Since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities -- His eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
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Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established-- that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
When Henry Alford was only sixteen years old, he wrote a statement of faith in the front of his Bible: "I do this day, in the presence of God and my own soul, renew my covenant with God and solemnly determine henceforth to become His, and to do His work as far as in me lies."
Alford was born in London, England, on Oct. 7, 1810. He was nurtured by Christian parents and greatly influenced by a grandfather and father who were Anglican clergyman. Their example guided him into a personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
Upon graduation from Trinity College, Cambridge, he began his public ministry in London as theologian, poet and musician. The statement of faith written in his Bible when he was a young man of sixteen was joyfully fulfilled during his life of service.
Dr. Alford was eventually appointed Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, known as the "mother-church" of England. That prestigious position gave him a place where he could resist the high church movement of the Anglican Church. His death in 1871 at age sixty-one left a void in the hearts of many people whom God had touched through his ministry. But the world was also left with one of its most memorable hymns of thanksgiving in beautiful words that he composed: "Come Ye Thankful People, Come."
It was written to celebrate the beautiful days of harvest festival in the English countryside.
The glory of creation is breathtaking and everyone is invited to join the festivities in loving response to a faithful God:
"Come ye thankful people, come, Raise the song of harvest home. All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin."
A thankful heart is pleasing to God. Since the beginning of America's history, governors and presidents have declared the necessity of a special day to give thanks. But a specific day was not officially set until 1941, when Congress voted that each fourth Thursday in November would be an official holiday of Thanksgiving.
Let us rejoice and sing praises. Psalm 100 proclaims, "Make a joyful noise to the Lord all ye lands... Enter His gates with thanksgiving."
O God, we enter into a covenant of praise and thanksgiving for the glories of our Lord and Savior Jesus, Christ. There is no greater praise we can offer than the thankfulness that He has come into our hearts. As Christians, we feast on that First Love. All other blessings are dim in comparison. From that relationship flow the blessings of earthly love. In the powerful name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.