When the Paul wrote the church at Ephesus, he exhorted the believers not to get drunk with wine, but to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18, HCSB). In the verses that follow, the apostle describes some of the manifestations of the filling with the Spirit.
I confess that I often overlook that verse that tells us that those who are truly Spirit-filled will give “thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).
A Need to Change
If I were to do an analysis of all the words I’ve written, all the sermons I’ve preached, all the conferences where I’ve spoken, and all the conversation I’ve had, I don’t think that a majority of my words would be those of thanksgiving.
Certainly not always.
And certainly not for everything.
I need to change. Now I realize that one article doesn’t mean that the direction of my words have taken a dramatic turn. But it’s a beginning point. And it’s a chance to remind myself that being negative and critical is not a manifestation of being Spirit-filled. Being thankful is.
Thankful for So Much
I have so much for which to be thankful. Please allow me to share but a small sample.
· I am thankful for my salvation in Christ, unmerited, unearned, but freely given.
· I am thankful for my high school football coach who took time to share the gospel with me.
· I am thankful for my family: my wife, my sons, my daughters-in-law, my grandchildren, and my brother.
· I am thankful for the confident assurance that my parents and my grandson are in heaven.
· I am thankful for my critics who help keep me humble and who remind me that I am a fallen sinner who must constantly depend on Christ.
· I am thankful for my friends. I do not take true friendships for granted.
· I am thankful for all the places where God has allowed me to serve in ministry: four churches; Southern Seminary; and LifeWay.
· I am thankful for my pastor, Mike Glenn.
· I am thankful for times of adversity where I have been taught to be strong in the Lord.
· I am thankful for prayer. It is absolutely incredible that the One True God allows and encourages me to have a conversation with Him.
· I am thankful for men and women who have been spiritual mentors to me.
· I am thankful for the gift of life, and the opportunity each day to give glory to God.
Keeping My Focus on Him and Praising Him
I do need to be thankful more, and to express my thanksgiving more. I do need to focus on those things that are good and pleasing to him. Paul would tell the Philippian church that their focus should be just that: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise – dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
I pray that God will give me the strength to be the kind of man who focuses on and speaks freely about praising and thanking God. I pray that my life will be truly Spirit-filled, demonstrated by giving thanks to God.
What is your praise to God? You can encourage the readers of this blog by sharing some of those things for which you are thankful.
“Be exalted, Lord, in Your strength we will sing and praise your might” (Psalms 21:13).