Summary: 1) Thankfulness through Constant Rejoicing 2) Thankfulness through Constant Prayer 3) Consistent Thankfulness in all Circumstances
The International Monetary Fund warned yesterday that the global financial system is on the brink of meltdown. "Intensifying solvency concerns about a number of the largest U.S.-based and European financial institutions have pushed the global financial system to the brink of systemic meltdown," IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.
Confidence has been in short supply and panic has swept through global markets, driving stocks to a five-year low Friday and prompting banks to hoard cash. That has choked off lending to businesses and households, threatening to turn a global economic slowdown into a dangerously deep recession. (National Post. Saturday October 10th 2008.) Everything seems to be in Chaos
Locally we see continued manufacturing layoffs like at Woods, people defaulting on their mortgages, instability in the food supply, sickness, and a loss of savings. How then can we celebrate Thanksgiving today?
The church at Thessalonica, was facing even greater challenges. 1 Thessalonians was likely the 2nd of Paul’s letters, written @ 52AD, after Timothy had returned to Paul at Corinth, relating to him the state of the church at Thessalonica. As a young church there were a few doctrinal misunderstandings that needed to be dealt with. They were facing confusion from within and persecution from without.
Looking to the situation at the churches in Thessalonica gives us some important instruction on how we can celebrate in the midst of turmoil. The message from 1 Thessalonians shows how can we be thankful in the midst of difficulty. Thankfulness through 1) Constant rejoicing 2) Constant Prayer and 3) Consistent Thankfulness in all circumstances helps us understand how we can not only celebrate in the midst of turmoil but be directed, encouraged and strengthened. Therefore we see:
1) Thankfulness through Constant Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 5: 16)
1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, (ESV)
These two words (pantote chairete) constitute the shortest verse in the Greek New Testament (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:708). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
• Such a short and straightforward directive almost seems impossible.
To Rejoice is to have joy.
Definition: Joy is a “lasting, deep-seated sense of well being and pleasure that is produced by the Holy Spirit now living within a Christian” (Gal. 5:22). “Christian joy is a conscious attitude of rejoicing in the Lord and in what He has done. It does not depend ultimately upon our feelings or circumstances. We may not always feel buoyant and cheerful.
We can deliberately call to mind the Lord and rejoice in Him at all times (Phil. 4:4)” (Andrew W. Young: Let’s Study 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Banner of Truth Books. 2001. p. 103)
Christian joy is not self-centered. The believer rejoices when others are blessed (Rom 12:15) and when others demonstrate obedience in the Lord (Rom 16:19; 1 Cor 13:6; 2 Cor 7:9; 13:9; Phil 4:10). The presence of good Christian company is a source of joy (1 Cor 16:17; Phil 2:28). What is so amazing in this concept is that even in the midst of personal tribulations Paul could find cause for joy (2 Cor 6:10; cf. 1:6). And Paul could rejoice in the spread of the gospel, even when it involved the personal pain of self-sacrifice (Phil 1:18; 2:17–18; cf. 2:19–20; 3:6) (Martin, D. M. (2001, c1995). Vol. 33: 1, 2 Thessalonians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (181). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) He knew how to rejoice in circumstances adverse beyond most men’s imagining (Rom 5:3; II Cor 6:4–10).
Please turn to Psalm 50
Implicit in the command to rejoice always is the realization that there are times and in certain difficult circumstances that we do not naturally feel like rejoicing.
Psalm 50:14-15, 23 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!"
• In the day of trouble, emotionally we do not feel joyful. But there is an active duty here of giving thanks. This glorifies God and is a tremendous testimony.
The apostles never encourage believers to deny that adversity brings sadness and grief (see 4.13; 1 Pet. 1.6; Rom. 12.15), but they recognize that in the midst of the most agonizing situations the presence of God through his Spirit can infuse the soul with hope and the heart with joy. This joy is rooted deeply in the gospel (Luke 2.10–11) and becomes one of the primary distinctives of the Christian community (Green, G. L. (2002). The letters to the Thessalonians. The Pillar New Testament commentary (258). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.)