Summary: God not only deserves our thanks, but I believe He also desires it. He wants us to be grateful for His goodness rather than just take it all for granted. How many of you took time out this past week just to re-count your blessings and thank God for everyt
Thanksgiving Versus Thanksliving
Text: I Thessalonians 5:18
Introduction: I believe Scripture substantiates the fact that God expects us to thank Him for His blessings in our lives. This is evidenced in the words of Jesus to the one lone ex-leper who returned to thank Him in Luke 17:15-17: "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?"
God not only deserves our thanks, but I believe He also desires it. He wants us to be grateful for His goodness rather than just take it all for granted. How many of you took time out this past week just to re-count your blessings and thank God for everything He’s done for you? As we prepare to have Thanksgiving this week, let us understand that God doesn’t want our thanksgiving to be limited to one Thursday in November. God wants us to continually thank Him. He wants us to live a life of thankfulness.
Look what Paul has to say about it all: "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (I Th 5:18). In Ephesians 5:19-20, he says: "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." In Philippians 4:4, he writes: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
Paul made it clear that our giving of thanks is to be continual not contingent; it is to be ongoing in spite of our circumstances, not just when everything is going well. Even though he faced some very devastating circumstances, Paul was able to maintain an attitude of gratitude because he held onto a proper perspective of both God and His circumstances. He knew that God was good all the time and consequently, he knew that a good God would only allow circumstances that would ultimately result in something good.
His attitude toward his circumstances and situations mirrored that of Joseph in Genesis 50:19-20 where Joseph said: "Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." You will remember that Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him into slavery. But this situation was just a part of God’s bigger plan of protecting His people and Joseph recognized that rather than wallow in self-pity over the tough times he had to endure. This attitude basically says: "Since God is good, then this bad circumstance must be meant to bring about some further good in or through my life or else God would not have allowed it."
What an accurate picture of the pain and suffering, and all the negative stuff, that we have to face in this life. It all originates from satan, who intends to harm us, but when God allows it to happen, it can only mean He has something good in store.
Knowing that God expects us to live a life of thanksgiving rather than offering limited thanks, and knowing that we must never lose sight of God’s goodness and God’s hand at work in everything we face – I want to share you with you three reasons why our thanksgiving must be continual and not contingent.
I. BECAUSE THE WORLD IS WATCHING AND LISTENING
A. The world seems to ignore the good news we try to share with them, but they become all ears when negative circumstances befall us.
1. Consider the situation Paul and Silas found themselves in in Acts 16:22-25: "The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them."
2. When our circumstances turn from good to bad, when the flow of God’s blessings seem to be temporarily turned off in our lives, what we tend to forget is that it is at these moments that the world is most likely watching our lives.
B. Times of suffering and hardship often provides you and I the greatest opportunity to demonstrate the validity of Christianity.
1. If we are only grateful and joyful when things are going good then how are we any different from the rest of the world? What do we have that they would want?