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Summary: If we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we should be thankful no matter how difficult the circumstances in life that we face.

THANKFUL NO MATTER WHAT

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Proposition: If we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we should be thankful no matter how difficult the circumstances in life that we face.

Objective: To challenge God’s people to express gratitude & be thankful no matter what.

INTRODUCTION:

Think of that little band of people who crossed the Atlantic in a boat that was 26 feet by 112 feet and landed on the New England coast during a bitter cold winter. At times that first year the daily ration of those who were well was only five grains of corn. In early New England, it was the custom at Thanksgiving time to place five kernels of corn at every plate as a reminder of those stern days in the first winter when the food of the Pilgrims was to depleted that only five kernels of corn were rationed to each individual at a time. The Pilgrim Fathers wanted their children to remember the sacrifice, sufferings, and hardships through which they had safely passed -- a fitting hardship that made possible the settlement of a free people in a free land. They wanted to keep alive the memory of that sixty-three-day trip taken in the tiny Mayflower. They desired to keep alive the thought of that stern and rock-bound coast, its inhospitable welcome, and the first terrible winter which took such a toll of lives.

They did not want their descendants to forget that on that day in which their rations was reduced to five kernels of corn, only seven healthy colonists remained to nurse the sick, and that nearly half their members lay in the windswept graveyard on the hill.

They worked seven years to repay London the loan for their trip. That was before the days of credit cards. After suffering every kind of hardship, they had a harvest of 21 acres of corn and in the fall of 1621, they immediately offered thanks to God for His blessings. This little group led by Gov. William Bradford marched triumphantly through the cornfields singing, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” Then they sat down to a meal in gladness and joy. They were giving thanks to God no matter what.

Likewise, Paul’s advice to the church at Thessalonica was “Be joyful” (“Rejoice always”—v. 16), “Be prayerful” (“Pray w/o ceasing”—v. 17) & “Be thankful” (“In everything give thanks”—v. 18). We are to be thankful in all circumstances, even hardships & affliction. Barclay states, “There is always something for which to give thanks. Even on the darkest day there are blessings to count. We must always remember that if we face the sun the shadows will fall behind us, but if we turn our backs on the sun all the shadows will be in front.” The great drama of the Bible centers in the belief that God is at work for good in the lives of His people, no matter what. There was nothing good in Joseph’s brothers selling him to the Ishmaelite traders. There was nothing good about the injustices he experienced from Potiphar’s wife. But, in retrospect, Joseph could say of it all: "You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good" (Gen. 50:20). We must never forget that God is at work in and through, and often in spite of the "things." Tell us Paul, “What are you thankful for?”

I. COMFORT: BE THANKFUL FOR GOD’S SUFFICIENT STRENGTH (2 Cor. 2:14) “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ”-- It’s remarkable that with all the pressure, persecution, and opposition he had experienced that Paul would think of his ministry in terms of triumph and not defeat. He was grateful for all the strength God gave him to cope with all the difficulties he experienced in his ministry.

1. Situation (vvs. 12-16) 16b--“Who is sufficient for these things”-- As Paul contemplates the tremendous responsibility of preaching the message that has such far-reaching consequences, he cries out, “And who is sufficient for these things?”

1). What an opportunity (v. 12) “a door was opened”-- He had not gone to Corinth as he previously announced he would. Paul left Ephesus and journeyed to Troas in hopes of meeting Titus there and receiving news from Corinth. When he got to Troas, some wonderful door of opportunity opened out before him by the Lord for preaching Christ’s gospel.

2). What a purpose (v. 12) “to preach the Gospel”—Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation…”

3). What a privilege (v. 12b) “for me” “a door stood open before me” Before proceeding to Greece Paul had hoped to minister in Troas, a favored Roman colony. It served as an important seaport in the Roman colony for those traveling between Asia Minor & Macedonia. The walls of the city were about 6 miles in length.

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