Summary: A message verbalizing the attitude our Lord expects of His children.

Instructions for the Believer

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

* Turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 5:16. On this the last Sunday evening before we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us center on God’s word for instruction. Through His word He gives us instruction for life.

* When we consider the culture in which we find ourselves, we discover as society which is largely ungrateful and unthankful. The “I” syndrome has reached an epidemic proportion with the belief that it is, in fact, ALL ABOUT ME. This attitude is fertile breeding ground for the attitude of being unthankful, ungrateful, and even ungracious.

* The results of these unhealthy attitudes are hatefulness, bitterness, selfishness, carelessness, and many others which cause pain and heartache.

* In ending his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul gives us, in rapid fire succession, several key thoughts which keep us walking as spiritual believers.

* Let’s read these and then pull one verse on which to mediate and glean our instructions. (Read)

* Personally, I love verses that answer the 5 basic questions which a reporter asks in the writing of a story. Look at verse 18 with me and let’s pull out the answers to the what, when, why, who, and how questions.

1) What? In other words what should you and I, as believers, in Jesus fill our time with? What attitude should exude from us? The text says we should “Give Thanks.” The Psalmist tells us to give thanks to the Lord “for His faithful love,” “for He is good,” and even for His righteousness.” In the New Testament we are told to give thanks to God “because of God’s grace”, “His victory,” and even for His “character” (who was, is, and is to come). Think about this; when we truly give thanks, it is not about us, it’s about Him. All the reasons we are told to give thanks for are pointed Him and what He does. Now don’t get me wrong, we should be thankful for life, health, and the like, but I submit that should be 2nd in our reasoning. The highlight reel of our lives should be a “thankful spirit” because of who He is and what He does.

2) When? The real question is when are we to be thankful? Are you only to be thankful when things go our way or when life treats us good? Paul tells us to be thankful, “In Everything.” How exactly can this work? I mean, even in tough difficulties? Lanny Wolfe wrote one of my favorite songs on the subject of thankfulness. The words are “In everything give Him thanks, give Him thanks. In everything, give Him thanks. In the good times, praise His name, in the bad times, do the same. In everything, give the King of Kings all the thanks. Keep this in mind: If we only are thankful for things that we have or that happen to us (like job, family, income, cars, even health) we will never find a way to be “thankful in everything.” We will only be thankful in the good things. And we are called to be thankful in all things in everything.

3) Why? Because (Paul says) “This is God’s will.” Please consider this; have you ever been around a complainer, a gripper, a mulli-grubber? Sure you have. Did you want to remain their presence? Sure you did. (I just want to experience the atmosphere around someone who is “telling like “they think” it is all the time.” Most of the time all they want to do is to pull you down and if we are honest with ourselves, most of us bid a hasty exit when we encounter someone like this. If we don’t like it, how do you think it makes God feel? I’ll tell you, it breaks His heart. He has done so much for every one of us and has offered so much of Himself to us, I wonder if He sees us as a truly ungrateful lot. For those first century believers, they were marked with hearts of thanksgiving just for who He was. Thanks be to God is a common phrase in the Bible. How about from our mouths?

4) Who? The text says, this is God’s will for “YOU!” Candidly, much of the Bible is an “in your face” type of teaching. Here’s why: we will generally choose the road of least resistance, and most of the time this is not God’s road. We cry “everyone else is doing it” to justify our actions and attitude. Scripture says, “If you are a true child of God, you have been born again, changed from the inside out.” We cannot pass off this command.

* This is very personal. Remember the spiritual: “it’s not my brother, not my sister, but it ME, O Lord…” Here’s the payoff; You (and me) are told, even commanded to “Give thanks in ALL things. This is God will for ME (YOU).”

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