A lesson and truth I received from the scriptures we studies this month on cultivating a habit of thankfulness in our lives is this: Thankfulness has a powerful affect on me and all those around me.
How have you seen this to be true this season of thanksgiving? Is your mindset towards thanks contagious? “How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9 Paul felt that the thanks he had for his fellow believers, for their faith and love for God, caused him to rejoice. He saw God working in their lives and this brought joy and thankfulness to his own worship. I would call that contagious thanks. Have you ever been thankful for someone or something and it caused you to give thanks to God? As we live our lives, we need to look for those things that God gives us that create ‘contagious thanks’ within our hearts. As we give thanks to Him in these situations, God will faithfully create in us a thanks that will be contagious and will result in our being in a constant state of thankfulness and joy. Paul left the Thessalonians with these words in 5:16-18 “ Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Develop that attitude of gratitude and watch it grow in your own life and then watch it rub off into the lives of those around you.
I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’. It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’. It began as a term to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians. It then became a day to retailers signifying when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased. In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me. His death on that darkest day brought the greatest profit for us. John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen. “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath. Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they hurried to get Jesus down from the cross, buried and settled in a borrowed tomb. Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste. After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday. “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.” Mark 16:1 Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as the learned of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of sin and death. An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” What joyous news they had to share!
That blackest Friday brought death to Jesus and burial brought the greatest profit to you and me. Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history. Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven. We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God and that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin. That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.
As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ. Praise Him as you do.
As you gather around your Thanksgiving table today, let praise and thanks lead your discussion. David expressed it this way in Psalm 107:21-22 : Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving
and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.
What praises do you have for the Lord today? Can you tell of things He has done for you this year? As you tell your family, offer your words in thanksgiving to God for His gracious provision, help, love, care and guidance. All we have we owe to Him as He is the provider of all things. If things look dark today, place your hope and trust in Him remembering His promise in Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God is good and has good things planned for you just as He promised.
Have a day filled with thanksgiving and praise!
Paul’s final words to the Thessalonians in his first letter to them shows his pastor’s heart. He told them to take care of one another, be patient, not to seek revenge and always try to do good. Then in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 he includes these thoughts: “Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” He concludes this passage with admonitions to them to not try to block the Holy Spirit’s work and always seek to do good.
What would our lives be like if we really tried to do these things? Being patient with those who frustrate us, seeking to take care of those who are weak or in need, not being vengeful, always being filled with joy, thanks and praises to God, being known as a prayer warrior, seeking to do the will of God in all things and always looking for the good. But that is what Paul is saying is God’s will for us. God wants us filled with joy, always looking to Him in prayer and being thankful in all circumstances. Scripture does not say being thankful for all things but in all things. We do not need to be thankful for the hurricane, car accident or someone’s death, but we need to be thankful during those times of stress, deprivation, sorrow or calamity. We need to have an attitude of gratitude towards God at all times. That can be very hard in difficult times but as Paul says “this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” This is the key to having a grateful heart which God desires of us. I love the way David expresses this is Psalm 86:11-13 Teach me your ways, O Lord,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you.
12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to your name forever,
13 for your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death.
Is this you in all circumstances? Let David’s words be your prayer today.
What causes you to be thankful? There are lots of sights, things and people that bring a smile to our faces, but what gives you the most gratitude in your heart? God’s Word gives us the ultimate reason to give thanks in Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Paul was teaching the Colossians that the freedom they have in Christ will cause them to be grounded and not easily swayed by the world. They will be able to live full lives because God lives within them and empowers them to live for Him. By faith in Jesus they can walk with Him daily. Paul explained to them, and us, that the result of an empowered and indwelt life would be thankfulness. Having Christ with you 24/7, guiding, protecting, building you up, and loving you would result in great thanksgiving.
Is that true of you? Do you live with thankfulness in your heart because of what Jesus did and continues to do in and through your life? Ask yourself-am I abounding in thankfulness? Abounding means having thanks in great quantity, being rich in thankfulness, being filled, teeming with thanks. If you are struggling to abound in thanks, think on a few of the things Christ did and is doing for you: He provided the way for my salvation from God’s wrath through His death on the cross, calls me a member of His family, gave me eternal life, is accessible to me 24/7, will never leave me nor forsake me, gave me citizenship in heaven, intercedes for me before the Father, gave me His Holy Spirit to indwell me, and He promises a life that is full, abundant and rich in love. Take a minute today to thank Him for being the reason for your abundant and abounding thankfulness. He is worthy.
Being a primary teacher for years, I love choral response readings. All the kids are chiming in together, listening to one another and speaking as one voice. Psalm 136 was used as a liturgy of praise. Let’s look at the first 3 verses.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
I love this repetition of reason for our complete trust in God, His steadfast love endures forever. What else in all creation endures forever? God alone is eternal. Therefore, we need to thank Him for His goodness and love, and that He is the Almighty God, above all other gods. He alone is to be our LORD.
I would encourage you today to repeat these lines with a sincere, prayer-filled heart and mind and see if it doesn’t bring His love right into your life. You can depend upon His steadfast love, no matter what. His enduring steadfast love is worthy of our thanks and praise.
Have a blessed day,
Philippians 4:6-7 is a familiar portion of scripture that brings great comfort to believers. Here are Paul’s words in the New Living Translation. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Paul exhorted the Philippian believers, as well as us, to leave all our worries and concerns with Jesus in prayer. We are to tell God what we need and then thank Him for things we know God has done and provided for us in the past. How will that help with our worrying? Reviewing in our mind all the blessings God has given makes us realize that what we have is His and He has caused all things in our lives to work together for good. Perhaps we cannot see it right now, but we have to trust His promise in Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Reviewing the circumstances of our lives, the ups and downs, the narrow escapes, the blessings of each day, the miracles done on our behalf causes us to thank God. Knowing He has provided in the past and will in the future gives us hope and creates thanksgiving in our hearts. The end result is what Paul proclaimed- PEACE! The peace Jesus brings in such situations is all from Him, it is encompassing and beyond description.
Are you worried, frustrated, consumed with grief or depression? Turn to God in prayer with thanks in your heart, think about God and all He has done for you, and you will find peace. If your circumstances are difficult and you struggle to find earthly thanks then turn your thanks to God for your spiritual blessings. You are loved by God, saved, have a home in heaven, are a saint and loved child of God, you are redeemed and freed from the penalty of sin….. Your spiritual blessings are eternal and no one or nothing here can change or corrupt them. Give thanks and His peace will come upon you.
Have a blessed day filled with Thanks to Him.
How do you pray for others believers when you hear they are struggling, being persecuted, or have the desire to live and walk with Jesus each day? Paul gives us some guidelines for these prayers in Ephesians 1:15-19.
#1 He gives thanks for them. “Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you.”
#2 He prays all the time for them to have wisdom, insight and growth in their faith. “I pray for you constantly,17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.”
#3 He prays they be overcome, filled with God’s marvelous light, truth and Hope. ” I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”
#4 He prays they will know their great God-His power and character. ” I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.”
Today as you pray for others, let Paul’s guidelines of prayer for his fellow believers in Ephesus be on your mind. Give thanks for them, then ask God to give them wisdom, discernment, growth in truth and and understanding of who God is. Remember the words from James 5:16b ” The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Pray earnestly for your fellow believers and watch God work in their lives and in yours.