Giving Thanks IN All Circumstances
November 19, 2020, 1:00 PM

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This past Sunday I referenced this powerful verse that gives us a description of the life Christ lays out before us.  The action words are all pretty simple.  Rejoice.  Pray.  Give Thanks.  The descriptive words for the first two are also very clear and understandable.  Always.  Continually.   And the why - is also truly clear - In Paul's mind we are to do this because it is God's will for us in Christ Jesus.  But I want to focus a bit on the words following the instruction to give thanks. 

You see - Thanksgiving is upon us here in the USA.  But it's not going to be normal in any way shape or form.  There is so much angst in the world right now.  And that is why I want us to read this wonderfilled word from God again.  "Rejoice always, Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances - for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

That last phrase it was pointed out is not what we actually "hear" when we read this verse.  Even when we see it written, our well trained brains do what they are supposed to do - they help us hear what we expect to hear.  In Philppians 4 - Paul writes Rejoice in the LORD always, again I tell you Rejoice.  Here its shorter - Rejoice always....   our brain hears it clearly.  We are to rejoice in the Lord - in what God has done in our lives, the grace, the forgiveness, the love... for us rejoice.  God has done great things - Rejoice!  In almost every letter Paul writes he admonishes us to pray - always, continually, now, tomorrow, every day, every hour, every minute.  Be in touch with the holy.  Talk to God.  Listen.   Always.  Pray.    Then there is the last piece.  Give thanks.... we hear it coming.  Give thanks for everything.  Did you hear it?  In your brain the word "for" slipped right into place.  Its so easy.... Give thanks for.... and we can all make a list.  Our grandchildren.  Our children.  Our jobs.  Our friends, our home.  Our church.  Our God.  Our educations.  Our wisdom.  Our hope.  Our salvation.  But.....that is just what our brain wants us to hear.  We like making a list.  I even recommend it at times.  We like listing our blessings.  It helps us understand who we are.  But it can also become a brag.  Give thanks for.... becomes a blessing count.  Not a bad thing.  Actually it can be a good thing as long as we are remembering who we are thanking.  But that also isn't what Paul says... Paul says - "give thanks IN all circumstances...."   Why is this so important?  First of all it may only be important to me...but I don't think so.  Otherwise Paul probably wouldn't have written it.    Let me help you understand.

To give thanks for everything means:  Thank you God for the death of my dad....  To give thanks in the circumstance:  Thank you God that in Dad's death we saw faith lived out.  No one I know is glad dad died.  But the faith and grit he lived the last 3 years of his life with were and are worthy of giving thanks for. 

To give thanks for everything means;  Thank you God for the Pandemic.  In the circumstance:  Thank you Lord that we can live our faith out serving you in and through the pandemic.....But many of us are saying:  Thank you Lord for how the church has learned to adapt and reach more people because of the pandemic.    "For everything"?  no.  "In Everything" yes...  Because no matter the situation, the circumstance, the issue, God is already there because we who have Jesus in us are already there. 

As Thanksgiving approaches - remember this, remember to give thanks - in every circumstance.  Not just for the blessings but in the hardship.  Not just in the reward - but in the hurt.   God is worthy of our thanks. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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