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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mature Thanksgiving

1 Thessalonians 5:18 - In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Ephesians 5:20 - Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Philippians 4:6 - Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

These few verses expand the parameters of thanksgiving into sobering places.

1 Thessalonians uses the two words “every thing”
Ephesians uses the three words, “always”, and “all things”
Philippians uses the two words “every thing”

A child is thankful for candy but not medicine
A child is thankful for a toy but not a tool
A child is thankful for a trip to the park but not a trip to the woodshed
A child is thankful for ice cream but not for green peas

It requires some maturity to be thankful for medicine, tools, the woodshed, and our vegetables.

When we begin to think about all for which we have to be thankful does not our minds immediately gravitate toward the pleasant and the things that have made life easy, happy, and enjoyable? Our tendency is to be thankful for the good things in life. The spiritual blessings that we have received in Jesus Christ, the temporal blessing that we have received at the hand of a benevolent God; these are the things that move our tongues to thanksgiving. This is not a bad thing. In fact we should be thankful for the good things of life; spiritual and temporal.

When a child matures to the point of becoming thankful for medicine, tools, the woodshed and vegetables that does not mean the child ceases to be thankful for candy, toys, a trip to the park and ice cream. What it does mean is that he has matured enough to realize that he should be thankful for things that he may not especially like.

All who have lived a little while and been saved for a few years know that there is plenty that takes place in life that is unpleasant, distasteful, hurtful, and just not very fun; things that don’t make us happy or add to our enjoyment of life. Such is the nature of life.

Job 14:1 - Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

A mature believer is one who is learning to give thanks for the trouble of life. One who develops an appreciation for the difficulties that occur and can still have their tongue moved to thanksgiving not in spite of the difficulty but because of them!

Philippians 4:11-13 - Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Paul had learned contentment. He had learned how to be abased and how to abound. He had learned to do this through Christ.

Christ is the great equalizer of life’s up and downs. He never changes. Life ebbs and flows, Christ remains constant. Troubles come and go, Christ promises never to leave us or forsake us. He is there in the good times; he is there in the bad times. I need to learn to be thankful just because He is there.

Psalms 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

When sickness strikes either in our own lives or the life of a loved one do we fret or give thanks?
When we have a financial setback do we grumble or give thanks?
When people disappoint us do we murmur or give thanks?
When the whether is not favorable do we complain or give thanks?
When plans fall through do we stress out or do we give thanks?
When we are humbled do we cringe or do we give thanks?
When we are rebuked do we flare up or do we give thanks?
When we have family trouble do we despair or do we give thanks?
When we have trouble do we sulk or do we give thanks?

Have we matured, have we learned to give thanks for all things, always in everything?

Job 1:20-22  -Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Job 2:9,10 - Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.  But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
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