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Gratitude


LETTERS TO THE ARMY

July 2010

PASTORAL LETTERS FROM THE OFFICE OF THE GENERAL
TO SALVATIONISTS ACROSS THE WORLD

This is the twentieth in a series of Pastoral Letters from the General to every Salvationist across the world.

The Pastoral Letters are intended to be distributed unchanged and entire to all Salvationists and may be shared also with others interested in the sacred purposes for which God raised up The Salvation Army.

 

INTRODUCTION

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ.

This comes to all Salvationists with my strong, ongoing affection in Christ for you, and with my prayers for your effectiveness in the sacred calling that God, in his supreme wisdom, has placed upon the peoples known as Salvationists.

It has been laid upon my heart that I am to take a step of obedience under God by reaching out to you all through Pastoral Letters written from time to time. I write therefore in order to obey the One who has created us all, and with a longing that what is written will affirm, encourage and inspire you.

The themes for these occasional Pastoral Letters continue to be the themes God reveals. His holy will is made known in many ways. I pledge myself to be mindful that his will is often revealed through interaction with members of the Body and not only or always in the seclusion of the place of prayer.

It is my deep hope that each Pastoral Letter will be read wherever Salvationists are to be found, whether in private or in public settings. The chosen themes may prompt discussion, prayer and - as appropriate - action.

 

Shaw Clifton
General

 


 

PASTORAL LETTER TWENTY

GRATITUDE

 

Dear Fellow Salvationists,

I greet you each one in the sacred Name of Jesus. His Name is without equal. Only under his Name can salvation for our souls be found. Let our hearts leap upward with gratitude.

As I write to you, London is going through a mid-summer heat-wave - or at least a heat-wave by London standards! We are grateful for every comfort in this sophisticated western city, yet we remain mindful that not every Salvationist has such things. I thank God for the Army world that shares more and more regularly, more and more effectively, as a global family. We remember constantly our Lord's teaching that we should carry one another's burdens. We are partners in a holy mission and must be watchful of each other's needs.

I hear many prayers in all kinds of places and settings. You also hear them where you are. I am moved by the prayers I hear being offered by my fellow Salvationists. God is helping us to be more and more a prayerful Army. At the heart of prayer is thanksgiving. We come before our Heavenly Father in a spirit of humble gratitude. Philippians 4:6 teaches us to come to God in prayer with a grateful heart. As we pray, we must offer thanks more than offering requests. The Holy Spirit helps us as we pray and in this way we can get the balance right.

'Thank you' is a phrase on every Salvationist's lips, many times each day. We affirm one another in this way and at the same time we honour the God we all adore and obey. When we know how to thank God, we will also know how to thank our fellow believers. Similar courtesy can and should be offered to the unbeliever so that others see the courtesy of Christ in us.

Luke's Gospel (in chapter 17) tells us about the ten lepers healed by Jesus. Only one healed leper went back to Jesus to express gratitude for his healing. One in ten! Only a tenth! Just 10%! It is difficult to understand why the other nine offered no gratitude. It costs very little to say 'thank you'. I am asking God to make us more and more a grateful Army, an Army that constantly gives thanks for every help and blessing.

You will know the Old Testament account of Hannah and her longing for a child (see 1 Samuel 1:9-28). She offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for her son, Samuel. He became a great man of God.

In 1 Corinthians 15:57 the Apostle Paul declares gratitude to God for spiritual victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. We join Paul in that burst of thanksgiving. Try to read the words for yourself and perhaps say them aloud as you read. You can say 'me' instead of 'us' and in that way make the verse very personal. It is a verse that you could include in your prayers every day. What a great way to begin and end a prayer.

As I end this Pastoral Letter I offer deep gratitude to God for your faithfulness. I thank God for you! You are my comrade, my sister or my brother in Christ. God bless and keep you in all things.

May you know the Lord's loving touch today.

I commend you to his matchless grace.

Sincerely in him,

 

Shaw Clifton
General

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