“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Not only should our thanksgiving be expressed but it should be:
How far does your thanksgiving reach? As our thanksgiving expands it should include the blessings of God. Let me ask a question, how many of us give thanks to God for a sink full of dirty dishes, my guess not many. We see a mess but a sink full of dirty dishes usually means that we have been blessed with food to eat. Over two thirds of this world goes to bed hungry every night, yet we complain because after eating a great meal we have a few dishes to do. It’s easy to get caught up in the complaining were the only thing we can see is the mess and we miss the blessing. Often we prayer general even generic prayers, “God thanks for the blessings” but what are the specific blessings that we are thankful for? The old Hymn, “count your blessings” reminds us to name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done” Not only should our thankfulness include the blessings of life but also the burdens. This is a tough one and if we struggle to give thanks for the blessings we will most likely fail to thank in the burdens. Ephesians 5:20 says, “always giving thanks.” It would be easy to think that Paul as he peened these words made a mistake, or that this was easy for him to say. But Paul experienced many difficult burdens, he was run out of town, beaten, whipped, imprisoned, betrayed by friends, left naked, cold, hungry, shipwrecked, and stoned because of his faith. Yet he never stopped giving thanks. When it came to the burdens of this life Paul had a proper perspective. In Romans 8:18 he said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us” In 2 Corinthians, “That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” In Philippians 1:12 “Now I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel” Do you have a proper perspective when it comes to the pain and the problems of this life? When we do, we like Paul will be able to give thanks in all circumstances, even the difficult and dark days that we will face. Now we don’t have to be thankful for them but thankful in them, you see Paul is not calling us to be thankful for our problems but rather in them. We need to give thanks for the blessings and the burdens but also for the benefits. When the Israelites focused on what they didn’t have, they failed to see all that they did have. It amazes me that most Christians are constantly adding to their prayer list but rarely to their praise list. One of the reasons we are not thankful is that we focus on the problems of prayer more than the praise. Now I am not saying that we should not talk to God about our problems, I am saying that in reality we more to praise over than petition over. When you look at what He has done and what we have it far out ways what we don’t. As Christians we have more to cheer about than complain about. Not only should our thanksgiving be expressed and extensive but it is also:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Do you really want to know what God’s Will is for your life? Well here it is in the Armstrong paraphrase “God’s will for you is to live life as a winner, so stop whining and start worshipping,” God calls us to focus not on the challenging circumstances but on our conqueror Christ, because He knows that if we will that it will change our lives. You may not like to hear this but being thankful in all circumstances is the mark of a growing Christian. A baby is ungrateful, when they don’t feel well you can rock them and hold them for hours and when you put that baby down rather than appreciation and gratitude they tend to just cry and wail a little louder. Children have to be taught to be thankful. The mark of maturity isn’t so much about what you know but what happens to your worship when the winter winds blow and things go from bad to worse. What about you are you a fair weather worshipper or a fearless one? Mature Christians don’t waste there energy moaning and groaning they give God the glory. When we realize how blessed we are and express it in praise we will be growing and moving towards maturity. Not only is thankfulness a mark of a growing Christian but also of a giving Christian. When you truly comprehend all that God has done for you and how much he continues to do, it should move you to give back. Thanks giving should involve our time, talents and our treasures. The Wise men who came to worship baby Jesus used their talents not for gain but for God. They willingly sacrificed their time, in a grueling journey to glorify God, and they came prepared to present the King with their presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It amazes me how many Christians willingly give a good waitress a 15% tip yet struggle to give a good God 10% despite all the good gifts He has blessed us with. A growing Christian is not a moaner and a giving Christian is not a miser. If we are truly thankful then why would we hold back, after all “God loves a cheerful giver” Corinthians 9:7. Not only is thanksgiving the mark of a growing Christian and a giving Christian but it’s also the mark of a glowing Christian. Paul reminds us 2 Corinthians 4:8-18, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed…13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory… For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen.” Paul doesn’t deny or dismiss the problems and the pressures of this life but he says that they don’t have to dominate us. What if Christians would stop getting so worked up over worry and start getting worked up over worship? When we talk about Moses coming down from Mount Sinai we tend to focus more on the ten commands he carried in stone than the change in his countenance. After spending time with God there was a glow. One of the reasons we don’t glow is that we don’t go to God and spend time with Him in worship. What kind of countenance do you have, is it a glowing one or a groaning one, do you glow or growl? It’s easy to get caught up in the complaining and end up with a critical spirit. Are you caught up in the pessimism or the praise? Why not take some time today to count your blessings and reflect on what the Lord has done.