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Friday, May 13, 2016

Learning to Give Thanks in All Circumstances

In review of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 it says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Bottom Line:
Give thanks always, this is God’s will for those in Christ Jesus.

What this means to me:
I am to give thanks in all circumstances whatever happens, for this is God’s will for me in Christ Jesus.

Today's passage comes from the middle of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 where Paul is providing some final advice. He tells us to honor, respect and give wholehearted love to those who are our leaders in the Lord's work. We are to urge those who are lazy, encourage those who are timid, and take tender care of those who are weak. And to be patient with everyone. We are to never pay back evil for evil, but do good. Always be joyful, never stop praying and be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for us. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit, scoff at prophecies, but to test everything that is said. Hold onto what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.

Once a year we celebrate a day of thanksgiving. But what this passage reminds me is that God wants me to be intentional about my thankfulness every day. He wants me to develop this spiritual habit, one that is reflected in the life of a radical believer. I believe that the more deeply I understand God’s love, the more grateful I’m going to be.

So what does it mean to be radically grateful? The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NIV). That’s radical gratitude. In all circumstances give thanks, because it’s God’s will for you.

I can thank God in every circumstance because He is in control. He can bring good out of evil. He can turn around the stupid mistakes I’ve made. No matter what happens, God isn’t going to stop loving me. There are a hundred things to be thankful for in any circumstance, even when the circumstance stinks.

Radical gratitude, being thankful in all circumstances, is God’s will because it creates fellowship. What I’m learning is that gratitude always builds deeper relationships between myself and others and between myself and God.

Rick Warren suggests that “Whoever you want to get closer to, start expressing gratitude to that person. If you’ve moved away from your husband or your wife, you need to start doing what you did when you were dating: Express gratitude. Write little notes of kindness and encouragement. Make calls or text during the day, just to tell him or her that you’re thankful. Do the things you did at first. The reason you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling is because you stopped doing the things that created that lovin’ feeling early on, and you take each other for granted.”

Other suggestions I’m learning is that to build my small group? Don’t just go to the group. During the week, text them, email them, call them, write them. Say, “I’m grateful for you, and here’s why.” You’ll find that the more grateful you are for your group, the more your group will bond.

The Bible tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). As I build others up, I’ll find that God builds into my life as well through my deep relationships with him and others.

As I approach this weekend, I should consider, who I need to encourage or connect with? To whom do I need to show my gratitude? What are some simple ways I can express my gratitude to wife, friend, or small group members?