Thanksgiving is an important aspect of everyone’s life. If we stop for a moment and think, our hearts and minds will begin to touch upon those things for which we can give thanks.
The apostle, Paul, identified two things for which he gave thanks for the believers at Colosse: for their faith in Christ and their love towards the Saints. He wasn’t listing things that he received or benefits that he would experience. Paul was thankful for what he saw God doing in their lives.
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, (Colossians 1:3-4)
Stop and think for a minute. Each of the things that you give thanks, aren’t they really the results of God working in your life. The promotion at work, you stopped and gave thanks to God. The child that was born, you gave thanks to God. The long sought after answer to prayer, you too gave thanks to God. For each situation where you saw God’s hand moved, you stopped and give thanks.
Are there any situations in your life where God is not moving? If he is sovereign – and he is – he is working in every situation in your life: both the good and the bad. The death of a parent, the unexpected layoff at work, the trip to the emergency room are just examples of times when God was working when he didn’t appear to be.
If we give thanks when we see God’s hand working in our lives and God is working in everything for our good, then we should be giving thanks to God for everything.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
It is only when you see God working in everything that in everything, you will give thanks
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: (Colossians 1:2a)
What is it to be faithful in Christ? Is it to abide by a doctrine of beliefs? Do I need to continually learn doctrine and make sure that my beliefs are correct? Doctrine is important, but looking back over my life, I can say that such a task has been a life-long endeavor. Doctrine may be important, but it does not make us faithful.
Is being faithful in Christ a matter of living a certain way or up to a certain code of behavior? We would all agree that God hates sin and that any aspect of sin in the life of a believer is besetting. But at what point of living would a person be considered as faithful? How much sin is allowed or how many times can a person fall before they are considered as unfaithful? If this were the standard for faithfulness, then nobody would be faithful, because everyone is still a sinner and falls short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
So, what is it to be faithful? The word faithful comes from the Greek word pistos which means faith or believe. To be faithful could be stated as to be believing. Those who are faithful in Christ are those who continue to believe in God and his testimony to men.
When the trial comes, they believe in the goodness of God. When they face great need, they believe that God will provide for them as he provides for the birds in the air. (Matthew 6:26). When loved ones die, they believe in look for his comfort. When they have been sinned against, they believe in God’s solution and forgive passing all vengeance to God. The faithful in Christ are those who exercise faith as they face situations in life. Never is it easy, but with Christ in us who is greater than all that is in the world, it always is possible.
To accomplish this, the step is simple: abide in the vine. What is abiding? It is to continue, to tarry, to stay, or to remain with Jesus. It is turning your heart and affection towards him. Jesus commended Mary as she demonstrated this important aspect of the believer’s life. To be faithful, you will need to sit at the feet of Jesus and have a love relationship with him. The earlier mentioned incorrect views were part of a duty relationship to Christ. Those you cannot always perform. God is more concerned with our hearts because when the heart is right, everything else will fall into place.
Many years ago when I had first come to Christ, I was working in a steel mill in eastern Pennsylvania. I was working at the electric furnace and met another Christian, Butch, with whom I fellowshipped daily. One day, he asked how I was doing. I was not joyful as I had been on previous days. I had recently sinned and had lost my joy. My life was overcome with guilt and I was being pulled down by the enemy. The further my heart sank, the more I was convinced that God was mad at me and I no longer had his love. It was at that point that Butch pulled me to the side and reminded me that the Christian life was not about me, but that it was all about Christ.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. (Psalms 25:7)As we talked, I began to understand that my life could never be lived to the standard of being acceptable to God and that him accepting me would always be based on his mercy and loving kindness. For me, confession was still needed, but that would never warrant acceptance. Even when I confessed, I knew that being acceptable and pleasing in his sight would be based on his mercy, loving kindness and goodness.
So many people are trapped into trying to repent, confess or surrender enough to reach a point of acceptance. What they fail to see is that because of God’s mercy and goodness, he accepts us and then gives us the ability to repent, confess and surrender.
If your Christianity focuses on you and your performance, then you have it all backwards. Take the advice from my friend, Butch who told me many years ago, “It’s all about Christ! It’s all about Christ!”
You find yourself in the midst of your trial. You may be at the doctor’s office, sitting in the corridors of a court house or holding a notice that knocks the wind out of your sails. In any event, you are trapped without any perceivable way of escape.It is important to remember that while you are in the midst of your trial or struggle, God will bring people to you for the purpose of you ministering to them.
And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. (Genesis 40:2-3)
It may be a coworker, whose world is falling part, who comes to you and shares his burden. You may walk into a room and find a friend grieving or the Lord may point out the countenance change in an individual . But regardless of how the event occurs, God will bring people to you and he wants to use you to make a difference in their lives.
It doesn’t take a spiritual giant to be a minister to others. It only takes a person who has experienced the presence of God and it is those individuals that the Lord will use to point people to him. So, while you endure with longsuffering, keep your eyes focused on the Lord and be prepared to share what he has done for you.
Events in your life can be difficult. There are times when these events make you feel crushed, injured or afflicted. Maybe it was the notice you receive in the mail. The phone call reporting the auto accident or the talk that you had with your doctor. Each of these challenges that you may face has you crushed in on all sides. Each thought of the event is as if a whip was afflicting its cruel punishment upon your injured soul. There appears to be no way out.
The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. (Psalm 9:9-10)
But God…think of it. Where else could a person go? The Psalmist says that God is our refuge. He is that cleft high up on the rocky cliff. Nothing can reach us there because it is too high to scale. In that cleft of the rock, we are safe. In the midst of our trials, we take refuge in Christ. Physically we are in the same place, but God lifts our hearts above the turmoil that is oppressing and afflicting us.
During the troublesome times, it is difficult to recognize God’s presence. He is there and ever present to help us in times of need, but in order for him to work, we must reach out with our souls and cling to him and him alone for help. Trusting is difficult: a war takes place in the soul between faith and fear. Fear will always be present, but we trust God when we exercise our faith over our fear.
All would agree that the best part of a trial is when it is over. The money problem is solved. The wayward child returns. The medical treatment was a success. The relationship was restored. But It isn’t so great because the event has ended. It is great because we can use our experience with God to encourage and guide others.
Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. (Psalm 9:11)
Trials in life will come, but God wants to bring you through those trials and when they are over, work his aid to others through you.
With God, you can do this.