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And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Rom.8:28)

I would like for us to take a few minutes to look into this amazing promise, with the concept of gratitude in mind. But first, I would just like to tell you that this verse is becoming very special to me right now as I face changes in my own life and need to be continually reminded of God's care and purpose for me. There are three concepts I hope to share with you that we need to grasp in order to be truly grateful to God. Firstly, that God is in control of all things. Secondly, that they all work out for good. And thirdly, that for us to benefit from their good we must love God.

There are many events in our lives that we may not understand and may have no control over. Things that don't go as we had hoped or planned. Unexpected things that happen and things that at one time seemed certain and which suddenly appear unsure. Yet through it all we can have this assurance; that God is sovereign. If we truly trust our God to do what is best for us, His children, whom He calls "dearly beloved", then we can look at the "all things" of our lives and gratefully acknowledge that, just as He said, He has caused it. Psalms 139:16 tells us, "in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them". Our wise God has ordained every day that we live. And not only does He know the days, but He says, "I know the plans I have for you." (Jer.29:11) What joy, comfort and peace we can take from this assurance of His care for us. Our hearts aught to overflow with gratefulness to the God who "rules in the realm of mankind." (Dan.4:17) We owe so much to His loving care, how can we be anything but grateful!

Sometimes it is hard to truly believe that "all things work together for good". As we look at the disappointments and sorrows of our lives we tend to think of them as being bad. After all, good things are pleasant and happy. Or are they? When the Shunammite's son died it certainly did not appear to her to be a good thing, and yet God used it to show Himself strong through Elisha by raising the boy from the dead. Our ways are not God's ways, neither are our thoughts His thoughts. We cannot comprehend God's purposes, but He who knows the end from the beginning chooses to use hardships and disappointments to conform us to the image of His own dear Son and through those difficulties He brings greater blessing into our lives. Often it is the trials that bring out the true beauty of one's nature, even as it is over a hot and uncomfortable fire that Maple sap is turned into sweet syrup. And yet, it is not just the hard things that God has sent to us that work for our good. He it is who ordains the comforts and joys of our lives. It is by His gracious blessing that we enjoy every good thing and we must learn to not take these for granted. We are sinners, deserving only His just condemnation, but He has chosen us to be His heirs, raising us up to new life in Christ. For that alone we ought to be grateful. And yet He goes so far beyond that, filling us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Eph.1:3) and giving us exceeding, abundantly, beyond all we could ask or think! (Eph.3:20) Both spiritual and physical blessings come from Him and we may not take credit to ourselves for what He has done. We must learn to turn grateful hearts to the One who does all things for our good. Even if we don't understand right now why He is doing something in our lives we can rest in the assurance of His good will.

Yet in all this we must not lose sight of the specifications that the Lord puts on this abundant blessing, as to whom He has given it; "to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." "We love Him because He first loved us." (1Jhn 4:19) The love He has manifested to us through Jesus Christ calls for our love in reply. How can He bless those who do not love Him? If we desire His favor to shine upon us then we must turn from our own ways to follow Him in all things. Only then can our lives truly be blessed. It is for His children that He causes all things to work together for good and as our Father He deserves our deep and heartfelt appreciation. What a wonderful inheritance we posses, not just for when we get to heaven but blessings to be enjoyed right now. For that we should never cease to praise His name, making known our gratitude for His all-sufficient care for us.

I am so glad God included this verse in the Bible so that we may know what good things He has in store for those who love Him. Though at times it may be masked in sorrow and at times revealed through joy, we know that it is the gift of our loving Father in Heaven, meant for our good, because we are His children. Let us gratefully praise His name together!

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O, Father, we give thanks to You for the wonderous truths, revealed in Your Word, that assure us of Your great love to us. We stand in awe that You, the Creator of the universe, great in majesty, unfathomable in holiness, care for and orchestrate our lives even down to the least details. We are so undeserving of Your attention, yet Your never-failing grace is boundless towards us. Teach us to humbly accept the events and circumstances of our lives, looking to You in absolute trust to work them out for our good. Oh what peace is ours when we see everything in our lives as from You and for our good. We need not worry or complain. Our God is in control! We praise You, Lord God of heaven and earth. You are our Father and Your love for us is limitless!"

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