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The Believer's ability to give thanks

Walking in Love, Living in Hope  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Thankfulness is a sign of Christian Maturity

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Opening: The horrific shooting at FBC Sutherland Springs, TX. Two weeks ago on Sunday, Nov. 5, a gunman walked into the church building and opened fire, killing 27 people and wounding about 20 more. As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, what do the families have to be thankful for?

Transition: To tell these grieving families that they should be thankful for the tragedy itself would be cruel and insensitive. Some folks who are dealing with personal tragedy mock the words of the Apostle Paul as found in . The passage is taken out of context and misapplied. It is more appropriate to understand that the believer can be thankful, in spite of any situation, due to the presence of a Sovereign God.

Each of us are probably not going through circumstances as extreme as those in TX, but we all go through difficult times. It is comforting to know that a good and powerful God cares about us, and that He will one day completely and totally deal with evil. In a world that appears to be out of control, we as believers still have much to be thankful for.

READ THE TEXT:

Believers can be Thankful for the Word of God ()

Explanation: Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians that he is personally thankful for the opportunity God gave him to share the Gospel. Paul states that he thanks God constantly” for the way in which they received the message. These folks understood that the Bible was supernatural, that it was not just another new teaching.
Illustrate: consider the new fads in various fields. In teaching, the curriculum is changed every 3 or 4 years; currently we are dealing with Common Core. In the discipline of biology the initial theory of Evolution has been “updated” and “altered” repeatedly in an attempt to stay current with scientific advances.
Argument: The Word of God is forever settled in the heavens! (), and that is something for which we can be thankful. We have the sure Word of God () and we can personally know the Author, the Living Word (cf ). What a comfort to lean on the unchangeable Word when our crazy world is falling apart.
Application: Do you thank God for His Word? Do you express your thankfulness through the regular intake and meditation of the Word?

Pastors can be Thankful for believers who grow in grace ()

Explanation: Paul is expressing how thankful he is that the Thessalonians did not just receive the Word and then stop. Paul is appreciative of their spiritual growth. He recognizes how they have left their old way of living and have embraced the Christian life, and he wants them to know he has noticed their increase!
Illustration: Refrigerator Art. Parents are proud of their children’s accomplishments. Parents praise their children according to their individual ability. [ A parent of a 5 year old is not going to say, “well, that’s OK, but why can’t you do as well as Jimmy? (Jimmy is 12)]
Argument: All living things grow. They do not, however, grow at the same rate. As leaders, we are thankful when we see growth in your lives. Our desire is that we grow together, that we all experience spiritual progress.
Application: I want to express appreciation for the faithful members of SSBC, not all of whom are able to be with us today. I also want to tell you I am thankful for your willingness to move forward in Kingdom ministry. We have a 150 year old heritage, but I am confident our best days for the advance of the Kingdom are in front of us.

Believers and Pastors can be thankful together for the bonds of spiritual family in the Lord ()

Explanation: Paul explains to the believers that their shared bond in Christ has brought true love and concern for each other. Paul recounts how he had to leave Thessalonica sooner than he had planned, and as a result how concerned he was to know about their spiritual well-being. These believers were not just numbers on a scroll for reporting to Jerusalem. They were individual brothers and sisters who he knew by name, people he had worked with, prayed with, had in-depth spiritual conversations with, and people he had shared life with.
Argument: As we work together in the bonds of Christ, let us strive to maintain unity in the family. Let us be thankful to God for bringing us together. Let us pray that we grow to truly love and care about each other. One of the signs of spiritual maturity is unity and compassion in the body of Christ.
We should never get comfortable with the concept (even if it is true) that our church is doing better than others. We look to God’s agenda for us and let Him deal with other churches in His way and in His time. At the same time, however, we can and should be thankful for what we have. By God’s grace we are a fellowship that has solid unity, shared leadership, a growing vision for the future, and a strong concern for one another. We can celebrate these truths and give thanks to God for this season of life.

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