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Summary: Thanksgiving always brings memories and allows families to come together; but do we spend our entire lives being thankful, rejoicing always, and praying without ceasing? Paul's encouragement on this is clear, and God's will for your life requires it!

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Thanksgiving through the Gospel

1 Thessalonians 5:12-18

Introduction

- Thanksgiving is always a time of thinking back; a time of reflection for many

- It brings to some memories of family gatherings, and even some funny reunions

- For some though, it can bring sadness b/c of love’s lost or other tragedies

- But, no matter the memories, the reason we can celebrate is b/c of Jesus

- Even in the dark times; even in the bad times; we have a Savior to worship

- There is much to be said about Thanksgiving in the scriptures

- This morning, we will look at a famous piece of scripture for encouragement

I’d like to make an open ended challenge though this morning …

- Thanksgiving can be a joyous time; but is it b/c of the joy of the Lord?

- Or, are we joyful b/c of a man-made thing that we’ve created to dull the pain?

- It is something that we have to come face to face with; to draw closer to Christ

- APP: We need the joy of the Lord living IN us to be really joyful

-- Let’s talk this morning about how to obtain it and be thankful in the Gospel

-- We are going to look at three “standing orders” for the Christian to live by

- Stand and read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18

- Pray

Point 1 – Rejoice Always

- Most of us would be willing to admit that we’d have NO problem if it read:

- “Rejoice sometimes; Pray occasionally; Give thanks when you feel like it”

- It is those definitive words that really mess us up: Always, continually, in all …

- What we see is what the Gospel really commands us to do when we don’t feel it

- APP: Christianity is either the genuine article or it’s a spiritual fake

- It is not something man can make up, and we must be totally sold out to this

- The first proof of the gospel’s power for most people will be what they see in us

- Joy does not depend on me having a job or not; or how we are treated by others

- It is a genuine reflection of what is going on inside of our hearts that others see

-- Jesus said (John 15:11), “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you”

- Consider what this means when we gather for worship.

- If we come with our problems first and foremost (as we often do), then we will judge the worship by how lifted up we feel at the end.

- APP: As long as church members focus on themselves, there will be no joy in the worship services.

- Some Christians just believe it is their duty to be miserable; to constantly scowl

-- The Bible teaches 100% the opposite of this at every turn:

-- Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

-- Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”

- How can we possibly show Christ’s love and joy with a frown on our face 24/7?

- Honestly, I’ve seen enough joyless Christians that I prefer friendly unbelievers

- APP: Are we rejoicing always in who God is in our life? Do we possess joy?

Point 2 – Pray Without Ceasing

- Of the three “standing orders,” this one causes the most problems.

-- What does it mean to pray “without ceasing"?

-- Should every thought and every spoken word be a prayer directed to the Lord?

-- In a sense, of course, the answer is yes.

- But, there is so much more than just a glancing blow we must realize here

- It’s like having an open connection to the Lord that we must realize

- We stay in a state where we can pray all the time, everywhere, about everything.

- There is nothing we face, no duty too small that doesn’t need prayer

- We are to pray: Consciously, Deliberately, Repeatedly, and Persistently

- Prayer is never about us; it is how we communicate with God for Him to speak

Point 3 – Be Thankful in Every Circumstance

- We know that we should give thanks when things are going well.

- It is right and good to “praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

- But if you only give thanks when you have money in the bank, when your marriage is good, when the deal goes through, when the doctor says, “You don’t have cancer,” when your kids are doing well, when the church is growing and your friends are glad to see you, if that’s the only time you give thanks, what will you do when trouble comes?

- What will you do when your company downsizes and you are out of a job, when your retirement fund loses 45% of its value, when your marriage collapses, when your daughter gets pregnant out of wedlock, when the cancer returns, or when your friends betray you?

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