Thursday, October 27, 2011


Eldred Bagley called me last week. Eldred and Shirley have been long-time friends of Lewis and Clark Bible Church. On many occasions they made the trip from Idaho to the Astoria area, sharing the gospel in churches, schools, and nursing homes—and wherever else the Lord would lead them.

Eldred and Shirley celebrated their 61st anniversary on August 25th, but Shirley was in poor health, and on September 24th she passed into the presence of our Lord Jesus. Eldred shared with me the details of her passing. Though her death wasn’t confirmed until hours later, he thinks that she actually died in his arms as he carried her to bed.

He told me that he was glad that she hadn’t suffered at all from Alzheimer’s and retained her mental abilities until the end. Curious, I listened on. He then went on to say that they both suffered from something he called “All-timers.” He explained how they had taken to heart the words of the Psalmist; “I will bless the Lord at all times” (Psalm 34:1). Throughout her final days—as her earthly tent was being torn down--they endeavored to bless the Lord!

Colossians 2:7 instructs us that we, as believers, should be “overflowing with gratitude.” The term overflowing speaks to having an abundance such that there is never any shortage. The term gratitude means to be appreciative of benefits received. The walk of the believer in Christ is to be characterized by an attitude of overflowing gratitude that reveals itself in the giving of thanks to God in all things (Col. 4:2 and 3:17). Indeed, maintaining such an attitude is “God’s will for us in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

I have to admit that I’m not always inclined to thank God as I should. I’m prone to grumble when things don’t go my way. I remember an experiment that I and a fellow submariner conducted many years ago. There was a fair amount of grumbling and complaining on board ship. My friend and I determined that we were going to go “against the flow” and refrain from complaining for a day. Unfortunately our noble-minded intentions didn’t last long—and we soon rejoined the grumbling choir of unhappy sailors.

As believers we have been blessed beyond measure! Through the intervention of our loving God and Christ’s work on the cross we have been forgiven and reconciled to God (Col. 1:20). We have been “delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred…to the Kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). In Him (we) have been made complete (Col. 2:10). Indeed, we have been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

The challenge for us in maintaining an attitude of overflowing gratitude is keeping our focus on what we have received in Christ, and especially in light of what we deserved. How are we to do this? Thankfulness to God is an aspect of worship (Cf. Heb. 13:15). And worship is not something that we conjure up—true worship is Spirit-led and truth-informed. Jesus made this clear, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23).

It is the Spirit of God who reveals to us the glory of the Son of God. Jesus said, in speaking of the Spirit, “He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you” (John 16:14). The glorious nature of our blessed Savior, “the unfathomable riches of Christ,” (Eph. 3:8), are not uncovered by human intellect or reason—they are Spirit revealed (Cf. Eph. 1:18-19; 3:14-19).

Thankfulness is not the result of determined self-effort, but rather the overflow of a heart that is filled with the Spirit’s Christ-glorifying and Christ-revealing presence. Eph. 5:18, 20, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit…always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” When the Spirit of God fills us, thankfulness to God is the result.

We are to worship God in Spirit and in truth. God’s word is truth (John 17:17). Thankfulness is the result as the Spirit of God applies the Word of God to our hearts. The Word of God reveals to us the full extent of the undeserved blessings we have received in Christ. Col. 3:16 is a parallel text to Eph. 5:18, only there the command is to “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” The results are the same and the same with regards to our thankfulness: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Col. 3:17). As the Word of God richly dwells within us, thankfulness to God is the result.

It is one thing to thank God when things are going well—it is another thing to overflow with gratitude when there is no apparent earthly reason to do so. By the Spirit “rivers of living water” flow from the “innermost being” of the believer ushering forth in songs of praise and thanksgiving (John 7:37-38). Even the trials of life contribute to the benevolent purpose of the Spirit to conform us to the image of the Son (Rom. 8:28-29). Paul wrote from a prison cell exhorting those in Colossae that they should be “overflowing with gratitude” (Col. 2:7). Such Spirit-led worship shines as a beacon of hope to grumble-weary souls directing them to its true source—Our God from whom all blessings flow (Rom. 1:21; Phil. 2:14-16; Acts 16:25-34).

How filled with gratitude are you? It is as we walk by the Spirit that the overflow of gratitude corresponds “to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us” (Eph. 1:7-8). True worship—and our witness--demands nothing less…

Pastor Jerry