Summary: this sermon was revised from a sermon by pastor Robert Harmon.
What Have I got to be Thankful for?! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Several things happened this year that just knocked the wind out of me.
My father got sick and died. I was left without that source of strength I grew up knowing.
The floods came and now part of our roof is covered by a tarp because the insurance company didn’t give us enough to pay someone to repair it.
The other day I walked out to back door and found the meter pole falling over because the ground is so soft from all the rain.
So please somebody tell me, what have I got to be thankful for!?
These are my stories but each person in here has their own list.
Well, I can be thankful that my Dad was saved and that one day I’ll see him again in heaven. I can be thankful that I had a tarp on hand to cover the leaking roof.
I’m thankful that I have been collecting pallets because there was a 4X6 post in one of the loads that worked perfect as a support. I’m thankful I own a pair of posthole diggers that I could dig the hole to drop that 4X6 post in to create and anchor. I’m thankful that I already had a 4” ratchet strap to anchor the pole to that 4X6 post, so it couldn’t fall any farther.
People generally think of that 4th Thursday in November as a day of being thankful for the stuff we have BUT for many that becomes extremely difficult, due to the pressures of this world.
And it seems that the world’s perception of thanksgiving is limited to a once a year event, no longer called Thanksgiving but “Black Friday” Thanksgiving is, these days, limited to physical or noticeable things.
True thanksgiving is thankful living each and every day.
I want to look at a few ways we can be thankful on a daily basis.
I. Rejoice always, (verse 16)
I love the way the NLT reads this; [1Th 5:16 NLT] 16 Always be joyful.
Rejoicing doesn’t mean that we MUST always be happy! It’s about being joyful! Most people are happy on occasions like birthdays, Anniversaries, heading to Disney World or going fishing. These are things that make us happy but joy is not natural, the joy of the lord is supernatural.
Joy is like the song, “I’m trading my sorrows.” Listen to these words.
“I'm trading my sorrow… I'm trading my shame…
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord.
I'm trading my sickness… I'm trading my pain…
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord.”
A Christian’s joy is not dependent on circumstances! It is through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that real joy comes!
It comes from what Christ has done. His joy is constant and never fades away!
II. Pray without ceasing, (verse 17)
The NLT [1Th 5:17 NLT] 17 Never stop praying.
A. Why is constant prayer so important?
Prayer is the only way to cultivate a joyful attitude in times of trial.
Isn’t it interesting that before Paul mentions contentment in Philippians he says, “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.”
So pastor does this mean that we should be on our knees 24/7?
No but what it does mean is that in our hearts there should be a constant attitude of prayer growing, daily, out of a true dependence on God.
That means lifting your heart to God even when we cannot find within us the words to speak and to allow the Holy Spirit’s leading, especially in those desperate situations.
I want so much for each of us to understand that prayer is not only a way to communicate, it is a weapon used in Spiritual warfare.
YET Prayer, being our most powerful weapon, is often our most unused resource.
Some use prayer for nothing more than a way to manipulate God or an easy way to give up when God doesn’t answer the way we feel is right.
The primary purpose of prayer is NOT to change me/you, NOT to change our situations, but prayer is given for building your relationship with God.
III. Give thanks, (Verse 18)
NLT: [1Th 5:18 NLT] 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Great men of God thanked him in their worse situations
Polycarp while being burned at the stake said, "Leave me thus. He who strengthens me to endure the flames will also enable me to stand firm at the stake without being fastened with nails."