Signs of the Times

The Reverend J. Russell Butcher Minister, Presbyterian Church Hagerstown, Maryland in Pulpit Digest Manhasset, New York

Whenever you have real religion, the dominant note is thanksgiving. Outside the psalms, most instances of thanksgiving in the Bible are found in the words and deeds of Jesus and of the Apostle Paul. Open the Bible to any one of the letters of Paul and you will not read very long before you discover an expression of thankfulness. . . . He mastered the secret of giving thanks in all circumstances. When in prison, he found grounds for gratitude in the opportunities that came to share his faith with others in the prison, including his Roman guard. When his plans went awry and his hopes were blighted, he could still affirm that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." . . .

A thankful outlook on the world is the best way to face life. In the face of hardship and misfortune, gratitude helps us to keep the right perspective. A sense of gratitude is the most direct road to an awareness of God. . . . When our gratitude has its origin in Christ—in what he has done and does for us daily—we begin to understand how Paul could give thanks in all circumstances. The presence of Christ and the peace of Christ in the human heart are realities quite independent of outward circumstances.

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November 23, 1968

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