Summary: How is it possible to always be thankful? The secret is "focus."
Ephesians 5:15-20: 15 Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This past week, God has spoken to us through his Word, teaching us how he would like us to love and honor him with our lives. On Monday, we compared living our lives to hiking up a mountain. The first verse told us to "be careful," to "watch our steps." We talked about some of the temptations that lie on the path of life that could hurt our faith - the cliff of dishonesty and cheating, the avalanche of bad language, the storms of sexual immorality. As you walk the path of life, be careful! That was our message on Monday.
On Tuesday over the intercom, we looked at those next verses. As we walk the path of life, God told us to understand his will and to not get involved with the abuse alcohol. Can you imagine a mountain climber getting tired and drinking alcohol as he hangs off the side of a mountain? An incredibly bad idea. As we climb the mountain of life and we get tired or stressed, God wants us to be filled with his Holy Spirit. That's where you we your strength to make it to the top.
On Wednesday our guest pastor told us…
On Thursday God reminded us of how we are to be careful in the way we treat each other. There's all kinds of opportunities to tear each other down because we all have so many faults. But instead, God wants us to encourage each other, and to build each other up.
Today we finish our look at this section of the Bible, and sum up this section, with the last words of this Scripture lesson: "Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Do you see the attitude God wants you to have - "always" giving thanks to God the Father for "everything." How do I do that, without being fake? How can I always thankful for everything? If I'm healthy, I'm thankful for that. But if I have to have surgery, and it's pretty serious, and I'm going to be in the hospital for awhile and I know I’m not going to feel well for awhile - I always give thanks to God for everything? - how do I have that attitude, and it's real?
I can fake being thankful. When people ask me how I'm doing and things aren't going well, I can tell people that I'm fine, I'm thankful. But really on the inside, I'm mad at God. Why do I have to have this happen to me? There are other people who live pretty bad lives and they're just fine. Why does this bad stuff happen to me?
Or plug in your own problem - what is it about your life that you wish were different, that you wish you could change. What is the one thing that you hope never happens to you? What if it did? What it God tests you, like he tested Job? What if God gives you a thorn in the flesh, like he gave to the Apostle Paul? Would you be able to give thanks to God always, for everything? Or would you complain to God, hate God, yell at God in your mind?
There is a way to always be thankful in everything. And that is to keep out minds, our thoughts, on the one thing, the only thing, that can help us when we are struggling. And that is the cross of Jesus Christ. I can be thankful always, because I know that God always loves me. Jesus proves it that by dying on the cross for me. He always forgives me. He's always with me. Focus on that, you can give thanks to God ALWAYS.
And you can give thanks to God for EVERYTHING. How? Because Jesus has told me that he is in control of everything. He promises to work all things - everything - out for our good. Even the evil that happens to our - everything - Jesus is there, and using those bad things for something good. Focus on Jesus and his Word and God will give you a thankful heart.