Be filled with the Spirit … giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:18, 20

 

The Holy Spirit does many things with and for us. He is a literal life-changing force in the lives of people who follow Christ. I make this statement from personal experience and base it upon the testimony of God’s Word. When people accept Christ as their Savior and Lord, they are given the gift of acceptability in the righteous eyes of God. At that time we all become new beings, different to the core of our spirits, and we are washed clean of our sinful natures by baptism into Christ’s sacrificial blood. Then the Spirit begins to work in us to transform all that remains of our sin infused selves into the perfect holiness of Christ.

 

This is not an easy process. We are all born with a nature that is directed away from God. People are naturally defiant and rebellious, and we are also wired to be quarrelsome, selfish, and vain. We want things to be the way that we think suits us best, and we desire for other people to bow down to our sense of what is right and wrong. Almost everyone wants to be the one who is calling all of the shots in this life. Then Christ intercepts our journey. He shows us the unconditional and unending love that God, the Father, has for us, and Christ calls us to repentance for our sinful rebellion and into acceptance of God’s grace and mercy. We are changed.

 

So, it is this changed person who can do what Paul instructs us to do in this verse. As Christ is in us, we can understand and live in the true nature of thankfulness. In Christ we are alive! We are beloved children of the Eternal God! We are given wisdom, strength, comfort, grace, and mercy all tendered in love that is endless and complete! The relationship with God that Christ has given to me is more than enough reason to pour out my thanks to the Father. There is nothing in this life that is outside of the boundaries of thankfulness. No pain or loss, suffering or defeat can overcome my ability to enter into the grace that God grants to my soul, for the Spirit of Christ never leaves me and He continually speaks thanksgiving and praise to God into my ear.

And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.

1 Chronicles 29: 13

 

We all need to do what David has done as he was speaking the prayer of which this line is a part. It is important to reflect on the many ways that God has entered into our life and to consider the totality of His presence. Sure, we can usually get the big picture of God’s involvement with us, but the breadth, depth, and constant nature of it tends to get lost in the processes of engaging with our everyday existence. From time to time we should do what David is doing and take a good look at the longer view of our personal history.

 

As we do this we can allow God, Himself, to reveal to our minds the many times when He was the real actor in the events that took place. He can open our hearts to acceptance and appreciation of the ways that our Lord took charge and turned the events of the day from ones that were headed toward failure or disaster and how He worked in the forces of nature and in the lives of people to make the outcome one that brought peace, justice, and righteousness into the world. David could see that this was true for him through all of the times and seasons of his life. God had been involved in the lonely and dangerous times in the wild with his sheep, and He had gone before King David in all of the days of his reign. The same is true for each of us. Our Lord is present and engaged always!

 

As this reality of God’s faithfulness, power, and love sinks into the heart and stimulates the mind to see its wonder and uniqueness, the natural response is to express thanksgiving and praise to God. Whether it is done in public prayer or in the quiet of a moment alone, this singing out of our understanding and deep appreciation for who God is and for what He does in our lives should be a daily exercise. My experience is like David’s in that honest reflection on life leads to the inescapable conclusion that the course and outcome of it would have been very different without the involved presence of God. This is a continual fact that leads my heart to want to sing out with words that humbly express my deepest thanks to God.