Friday, June 20, 2014


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Living a Thanksgiving Life

What is the hardest thing in life to do? It might be trying to climb a fence that’s leaning toward you…or to kiss a girl who’s leaning away from you. But really, the most difficult thing in life might be to “give thanks always for all things.”

If Paul had simply said “Give thanks always,” we might be OK with this. But what bothers us is the next phrase, “for all things.” Many hearts are subdued because of tribulation and anguish. How can we come to the place where we give thanks “always in all things”?

Let me ask you a question. Do you have difficulty with bitterness, selfishness, self pity, negativism, or pride? An attitude of gratitude can change those things and literally transform your life.

There are four levels of living. People in the lowest level constantly complain. These folks are always griping and complaining. Rather than being humbly grateful, they're grumbly hateful.

The second level is just a bit higher. These are not people who are constantly complaining; they just never give thanks for anything. They take things for granted.

The third level are those who thank God for the obvious blessings, when things are going good and everything is fine.

But the fourth level, the highest level, are those who give thanks always for all things.

This is the attitude that will change your life. Today we are confronted by a passage that will profoundly change your life.  Here is God's answer to a character that draws criticism and crankiness. Here is God's answer in how you can tune up your attitude, and make life bearable for those around you. I don't want to grow old to become a cranky bitter old man. You don't want to grow old and be someone that isn’t loved or respected. These three verses today will change your character.

Three things.. 1 Thessalonians 5 :16 Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1. Rejoice always!

What people need is JOY not happiness. Happiness comes from the word “hap,” which means  “luck” or “happenings.” Happiness rises and falls with what happens in your life, but joy remains  constant regardless of what happens. Joy is an inner attitude of cheer that manifests itself through outward celebration.

Joy is an important word in the Bible. Joy appears 158 times and “rejoice” appears another 198  times. In the Old Testament there are 27 different colorful words to describe joy. Some of the  basic meanings are to “run around with delight;” “to shine like the brightness of the sun.”

Joy is really not a feeling; it’s an attitude. But when you experience real joy, you’ll rejoice,  which is the expression of a feeling. At any time, you can choose to rejoice. You may say, “I don’t feel like rejoicing.” That’s okay; rejoice anyway. Paul was in prison when he wrote,  “Rejoice in the Lord. I’ll say it again, rejoice.” He didn’t write, “Rejoice in the prison.” He said, “Rejoice in the Lord.” The Bible never says, “Rejoice in your bank account.” We rejoice in the Lord. The Bible never says, “Rejoice in your health, or your circumstances’. We rejoice in the Lord.

Are you rejoicing in the Lord? Here’s a test. Sometime this afternoon or this week, find someone  who is close to you, your spouse or a good friend. Ask them, “When was the last time you saw  me really rejoice?”

Today is Thanksgiving Sunday among  our Life Anglican churches.   It is a day we have set aside to reflect back on God’s goodness to us in the past year, and a day to reflect forwards on what God’s faithfulness will look like in the coming year. We have organized this week each year to occur before the end of the financial year,  so that , as part of our thanksgiving, we may make a tangible statement of our thanksgiving to God for this past year.

We Rejoice always in the goodness of the Lord towards us His people.
We Rejoice that Jesus is the Lover of our Souls

Gal 2:20 the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

We Rejoice that Jesus is the Life of our Souls  Col 3:4When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

We Rejoice that Jesus is the Liberator of our Souls  John 8:32You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We Rejoice that Jesus is the Lord of our Souls

2. Pray constantly.
Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Listen, friend, if you are too busy to pray, you're too busy. There is the problem of unoffered  prayer, but what about the other problem, unanswered prayer? We do pray, we do seek God, we do beg, we do try to get right, and ask God according to his will and yet our prayer seems to be unanswered

You are to pray when you are adding up prices in the grocery store line. You are to pray when you are changing a tire. You are to pray when you are singing a song. You are to pray when you are teaching a little one how to read.

We are commanded to pray all the time. But how do we do this? Think of a mother who has a child who is ill with a fever. Finally, the fever breaks and the mother and child settle down for some much-needed sleep. Not a noise from the television, from the street, or from the phone could awaken that mother. But one whimper from her child and she’s awake, right? That’s because even when she is asleep, she is in tune with that child—just as we are to be with God…constantly communing and attuned to His voice.

It’s going to amaze you when you get to Heaven friend. I believe God’s going to call you over and open the door to his storehouse and say, “Look in there. Do you see those blessings that are soured, and spoiled, and rusty and mildewed? Those are your blessings. Those are things I wanted you to have, those are things that I wanted to load you down with, but I couldn’t give them to you. You went your own way warring, and scheming, and planning and conniving, and figuring and you have not because you ask not.”
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry, Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, friend, the presumption of un-offered prayer. Did you know that prayerlessness is a sin? It’s a sin. The Bible says, “…God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you…” (1 Samuel 12:23). Did you know the Bible tells us that we’re to pray all of the time? The Bible says, very clearly in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5 and verse 17 that we are to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)The Bible says in Luke chapter 18, verse 1 that Jesus “spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). And, so you see—look, when you don’t pray, you’re not just simply missing a blessing, you’re committing a sin. You’re doing without the things that God wants you to have, and you’re sinning against the Lord.

There is a great example of prayerlessness in the book of  2Chronicles in the life of King Asa of Judah.
2 Chron 15:2 So he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Asa and all Judah and Benjamin, hear me. The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you abandon Him, He will abandon you.
3 For many years Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law,
4 but when they turned to the Lord God of Israel in their distress and sought Him, He was found by them.
5 In those times there was no peace for those who went about their daily activities because the residents of the lands had many conflicts.
6 Nation was crushed by nation and city by city, for God troubled them with every possible distress.
7 But as for you, be strong; don’t be discouraged, for your work has a reward.”
8 When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of [Azariah son of]Oded the prophet, he took courage and removed the detestable idols from the whole land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He renovated the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the Lord’s [temple].
9 Then he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, as well as those from [the tribes of]Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who had settled among them, for they had defected to him from Israel in great numbers when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

2 Chron 16:1 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa, Israel’s King Baasha went to war against Judah. He built Ramah in order to deny anyone’s access—going or coming—to Judah’s King Asa.
2 So Asa brought out the silver and gold from the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and the royal palace and sent it to Aram’s King Ben-hadad, who lived in Damascus, saying,
3 “There’s a treaty between me and you, between my father and your father. Look, I have sent you silver and gold. Go break your treaty with Israel’s King Baasha so that he will withdraw from me.”
4 Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies to the cities of Israel. They attacked Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the storage cities of Naphtali.
5 When Baasha heard [about it], he quit building Ramah and stopped his work.
6 Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and the timbers Baasha had built it with. Then he built Geba and Mizpah with them.

7 At that time, Hanani the seer came to King Asa of Judah and said to him, “Because you depended on the king of Aram and have not depended on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.
8 Were not the • Cushites and Libyans a vast army with very many chariots and horsemen? When you depended on the Lord, He handed them over to you.
9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His. You have been foolish in this matter, for from now on, you will have wars.”
10 Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison because of his anger over this. And Asa mistreated some of the people at that time.

12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa developed a disease in his feet, and his disease became increasingly severe. Yet even in his disease he didn’t seek the Lord but the physicians.

Asa died a bitter old man.

How often do we rely upon our own wisdom and intelligence or powers, or ingenuity to get ourselves out of problems?  We should seek the Lord first!

There is no sin in your life but what prayer would have prevented it. The Bible says in Mark 14, verse 38: “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation…” (Mark 14:38).
John Bunyan wrote in Pilgrim’s Progress, “Prayer will make a man cease from sin, and sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” Are you praying? Most of us talk about prayer like we do the weather. I heard about a weatherman who had to leave town for health reasons. The weather didn’t agree with him.

Prayer is like the weather. We talk about it and don’t do much about it. There is no substitute for prayer. Not energy, not enthusiasm, not eloquence, not intellect. There is no substitute for prayer. My life is no greater than my prayer life. What I am that is important is not what I am on this platform, but what I am in the closet before I come here. What you are in your life when you teach your class is linked to your prayer life.
Oh, my dear friends, this church needs to learn how to pray. We are asking God to lead us into a program that is so immense, so big, so unbelievable, that it absolutely cannot be done—will not be done—unless we pray. I believe God wants us to reach the many many new people moving into our area, and we will pray that many will be saved.  And many will be saved. I believe God wants us to have what we need. And, I believe he’s going to give it to us. And, I believe we’re going to be able to raise the money to build these buildings. But, I believe it’ll be God who does it. And, we will have because we shall ask. And, our Heavenly Father will answer that prayer. I’m telling you that if prayerlessness is a sin, then some of us need to repent. And, before you do anything else you need to repent of the sin of prayerlessness. We can do more than pray after we pray, but we can do no more than pray until we have prayed.

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day.

I had so much to accomplish that I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me and heavier came each task.

Why doesn't God help me, I wondered. He answered, "ha, you didn't ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on gray and bleak.

I wondered why God didn't show me. But He said, "but you didn't seek."

I tried to come into God's presence; I used all the keys on the lock.

God gently and lovingly chided, my son, you didn't knock.

I woke up early this morning and paused before entering the day.

I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

3. Give thanks in everything

Rejoice always!
17 Pray constantly.
18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

We are reminded to give thanks in everything!

Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Ephesians 5:20

Your Gratitude Is Proper
Anything good that you have has come from God. You didn't get it by luck, ingenuity, hard work, wit, or wisdom. It is proper to thank God for it.

Your Gratitude Is to Be Perpetual
You're not just simply to be thankful one day a year. One day is not long enough to thank God for all that He's given you. His blessings come daily. Psalm 68:19 says, "Blessed be the Lord, Who daily load us with benefits...." Every day God has brand-new blessings for you, and every day ought to find you thanking God. Every prayer that you pray ought to be salted with thanks.

Your Gratitude Is to Be Pervasive
In everything give thanks. Not in some things, but in all things. Every thing, every area of life is to be a the subject of thanksgiving. There's so much to be thankful for.

Spiritual things — If you didn't have anything else but Jesus, you would have enough to praise God for all eternity.
Simple things — You should be thankful for your families, health, food, and even a glass of water. Thank God for the simple things.
Sorrowful things — You can even be thankful for the heartaches, the pains, and the sufferings. Romans 8:28 says, "...All things work together for good...." That is, the thing itself is not good, but it is God Who is working all things together for good.

Do you want to live on the highest level of life? Cultivate the attitude of gratitude always and in all things. I don't care how bad, difficult, dark, or mysterious things get; take the ultimate step of faith and say, "God, You're greater than this, and I thank You." You say, "Well, I don't feel like thanking Him." Don't thank Him by feeling; thank Him by faith. You're not told to feel thankful but to be thankful. Nothing shows your faith in the absolute sovereignty of God more than just simply thanking God in every situation.

Your Gratitude Will Be Pleasurable
Thankful people are happy people. "Well," you say, "if I had something to be thankful for, I'd be happy." You have missed the point! You do have something to be thankful for. You have life. You have Christ. You may say, "But my circumstance are not good." The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote this, yet he was rejoicing in the Lord. Gratefulness turned his prison to a palace, but ungratefulness can turn your palace to a prison. I'm telling you, the attitude of gratitude will change your life.

Your Gratitude Is Possible
Living with gratitude is not a human way to live, not a natural way to live — it's supernatural. And this kind of thankfulness only comes out of a vital relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whether you're in a prison, as Paul often was you can praise God. I'm telling you it will change your life. Bitterness, fear, self pity, ungratefulness, and negativism will go out of your life if you will practice the grace of gratitude. It's possible. 

Why should you choose Jesus today?

He will give you Immediate Joy.  1 Thess 1:6 and you became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with the joy from the Holy Spirit.

You face impending death.  Death can be either a stepping into the joys of heaven for you or the woes of hell.  Paul reminded the Thessalonians of this in chapter 4.. those dying  as Christians go immediately to be with the Lord, and there is much joy there.

We await the imminent return of the Lord Jesus.  This gave the early Christians great joy because they knew their Lord, their Life  their Saviour was going to return to bring them home. Listen to the Joy in it.. 1Thess 5 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

The insensitivity of your heart is a reason to choose Jesus right now.  You may be thinking , what has this  joy and thanksgiving got to do with me?   The longer you put it off, the harder ot becomes to choose Jesus.  Choose Him today and experience the Joy He promises.

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