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IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS

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1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
This Thanksgiving I'm thankful...
This Thanksgiving I'm thankful...
This Thanksgiving I'm thankful... • That there aren't twice as many Congressman and half as many doctors. • That grass doesn't grow through snow, necessitating winter mowing as well as shoveling. • That there are only twenty-four hours available each day for TV programming. • That civil servants aren't less civil. • That teenagers ultimately will have children who will become teenagers. • That I'm not a turkey. • That houses still cost more than cars. • That the space available for messages on T-shirts and bumpers is limited. • That liberated women whose husbands take them for granted don't all scream at the same time. • That snow covers the unraked leaves. • That hugs and kisses don't add weight or cause cancer. • That record players and radios and TV sets and washers and mixers and lights can be turned off. • That no one can turn off the moon and stars. —Christianity Today
You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. —G.K. Chesterton
Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it. —A. W. Tozer
If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to happiness and all perfection, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing. —William Law
O Thou who hast given us so much, mercifully grant us one more thing-a grateful heart. —George Herbert
In his book FOLK PSALMS OF FAITH, Ray Stedman tells of an experience H. A. Ironside had in a crowded restaurant. Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited his to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, "Do you have a headache?" Ironside replied, "No, I don't." The other man asked, "Well, is there something wrong with your food?" Ironside replied, "No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat."
The man said, "Oh, you're one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don't have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!"
Ironside said, "Yes, you're just like my dog. That's what he does too!" (Ray Stedman, Folk Psalms of Faith)
· That there aren't twice as many Congressman and half as many doctors.
Robert Morgan selected as one of his top 100 verses to memorize and in his book which I highly recommend to help you store God's Word in your heart he writes...
In medicine the smallest germs can wreak the most havoc, and the tiniest pills can pack the biggest punch. is a wafer-thin paragraph that has an outsized effect on our personalities. It can cure our irritability, lighten our depression, lessen our anxiety, and improve our dispositions. It’s one of the most psychologically potent passages in the Bible; and, when memorized and practiced, it can alter our attitude at any given time. In staccato-like style, the apostle Paul tells us to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful. And all three verses are all-pervading: Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything. Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. Always. Constantly. Everything. At fourteen words, is the longest verse in the trilogy. It’s the counterpart to another of our memory verses, , which says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God.” Because all things work together for good, we can give thanks in everything. The Bible doesn’t tell us to be thankful for everything. Some things are bad in their very nature. There are no examples of biblical heroes thanking God for evil events or demonic attacks. But we can be thankful in all things, for God has promised to turn them for good. Many psychologists believe we are born with preset happiness levels. Just as everyone has a different body, so we have different personalities. Some are sanguine; others have a melancholy streak. Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California Davis has demonstrated there is one way to adjust those preprogrammed, inborn personality settings. It’s by developing the habit of consciously giving thanks in the midst of whatever circumstances we may face. “We discovered scientific proof that when people regularly engage in the systematic cultivation of gratitude, they experience a variety of measurable benefits: psychological, physical, and interpersonal,” wrote Dr. Emmons. “The evidence on gratitude contradicts the widely held view that all people have a ‘set-point’ of happiness that cannot be reset by any known means.” This is the advice issued 2,000 years ago in . Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart)
· That teenagers ultimately will have children who will become teenagers.
Gary Delashmutt writes that...
The New Testament teaches that gratitude is related to spiritual health in two different ways. We'll use a medical model to explore this . . . (1) Gratitude is a “thermometer” that indicates the state of your spiritual health. A thermometer is a tool that tells you whether you have one of the symptoms of physical illness (fever). It is not a medicine. You don't put the thermometer in the freezer and then stick it into your mouth to break your fever. You put it in your mouth and it tells you if you have a fever. In the same way, the presence or absence of gratitude in your dealings with God is one of the most reliable indicators of your spiritual health. This is because it (along with serving love) is the normal and natural result of personally understanding and receiving God's grace. Grace means charity—a gift to the undeserving. (2) Gratitude is a “medicine” that promotes your spiritual health. Gratitude is not a feeling that dictates your choices; it is a choice that affects your feelings. This is what Paul is emphasizing in this passage. Most of the New Testament passages on gratitude are imperatives, addressed to our volition rather than to our emotions. He is not prescribing for us how we must feel; he is calling on us to choose to rejoice and thank God on the basis of what is true--regardless of how happy or thankful we may feel. This is a key insight into biblical spirituality. It involves our feelings and experiences, but it is not rooted in them, because they are fallen and broken and unreliable. It is rooted in God's truth and our choice to express faith in the truth, often in spite of what we feel. This is why the notion that it is unspiritual to thank God unless you feel grateful is false. Choosing by faith to thank God in spite of intense feelings of depression, disappointment, anxiety, etc. is deeply spiritual. This is why if you wait until you feel grateful to thank God, you will feel less and less grateful. But if you choose to thank God regardless of how you feel, you will feel more grateful more often. It is in this sense that gratitude is a key step of faith (along with serving love) that unleashes God's blessing into your experience. (“Grateful servants are happy people.”).
There is a silver lining to every cloud. God is with us whatever befalls us, as was so beautifully recorded by William Cowper (John Piper's description of his life or Audio version) in his hymn...
God Moves in a Mysterious Way (play) God Moves in A Mysterious Way with Lyrics
God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm. Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs, and works His sovereign will. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread, Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face. His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower. Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan his work in vain; God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.
As John Piper asks "How can we not be thankful when we owe everything to God?" (A Godward Life)
Joseph’s place in the patriarchal birth order was part of God’s plan ().
· That I'm not a turkey.
This means Rachel’s agonizing struggle with infertility was part of God’s plan (30:1–2).
· That the space available for messages on T-shirts and bumpers is limited.
· That hugs and kisses don't add weight or cause cancer.
· That no one can turn off the moon and stars.
· That it’s not always like this.
Jacob’s romantic preference of Rachel and therefore his (probably paternally insensitive) favoritism shown to Joseph was part of God’s plan (29:30; 37:3).
QUOTE: You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink. —G.K. Chesterton
STORY: In his book FOLK PSALMS OF FAITH, Ray Stedman tells of an experience H. A. Ironside had in a crowded restaurant. Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited his to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, "Do you have a headache?" Ironside replied, "No, I don't." The other man asked, "Well, is there something wrong with your food?" Ironside replied, "No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat."
The man said, "Oh, you're one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don't have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!"
Ironside said, "Yes, you're just like my dog. That's what he does too!" (Ray Stedman, Folk Psalms of Faith)
His brothers’ jealousy (note: sibling rivalry and family conflict) was part of God’s plan (37:8). • His brothers’ evil, murderous, greedy betrayal of him, and Judah’s part in it, was part of God’s plan (37:18–28; 50:20).The existence of an evil slave trade at the time was part of God’s plan (37:26–27). • Potiphar’s complicity with the slave trade and his position in Egypt was part of God’s plan (37:36). • Joseph’s extraordinary administrative gifting was part of God’s plan (39:2–4).Potiphar’s wife’s dishonesty was part of God’s plan (). • Potiphar’s unjust judgment of Joseph was part of God’s plan (39:19–20). • The particular prison Joseph was sent to—the one that would receive the cupbearer and the baker— was part of God’s plan (39:20). The cupbearer failing to remember Joseph for two years was part of God’s plan (40:23–41:1).The cupbearer remembering Joseph and having the courage to remind Pharaoh of an event that might re-arouse suspicion was part of God’s plan (41:9–13).
PRAYER: O Thou who hast given us so much, mercifully grant us one more thing-a grateful heart. —George Herbert
If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to happiness and all perfection, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing. —William Law
Today’s text clarifies some of the mystery that surrounds God’s will for our lives. It clearly reveals that God’s will for our lives is to give thanks in all circumstances. I want us to first examine the stated imperative “give thanks in all circumstances” and then extract its reason “for this is the will of God for your life” by illustration.

HEAR THE IMPERATIVE

Why are we commanded to “give thank in all circumstances”?
In his book, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart, Robert Morgan selected as one of his top 100 verses to memorize. In his book he writes the following concerning his selection of this verse...
In medicine the smallest germs can wreak the most havoc, and the tiniest pills can pack the biggest punch. is a wafer-thin paragraph that has an outsized effect on our personalities. It can cure our irritability, lighten our depression, lessen our anxiety, and improve our dispositions. It’s one of the most psychologically potent passages in the Bible; and, when memorized and practiced, it can alter our attitude at any given time.
Joseph had a unique role to play in redemptive history. But God’s intricate involvement in Joseph’s life is not unique to him. God is just as involved in the details of our lives. One of the many reasons God gives us a closeup of Joseph’s life is to show us how active he is, how he never leaves us or forsakes us all along the way, in both the good and the evil things we experience ().
In staccato-like style, the apostle Paul tells us to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful. And all three verses are all-pervading: Rejoice always! Pray constantly. Give thanks in everything. Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. Always. Constantly. Everything.
At fourteen words, is the longest verse in the trilogy. It’s the counterpart to another of our memory verses, , which says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God.” Because all things work together for good, we can give thanks in everything. The Bible doesn’t tell us to be thankful for everything. Some things are bad in their very nature. There are no examples of biblical heroes thanking God for evil events or demonic attacks. But we can be thankful in all things, for God has promised to turn them for good.
Many psychologists believe we are born with preset happiness levels. Just as everyone has a different body, so we have different personalities. Some are sanguine; others have a melancholy streak. Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California Davis has demonstrated there is one way to adjust those preprogrammed, inborn personality settings. It’s by developing the habit of consciously giving thanks amid the circumstances we face.
Dr. Emmons states the following; “We discovered scientific proof that when people regularly engage in the systematic cultivation of gratitude, they experience a variety of measurable benefits: psychological, physical, and interpersonal.” “The evidence on gratitude contradicts the widely held view that all people have a ‘set-point’ of happiness that cannot be reset by any known means.”
This is the advice issued 2,000 years ago in . Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This command is given for EXAMINATION purposes.

The New Testament teaches that gratitude is related to spiritual health in two different ways. It first serves as the purpose of examination.
Gratitude is a “thermometer” that indicates the state of your spiritual health. A thermometer is a tool that tells you whether you have one of the symptoms of physical illness (fever). It is not a medicine it’s a means to determine well-being.
Thanks For Fleas - Corrie ten Boom was an inspiration and challenge to thousands of people after World War II. Hearts were stirred and lives changed as she told with moving simplicity about God's sufficiency to meet her needs, even as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.
In the same way, the presence or absence of gratitude in your dealings with God is one of the most reliable indicators of your spiritual health. This is because it is the normal and natural result of personally understanding and receiving God's grace.

This command is given for PRESCRIPTIVE purposes.

Gratitude is a “medicine” that promotes your spiritual health. Gratitude is not a feeling that dictates your choices; it is a choice that affects your feelings. This is what Paul is emphasizing in this passage. Most of the New Testament passages on gratitude are imperatives, addressed to our volition rather than to our emotions. He is not prescribing for us how we must feel; he is calling on us to choose to rejoice and thank God based on what is true--regardless of how happy or thankful we may feel.
This is a key insight into biblical spirituality. It involves our feelings and experiences, but it is not rooted in them, because they are fallen and broken and unreliable. It is rooted in God's truth and our choice to express faith in the truth, often despite what we feel. Therefore, the notion that it is unspiritual to thank God unless you feel grateful is false. Choosing by faith to thank God despite intense feelings of depression, disappointment, anxiety, etc. is deeply spiritual. Therefore, if you wait until you feel grateful to thank God, you will feel less and less grateful. But if you choose to thank God regardless of how you feel, you will feel more grateful more often. It is in this sense that gratitude is a key step of faith that unleashes God's blessing into your experience. “Grateful servants are happy people.”.
Not only was the camp filthy, but there were fleas everywhere. Corrie's sister Betsie, who was imprisoned with her, insisted that was God's will for them: "In everything give thanks." But giving thanks in a flea-infested place seemed unrealistic to Corrie—until she realized why the guards didn't come into their barracks to make them stop praying and singing hymns. They wanted to avoid the fleas! So, the prisoners were free to worship and study the Bible. The fleas, yes, even the fleas were agents of grace, and something to be thankful for.
Lord, I thank you for shaking me!
Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883
"When the tree is soundly shaken, the rotten apples fall to the ground. Just so, in great trials, unsound professors will fall away."
What are some of the "fleas" in our lives? They aren't the big difficulties, but the petty annoyances. They are the little trials from which we can't escape. Is it possible that they are one of the ways the Lord teaches us spiritual lessons and helps us to increase our endurance?
First, trials and afflictions test me, that I may see how far my supposed graces are real and vital. Those which are unsound will soon be lost; only the living and growing graces will remain.
Secondly, trials and afflictions relieve me, for it is a hurtful thing to the tree and to its living fruit to be cumbered with rottenness, in which may breed noxious worms, which when they multiply may come to be devourers of the tree's life!
We are enriched when we lose fabricated virtues. Stripping of filthy rags, is an advance toward cleanliness — and what are counterfeit graces but mere rags, worthy to be torn off and cast into the fire?
In the end, such a result of affliction also beautifies me. For as rotten apples disfigure the tree, so would the mere pretense of virtue mar my character in the sight of God and holy men. It is always better to be openly without a virtue, than to bear the form of it without in reality possessing it.
When we are tempted to grumble, let's remember the fleas and give thanks.
Lord, I thank you for shaking me, since I now perceive that all this good and much more is designed by the process; and is, I trust, in some measure accomplished thereby. Oh that your Holy Spirit may bless my adversities to this end!

FIND HELP IN THE ILLUSTRATION

Joseph’s place in the patriarchal birth order ().

This means Rachel’s agonizing struggle with infertility (30:1–2).

Lord, I thank you for shaking me! -- Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883

His brothers’ jealousy (note: sibling rivalry and family conflict) (37:8).

His brothers’ evil, murderous, greedy betrayal of him, and Judah’s part in it, (37:18–28; 50:20).

The existence of an evil slave trade at the time (37:26–27).

Potiphar’s complicity with the slave trade and his position in Egypt (37:36).

"When the tree is soundly shaken, the rotten apples fall to the ground. Just so, in great trials, unsound professors will fall away."

Joseph’s extraordinary administrative gifting (39:2–4).

Potiphar’s wife’s dishonesty ().

Potiphar’s unjust judgment of Joseph (39:19–20).

First, trials and afflictions test me, that I may see how far my supposed graces are real and vital. Those which are unsound will soon be lost; only the living and growing graces will remain.

The particular prison Joseph was sent to—the one that would receive the cupbearer and the baker (39:20).

The cupbearer failing to remember Joseph for two years (40:23–41:1).

Joseph had a unique role to play in redemptive history. But God’s intricate involvement in Joseph’s life is not unique to him. God is just as involved in the details of our lives. One of the many reasons God gives us a closeup of Joseph’s life is to show us how active he is, how he never leaves us or forsakes us all along the way, in both the good and the evil things we experience
).
Hebrews 13:5 ESV
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
There is a silver lining to every cloud. God is with us whatever befalls us, as was so beautifully recorded by William Cowper in his great hymn; God Moves in a Mysterious Way.
Secondly, trials and afflictions relieve me, for it is a hurtful thing to the tree and to its living fruit to be cumbered with rottenness, in which may breed noxious worms, which when they multiply may come to be devourers of the tree's life!
God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm. Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs, and works His sovereign will. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread, Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face. His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower. Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan his work in vain; God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.
If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to happiness and all perfection, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing. —William Law
Thanks For Fleas
Corrie ten Boom was an inspiration and challenge to thousands of people after World War II. Hearts were stirred, and lives changed as she told with moving simplicity about God's sufficiency to meet her needs, even as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.
Not only was the camp filthy, but there were fleas everywhere. Corrie's sister Betsie, who was imprisoned with her, insisted that was God's will for them: "In everything give thanks." But giving thanks in a flea-infested place seemed unrealistic to Corrie—until she realized why the guards didn't come into their barracks to make them stop praying and singing hymns. They wanted to avoid the fleas! So, the prisoners were free to worship and study the Bible. The fleas, yes, even the fleas were agents of grace, and something to be thankful for.
We are enriched when we lose fabricated virtues. Stripping of filthy rags, is an advance toward cleanliness — and what are counterfeit graces but mere rags, worthy to be torn off and cast into the fire?
What are some of the "fleas" in our lives? They aren't the big difficulties, but the petty annoyances. They are the little trials from which we can't escape. Is it possible that they are one of the ways the Lord teaches us spiritual lessons and helps us to increase our endurance?
· When we are tempted to grumble, let's remember the fleas and give thanks.
· When we are tempted to grumble let’s ask ourselves; how can we not be thankful when we owe everything to God?
· When we are tempted to grumble let’s remember that behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.
In the end, such a result of affliction also beautifies me. For as rotten apples disfigure the tree, so would the mere pretense of virtue mar my character in the sight of God and holy men. It is always better to be openly without a virtue, than to bear the form of it without in reality possessing it. A sham — is a shame! An unreal virtue — is an undoubted vice! Lord, I thank you for shaking me, since I now perceive that all this good and much more is designed by the process; and is, I trust, in some measure accomplished thereby. Oh that your Holy Spirit may bless my adversities to this end!
· When we are tempted to grumble let’s judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace;
· When we are tempted to grumble let’s remember the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.
· When we are tempted to grumble let’s remember to give thanks in all circumstances for Father has determined to work all circumstances for our good and His glory. Therefore give thanks!
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