Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
~I Thessalonians 5:18
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How important is it to be thankful?
In all circumstances? Our text today, simply states it’s so important it’s actually God’s will for His followers.
As a follower of Christ, how are you doing with that?
One of my favorite “Paul” stories is found in Acts 16 – this account puts me in awe every time I read it
16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.
19 Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. 20 “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. 21 “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”
22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.
Look back for a moment at verses 23-25. I mean, who does that? Who gets beaten, severely, and still singing hymns – obviously giving thanks to God in spite of their situation?
I mean, seriously – they had freed a girl from the bondage of both the enemy’s and human exploitation, they were blatantly lied about, they were beaten within an inch of their lives, yet they were singing and giving thanks to God.
Perhaps, if we were to living a life of “Thanks,” in everything, maybe we could actually live in victory too.
Max Lucado tells about living as an American in Brazil. One day, as he was walking along the street on his way to the University to teach a class, he felt a tug on his pants leg. Turning around, he saw a little boy about 5 or 6 years old with dark beady eyes and a dirty little face. The little boy looked up at the big American and said, "Bread, Sir." He was a little beggar boy and Lucado said, "There are always little beggar boys in the streets of Brazil. Usually I turn away from them because there are so many and you can't feed them all. But there was something so compelling about this little boy that I couldn't turn away.
So, taking his hand, I said, `Come with me' and I took him into a coffee shop." Max told the owner, "I'll have a cup of coffee and give the boy a piece of pastry...whatever he wants." Since the coffee counter was at the other end of the store, Max walked on and got a cup of coffee, forgetting about the little boy because beggar boys usually get the bread and then run back out into the street and disappear. But this one didn't. After he got his pastry, he went over to the big American and just stood there until Lucado felt his staring eyes. Lucado said, "I turned and looked at him. Standing up, his eyes just about hit my belt buckle. Then slowly his eyes came up until they met mine. The little boy, holding his pastry in one hand, looked up and said, 'Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.'"
Lucado said, "I was so touched by the boy's thanks that I would have bought him the store. I sat there for another 30 minutes, late for my class, just thinking about a little beggar boy who came back and said, `Thank you.'"
This young lad had an attitude of thankfulness and it was expressed. If we have this attitude, it will show. We will be expressive, we will be praising God; we will have joy in our hearts. Having an attitude of thankfulness is ultra-important in the life of a follower of Jesus.
How about you? Are you sitting here today and thinking; “yeah, but my situation is different – if you had to go through what I’ve been through, you’d know where I’m coming from. I just can’t give thanks in everything. I can’t and I won’t!
Pastor Troy Mason, Pastor of the Cherry Point Baptist Church Havelock North Carolina gives us some great perspective!
I am Thankful for.........
....the taxes I pay ....because it means I’m employed.
....the clothes that fit a little too snug ....because it means I have enough to eat.
....my shadow who watches me work ....because it means I am out in the sunshine.
....a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and ....gutters that need fixing ....because it means I have a home.
....the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot ....because it means I am capable of walking.
....my huge heating bill ....because it means I am warm.
....all the complaining I hear about our government ....because it means we have freedom of speech.
....the lady behind me in church who sings off key ....because it means that I can hear.
....the piles of laundry and ironing ....because it means my loved ones are nearby.
....the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours ....because it means that I’m alive.
....weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day ....because it means I have been productive.
How about this year, at Thanksgiving time?
Would you give thanks to God in all circumstances?
Let me leave you with this from Paul, the one who gave thanks after being beaten:
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[o]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[p] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
With this knowledge, firmly tucked in your mind – how you help but not be thankful – in all things!