What do all of these have in common? Microsoft Word. Microsoft Front Page. Microsoft Money. Quicken. Internet Explorer. Netscape. Norton Anti-Virus. WinZip. Adobe Acrobat. What do all of these have in common? All of them are applications of a computer operating system. These applications enable a computer to be a blessing to you – at least most of the time!
In this message, we are going to see three operating principles of thanksgiving. We are also going to learn a unique practical application for each one of these operating principles. You are going to discover that these applications will enable these operating principles of thanksgiving to become a blessing in your life. So listen closely because Thanksgiving is more than a holiday that falls on the fourth Thursday of every November. It is meant to be a way of life for a child of God!
You find all three of these operating principles of thanksgiving and their practical application in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Here is the first operating principle of thanksgiving: Thanksgiving is appropriate to every circumstance of daily life. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
The words “give thanks” are a command. They say that thanksgiving is God’s plan for your life. Moreover, this command is in a Greek tense meaning “keep on giving thanks” – in every situation, every occasion and every circumstance.
This verse does not say “Give thanks for all circumstances”. Instead it says “Give thanks in all circumstances”.
You can give thanks in every circumstance. Why? Here’s why: God will use every circumstance (whether good or bad) for the good of those who are His children through Jesus Christ.
Two women met on a college campus during an alumni gathering. They had not seen each other for a few years. The conversation went something like this:
“I’ve gotten married since we last met.”
“Oh, that’s good.”
“Well I don’t know about that. My husband is twice as old as I am.”
“Oh, that’s bad.”
“Well I don’t know about that, he’s worth a hundred million dollars.”
“Oh, that’s good.”
“Well I don’t know about that. He won’t give me a cent.”
“Oh, that’s bad.”
“Well I don’t know about that. He did give me a five million dollar house.”
“Oh, that’s good.”
“Well I don’t know about that. It burned down last week.”
“Oh, that’s bad.”
“Well, I don’t know about that. He was in the house!”
“Oh, that’s…” Sometimes you don’t know whether something is good or bad. But one thing for sure. We can always be thankful that God is working for our good in everything.
The greatest example of that is the cross of Jesus where, amid the depth of our sin, guilt and rebellion against God, God was bringing the good of redemption and reconciliation for all who would trust in Christ. “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)
You can give thanks in every circumstance because God will use that circumstance (whether good or bad) for your good to bring good into your life. As Joseph said to his brothers, after they had done some bad things to him: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20)
That’s the first operating principle of thanksgiving: Thanksgiving is appropriate to every circumstance of daily life. So what is the practical application of this first operating principle? Here it is: TRUST. By that I mean: “Trust God!”
You can’t be a thankful person if you’re not a trusting person. However, if you are willing to trust God in a circumstance (even if you can’t sort out the good circumstances from the bad), then you will be able to be a thankful person. You know that God is working for your good!
Where are you struggling to trust God today? What situation or circumstance have you gone through, are you going through, are you thinking about going through, in which you are doubting God to work for your good? Now is the time for you to say: “God, I’m going to trust You to bring the good you promised in this circumstance.”
Thanksgiving is appropriate to every circumstance of daily life – so trust! This is the first operating principle of thanksgiving and its practical application.
The second operating principle of thanksgiving goes this way: Thanksgiving can abound in any aspect of human life. Colossians 2:6-7 says: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God calls you to be thankful. And God never calls you to be or do something that He doesn’t also give you the power, the resources, the ability, to do!
The God who calls you to thanksgiving has a way to cause thanksgiving to abound in your heart and life. What is the way? It is the second practical application of thanksgiving: Thanksgiving can abound in any aspect of human life, so PRAY.
Right before God says “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) God’s Word says “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). A thankful life is the result of a prayerful life – a life of continual prayer. Pray continually!
The key to a thankful life is a prayerful life. When President George Washington issued the First Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in 1789, he began his proclamation with these words:
Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly to implore his protection and favor; and
Whereas both houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal (?) favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness’.
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the people of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that may be…that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the Lord and Ruler of Nations.
The key to a thankful life is a prayerful life! As Colossians 4:2 says: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
If you want thanksgiving to abound in every aspect of your life then spend more time in prayer. Pour out our heart to Him. Seek Him in your struggles. Acknowledge Him in your victories. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
That’s the second operating principle of thanksgiving and its practical application: Thanksgiving can abound in any aspect of human life – so pray!
This brings us to the third practical application of thanksgiving. Not only is thanksgiving appropriate to every circumstance of daily life, and not only can thanksgiving abound in any aspect of human life, we also need to know that Thanksgiving will activate the joy of the Christian life. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says: “Be joyful always.”
Joy is what the Kingdom of God – His rule, His reign in our life – is all about. “Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:16-17)
Thanksgiving will activate the joy of the Christian life. So here’s the third practical application of thanksgiving: PRAISE.
Every day you have a choice to make. The choice is whether you’re going to praise God amid your problems or pout amid them.
One thing for sure, you can find plenty of things to pout about but if you pout you’re going to miss out! You are going to miss out on the joy of the Christian life.
Listen carefully to the words of 1 Peter 4:11: “So that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen!” This Scripture assures us that “God may be praised through Jesus Christ”. When you have Jesus Christ in your life, you have all the reason in the world to praise and not pout.
The Apostle Paul put it this way: “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9) So great is the treasure of knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior that everything else you would thank God for this Thanksgiving – family, friends, food, clothing, shelter – all of it is “rubbish” compared to knowing Jesus. Yes, we ought to be thankful for those things for those things are temporary. They will pass away. But when they are gone, you will still have Christ and that means that you have every reason in the world to praise God!
We could learn a lesson from an immigrant shopkeeper whose adult son came to him one day. He said, “Dad, you keep your accounts payable in a cigar box, your accounts receivable on a spindle, all your cash in the register. You don’t even know what your profits are.” The father replied, “Son, when I came to this country all I had was a pair of pants. Today your sister is an art teacher, your brother is a lawyer, you are a C.P.A., your mother and I own a house, a car and this shop. Add it all up, subtract the pants and – praise God – there’s your profit!”
There’s a man who’s choosing to praise instead of pout. Small wonder that the joy of the Christian life had been activated in his life!
There you have it. The three operating principles of thanksgiving and their practical application:
1. Thanksgiving is appropriate to every circumstance of daily life – so trust.
2. Thanksgiving can abound in any aspect of human life – so pray!
3. Thanksgiving will activate the joy of the Christian life – so praise!
This is what will enable thanksgiving to be a blessing to you. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)


 

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