Lucia's Blog: "GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES"
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, March 28, 2020

"GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES"

"Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit."  
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19



Being grateful is the key to spiritual victory.  Joy is the result of a grateful heart. A thankful heart is the product of a person who chooses always to give thanks no matter the circumstances.  It is the person who never compares himself to other people but always to Christ.  It is the heart that realizes he is rich beyond measure because he is a child of God and that in Him, he finds His portion. It is the heart that is always looking for reasons to be content and give thanks.

We have so much to be thankful for, even when it seems there is much to complain about.  We must praise God and be always mindful of the many blessings our loving God showers down upon all of us.  When the church first began in Acts 2:46, the disciples broke bread daily from house to house and ate their food with gladness.  They were so thankful to be partakers of God's family that they ate together with joy (gladness and sincerity of heart).

Sadly, life has become mundane for many of us. It is a constant search for thrills in worldly and sinful habits (drinking, drugs, spending, pornography, affairs, and many such as these that make us stumble).  Many refuse to be grateful for what they have. A thankful heart makes the ordinary extraordinary.   We must examine our hearts and focus on gratitude.  The grateful heart is always positive.  Such a heart knows and acknowledges God's manifold ways and blessings.  There is so much that we as His children need to be grateful for since He has blessed us so richly.  The right attitude always leads to a heart of gratitude toward our Jehovah God.

So what does it mean to be thankful, and how does one develop the right attitude (spirit) of gratitude?  How can one overcome an ungrateful heart or spirit?  Let us consider:


I.   DEVELOPING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE, THE SPIRIT OF GRATITUDE:

An ungrateful heart is darkened by human pride, human wisdom, and indulgence (Rom. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:2).  It refuses to acknowledge God as the Giver of every good and perfect gift (Psalm 103:1-5).  It is God's will that we be thankful for everything (1 Thess. 5:8).  It is a command that is as important as the command to repent and be baptized or to worship correctly (Acts 2:38; John 4:24).  Christians must always be thankful since Christ is our reason for living (Col. 3:3, 10).  A heart that is not thankful will always abound in anxiety (Eph. 5:20).  The grateful heart always acknowledges the benefits received.  Blessings come to us when we are thankful.   When one recognizes the Giver, our God, and that all blessings come from Him, there will never be room for boasting.  We are not worthy of God's blessings, and we do not deserve a single one!  (1 Tim. 1:12-13).

In James 1:17, we are taught that every good and perfect gift comes from above, God the Father of lights.  All that we have and possess (our families, beautiful homes, health, skills, jobs, etc.) God has made them possible for us.  So why not praise our Lord for such blessings and all His marvelous ways?  The problem of ingratitude has been around since the beginning of mankind.  It will be good to remind ourselves frequently what is of real value; that life does not consist in the abundance of things a person possesses (Luke 12:15); that all material things are temporary, no matter how much we enjoy them; that those blessings we enjoy now originated from our heavenly Father; that we must take time to be thankful day in and day out for all physical and spiritual blessings and finally that our God is the fountain from which every blessing flows.

To maintain and develop the right attitude, the spirit of gratitude, we must personally examine ourselves.  
  • Gratitude Requires Counting All of Our Blessings:
In Psalm 103:3-5 we read of God's blessings or benefits toward us.
"Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

This passage reminds us of what our Jehovah God has done for us.  I cannot help but be reminded of John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

In Psalm 103:3-5, David thanks God for six things which he regards as blessings:
  1. God forgives our sins.
  2. God heals us.
  3. God redeems us from death.
  4. God surrounds us with favor.
  5. God satisfies us with good things.
  6. God renews us with strength.
Undoubtedly, without God on our side, none of these blessings could take place.  We are God's sheep in His pasture (Psalm 79:13).  He cares for us and calls us to put our faith in Him (John 10:27-28). All these blessings are worthy of a lifetime of gratitude and praise toward our God.  So count all of your blessings one by one!

  • Gratitude Requires God's Goodness:
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.  He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.  8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  9 He will not always chide,  nor will he keep his anger forever.  10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,  nor repay us according to our iniquities.”  (Psalm 103:6-10)

God's goodness is an excellent way of expressing God's righteousness, mercy, and grace.  David was thankful for God's goodness, and so should we.  We need to be grateful for God's righteousness and justice.  Though our lives might be difficult here on earth because of oppression, God will make things right on that Final Day.  He will indeed execute justice for us.  David was thankful for God's longsuffering and for being slow to anger.  He was aware of this since God could have certainly destroyed him after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.  But God didn't!! Let's face it if God was not longsuffering, how many of us would still be alive today?  I assure you, none of us.  He does not deal with His children according to their sins.  He does not punish us the way we deserve!  And though He does not ignore sin, out of His goodness, He gives us plenty of time to repent.  So let us be thankful that He is slow to anger, but realize that He does get angry.  His longsuffering and tolerance have a limit.  May we never take that for granted, but rather show gratitude toward Him all the days of our life.

  • Gratitude Requires God's Forgiving Love:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.  15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.  17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.  (Psalm 103:11-18)

God, in His goodness, manifests His love toward us.  His steadfast love toward those who fear Him is as high as the heavens are above the earth!  From everlasting to everlasting!  What a beautiful picture!  Notice that His steadfast love, His mercy, is only granted to those who fear Him and not to everyone; those who faithfully keep His covenant and obey all of His commandments (Psalm 103;11,17,18).

God, in His steadfast love, removed our sins when we accepted His terms and began to follow Him. As far as the east is from the west!  Notice that He did not say as far as the north is from the south. Now stop for a moment and think about the meaning of Psalm 103:12 and notice the beautiful words of this psalm and be thankful!  Why?  Because our God has removed our sins farther away than we can think or understand!  As far as the east is from the west!!  That is, when God forgives our sins, He washes them away completely and remembers them no more.  What a loving and merciful God we serve!!

Our Father in Heaven is a merciful God toward His children.  He is patient with us not willing that any should perish but that we all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  He pities His children the way a human father pities his children.  That alone is a good enough reason to be thankful toward Him!

  • Gratitude Requires Faith:
Without faith, it will be impossible to be thankful toward our God for the most precious gift ever given, the sacrifice of His Son, who died for our sins (2 Cor. 9:15).  God cares for the sheep of His pasture and commands us to put our faith in Him (John 10:27-28; Psalm 79:13).

  • Gratitude Requires Joy and Contentment:
As children of our heavenly Father, we are commanded to rejoice with a grateful heart always despite our circumstances.  You see, rejoicing and gratitude go hand in hand (1 Thess. 5:16-18).  Likewise, joy and giving thanks go together (Psalm 97:10-12).  We must learn to exercise our muscle of joy and contentment that we might be able to praise and honor our God always.  Contentment is not easier to learn, but we must learn it and apply it in every circumstance, whatever it may be (Phil. 4:10-13; 2 Cor. 12:9-10).

The one who is always anxious has a hard time expressing thankfulness amid his anxiety.  It is gratitude (rejoicing always) that nurtures the optimism that replaces anxiety and fear (Matt. 6:33-34; Phi. 4:13).

  • Gratitude Requires Giving:
When one is grateful to be working, he can easily provide for his needs and those of others (Acts. 20:34-35).  Generosity leads to unexpected blessings (Prov. 22:9; 21:13).


CONCLUSION:

Ingratitude is an ugly sin.  It portrays a heart that is blinded by pride, foolishness, and indulgence.  It often repays good with evil (Neh. 9:17; Lk. 6:35).  Ingratitude is always thoughtless toward God and implies that one deserves it all.  Ingratitude thinks about all that one doesn't have.  It never rejoices and always shows a frown.  Never smiles!  It is always unhappy and never finds contentment.  Ingratitude is proud and arrogant rather than humble and gracious (Lk. 14:11).  It focuses primarily on self (Jas. 3:14-16).  Ingratitude is rude, demeaning, demanding, grudging, ungenerous, and thoughtless toward others.  And while thankfulness looks outward, ingratitude looks inward, failing to acknowledge the contributions or good others do for us.  Ingratitude is expressed in the heart of murmuring, complaining, and bitterness.  Have you ever noticed how difficult it is for the complainer and whiner to be thankful?  He is always seeing the wrongs and shortcomings of others and finds pleasure in it (Num. 11:1; 4:6; 21:4-5).   The one who complains forgets that when he's complaining, He is actually grumbling against God. 

When we grumble or complain, our faith is weak. You see, faith is developed and strengthened when one embraces the Word of God heartily, trusting in it as only truth (Romans 10:17).  This was precisely the failure of the Israelites.  Their faith was so weak that they found it difficult to trust God's Word.  They forgot God's promises to them.  They forgot all that God had graciously provided for them, the marvelous works that provided the food, shelter, and clothing that they needed.  We are no different today.  Why?  Because our faith is fickle.  We quickly forget to remember God's blessings and all the ways He pours out blessings on us day in and day out.  We just seem to lack faith, forgetting that He is in control.  We neglect to be strengthened through His Word as we should, and when all is said and done, we end up grumbling instead of trusting.  Some think that God is not all-powerful or all-knowing; they believe He doesn't care, so they feel hopeless and helpless and therefore complain. They forget that our God is great and awesome!  He will take care of His faithful children (Matt. 6:33; Heb. 13:5-6).

The apostle Paul tells us that he learned to be content!  It was a process.
"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13). 

Contentment is like a muscle–the more you put it into practice, the stronger it gets. It is an attitude inside our hearts that whispers in our ears saying,
"God, I want to learn to be content, so today, I am going to seek to be grateful to You, for what You have provided and for the eternal life I will share with You, where joys beyond my imagination will be real, will be fulfilled and will be provided by You, because You love me."  

We need to choose to understand this contentment with humility and joy, whatever our circumstances. It is a significant gain in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this contentment, this character of heart in us, that will help us battle whatever our circumstances are and ultimately give us victory! 
“57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”  (1 Cor. 15:57). 

We have an abundance of blessings bestowed on us as His children for which we must be thankful. Consider some of the many blessings:  Our families, our good health, freedom to worship God, the Gospel of Christ, the Word of God, our redemption, our hope of eternal life, our many freedoms like being able to home educate our children, air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, and most of all our Lord and Savior who redeemed us, who cares for us, who sympathizes with our weaknesses, and who has sworn never to forsake us.  Therefore, we are more than rich since we have all these abundances of blessings.

So do you complain about your circumstances, your job, your health, your children, the church, God's commands, your responsibilities, etc.?  Why not choose to be thankful and grateful while there is life?  Be thankful that you are still alive, have medical care available to you, have children (our children are God's heritage to us Psalm 127:3), and finally that you are part of God's kingdom, His church (the church belongs to our Lord Jesus and not to you!).  Remember that blessings bring responsibilities.  Ingratitude deems or regards others with envy and jealousy (Gal. 5:20-21).  Have you ever seen a jealous and envious person full of joy and thankfulness or gratefulness?  So why not start tasting of God's favor in your life that you might be able to dispose of sinful attitudes and actions, 1 Peter 2:1-3?

I want to share a poem that I wrote.  I hope you find meaning in these words.


Thy Excellence Makes Me Glad!
By Luci Y. Partain

O that my heart may always be grateful to Thee, my Lord,
When wintry winds and stormy seas assail me,
When dreary days and troubled times seize me
And peace is hard to find,
When turbulent times come and go
And tears and sorrow abound,
May my heart rejoice in Thee.
When grief and fears surround me,
Let the memory of  sacred strains, Truth eternal and joy divine
Be Thy gifts bestowed upon me, my Lord.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

O that my heart may rejoice and be grateful to Thee
In hope and thanksgiving with a humble heart, my Savior, Lord, and King.
May I always bow before Thee, Lord, in gratitude and gladness
For every gift that Thou hast bestowed upon me.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

Thou hast given me life and breath.
Thou hast blessed me richly with fruit and grain.
Thou hast given light of day and dark of night, sun, moon, and stars on high,
For that, my humble heart will always shout with joy and gratitude.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

The beauty, splendor, and majesty in Thy creation
Always surround me with joy and serenity.
My grateful heart shouts with joy and love.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

I love Thee and praise Thee and will ever exalt Thee,
My Rock and my Anchor in whom my heart will ever trust.
I thank thee for all the blessings of joy and sorrow and 
For the wisdom that they teach me day by day.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

I thank Thee for all my challenges and obstacles,
For rugged mountains to climb.
Thy Truth teaches me courage and abiding faith to keep me strong,
To face my fears on the fields of battle with honor and strength.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

Thy goodness and steadfast love fill  my heart with gladness and thanksgiving,
Thy strong right-hand helps me to walk in Thy straight path of righteousness.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

My heart thanks Thee for the knowledge of Thy presence, Lord,
My heart can be still, For Thou art with me.
Thy lovingkindness and steadfast love comfort me.
Therefore, my heart will ever praise Thee,
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

O that my heart may ever praise Thee,
For Thy hand is always beside me to guide me,
Thy hand reaches o'er me..., 
To protect, direct, and secure me all the days of my life.
No matter how bad the tempest might frighten me,
I know that in Thee, my soul is secured and anchored forever.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!


May our Lord help us to give thanks always no matter what our circumstances are.  May we live in His peace, trusting in Him with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. May we always have a thankful and grateful heart that we may see the power of God and our faith in Him working in our life.  May we never forget that God is the Giver of all good gifts.  May we never fall into the temptation of complaining but rather learn to be content and grateful while we walk this path of life.  May we keep calm and know that He cares for us.  May we never forget that He is near.  To Him be the glory.

Luci


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