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.
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.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have faith in resurrection too. Paul writes on the importance of believing in the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:12-20. “12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.” Paul is making the argument that if we do not believe in resurrection, life after death, then we can’t believe Christ was raised either. “15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.” He continues that if we don’t believe in the resurrection then all the people who saw Jesus (like 500 plus) were liars but the most horrific consequence of not believing in Jesus’ resurrection is that we are still in our sins, no forgiveness or redemption has occurred. Jesus has to conquer death and sin to redeem us. “ 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” If Christ did not conquer the grave, we are to be pitied and we are lost! Paul makes his conclusion in verse 20a, “20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.” Praise God! Death could not hold him and Jesus rose victorious over death, leaving our sins behind and rising to new life. We too can hold that hope as Christ has won the victory for all who believe!
Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday! As the early Christians would greet one another to show they believed saying, “He has Risen.” With the response being, “He has risen indeed!”
Today’s scriptures in Isaiah are some of the most poignant and convicting for us as believers. We see the anguish, pain and separation our Lord Jesus endured for us as wayward, lost and sinful believers. Ponder these ancient words this 3rd Sunday of Advent. Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Consider these related verses in the New Testament. 1 Peter 2:23-25 “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 25 For “you were like sheep going astray,”but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Romans 4:24-25 “but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Hebrews 10:22-23 “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
May God’s Word speak to you today so that you can better comprehend the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice in coming that Christmas. Praise Him today for His mercy, love and compassion of us. Praise Him for His plans for you and me.
Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941. It began 77 years ago at 7:55 am. If you have visited the Memorial over the sunken Arizona where the sailors are still entombed, you are sobered by their sacrifice. War is a terrible thing yet through it men rise to honor and sacrifice for their fellow men. Over 2,400 were killed and 1,000 wounded that day. The most causalities occurred on the USS Arizona as it was hit 4 times by Japanese bombers. A piece of trivia- 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the Arizona and this battle cost 62 of these 77 men their lives and 23 sets of brothers died. I can’t imagine the grief those families suffered all in one day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as “a date that will live in infamy.” Just like September 11, 2001 will live on in our minds so should December 7th.
Say a prayer of gratitude today for the sacrifices these men and those brave men and women who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.
Seeking to honor their sacrifice and service.