Summary: However you decide to celebrate Thanksgiving, the fact remains that it’s a time for us to count our blessings. Scripture is very clear to us that every blessing in our life is a result of God’s provision…

The 3 Ingredients of Thanksgiving

(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Thanksgiving is a very special time of the year. Traditionally, it’s a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. The worldly perspective of thanksgiving however has turned it into a time of gathering with the family, eating a big meal, watching football, hunting/shopping. Maybe your family has their own unique tradition. However you decide to celebrate Thanksgiving, the fact remains that it’s a time for us to count our blessings. Scripture is very clear to us that every blessing in our life is a result of God’s provision…

James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

If you’re in good health and have a roof over your head, God has blessed you. If you get enough to eat each day, are part of a church family, have faithful friends, a source of income, then our generous God has blessed you. Because of God’s great love he provides for us, just as He has provided for His people for thousands of years.

Another problem with today’s thanksgiving other than the worldly traditions we’ve placed on it is that it’s limited to an annual holiday. True thanksgiving, however, is identified and verified by a life of daily thanksgiving. Let’s take a look at God’s Word to find out how to lead a life of thanksgiving. Now I want you to keep in mind that the christians of Thessalonica were going through a period of serious persecution when this letter was written.

Read vv.16-18

Rejoice always (v.16)

In order for us to be able to rejoice always, we have to understand the difference between joy and happiness.

Understanding happiness

Happiness is just a feeling. It comes from the word “happenstance” from which we get the word “circumstance”. In other words, our happiness depends on our circumstances.

Ex. If things are going my way, then I’m happy.

The problem with happiness is that it’s temporary. The moment you think you have a hold on happiness, it slips away and then you find yourself needing another fix.

Ex. I’m convinced that’s it’s next to impossible to go to Disneyworld and not be happy. As a matter of fact, they call it the happiest place on earth for a reason. But you can’t stay there forever so when you leave often times you find your happiness leaving too.

Understanding joy

People are naturally happy depending on their circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is not natural. Its source is supernatural. The only way you’re going to have joy is if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, because Jesus is the author of joy. In Christ we can decide to be joyful despite our problems. A Christian’s joy is not dependent on circumstances, it comes from what Christ has done. Its permanent; it doesn’t fade away. It’s the strength of His children:

Nehemiah 8:10 says,

“Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Lessons for the church

Be joyful – David knew how to (Psalm 13:1-4; 5-6)

Decide: He says in verse 5 “but I…”

Then: Trust in God’s unfailing love (salvation): God has proved His love for us. Sooner or later He will provide a way of escape.

Through continual prayer – which takes me to the next point…

Pray without ceasing (v.17)

The only way you’re going to be able to cultivate a joyful attitude during times of trial is through a personal relationship with Jesus, one important aspect of that relationship is praying without ceasing. Uninterrupted prayer keeps temporary and spiritual values in balance.

What did the apostle Paul mean by “pray without ceasing”? How is it possible to carry on a normal life if we’re praying all the time without ever taking a break?

First of all, Paul didn’t mean that we should walk around all day mumbling prayers to God. No, he was teaching that we can live in a constant attitude of prayer, even as we go about our daily routines. Lifting our hearts to God while we are occupied with miscellaneous duties regardless if words are uttered or not. Of course, some days we’ll pray much more than others. But regardless of the particular items on our “to do” list for that day, we can maintain a natural attitude of prayer that encompasses our whole lives.

When we develop this sort of prayerful outlook, prayer becomes our first instinct any time we face a challenge or encounter a difficulty rather than our last resort. When we maintain an attitude of prayer, we don’t even have to think about moving from first gear to second, from an attitude of prayer to the practice of prayer. It never occurs to us that we shouldn’t pray.

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