Message from Rev. Thornley
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
A Sunday school teacher once asked her class what they were thankful for. One little boy said that he was thankful for his glasses and went on to explain that it kept other boys from fighting with him and the girls from kissing him. It was the great apostle Paul in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica who wrote. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you.” I wonder how often we have taken time to thank God for the things we have and don’t have? It is true that often we will hear people say: “If only my circumstances were different.” “If only I had the advantages and opportunities that other people have.” If only this or that. These things may be valid, but the problem is it blinds us to the blessings great and small that come our way.
There was a man by the name of Henry Ward Beecher who wrote these words. “If one should give me a dish of sand and tell me there are particles of iron in it, I might look for them with my eyes and search for them with my clumsy fingers and be unable to detect them. BUT let me take a magnet and sweep through it, it would draw to itself the almost invisible particles by the mere power of attraction. The unthankful heart, like my finger in the sand discovers no mercies. BUT let the thankful heart sweep through the day, and as a magnet finds iron, so it will find in every hour some heavenly blessing, only the iron in God’s sand id gold! Now just think about that. So often we turn our thoughts inward on ourselves and because we are caught up in our own selfish desires we become blind to the things that are about us and perhaps miss some of the greatest blessings God has given us in terms of health, family and friends.
The Rev Dr William Sangster, one of the great saints of Methodism, told the story of a man who approached him one day caught up in a severe bout of depression. He felt he had nothing to be thankful for, everything in life was against him. Sangster, who was about to visit a certain institution invited the man to accompany him. They went from room to room and bed to bed and what the man saw touched him deeply.
Some of the people were dim of sight others quite blind.
Some were hard of hearing others were quite deaf.
Some were in the advanced stages of dementia others had their reasoning partially impaired.
When they had finished the visit, the man said to his minister; “I don’t think I’ll complain ever again. I can see! I can hear! I can think! I can plan! I can pray! I am not well off, but I have enough. I have so much to be thankful for.
I rediscovered the old 1936 version of the Methodist Communion Service. It contains these words which some may remember.
Minister: Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
Response: It is meet and right so to do.
Minister: It is very meet and right and our bounden duty that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto thee O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.
Now we might think these words are a little archaic written in the King’s English of 1611. We might equally feel it is just part of a ritualistic prayer that must be recited repeatedly. There is that danger with set prayers, but they do have a place. In fact, these words echo the cry of believers right across the pages of the Old and New Testaments – to constantly give thanks to the Lord. If we examine the writings, they are not just pious words, but heart felt thanksgivings poured out to God for what He as accomplished in Christ. A theologian by the name of Achtemeier said, “Gratitude cannot be commanded but must spring spontaneously from the heart – where gratitude is present there is true faith.” There is no doubt that we all have our complaints. But remember the boy who complained he had no shoes until he met a boy who had no feet. I really think we have much to be thankful for and we need to lay it before the Lord. Someone said, “Thankfulness leaves no room for discouragement”
There is the story told of a man who found the barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown into the human heart. As he looked about, he noticed the seeds of discouragement were more numerous than all the others, they were seeds that could be made to grow anywhere. When Satan was questioned about this, he reluctantly admitted that there was one place they would not grow and that was in the heart of a grateful person. That is only a story, but it carries and element of truth. Think for a moment how you feel when you have done something for somebody or given them a gift and there is no response. I wonder how God must feel. What about the simple act of saying grace at meals?
Psalm 91 Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song – for He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.
Paul echoes the words of this Psalm when he says, “And whatever you do whether in word or in deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17.
Giving thanks should be a daily exercise in our hearts – but we only tend to give thanks when things go our way. However, take time to reflect on these words taken from a dead Confederate soldier killed during the American civil war. It is called Humility.
I asked God for strength that I might achieve- I was made weak the I might humbly obey.
I asked for help, that I might do greater things -I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy – I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life – I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for – but everything I had hope for.
Despite myself my prayers were answered. I am among all men most richly blessed.
God bless you.