“I started reading the apostle Paul’s shortest letter this morning,” Stan began, “and right away I saw something that jumped off the page.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“At the beginning of his letter to Philemon,” Stan replied, “Paul writes about his essential relationship with God. And he does it in five simple words.”
“Essential relationship with God in five words?” I responded. “What five words?”
“Paul,” Stan replied, “wrote, ‘I thank my God always’. To me, having such an attitude of always being thankful is essential for me to have an ever-growing and ever-deepening relationship with God.”
Continuing, he said, “And such thanksgiving is to flow from me regardless of my present circumstances, regardless of how personally and particularly bothersome a situation may appear. Anything I may be facing presently is totally insignificant in the big picture.”
“Big picture?” I replied. “What big picture?”
“For me,” Stan said, “God is the big picture. And there are two aspects of the same big picture. First, I have the assurance of spending eternity with God when it is time for me to leave here.”
“In the meantime, while I wait for the train,” he added, “I have the second aspect of the big picture. That occurs on this side of eternity and consists of being able to pursue knowing God the Father and His Son, Christ Jesus.”
“To know that I am going to spend eternity with God when it is time, and to have the opportunity to know Him on this side of eternity, those two things make up a fabulous big picture. Everything else pales by comparison.”
“With that focus,” Stan concluded, “how can I not be thankful at all times? I have been given everything that matters. Why let the little stuff drag me down into unthankfulness?”
“I just have to remember that everything apart from God is little stuff.”
I thank my God always. Philemon 4.
And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. John 17:3.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, I can come before you. Thank you for the provision of life eternally with you when it is time. And thank you for your provision of being able to know you ever more deeply on this side of eternity. Thank you that I can be thankful! I confess that way too often I do not come before you with a heart filled with thankfulness for all you have provided through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Please forgive my unthankfulness. And please, Lord, help me in following your lead in truly being thankful every moment of my life regardless of whatever circumstances I may be facing. Regardless of how scary a particular situation may appear. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Things to think (and journal) about:
1. What is your biggest take-away from this devotional?
2. What does this devotional say about God and about us as His people?
3. What is God saying to you to do personally?
4. Who can you share this with to make a difference?
Comments, questions, suggestions, and the like can be addressed to The Storyteller at: firstname.lastname@example.org.