Sermons

Summary: Paul says that it is God's will that we be thankful under all circumstances. This is one thing we need never doubt, for it is stated clearly. We know then that it is possible for everyone of us to acquire the vision of Paul and be incurable optimists

Markus Bach tells of flying above the majestic Selkirk Range in

British Columbia with a strange and intricate mechanism in the tail

of the plane. It was called a magnetometer. This instrument was

used in Ontario to detect 60 millions tons of silver, copper and zinc.

It is an "electronic prospector in the sky." Unlike the old time

prospector who had to climb the hills and with pick and shovel dig

his way to uncertain riches, these modern prospectors sat in

comfortable bucket seats soaring over the mountains like a seagull

while the instruments were computing all the information needed to

tell them where treasures were to be found. No one would ever

suspect that by means of this instrument those men in the plane were

seeing the unseen. They were seeing what men on the ground could

not see. They were penetrating forests and rocks, and they were

detecting that which was hidden to the natural eye.

Paul did not know anything about instruments for discovering

riches in the rocks, but he had already discovered an instrument

equivalent to the magnetometer which enabled one to find riches in

all of life's experiences so that the possessor could be one who was

always thankful, no matter what. We could call Paul's discovery a

thankometer if we keep in mind that it is an instrument which is

itself unseen, and which is built into the very heart and mind of the

obedient and perceptive believer. It gives the believer the amazing

ability to pierce through the crust of reality into the core and

discover riches which are unseen by the natural eye.

It was the possession of this advanced divine technology that

enabled Paul to be a persistent optimist through all the trials he

endured. Throw him into prison and he looks upon it as an

opportunity to catch up on his choir practice. He and Silas sing

praises to the Lord in the prison. Let the blind think they are

defeating Paul by running him out of town, stoning him, and

afflicting him by every means possible. Paul sees an altogether

different picture, and he writes in II Cor. 2:14, "But thanks be to

God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us

spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere."

Paul's thankometer was water proof and shock proof. In spite of

ship wreck and stoning it kept operating and caused Paul to see

blessings everywhere. His optimism was comprehensive and

covered every possible circumstance. He wrote in Phil. 4:4, "Rejoice

in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice." In verse 6 he wrote,

"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and

supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to

God." Paul did not let his optimism become limited by

circumstances. He wrote to the persecuted Thessalonians who were

suffering for Christ, and he commanded them in the same

comprehensive terms of our text and said in verse 16-18, "Rejoice

evermore, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks."

Paul expected every Christian to be equipped with a thankometer

which was to be kept in operation full time. Christians are not to be

joyful and prayerful and thankful on a part time basis. If we are

joyful only when all is well, then we have not risen above the natural

level, for this is only normal. Who would be impressed with a

magnetometer if it was a device that let a man down by a rope with a

pick and shovel and let him dig away at the mountain to see if there

was any valuable metals? The fancy name would only add to our

laughter at the commonness of it. Likewise, the name Christian does

not impress anyone who sees that the label does not affect the

actions and attitudes of the one who wears it. The non-Christian

must certainly laugh at the professed believer who goes to all the

trouble of prayer, worship, and Bible study just to be like everyone

else who do none of these things.

Paul says in everything gives thanks. That is, under all

circumstances. To be thankful just when circumstances are such as

to call forth natural gratitude is to give no hint that Christians are

on a unique level. If the Christian does not possess a thankometer,

or whatever else you want to call that power which enables them to

see treasures of beauty in the junk heaps of life, then he is living in

voluntary blindness on the level of the natural and unredeemed

man. Like all of God's gifts, this one is also free to those who ask

and seek for it. Paul is urging Christians to hunger after this

greater vision of reality that they might perceive that which will

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