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.
One area of giving thanks that has seemingly slipped away in America is the practice of giving thanks at meals. It is a rare occurrence to see people praying in restaurants as they are served food. Why has this habit begun to disappear from public view? I really don’t have an answer just some conjectures: **In today’s world, people seem overly concerned with how others view them and do not want to do something considered ‘politically incorrect’ and offend someone. **They have gotten out of the habit of doing this regularly. **Or perhaps thanking God for the food they are about to eat, never crosses their mind as they earned the money to pay for it, so why give thanks? Whatever the reasons they have for not praying- giving thanks is very biblical.
Jesus’ giving thanks is recorded in the gospels on various occasions. Matthew 14:18-19 Jesus is preparing to feed 5,000 people and He said, ““Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people” Again when 4,000 had gathered and had been with him for days, He had compassion on them and gave them food. Matthew 15:35-36 “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.” After Jesus’ resurrection, he met the men on the Road to Emmaus. They did not know who he was but He spoke to them about himself from scripture. They begged him to stay and eat with them on their journey. Luke 24:30-31 records this encounter, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Paul also followed Jesus’ example under the hardest of circumstances. He was a prisoner being transported to Rome and they were in a great storm. All on board the ship feared for their lives. Paul brings calm into the situation, “Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board.” Acts 27:33-37
What should be our response to these biblical examples of giving thanks? Jesus in his humanity gave thanks to God for the provision of food for the gathered crowds. Paul gave thanks in a desperate situation that could have totally consumed his thoughts and prayers. They did not ‘forget’ to pray when they were busy and consumed with other things- they stopped, gave thanks and then ate. No matter where we are, we need to acknowledge God when we eat. We need to thank the creator of all things for the provision of food for our bodies. Physical food is essential for our bodies to run well just as spiritual food is essential for our growth and development in Christ. Our spiritual food is the Word of God.
I must confess that I am convicted by this blog today. I often do not pray when I am out in the company of unbelievers or get out of the habit of praying when by myself at meals. Knowing Jesus was in the habit of thanking God for his physical provision of food, convicts me that I should do the same out of respect for God and His provisions in my life. I pray that you are led to do likewise.
Psalm 28 is a thankful response from David for God’s deliverance. I want to focus on the verses 6-9. What was David thankful for in these verses that we know to be absolutely true of God?
Praise the Lord!
For he has heard my cry for mercy. God is accessible, He hears our prayers.
7 The Lord is my strength and shield. God is our protector.
I trust him with all my heart. God is trustworthy.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. God gives us joy.
8 The Lord gives his people strength. God gives us strength to meet the day.
He is a safe fortress for his anointed king.
9 Save your people! God saves those who believe in Him.
Bless Israel, your special possession. God blesses.
Lead them like a shepherd, God is our good shepherd.
and carry them in your arms forever. God is eternal and saves us for eternity with Him.
For which of these attributes are you most thankful today? I had a friend tell me yesterday that when times are hard she focuses on her joy in the Lord. What about you? As you go through today, meditate on God’s goodness and blessings towards you, then take time to thank Him.