Wednesday, March 21, 2012

God's Will VII

God’s Will VII

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

I know it’s almost cliché, but we must develop an attitude of gratitude.  Life is messy, let’s just admit it.  There’s bills to pay, work, friends and family and a whole host of other distractions in our lives.  When things start falling apart, it is so very easy to become overwhelmed.

The seeds thrown among the thorns in the parable of the sower come to mind here (Matthew 13:22).  The meaning of this part of the parable is almost telling a story about someone who received the Gospel and started going to church.  But the person got caught up under in financial pressure and possibly started playing the lottery or got involved in get rich schemes.  Rather than trusting God through their problems, they turned to their own power.

Over and over again, the theme remains the same.  We must take the focus off of ourselves and our problems and we must turn the focus on Jesus.  The story is not about us, it’s about Him.  We are just the supporting characters in God’s divine novel, our stories weave together to show His divine love story.  Gratitude is a tool that takes the focus off of us and turns the spotlight back on God.  If we give thanks with a grateful heart, it puts our situations into perspective.

When you see that the price of gas has risen, give thanks that you have a vehicle to put it in.  I remember when I was in Africa, I saw women hauling two or three cases of water (each weighing 30-40 pounds) on their back, a car would have been useful for them. 

When you can’t join friends to watch a movie because you can’t afford it, give thanks.  If you have a couple dollars in your pocket, a roof over your head, and food in the fridge; you are richer than a significant portion of the world (look up world poverty statistics).

When you get that electric bill, give thanks.  The convenience of electricity will guarantee you a much better living standard than so much of the world.

We are commanded not to be jealous or envy (Exodus 20:17).  Jealousy, envy, or covetousness of other people’s possessions in today’s society is called “keeping up with the Joneses,” but I call that idolatry.  Sticking your desire in things rather than the Living God turns those objects into an idol.  We are told to guard our hearts from covetousness (Luke 12:15).  Being grateful for the things you have is a safeguard against envy of things.

There is so much to be thankful for.  Here’s just a short list of things we can always be thankful for, no matter what the circumstance:

  • Give thanks for the local body of believers (Ephesians 1:16)
  • Give thanks for the leadership of the church (2 Corinthians 1:11)
  • Give thanks for the God who reigns over everything (Revelation 11:17)
  • Give thanks for the grace that Jesus gave you (1 Corinthians 1:4)
  • Give thanks for because God is good and His steadfast love endures forever (Psalms 118:1)Give thanks for the victory that we have in Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:57)

That’s a list to get you started.  And I’ll leave you with this thought, there are only a few incidents where the Bible records Jesus giving thanks.  The most notable incidents are when Jesus had only a couple of loaves and fish and fed tens of thousands!  The final incident in which Jesus gives thanks is for His body broken for us and His blood that was shed for us.

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