But God…

Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member

Well, the American Holiday of Thanksgiving is just around the corner. People have all kinds of thoughts during this holiday, but not always thoughts of giving thanks. And thanks to who or what? For many it’s the day before the Christmas shopping rush, known as “Black Friday.” I heard this morning on the radio that some were already camping out at certain stores here in the Dallas area (and probably around the country) so they can be first to get in and grab the good bargains. Others are thankful because the day and weekend are pretty much filled with football. I used to be one of them. But then there are some who are thankful in the right way. They are thankful to God for the grace and blessings He has bestowed to us. I have a couple of thoughts on this today, so I guess you could call this my Thanksgiving blog post.

In hopes of keeping this simple, I just want to talk about a couple of Bible verses that remind me to be thankful. They both contain the words, “But God,” two of the coolest words in the Bible, in my opinion. Let me give you an example: Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I’ve known this verse for a long time now, but never really gave it the thought it deserves. God didn’t wait until we were “good enough” before He took action in our lives. He took action while we were yet sinners. If you can think back to when you were saved, this should be evident.

I remember driving back from Kansas to Alamosa, Colorado one Sunday. I had been visiting a friend and was on my way back to college. I can’t go into the whole story here, which is part of my testimony, but I will say it was a strange drive back. While I was driving I was thinking about my past nine months of meeting some Christians and spending time talking with them. Suddenly, I had this strange thought that something was going to happen to me in regard to knowing God in a better way. I used to say I had been searching for God for some time but now I know it was God drawing me to Him. I really understood none of it at the time and couldn’t imagine what could happen to me. But I just had this sense that something was going to happen when I got back to college. When I got back to the dorm that evening, someone knocked on my door. It was my friend John who I had been spending time with “talking God” as I came to call it. He invited me to a Christian meeting that Thursday and I accepted. Needless to say, that night was the night I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It was April 1, 1971. So for my first thought of why I am thankful, I give thanks to God for drawing me to Himself on that day and that through all the trials and struggles, He has never let go of me.

The second verse I’d like to talk about is Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” This verse “blows me away,” as we used to say back in the day. In quiet moments, I sometimes ask God how He could even care for me. Since that memorable day in April of 1971, I haven’t really done much for Him. Oh, yes, I served in churches, tried to be upright and honest and even came to work for a missionary organization. You would think I would be pretty happy with what I did. But I was always living and working in the flesh, trying to earn God’s love. We call that legalism which is what the book of Galatians is all about. But look at what the verse says. God made us (that includes me) alive with Christ! I look back on my life before Christ giving me new life and realize how much I was just totally living for my own pleasures, comfort and needs. Oh, yes, I knew there was a God and that I should honor him, but I was powerless to do so. But that all changed when I finally surrendered myself in 1971. Like I say, I didn’t understand any of what this meant back then. My knowledge and understand of the Bible was pretty much zero. But God, because of his great love, called me and by His grace and saved me. He saved me not only for Heaven but He actually gave me the Holy Spirit to guide me and give me the power to do what pleases God here and now!! How great He is!! All I can do is fall down before Him and thank Him.

So, that ends my “Thanksgiving blog” for 2016. I am thankful for the gifts that God has given us. I don’t mean for things like money, good health and friends. These are all good but are also conditional on how God works in our lives. But there are some promises that are absolutely true and that are not conditional. If you have a few minutes these next few days I would urge you to read and pray over Ephesians 1:3-14. Open your heart and just let God’s word speak to you! This passage is just so powerful! Be thankful for who God is and what He has done. I leave you with one verse from Ephesians 1 just to give you a hint of His love for you. “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” This absolutely “blows my mind!!!!” I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that God had me in His mind before He even set the foundation of the worId! I pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I urge us all to be thankful. We have a glorious God. Amen.

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