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Being Thankful: Ephesians 5:18-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Being Thankful: Ephesians 5:18-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks unto the Holy One

Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.

Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks unto the Holy One.

Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.

And now let the weak say, “I am strong.”

Let the poor say, “I am rich,”

Because of what the Lord has done for us.

Give thanks! Give thanks!

(Henry Smith)

Ephesians 5:18-21, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

Ephesians 5:18-21 MSG, “Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another”

“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” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 MSG).

Our natural impulse is to be unthankful, unappreciative, and ungrateful. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “God’s people write their blessing on sand, but engrave their trials on marble.”

To be ungrateful is a sin against God and man.

“The greatest, single act of personal worship that you can render, is for you to be thankful” (John MacArthur).

“Whenever a person prays without thanksgiving, he has clipped the wings of prayer so that it cannot rise” (William Hendrickson).

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankfulthat thorns have roses” (Author unknown).

“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul” (Rabbi Harold Kushner).

Gratitude shifts your focus from what you don’t have to the abundance that you already have.

1. Why are We to be Thankful?

Thanksgiving is a mark of moral and mental growth. We don’t expect appreciation from babies, and some children never mature. Some friends of ours had an eight year old son who never grew, mentally or physically, he couldn’t even recognize his parents. God has children like that! They have been children of God for many years but show no signs of growth, “But for right now, friends, I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast. Well, then, I’ll nurse you since you don’t seem capable of anything more. As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? When one of you says, ‘I’m on Paul’s side,’ and another says, ‘I’m for Apollos,’ aren’t you being totally infantile?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-4, MSG).

Thanksgiving is a mark of character, it shows the type of person you really are.

Thanksgiving is a source of Joy to the possessor! No matter how rich or full your life may be, without thanksgiving you are a pauper. No matter how poor you are, if you have a grasp on thanksgiving, you are very rich. You can lift depression with thanksgiving. List all the people who have been a blessing to you, then demonstrate your appreciation to them in some way. One man wrote to a teacher, who years before had been a great help to him. Her response, “I was blinded with tears…I taught school for more than fifty years, yours is the first letter of thanks I have ever received, I shall cherish it until die.”

Thanksgiving is a source of Joy to the Receiver! “Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees” (Job 4:4). Appreciation lifts people out of the mundane plains of a life called, “just existence,” to the excitement of life lived on a higher plain. One young wife, who’s husband was a little more than a creature of clay, very commonplace, was speaking with a friend as he was coming home from work. Listen to her, “Do you hear the trumpets?” They’re for my knight, coming home from the battle.” Many people today live lackluster lives with lagging steps, the light in their eyes gone dim, with just a little appreciation, they could have a new spring in their step, a new sparkle in their eyes, and a new lease on life. Having conducted hundreds of funerals, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I was too thankful; I was too thoughtful; I showed too much appreciation.” On the contrary, I’ve seen people, falling into the casket, crying, saying, “I’m so sorry, mom, I’m so sorry dad.” It’s too late to show appreciation after your loved-one is gone. DO IT NOW!

Thanksgiving is a sign of Humility. Thanksgiving ultimately recognizes God as the source of all blessings in life. Not being thankful is a form of practical atheism. Ultimately, thanksgiving crucifies self. It is a mark of character. Those who will not express thanksgiving are hiding behind a wall of pride. It takes sense of genuine humility to be able to express appreciation. Pride is believing I have accomplished something by my own resources, when in reality God and many others did it for me. The human inclination is to take all the credit for myself. Humility is the recognition that I am nothing. God’s Word tell us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, (Happy are the nobodies) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). “First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall” (Proverbs 16:18, MSG). “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6). “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:3-11). “But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6).

As for me, I don’t want what I deserve! We deserve nothing but God’s wrath and rejection, yet He has provided for us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Just want to tell You I'm Thankful for all You have done

For the stars and the moonlight and the setting sun

When my work here is through, I'm coming home to be with You

Just want to tell You, I'm Thankful that's all

When I feel discouraged, You're there to see me through

Of all the friends I have known, there's no one like You

All my needs You supply; oh, it makes me want to cry

Just want to tell You, I'm Thankful that's all.

(Author unknown)

Humility gives credit where credit is due. How many faithful wives get credit for her husband’s success? How many pastors give credit to their praying congregation for their success? How many bosses give credit to their faithful employees for their success? How many children give credit to their parents for their success in life?

2. When are We to be Thankful? “Always and of for all things.”

•But you don’t know my problems, “Always and of for all things.”

•But you don’t know my wife/husband, “Always and of for all things.”

•But you don’t know my family, I have teenagers, “Always and for all things.”

•But you don’t know my lousy job, “Always and of for all things.”

•But you don’t know what a dirty deal I got, “Always and of for all things.”

•But you don’t know what they did to me, “Always and of for all things.”

•But you don’t understand my circumstances, “Always and of for all things.”

Thanksgiving sees beyond circumstances to the plan of God:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11,NIV)

“I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11, MSG).

Thanksgiving looks beyond suffering to the sovereignty of God. “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings…” (Malachi 4:2). “God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3,4). “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10). “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

From Suffering to Glory:

Thanksgiving sees Romans 8:28 as God’s hand in everything. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:26-28, MSG).

Look at the Apostle Paul:

“Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool! I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting’s often, in cold and nakedness, besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

What did he have to be thankful for? He spent his entire ministry life under persecution. He suffered from a scarred body, failing eyesight, he was the weary figure of a man chastened by hunger and thirst; deep furrows were carved into his back by one-hundred-ninety-five Roman lashes, with a cat-of-nine-tails. He had been stoned and left for dead at Lystra, tortured and starved in many other places. He was shipwrecked, he spent thirty-six hours in the Mediterranean sea. And, in the end, he was beheaded by Emperor Nero.

Listen to the Apostle Paul: Even in the face of persecution, he is able to say, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (Romans 1:12). “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ…” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

What a lesson! Oh, how we need to be thankful people. We need to learn to give thanks for every circumstance in out lives. And we need to give thanks for everyone within our sphere of influence. Paul, shows his gratitude, in writing to the churches:

•To the Church at Rome, (The Orthodox Church), “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world’ (Romans 1:8).

•To the Church at Corinth (The corrupt Church), “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4).

•To the Church at Ephesus (The Rich Church, who didn’t know it), “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:15,16).

•To the Philippian Church (The Loving Church), “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy…” (Philippians 1:3,4).

•To the Church at Colosse (Where Christ is preeminent), “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven…”(Colossians 1:3-5).

•To the Church at Thessalonica (The Faithful Church), “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father” (1 Thessalonians 1:2,3).

•To Timothy, his son in the ministry, “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day” (2 Timothy 1:3).

•To Philemon, “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers…” (Philemon 1:12).

Notice that Paul ignores his own trials and tribulations, and continually gives thanks for God and others. You cannot do this on your own! It is the result of a Spirit-filled life…”Be filled with the Spirit… giving thanks always for all things.” Do not try this kind of sacrificial living on your own, it will only result in frustration. This kind of life comes only through the filling of God’s Spirit! (Ephesians 5:18).

4. How are We to Give Thanks? “In the name of the LORD Jesus.”

Listen to Jesus, the one whose words moves mountains and thunders through the heavens, as He speaks words of thanksgiving to His Heavenly Father… “Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd” (Matthew 15:36). “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike” (Matthew 11:25). “Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.’” (John 11:40-42).

What did He have to be thankful for? He came out of the ivory palaces, a world of continual praise and worship, to a world that hated Him, spit on Him, tortured Him, harassed Him and finally murdered Him. Though He deserved love, He was hated. He deserved riches, but He became poor. He deserved respect, but He was reviled. He deserved worship, but He was scorned. He deserved holiness, but He took our sin. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Jesus went from agony in the Garden of Gethsemane where He sweat blood; to submitting to a mock trial; to thirty-nine lashes with a cat-of-nine-tail; to a crown of thorns being jammed down on his head; to carrying a heavy cross through the streets; then up to the Hill of Golgotha, where He is nailed to a cruel Roman cross; there being hung between heaven and earth, every bone in His body was out of joint, there He suffered with thirst, only to be given vinegar, It was there He cried out to God, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Look at us: We deserve humiliation, but He gives us glory. We deserve hate but He gives us love, We deserve rejection, but He accepts us. We deserve scorn, but He gives us affection. We deserve poverty, but He gives His riches, We deserve sin’s curse, but He gives us His righteousness.

And if everything doesn’t go just the way we desire, we gripe and complain, and refuse to be thankful.

I Haven't Stopped Giving Thanks: (Author unknown)

•If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and place to sleep…you are richer than 75% of the world.

•If you have money in the bank, cash in your wallet or even spare change in a dish someplace…you are among the top 8% of the Earth's wealthiest people.

•If you woke up this morning with more health than illness…you are more fortunate than the million people who will not survive the week.

•If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the suffering of starvation…you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

•If you can attend a worship service, or any other Christian-related meeting, without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death…you are fortunate. Billions of people in the world cannot.

So it's not hard for us to count our blessings, is it? Most of us could quickly and easily jot down a rather lengthy list, including thanks for family and friends, food, clothing, cars, homes, pets, jobs, toys, health, freedom…and so on…

Three categories of thankful people:

1. Those who thank God after the blessing. This one is easy, God healed you; gave you the job you wanted; provided the finances you needed; gave you the house for which you were praying; took care of you children; and like Israel at the Red Sea, you sang a song of thanksgiving: “Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to God, giving voice together, I’m singing my heart out to God—what a victory! He pitched horse and rider into the sea God is my strength, God is my song, and, yes! God is my salvation” (Exodus 15:1-3, MSG).

2. Those who thank God before the battle begins for the victory you know is coming. “LORD, I see a problem coming, how wonderful! Now I can just believe in You for the victory!”

Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus, “Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me. ”Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:41-43).

In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and Israel is at war with the Moabites Jehoshaphat prays: “O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?... God responds) “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them…You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”

Jehoshaphat’s army “Praised the beauty of holiness instead of shouting out a battle cry.” They simply believed God for the victory that was coming. This was the only battle in history where the choir went in before the Marines! God set up an ambush, the enemy started running and defeated themselves.

Giving thanks before the battle is a test of spiritual character. If you are defeated in anticipation of the battle, you have not yet arrived.

3. Those who thank God in the midst of the battle when it looks like your losing.

Here are some people who prayed, even though they were about to suffer”

•Daniel, bowed toward Jerusalem (Daniel 6).

•The three Hebrew children, about to burned to death (Daniel 3).

•Jonah, in the belly of a sea monster (Jonah 2).

•The Apostles, they took them and beat them mercilessly, their response, They thanked God that they were counted worthy to suffer (Acts 5).

•Paul and Silas in a dungeon at midnight singing praises (Acts 16).

Which category are you?

Give thanks after you have been blessed?

Give thanks before the battle begins?

Give thanks during the battle, when it looks like you’re losing? Can you say with Jehoshaphat, “The battle is the Lord’s, It’s not mine and it’s not the king’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15).

My brother, Beryl died of Leukemia in 1972. He left plans for his funeral… No hymns were to be sung, no prayers to be said, the name of God was not to be mentioned. Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” was the only music played. The words of this popular song seemed to be an anthem for the a self-centered life. Our culture and its values communicate a clear message: Have it your way! Fulfill your plans! “It’s my life, and I’ll do what I want. I deserve this. It’s my way or the highway.” But, If Jesus is the very center of your life, your greatest desire is God’s way for your life! What good things do we have that did not come from the LORD? Nothing! Listen to the words of Psalm 103:1-5,22 from The Message:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul;

And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…

Bless the LORD, O my soul.”

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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