Our church gals do awesome baby showers. (One is a wedding designer, so ….) It’s worth having a baby just for the beautiful shower. And all the love and gifts and sweetness poured out.
So I was asked to give the devotional at the shower yesterday, and I talked about thankfulness.
За все благодарите: ибо такова о вас воля Божия во Христе Иисусе.
1 Фесс 5:18
In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thess 5:18
Here are some notes:
We thank when it’s obvious and easy. But thanking always is a huge step in maturity and growth. It’s how we can constantly fellowship with God and experience His grace and joy.
The verses in the NT where we’re instructed to give thanks are often connected to prayer and rejoicing, so giving thanks constantly is a way we can have/do/be full of prayer and joy.
I want to talk about 2 times when it’s hard to thank God:
- For the mundane. We do many repetitious tasks that seem to have no spiritual value. … laundry, food, discipline, playing with kids, cleaning .
But we can fill these tasks with spiritual meaning by giving thanks to God for them and through them.
For example, we can thank God for these simple, humbling jobs. For Christ, who did simple, humbling things on earth–who lived in a family and fulfilled the will of God as a son and brother.
We can thank God for the presence of the Holy Spirit while we do everything. In the Old Testament, people were filled with the Spirit for special tasks, and in order to fellowship with God, they had to go to a priest, a temple, offer a sacrifice. But today! We have the Spirit constantly living in us, filling us, making holy all that we do. We ourselves are priests; we can pray and fellowship directly with God through Christ. And we can do every single job in holy service to Him.
Example: Jesus thanking God for food–such a simple, daily, repetitious thing to thank God for, but He gave great meaning to what He was doing by giving thanks. Mtt 14:19, 15:36, Luke 24:30-31
2. We can thank God for hard things: for disappointments. For tragedies. For our own struggles with sin.
Thanksgiving by faith gives meaning to these things and gives us hope that God will do even greater things than we can imagine.
Jesus thanked God for the bread and wine at the Last Supper and taught that they represented His suffering for us. He pointed us to the spiritual value that His suffering had. And we now continually give thanks, too, when we take communion, for His suffering. Mt 26:26-27.
All things in our lives have spiritual meaning, even tragedies (Rom 8:28). These things are God’s grace to us, it’s what we don’t deserve. We don’t deserve to have tragedies that can become blessings to us– we deserve just to have evil for our sins. So thanking God for ALL things strengthens our faith that there is purpose and eternal value in the things that disappoint and hurt us. For example, when I was in a car accident– it seems like simply a tragedy, but so many spiritual and physical blessings came from that time. The world may not understand our thankfulness and joy during these times when only sadness and tragedy is visible, but by faith, this is what we do.
Thanking God for our sins. When my first two kids were little, it was the hardest time in my life. I felt like I was sinning all day long. At one point, I wanted to put my older child in kindergarten, but I realized that I was just trying to run away from myself, to withdraw myself from a situation that was provoking me to sin a lot. But could I submit myself to the egoistic discomfort I was feeling, and remain in the relationship and let God use it to sanctify and transform me? I’m thankful this is what happened, and that God taught me so many lessons about Himself and the process of sanctification during that uncomfortable, obviously-sinful time in my life. I have much better understanding of some spiritual things because of this, and much greater compassion for others.
Sometimes when we give thanks for a hurtful thing, we immediately feel and gain relief in our spirits. Other times, we have to discipline ourselves to keep thanking God, and in time, He grants us that joy and peace that comes from fully trusting Him.
Also, when we have conflicts with someone in the church: Paul very often wrote to churches, “I thank God for you…” Of all people, Paul could’ve been critical, judgmental, and constantly dissatisfied with these new believers. But what did he do? He constantly thanked God for them! And so, when we experience conflicts in our church, rather than think evil, let’s find ways to give thanks for that person.
And let’s be ready to encourage one another to give thanks. When we share our trials and hardships with each other, let’s urge each other to express thankfulness in this, to find spiritual value in it, and not grumble.
We’re all due not far from each other 🙂
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