appropriate to ask, “What are you thankful for?”

Personally, I am very thankful that God providentially allowed for my aortic aneurysm to be discovered and successfully repaired last Spring! In my 54 years God has directly saved my life more than once. (More about that in another article!)

I am also very thankful that God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and three children. And we are very blessed to be serving our great God through our wonderful church family at First Presbyterian Church right here in the very special town of Atmore!

Most all of us are thankful for something, but the question is, “How do we stop taking things for granted?” In other words, “How we maintain a sense of thankfulness to the point where we are overflowing with it?”

The answer is found right in the above verses from the Apostle Paul in the Book of Colossians. In verse 6 we are reminded that “receiving Jesus Christ” is the all important, but beginning step of the Christian walk. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, trusting him as Lord and Savior over all of our life. And we continue to live in him by growing spiritually.

We talked in my last article about persevering in the race of life. We are either moving forward, or we are starting to slip backwards spiritually. So the question becomes, “How do we continue to live in Christ?”

And the answer is given in verse 7. We are “rooted, built up and strengthened as we were taught.” In our farming area we can relate to this agricultural term, “rooted.” To be rooted is to be joined spiritually to Christ by faith. This is union with Christ! To be “built up” is an architectural term. This is the spiritual growth that comes from union with Christ and partaking in the means of grace – hearing, reading, and studying the Word of God, partaking in the sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and participating in the privilege of prayer.

As we grow in the faith through the means of grace, our minds are renewed (Christian worldview) and we are “able to test and approve what God’s will is…. (Romans 12:2).”

And the result of this spiritual growth and mind renewal is seen in verse 8: We overflow with thankfulness! Like a river overflowing its banks, our thankfulness pours out of us for all to see. This thankfulness is a sign of the Holy Spirit working in our lives and it gives us a fresh perspective.

The theologian Matthew Henry was once robbed and this is how he described the situation. First, he was thankful that he had never been robbed before. Second, he was thankful that though the robber took all his money, it was not much money.

Third, he was glad the robber took his money and not his life! And fourth, he was thankful that it was he who was robbed, instead of himself being the robber!

When we are tempted to be less than thankful, we need to talk to God and to ourselves like King David did.

In Psalm 42:11, David asked himself, “Why are you so downcast? Why so disturbed? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him.” So we need to ask ourselves questions like, “Why didn’t something worse happen?” We need to count our blessings. And we need to begin and end each and every day by talking to God.

To sum it all up, A. W. Tozer said, “Gratitude is an offering precious to God. The poorest can make it and not be poorer for it.” And who is the greatest saint?

Not the one who prays the most or fasts the most, but the one who is most thankful, despite the circumstances. May that describe us all this Thanksgiving! And may your hearts overflow with thankfulness!

Prayer: Father, this Thanksgiving and throughout the year give us thankful hearts joined to Christ and growing in your grace.

We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Jim Thorpe is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Atmore.