Gratefulness and Gratitude

Bible Book: Colossians  1 : 3-6
Subject: Gratitude; Thankfulness
Introduction

Gratitude - a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors received. Vance Havner said, "We grow up taking things for granted and saving our flowers for the dead. All along the way, countless hands minister to our good, but rarely do we acknowledge them." The apostle Paul was a grateful man. All of us have lots to be grateful and thankful for.

When Paul penned this letter, it was to a people he was deeply appreciative of, even though he had never met them, and never would this side of heaven.

It is believed that while Paul was ministering in Ephesus, Epaphras came under conviction of sin, repented, believed the gospel, and was gloriously saved. Later on, God called him to preach in his hometown of Colosse. Paul is writing to the church to help them with error of doctrine.

God had done a deep work of grace in Paul's heart. As a result, he is writing this letter from prison with such a tender spirit and a consuming graciousness. He is a man with an "attitude of gratitude."

The gospel of grace is the reason for Paul's thanksgiving expressed in these verses. Paul was rejoicing over the report of their faith brought to him by Epaphras.

I. The Expressing of Gratitude 3

A. To God 3a

"to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"

"To God be the glory,

Great things He has done."

Malachi 2:2, " 'If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name,' says the LORD of hosts, 'I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart.' "

B. To the Colossians 3b

"praying always for you"

Heartfelt gratitude and deep appreciation for them. We could find it very challenging to compile a list of the folks Paul said he was praying for, and add the Colossian believers to the list. They were on his prayer list.

Question: Do you reflect often on those you are grateful for?

The philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts comic strip:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school. Miss Harmon
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care.

How do we minister to all of the people that we are grateful for?

Exodus 18:19, "Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God."

II. The Explaining of Gratitude 4-5

Vance Havner also said, "the whole Christian life is one big, 'thank you,' the living expression of our gratitude to God for His goodness. But, we take Him for granted and what we take for granted we never take seriously."

Paul thanks God for the 'trinity of grace': faith, love, hope

A. Deliverance: God Changing Them 4a

"your faith in Christ Jesus" - faith means to be persuaded that something is true and to trust in it. True saving faith contains repentance and faith (obedience) as its elements.

1. Repentance

1 Thessalonians 1:9, "For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God"

Repentance in saving faith involves 3 elements:

a. A Turning to God

b. A Turning from Evil and Believing the Gospel

c. An Intent to Serve God.

2. Faith (Obedience)

Obedience is the hallmark of the true believer. When a man obeys God, he gives the only possible evidence that in his heart he believes God.

B. Devotion: God Consuming Them 4b

"your love for all the saints"

Christ's love not only draws us to Him, but to each other.

1 John 4:10-11, " In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

Love for the saints is a strong fruit of saving faith.

John 13:35, "this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

There was a great display of love in the church. We have learned two great truths from this church:

1. Public Faith Is An Attraction

It attracts someone to believe God

2. Public Love Is an Affection

It affects others to love God

C. Direction: God Controlling Them 5a

"the hope which is laid up for you in heaven"

Faith and hope are inseparably linked; we believe, and so we hope "laid up" - in store; reserved

1 Peter 1:4, "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you"

Hebrews 6:18-19, "that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil"

One result of our hope is a willingness to sacrifice the present on the altar of the future. The world sacrifices the future on the altar of the immediate.

Jim Elliott, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." World says - "Buy now, pay later."

Jesus says - "Pay now, receive later."

III. The Environment of Gratitude 5b-6

"the word of the truth of the gospel" 5b

A. It Reaches Far 6a Universal

"as it has also in all the world"

Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

Romans 1:8, "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world."

1 Thessalonians 1:8, "For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything."

B. It Reproduces Fruit 6b Vital

"is bringing forth fruit" - anywhere you plant the gospel it will bring forth fruit. Internal Transformation - Christian Gives

External Growth - Church Grows

Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

C. It's Rooted in Fertile Soil 6c

"the grace of God in truth" - "in truth" carries the sense of genuineness Conclusion

TIME TO PONDER

N.W. Pridgen - Inviting me

M.E. Gibson - Preaching the gospel

Alfred Joyner - Discipling me

Giles Butler - Writing me and loving me

Pappy William - Praying for me

Jerry Willetts - Praying for me

William Russ - Praying for me

Odus Scroggs - Believing in me

Becky Brady - Encouraging me

Janet Hunt - Respecting me and marrying me