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Summary: Thankfulness is not an isolated expression of appreciation to someone for services offered. It speaks of the depth or lack of relationship with God.

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“Major Barbara”

George Bernard Shaw’s play of 1905 is still a world wide favorite, and was performed in the Shaw Theatre, Niagara-on-the-Lake just this past August.

Major Barbara’s father, Andrew Undershaft was critically viewed by his ex-wife and children alike for his trade in cannons and gunpowder which were sold to the highest bidder and used in warfare and bloodshed. A wealthy man, he offered to subsidize a financially-strapped Salvation Army Shelter. When he agreed to make some payment to the struggling centre, Major Baines (the head officer) cried “Thank God!” to which Mr. Undershaft replied, “You don’t thank me?”

• Human nature always looks to be acknowledged, even with a simple “thank you” (nothing wrong with that).

• Jesus – Luke 17:11-19 – healed ten men with leprosy. One returned praising God and thanked Jesus for what he had done. Jesus questioned why the other nine had not returned to do the same. What Jesus demonstrates in this expectation of expressed thankfulness is not about him receiving appreciation for his service, but is an indication that thankfulness is a witness to having been in touch with God and it seems the nine missed that.

I signed up for a gym membership in May, at the Stone Tree – gonna’ work off that ‘bubble in the middle’, starting out at a whopping 200 pounds! At the end of my fourth month I had an assessment. I weighed in at a light 199 lbs – a hundred and what?! You mean after four months work I only took off a pound?! How is that possible?

It’s called “diet” – not as in “dieting” but moderation; or sensible eating; balance; adopting a new way of thinking and behaving. (There is also the toning – weight up but inches down!)

i. Thanksgiving Sunday – not an emphasis on a spiritual workout today followed by excessive natural behaviour the remaining 364 days ‘til next Thanksgiving – challenge to adopt a new way of life, of behaving, of thinking.

ii. Cannot isolate the charge to thankfulness in verse 7 from the remaining passage of Colossians 2. Thankfulness is one component of many that is reflected in the person who is living the disciple-of-Jesus lifestyle. This is to say, where there is lack of thankfulness, there is a deeper reality, which is a lack of grounded-ness in experience of God and faith in Jesus Christ.

♂ Warren Wiersbe (Pastor, radio personality, teacher) suggests that “a thankful spirit is a mark of Christian maturity. When a believer is abounding in thanksgiving, {they are} really making progress!”

So, how do we experience living that is “…overflowing with thankfulness” (NIV)?

1. By Being in Relationship with Christ

7Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him… (NLT)

• The branches of a tree are a testimony to the depth of the tree’s roots; the limited reach of the branches is a reflection of the limited reach of the roots.

• The extent of thankfulness expressed in daily living is only matched by the nourishment we draw from being in relationship with Jesus.

♂ E.g. Author and speaker Jill Briscoe offers a personal example of daily living reflecting a life rooted in Christ and drawing nourishment from relationship with him. She writes: “I was grateful and excited. My daughter, Judy, agreed to accompany me to Australia where I was to speak at a conference. I was thankful to enjoy a few weeks of my daughter’s company, and we excitedly planned our trip together. However, two days before we were to leave, my back went out. I became more thankful than ever for Judy. Later, as we climbed aboard the plane, Judy asked, "Are you OK?" "The long rest will help," I replied hopefully. But by the time we arrived in Sydney, I couldn’t move! Airline personnel carried me off the plane and laid me gently on the airport floor. I looked up at a circle of worried faces. The welcoming committee, clutching huge bunches of flowers, did not look at all thankful to see their guest speaker from this angle!


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