November 1, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:18

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

How To Be Thankful Always.

Be joyful, never stop praying, and be thankful – these three
commands often go against our natural inclinations. But when we make a
conscious decision to do what God says, we will begin to see people in a
new perspective, and we will find it easier to be joyful, prayerful,
and thankful.

Never stop praying means not giving up. It does not mean
consciously praying at every moment. We cannot spend all our time on our
knees, but it is possible to have a prayerful attitude at all times,
being constantly in conversation with God and attentive to his
Spirit’s ongoing presence in our everyday lives. A prayerful attitude is
not a substitute for regular times of prayer but should be an
outgrowth of those focused times.

If you find yourself filled with worry, turn those thoughts
into prayers. If you are excited or happy about something, turn that
into a prayer of thanks to God. He desires to be close to your life –
in sorrow and joy. Open yourself to his presence. [One Year NLT SB
re vss. 16-18]

COMMENTARY

Thankfulness should characterize the Christian life in every
circumstance, not thanks for everything but thanks in everything. Paul
emphatically states this is the will of God. An Old Testament example of this
was when Job lost his money, his children, and his health. He
blessed the name of God in spite of his personal tragedies, not because
of them. Nothing speaks more powerfully of a walk with God than
continuous thankfulness. [Nelson SB]

Saying thanks was not a once-a-year occasion for Paul. Rather
it was a lifestyle. In the last chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul
explains why believers should always maintain an attitude of
thankfulness. When did you last thank God for his innumerable blessings?
Paul wrote that believers should “be thankful in all
circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). His statement can be easily
misunderstood. Paul was not teaching that Christians should thank God for
everything that happens in their lives. For instance, they should not thank
God for personal sin and for the evil in the world. Evil comes from
sin and from Satan, not from God. But they should thank God in every
situation.

No matter what goes wrong or right, we can still be thankful
to God for his presence and help. We have his promise that “God
causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God
and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28), so
we have a reason to be thankful.

At all times, keep in mind all that God has done. Then you
will have plenty of reasons to be thankful – for God, for the joys he
brings, and for the spiritual growth he can bring about through trials.
[The One Year Through the Bible Devotional by Dave Veerman re vss.
12-22]

When spiritual directives such as Paul gives us here confront
us–always be joyful, always be thankful no matter what happens – our
natural response is, “That’s impossible!” We tend to feel inadequate and
unable to please God. How can we rejoice in tragedy, pray when we are
otherwise occupied, or be thankful in times of adversity? The key is in
Paul’s next words: “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.”

The purpose of our existence is not simply to be “good”
people. God has laid hold of and redeemed us for the purpose of forming
us into his likeness as we walk through the experiences of this
life with him. We are to become a dwelling place for his Spirit. Our
challenge is learning to let him do the impossible through us! He is using
everything in our lives to teach us that apart from him we can do nothing
but through his Spirit we can do all things, even rejoice always,
pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything.

LORD, help me to understand that you are truly causing all
things to work together for my good this very day. I want to be
obedient to what your Word asks of me. I cannot do this on my own. But in
your Spirit’s power, I can do what you tell me to do. May you be my
joy, and enable me to be aware of your presence with me continually
in Jesus. [Praying Through The Bible By Fuller re 1Th. 5:16-19]

Ingratitude drives a wedge into relationships. When one
person has gone out of his or her way to benefit another and the
gesture is taken for granted, the relationship cools. Gratitude, on the
other hand, draws people close. Appreciation causes a person to feel
valued, and when we feel valued, we increase our openness to those who
value us. Everyone likes to be affirmed.

God doesn’t really need our affirmation, but the dynamics of
gratitude apply to our relationship with Him anyway, just as they do to
our relationships with others. Ingratitude does nothing to draw Him
deeper into a relationship with us, but gratitude certainly does.
Giving thanks reflects an accurate perception of what He has done. It
stirs up intimacy.

Gratitude for obvious blessings is good. Gratitude for less
obvious blessings is better. But gratitude in spite of known adversity
is the most mature form of all. The person who can thank God for
His work even when His work seems to be painful or is completely
hidden from view is a spiritually mature believer. When we thank God
for an answer to prayer that isn’t even slightly apparent yet, we
are demonstrating true faith. God draws near to those who are
thankful no matter what happens.

Hear His heart: “Your gratitude is My will in every
circumstance. I don’t expect you to enjoy adversity, but know that you don’t
see the whole picture, and trust the One who does: Me. No matter
what happens, give thanks. Stubbornly insist on it, regardless of
your reservations. It’s always an appropriate attitude, and it makes
Me want to come closer.”
Father, thank You for everything You are doing on my behalf –
the things I see and the things I don’t see. Help me have radical
gratitude, a stubborn insistence on acknowledging that You are good – no
matter what I see. [The One Year Experiencing God’s Presence Devotional
by Chris Tiegreen]

Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than
does a spirit of gratitude and praise. It is a positive duty to
resist melancholy, discontented thoughts and feelings–as much a duty as
it is to pray. If we are heaven-bound, how can we go as a band of
mourners, groaning and complaining all along the way to our Father’s
house?
Those professed Christians who are constantly complaining,
and who seem to think cheerfulness and happiness a sin, have not
genuine religion. Those who take a mournful pleasure in all that is
melancholy in the natural world, who choose to look upon dead leaves rather
than to gather the beautiful living flowers, who see no beauty in
grand mountain heights and in valleys clothed with living green, who
close their senses to the joyful voice which speaks to them in nature,
and which is sweet and musical to the listening ear–these are not
in Christ. They are gathering to themselves gloom and darkness,
when they might have brightness, even the Sun of Righteousness
arising in their hearts with healing in His beams. MH251

Gratitude is heartwarming. A thankful person is a beautiful
person. The grateful soul is a wealthy soul, continually receiving gifts
from life that go unrecognized by others. The grateful heart focuses
on what it has rather than on what it doesn’t have. It appreciates
the roses rather than resenting the thorns.
While it’s possible to feel genuine gratitude without
expressing it, the value of gratitude isn’t fully realized until it is
expressed. Jesus affirmed the one man – a Samaritan, no less – who returned
to thank him for his healing. When we live with a sense of
gratitude, and say so, Jesus is likewise honored. [NIV Once A Day Bible re
Luke 17:11-19]

Ten individuals afflicted with leprosy, a dreaded skin
disease, witnessed Jesus’ entrance into a nearby village and cried out
for mercy. Christ looked at them with compassion and commanded them
“Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they obeyed, their healing
became apparent. Yet only one man, a Samaritan, returned to express his
gratitude.
Jesus used this occasion of healing to teach an important
lesson about thankfulness. “Didn’t I heal ten men?” he asked. “Where
are the other nine?” Jesus recognized our human propensity to ask
for miracles from God and yet fail to give him the glory.
Why is expressing thanks so important? It’s really a question
of need: God doesn’t need your thanks, but thankfulness
acknowledges your dependence upon him. When you acknowledge what he has done
for you, you are completing the cycle that God begins when he
promises to meet all of your needs. God gives to you out of his great
love and compassion, and you “return thanks” to him. Developing a
heart of praise and thanksgiving gives you a proper perspective of
your place in God’s plan. Being thankful is not so much about what it
does for God as what it does for you. [The One Year Bible for New
Believers re Luke 17:11-19]

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Telling God ‘Thanks’ – No Matter What
God doesn’t really need our gratitude, but we need to be
grateful. “Gratitude itself is a wholesome and healing force,” says a
meditation from the book One Day at a Time in Al-Anon. A thankful heart
deepens our faith and enhances the quality of our lives.
1. Count your simple blessings. The list is endless. As you
tally, give thanks. Review your simple praise list each day. Thank God
for all material gifts, for faithfulness, for His refusal to give up
on you.
2. Talk about the bright side. By focusing on the brighter side
you gain another perspective. Your immediate thoughts are
transformed, and you begin a healthy habit of optimistic thinking.
3. Thank God even when you’re not grateful. “I don’t understand
this, God,” she said over and over, “but I’m grateful for the good
that you will bring out of it.”…. God has promised to be with us
always. Times of suffering remind us of this promise and allow us to
draw closer to God in loving surrender. David Biebel said
“thanksgiving reminds me that God is with me, conducting the symphony even
when the current movement may not be much to my liking.” by Joan
Wester Anderson excerpted

Once you’ve made counting your blessings a precious part of your
daily routine, you need never again be at a loss for words of praise
and thanksgiving to our gracious Lord. The one from whom all
blessings flow!

Categories: Freedom From Fear

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