Summary: Are we thank full if we aren’t giving thanks? We must allow thanks to move out of our minds into our mouth and hands.
Thanks . . .Giving
Pt. 2 - Graduated Thanks
?Last week we talked about moving from thankskeeping to thanks giving. We do this by targeted thanks. Making sure we target God and the people He uses in our life with expressed, articulated thanks. This so that we live up to the challenge to be the most thank full people on the planet. However, if we are not diligent and disciplined targeted thanks can quickly and unconsciously become seasonal thanks. Thanks only practiced when reminded. Only acted upon occasionally. That is why I want to also challenge you to move further on this journey towards maturity and get to graduated thanks. This is an entirely different level of thanks. This is the point at which we move beyond thanks giving and begin to practice thanks living! This is captured in the gauntlet throw down by Paul to the Thessalonians.
Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
(NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(Message) Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
Those 3 verses represent the pinnacle of graduated thanks. Paul assures us that this is how Jesus Himself wants us to live.
The NIV says this is God’s will for us. It has occurred to me that there is a lot of talk about and pursuit of God’s will for our life. It seems that we are all on the passionate pursuit of knowing God’s will. Trying this, trying that, fasting, asking for opinions, seeking counsel. And all the time His will for our lives is already clearly spelled out. His will is that to graduate in our thanks.
I am not one to always look for formulas but I believe the Lord dropped this little formula into my heart. This is the formula we must master to graduate. I think there is a progression here. We will learn to practice thanksgiving if we walk through this progression.
Paul’s first instruction deals with our outlook. He says rejoice always. Or as the Message puts it “Be cheerful no matter what”. I am convinced that most of us will struggle to get to thanksliving simply because we don’t address this first instruction. Paul is adamant that our outlook will directly effect the other two steps. We have got to come to the level of maturity where our life is marked by rejoicing or cheerfulness. I think Paul understood that there is power in joy. If we know our strength is founded and rooted in joy, then why is that we struggle so mightily to rejoice or be cheerful? Could it be that we have allowed the external to determine the internal? Take a moment and evaluate your rejoice and cheerful level? Would anyone say that describes you? Or would they say you are sullen, cranky, downcast, or overcast? Paul was big on rejoicing. In Philippians he repeats this same formula almost verbatim to an entirely different audience and in this passage he doubles down on rejoicing.
Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord and I will say it again rejoice!
Perhaps we would be able to be more marked by thanks if we were first marked by rejoicing. To rejoice you have to have outward focus and adjust your sight to what is right rather than what is wrong!
Any rejoicers in the house today? Is your outlook setting you up for thanksliving?
B. In Look
The second step in this progression deals with your in look. How can you graduate to thankful living if you don’t also do what Paul says here . . . Pray always? Pray continually. In Philippians . . . Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Or in the Message - Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Paul is challenging us to move to a different in look. If we are not careful, we often mistake worry for prayer. Paul says to pray. Prayer simply reminds us that we are not alone. We have someOne working on our behalf. SomeOne with power, provision, protection, and our best interest in mind. In fact, Paul states that there is a war going on in the inside of you. Worry is an invading force that only Jesus can overthrow. Through prayer Jesus dethrones worry and the result is thankfulness.