“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It is not always easy to give thanks, but this is the very thing we must do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. This is how we move into higher realms of faith for ourselves, for our city, and for our nation. Thanksgiving has great power to bring joy and break the power of the enemy. Whenever you give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in your life. When you give thanks in the midst of difficulty, you bring pleasure to God’s heart. He is looking for Christians who live in a realm of praise and thanksgiving where the enemy no longer has an ability to hold or manipulate that person. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice pleasing to God.
Are you thankful? Are you thankful for your present circumstances? Are you thankful for your salvation, your friendships, and your job? Thankfulness is a key to your life. It is the key that turns your situation around because it changes you, your outlook, and your attitude. There is power in a thankful heart. Begin to thank God for all the blessings he has given you instead of dwelling on the negative. Discontent dries up the soul. Look at what Elizabeth Elliott, who lost her husband on the mission field and has faced multitudes of hardships, says about loving God’s will and being content. “To love God is to love His will. It is to wait quietly for life to be measured by one who knows us through and through. It is to be content with His timing and His wise apportionment. It is to follow in the steps of the Master, as did Paul, who was able to say that he had learned contentment no matter what the circumstances. His circumstances when he wrote that? Prison. No easy lesson, but great gain which is the sum of godliness plus contentment (I Timothy 6:6).”
Look at the example of Jesus. He followed the will of His Father to the very end. He obeyed without complaint. In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul says that we should have the same attitude. Jesus made himself nothing and took on the very nature of a servant. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death. We also are to have this same attitude with a humble and thankful acceptance of God’s will for our lives. “Jesus loved the will of His Father. He embraced the limitations, the necessities, the conditions, the very chains of His humanity as He walked and worked here on earth, fulfilling moment by moment His divine commission and the stern demands of His incarnation. Never was there a word or even a look of complaint.” — Elizabeth Elliott
The Duke of Wellington was the great British military leader who regretted that he had not learned the secret of praise during his lifetime. He had many great accomplishments and even defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. He was a brilliant and demanding man and when he was older, he realized that there were areas in his life that needed to change. In his old age a women asked him this question, “What would you do differently if you had your life to live over again?” He thought carefully and said, “I would give more praise.” This is a lesson for all of us; if we would learn to be people of praise and thanksgiving all the days of our lives it would be a great accomplishment. David said in Psalm 116:17, “I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.” Let each of us seek to have an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving, rising to a new level of holiness in our lives.
Here are 3 ways to practice an attitude of thankfulness in everyday life:
· Thank and praise God for everything in your life. Thank Him for even the difficulties. It is a sacrifice to do this. But He can turn troubles to triumph. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
· Don’t allow yourself to complain about anything. During the difficult times, be very careful to watch your tongue. Instead of complaining, think of ways you can verbally offer God the sacrifice of thanksgiving.
· Don’t compare yourself with others. Don’t wish that your life was different. God knows what is best. The Bible says having a thankful heart is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. When we begin to thank God for what we have rather than comparing ourselves with others, it opens the door for God’s blessings.
God smiles when we praise and thank Him continually. Few things feel better than receiving heartfelt praise and appreciation from someone else. God loves it, too. An amazing thing happens when we offer praise and thanksgiving to God. When we give God enjoyment, our own hearts are filled with joy. This Sunday at South Side we will begin our new sermon series entitled “Thankful Living.” Worship begins at 10:45, and we would love to have you worship with us!
Barry Pettit is lead minister at South Side Church of Christ in Washington Court House.