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GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING

September 21, 2015

Mountain overlook of the "Smoke Hole" area in Grant County West Virginia view from North Fork Mountain

GIVE THANKS – IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS FOR THIS IS GOD’S WILL FOR YOU IN CHRIST JESUS – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

IN EVERYTHING – The Greek word for “everything” is “pas” which means no exceptions. There is a silver lining to every cloud. God is with us whatever befalls us (Heb 13:5). It is God’s will that we find joy in prayer in Christ Jesus in every condition of life.

As Ruth Bell Graham well said “We can’t always give thanks FOR everything, but we can always give thanks IN everything.”

Job is a prime OT illustration of the supernatural response of thanksgiving even in the face of overwhelming troubles (If you are experiencing trials and afflictions [and most of us are!] read Job 1:13-20). IN the midst of his manifold afflictions, Job declared, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) And in the end he was able to say “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees Thee… And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning,” (Job 42:5, 12) “Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (James 5:11)

Gratitude is always a God-honoring attitude.
For all the heartaches and the tears,
For gloomy days and fruitless years
I do give thanks, for now I know
These were the things that helped me grow!
—Crandlemire

Ephesians 5:20 says “ALWAYS (at all times) giving thanks for ALL THINGS in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” How is this possible? Certainly this is not our NATURAL inclination! But it is possible by God’s SUPERNATURAL provision. In other words, what is IM-possible, is HIM-possible! Paul had just commanded us to continually “BE FILLED with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:18). What “fills you” will “control you” and in Ephesians 5:20 the Spirit enables us to accomplish supernaturally what we cannot accomplish naturally.

As John Piper asks “How can we not be thankful when we owe everything to God?”

Indeed, he who thanks God for His mercies shall never want a mercy for which to thank, for “Every stream should lead us to the fountain.” (M. Henry)

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
— J Oatman

Ray Pritchard writes that “The foundation of gratitude is the expectation of nothing. If one expects nothing then anything is bonus. If one expects more than he receives, then he is disappoint. We are so prone to complain because roses have thorns than to give thanks because thorns have roses! “In everything give thanks.” How do we do this in a practical sense? First, thank Him for your blessings. Second, thank Him for how He has helped you in your trials. Third, thank Him for His presence every day. Fourth, thank Him for His promises for the future. As a Christian, our whole life is to be one great, “Thank you, Lord.” This is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus.”

We should be ready to give the Lord thanks
For blessing as well as for test;
Hearts that are thankful is all that He asks;
Let’s trust Him to give what is best.
—Bierema

If you pause to THINK, you’ll have cause to THANK, because God’s GIVING deserves our THANKSGIVING.

Paul exhorts us “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS (present tense = continually, as our habitual practice) through Him (Christ Jesus) to God the Father.” (Col 3:17) How is it possible to live a life of continual thanksgiving? As Jerry Bridges says we must “first renounce all confidence in our own power and then rely entirely on the power of the Holy Spirit. We must be ENABLED, not merely HELPED. What’s the difference? The word HELP implies we have some ability but not enough; we need someone else to supplement our partially adequate ability. By contrast, ENABLEMENT implies that we have no ability whatsoever. We’re entirely powerless. We can do nothing (cp Jn 15:5). But when by faith we renounce self-sufficiency and embrace reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit, we receive divine empowerment, enablement, and strength for personal transformation and ministry.” In short, the Holy Spirit enables us to continually manifest an attitude of gratitude.

Andrew Murray – A joyful, thankful life is what God has destined for us, is what He will work in us. What He desires, that He certainly does in those who do not withstand Him, but receive and suffer His will to work in them.

Notice that in 1Thes 5:16 (Rejoice always) and 1Thes 5:18 we see joy and giving thanks which Paul also associates in Colossians 1:11-12 in the phrase “Joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Paul’s juxtaposition of thanksgiving (eucharisteo) and joy (chara) is not surprising for both words are related to the the same Greek root (charis) which is our word “grace.” Indeed grace is the foundation for saints enabled by the Spirit to “joyously give thanks” when the circumstances are not very joy filled! And remember the lost world is watching. Will I respond naturally or supernaturally. The former draws attention to me, but the latter brings glory to the Father (Mt 5:16)! The secret of abounding joy is a Spirit wrought, grace based gratitude attitude. Remember, when you can’t change the wind, allow the Spirit to enable you to adjust your sails!

Thanksgiving is the vibration of the soul’s heart-strings under the soft touch of God’s benevolence.

F F Bruce – Ingratitude is one of the features of pagan depravity in Ro 1:21 (For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or GIVE THANKS; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.); the children of God are expected (and enabled by the Spirit) to “abound in thanksgiving” (Col 2:7; Col 3:15, 17, 4:2; Eph 5:4,20)

J. C. Ryle – Thankfulness is a flower which will never bloom well excepting upon a root of deep humility.

Warren Wiersbe – An attitude of gratitude is a wonderful weapon against unbelief, disobedience, a hard heart, and a bitter spirit. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have, let’s be thankful for what we do have, because God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him… We can’t control the circumstances of life, but we can control how we respond to them. That’s what faith is all about, daring to believe that God is working everything for our good even when we don’t feel like it or see it happening. “In everything give thanks” isn’t always easy to obey, but obeying this command is the best antidote against a bitter and critical spirit. The Scottish preacher George H. Morrison said, “Nine-tenths of our unhappiness is selfishness, and is an insult cast in the face of God.”

D Edmond Hiebert – When we realize that God works all things out for good to those who love Him and are yielded to His will (Ro 8:28, Ge 50:20), thanksgiving under all circumstances becomes a glorious possibility “He who can say `AMEN to the will of God in his heart will be able to say HALLELUJAH also.”‘

Consider what the Lord has done
For you and those you love;
Then give Him thanks with hearts of praise
For blessings from above.
–Sper

We don’t need more to be thankful for,
we need to be more thankful.

God grant us the Spirit wrought grace to emulate Matthew Henry’s high standard , writing in his diary on the day he was mugged “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” Beloved, one of the greatest marks of spiritual maturity is the ability to give thanks when it is difficult!

G. K. Chesterton was once asked what was the greatest lesson he had ever learned to which he replied “The greatest lesson I have learned is to take things with GRATITUDE and not take them for GRANTED.” Chesterton added that “You say grace before meals. All right! But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, walking, playing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” Thanksgiving as a lifestyle is faith in action.

Thanksgiving to God comes (super) naturally when we count our blessings. We be would much less apt to protest the command to give thanks in EVERYTHING if it were our habit to give thanks in ANYTHING. Empowered by the Spirit, we need to focus on our “haves,” not our “have-nots.” As the psalmist says “Bless (praise) the LORD, O my soul, and FORGET NONE of His benefits; ” (Psalm 103:2). Indeed, praise to God comes naturally when we count our blessings.

M B Babcock encourages us “Be on the lookout for mercies. The more we look for them, the more of them we will see. Blessings brighten when we count them. Out of the determination of the heart, the eyes see. If you want to be gloomy, there’s gloom enough to keep you glum; if you want to be happy, there’s gleam enough to keep you glad. Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings by counting your troubles.”

David Cooper writes that “Thanksgiving delivers us from a victim mentality and gives us a victor’s mentality. I once read that nothing can help the person with the wrong mental attitude, and nothing can stop a person with the right mental attitude. And the right mental attitude to overcome our obstacles and win our battles is thanksgiving.”

Missionary Benjamin Weir was held hostage in Lebanon and imprisoned under miserable conditions for 16 months. In his first interview after his release, he was asked how he spent his time and how he dealt with boredom and despair. His answer stunned the reporters. He simply said, “Counting my blessings.” “Blessings?” they responded. “Yes,” he explained. “Some days I got to take a shower. Sometimes there were some vegetables in my food. And I could always be thankful for the love of my family.”

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
—Oatman

ILLUSTRATION – Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today. A ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois was part of a life-saving squad. In 1860, when a ship went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan. Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process and his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.

ILLUSTRATION – As Pastor H A Ironside was about to begin his meal in a restaurant, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited in to sit and as was his custom, he bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, “Do you have a headache?” Ironside replied, “No, I don’t.” The other man asked, “Well, is there something wrong with your food?” Ironside replied, “No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.” The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!” Ironside said, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!”

ILLUSTRATION – A woman had a parrot who always complained about everything. It was Thanksgiving Eve, and she was preparing the Thanksgiving meal. The parrot complained about everything as she worked. Finally, she had heard enough. She took him out of his cage and opened the refrigerator to put him in to punish him, “You’ll stay in the refrigerator until you cool off and get control on your tongue,” she said as she put him and closed the door. The parrot was stunned. Shivering, he caught a glimpse of the Thanksgiving turkey, skinned, legs pointing upward from the pan. The parrot said to the turkey, “Good heavens, man! What did you say?”

“In Everything Give Thanks!”
Mid sunshine, cloud or stormy days,
When hope abounds or care dismays,
When trials press and toils increase
Let not thy faith in God decrease—
‘In every thing give thanks.’
“All things we know shall work for good,
Nor would we change them if we could;
‘Tis well if only He command;
His promises will ever stand—
‘In every thing give thanks.’
“He satisfies the longing heart,
He thwarts the tempter’s cruel dart,
With goodness fills the hungry soul,
And helps us sing when billows roll.
‘In every thing give thanks.'”
–Author Unknown

As David a man after God’s heart (Acts 13:22) said “I will GIVE THANKS to the LORD according to His righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High… I will GIVE THANKS to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy wonders… Therefore I will GIVE THANKS to Thee among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Thy name… The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall THANK Him… Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And GIVE THANKS to His holy name… I will GIVE THANKS to Thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Thy name forever… With my mouth I will GIVE THANKS abundantly to the LORD; And in the midst of many I will praise Him… I will GIVE THANKS to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.” (Ps 7:17, 9:1. 18:49, 28:7, 30:4, 86:12, 109:30, 139:14)

Father grant by Your Spirit through Christ Jesus that we might be enabled to be “imitators of those (like David who continually gave thanks to You and) who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb 6:12) Amen

Play Give Thanks
See in depth commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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