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    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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A REASON FOR GRATITUDE

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

At one time we were slaves to sin and darkness, but now we wish to serve and obey God to prove our thankfulness for His gift of redemption. Our gratitude follows the astonishing deliverance we received by Christ’s mercy. If we truly understand the depth of our sins, all our gratitude must follow. Justification and sanctification have been graciously imputed to us. The Holy Spirit has made us eternally alive, even though we continue to live in this world filled with corruption. Christ did everything for us – to free us – that we might glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Therefore, it is our pleasure to demonstrate our gratitude by witnessing to His glory in a fallen world that hates God.

Samuel A Cain (2)God’s grace has delivered us without any good works of our own. This is why we desire to please Him with good works that exalt His name and the name of Jesus. We are spiritually prompted by our new sanctified attitudes to give thanks to God for reconciling us to Himself when we were His enemies. We were sinners, but having been renewed by the Holy Spirit we grow daily into the image of Christ. Such a great salvation enlarges the soul with gratefulness.

A Contented Man is Thankful

Arthur PinkArthur W. Pink:

Instead of complaining at his lot, a contented man is thankful that his condition and circumstances are no worse than they are. Instead of greedily desiring something more than the supply of his present need, he rejoices that God still cares for him. Such a one is “content” with such as he has (Heb. 13:5).

Training For Thankfulness

John A. Broadus

If you study the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, you are likely to come across the name of John Broadus. He was one of the greatest American Baptist preachers in the 19th century. He was also one of the founders and the second president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the following excerpts, Broadus teaches us about thankfulness:

[G]ive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (Thessalonians 5:18)

Remember . . . how our seasons of affliction make real to us the blessed thought of divine compassion and sympathy . . . remember that the sufferings of this present life will but enhance, by their contrast, the blessed exemptions of the life to come. A thousand times have I remembered the text of my first funeral sermon, “And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” These are the present things now-all around us and within us; but the time is coming when they will be the former things, quite passed away. . . .

How may the habit of thankfulness be formed and maintained?

Well, how do we form other habits? If you wish to establish the habit of doing a certain thing, you take pains to do that thing, upon every possible occasion, and to avoid everything inconsistent therewith. Now, then, if you wish to form the habit of thankfulness, just begin by being thankful-not next year, but tonight; not for some great event or experience, but for whatever has just occurred, whatever has been pleasant, yes, and we did say, for whatever has been painful. You certainly can find some special occasion for thanksgiving this very night. And then go on searching for matter of gratitude, and just continuing to be thankful, hour by hour, day by day. Thus the habit will be formed, by a very law of our nature.

But remember that good habits cannot be maintained without attention. They require a certain self-control, a studious self-constraint. Is not the habit of thankfulness worth taking pains to maintain? The older persons present remember Ole Bull, the celebrated violinist. I once dined in company with him, and in an hour’s conversation across the table found him a man of generous soul, full of noble impulses and beautiful enthusiasms, and rich with the experience of wide travel. And I was so much interested in a remark of his which is recorded in the recent biography: “When I stop practicing one day, I see the difference; when I stop two days, my friends see the difference; when I stop a week, everybody sees the difference.” Here was a man who had cultivated a wonderful natural gift, by lifelong labor, until, as a performer upon the finest of instruments, he was probably the foremost man of his time; and yet he could not afford to stop practicing for a single week, or even for a single day. “They do it for an earthly crown; but we for a heavenly.” Christian brethren, shall we shrink from incessant vigilance and perpetual effort to keep up the habit of thankfulness to God?

I see many young persons present this evening. Will not some of you at once begin the thoughtful exercise of continual thankfulness? Will you not think over it, pray over it, labor to establish and maintain so beautiful and blessed a habit? Ah, what a help it will be to you amid all the struggles of youth and all the sorrows of age! And in far-coming years, when you are gray, when the preacher of this hour has long been forgotten, let us hope that you will still be gladly recommending to the young around you the Habit of Thankfulness. (“The Habit of Thankfulness”)

Be Thankful!

John A. Broadus

It is very easy during hard trials to forget past blessings. God, however, does not want His sons and daughters to display attitudes of ingratitude. He seeks to strengthen us for endurance and reminds us that the habit of thankfulness to God is a valuable asset to get us through such times. John A. Broadus writes here about developing the habit of thankfulness:

“[G]ive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We hear a great deal said about habits. But it nearly always means bad habits. Why should we not think and speak much about good habits? They are as real, and almost as great, a power for good as bad habits are for evil. . . .

Consider the value of the habit of thankfulness. It tends to quell repining. We are all prone, especially in certain moods, to complain of our lot. Every one of us has at some time or other imagined, and perhaps declared, that he has a particularly hard time in this world. It is to be hoped that in other moods we are heartily ashamed of ourselves for such repining. But how to prevent its recurrence? A most valuable help will be the habit of thankfulness to God. Then if a fretful, repining spirit begins to arise, just in the middle, perhaps, of some complaining sentence, we shall suddenly change to an expression of thankfulness-and perhaps end with laughing at ourselves for the folly of such repining.

It tends to enhance enjoyment. We all know that when we receive a gift, with any true sentiment and any suitable expression of thankfulness, the reaction of gratitude augments our gratification.

It serves to soothe distress. Persons, who are greatly afflicted, and not wont to be thankful, sometimes find the memory of past joys only an aggravation of present sorrow. Far otherwise with one who has learned to be habitually thankful. For him the recollection of happier hours is still a comfort.

It helps to allay anxiety. Did you ever notice what the apostle says to the Philippians? “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Notice carefully that we are to prevent anxiety by prayer as to the future with thanksgiving for the past.

It cannot fail to deepen penitence. “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” When we are fully in the habit of thankfully observing and recalling the loving-kindnesses and tender mercies of our heavenly Father, this will make us perceive more clearly, and lament more earnestly, the evil of sin against him; and what is more, this will strengthen us to turn from our sins to his blessed service.

It has as one necessary effect to brighten hope. “I love to think on mercies past, And future good implore” is a very natural conjunction of ideas. If we have been wont to set up Ebenezers upon our path of life, then every glance backward along these milestones of God’s mercy will help us to look forward with more of humble hope.

One Nation’s Understanding Of What Is Indispensable

First Continental Congress In Prayer

On November 1, 1777 the Continental Congress declared “it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for benefits received and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of. . . .” The congress then set aside Thursday, December 18th for “solemn thanksgiving and praise”:

That with one Heart and one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor, and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD, through the Merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole; to inspire our Commanders both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE; That it may please him to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yet yield its Increase; To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand, and to prosper the Means of Religion for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”

And it is further recommended, that servile Labor, and such Recreation as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.

[This proclamation can be found in: Journals of the American Congress From 1774 to 1788 (Washington: Way and Gideon, 1823), Vol. II, pp. 309-310]

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