Summary: A Thanksgiving Sermon from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18New Living Translation (NLT)
16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. This is a day of celebration and gratitude. Many of us will gather with family and friends around the table for a meal and at some point during the festivities we will hear the phrase "I'm full". So in advance of this great moment, I would encourage you all to have your stretchy pants, sweat pants, moo-moos available for a quick change should you feel full.
Feeling full is a great sensation -- we have had our appetites satiated by Turkey, ham, beef, mac and cheese, greens, corn, bread, cakes, pies, beverages, appetizers and mostly the joy of the time. Thanksgiving is the moment when we intentionally reflect on and look forward to the people and things for which are grateful.
On Monday evening, after a fantastic choir rehearsal, Lady Frances led the choir in moments of thankful reflection. It was wonderful to hear the many expressions of gratitude and the diversity of those reflections. We were reminded that when life gets chaotic to reflect on those messages of thanksgiving we heard and let those words help us regain our perspective. We say that in song "Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings see what God has done, count your blessings name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done"
When we are mindful of God's goodness to us, we can't help but give Him thanks. This what the Apostle Paul was telling this church in Greece, in the city of Thessalonica - He knew they had some concerns about the future and even some issues about what was going on - however he reminded them in this letter to have a proper perspective and to be intentional in the way they approached everything in life.
So today, I want to encourage us all to Be -- don't just exist, don't just survive, make a determination to Be Joyful, To Be Prayerful and to be Thankful
He begins this 16th verse by saying "Always be joyful" - King James "Rejoice always" - Meaning, be intentional in your reflection on the goodness of God towards you, and as you think of His goodness to you, allow that fact to well up in your spirit, and give you a lift and a contentment that goes undisturbed -- a merriment that bubbles over and over - when it starts to simmer down, begin to count your blessings again and allow yourself to get happy all over again - be full of joy - a joy that overflows - and spills out from inside, causing you to smile, causing you to be kind, causing you to be content, causing you to be loving - because you know without a shadow of a doubt that this joy that you have the world didn't give it and the world can't take it away. - Be joyful
Then Paul says "Never stop praying" - Prayer is that spiritual connection between you and God. Paul reminds us to make sure our connection is strong. That we are not just checking in with God when we want something but that our life is marked by our communication to God through prayer. Prayer changes things -- mostly prayer changes us, because when we go to God in prayer, He is faithful to speak to us in ways our spirits can understand. When our lives are full of prayer, we are blessed by the calm assurance that comes from knowing that we serve a God who not only hears but answers prayer. Prayers of help, prayers of comfort, prayers of thanksgiving - Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer that calls me from a world of care and bids me at my Father's throne - make all my wants and wished known. In seasons of distress and grief my soul has often found relief. And oft escaped the tempters snare, by thy return sweet hour of prayer. - Be prayerful
Then Paul says "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for those of you who belong to Christ Jesus" - Gratitude helps us regain and maintain our proper perspective. There will come times in this life, when the load seems heavy, when the road seems long, when friends are few, and troubles are many, it is at those times that God is asking us to dig into our bag of gratitude to come up with reasons to still say thank God. We have all been through some tough times, we have all experienced some great losses, we have all had some hurt and some pains, we have been down, we have been talked about, we have been rejected, we have experienced great sadness, but when I think about the goodness of the Lord, I still gotta say thank You. Thank You Lord that You didn't leave me when I was at my worst. Thank You Lord thank You brought me out, when I thought there was no way out. Thank You Lord, thank You held me together when everything else was falling apart. Thank You Lord, than You have stepped in to heal me when I was sick. Thank You Lord, that You allow me to have a roof over my head. Thank You Lord than You have given me clothes on my back. Thank You Lord that You have kept me in my right mind. Thank You Lord, that You have blessed my family. Thank You Lord for allowing me to have a job to pay my bills and to live. Thank You Lord that You forgave me when I went astray and called me back into Your arms. Thank You Lord for picking me up and turning me around. Thank You Lord - I just want to Thank You Lord.