I Thessalonians 5:16-18: 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
When some think about thanksgiving they generally think about 3 things: Family, Food, and Football! WHAT? Yes, I’m serious. When they think of that 4th Thursday in November, those are the first things that pop in there! It is traditionally a day of being thankful for the stuff we have!
And that is the world’s perspective of thanksgiving. That could also be the reason why it is limited to a once a year event and to those things that are tangible.
In this passage, Paul tells us that true thanksgiving is a life of daily thanksliving. Paul tells us in these 3 verses to remember a few ways we can apply thanksliving in our daily life.
I. REJOICE ALWAYS ……..V. 16
Rejoicing is not always about being happy! It is about being joyful! People are naturally happy on some occasions: Birthdays, Anniversaries, heading to Disney World, are all things that make us happy! Joy is not natural, but rather supernatural.
Christian’s joy is not dependent on circumstances. It comes from what Christ has done. It is constant – does not fade away! The lesson for the church is for us to be joyful! Because it is through our joy that we are able to allow ourselves to praise the Lord in good times, and not so good times!
II. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING……..V. 17
Why is it important to pray without ceasing? It is the only way to cultivate a joyful attitude in times of trial.
It does not mean we should be on our knees 24/7!!! But that our hearts should be willing to be in constantly recurring prayer, growing out of a dependence on God. That means lifting our hearts to God whether words are uttered or not. But also allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us in all situations.
Lesson for the church is prayer is our most powerful but the most unused resource. Often, we use prayer to manipulate God and easily give up when God doesn’t answer the way we feel is right. The primary purpose of prayer is NOT to change ourselves, NOT to change our situations, but to RESPOND BACK to our Creator. It seems basic, but that’s what it’s all about—building our relationship with God.
Now Paul is about help us experience that Rejoicing Always and Pray Without Ceasing pave the way for Giving Thanks!
III. GIVE THANKS……..V. 18
People of God thanked Him for everything! Why should we give thanks to God? Everything we have, our family, job, house, finances, friends…they are all blessings given to us by the Lord. All those experiences we gain, all that is good, and even some of those things that can test us…He is present in them! Because even our problems are temporary parts to God’s larger plan for our spiritual well-being.
Lesson for the church is to ask God to forgive us for ignoring Him in our life-by not giving Him thanks all the time. We need to make thanksgiving and thanksliving a habit in our lives all the time. We should not wait for a special day, but make it a daily practice.
Therefore, we should start thanksliving because it is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus. Thanksliving is appropriate for every circumstance of daily life. It can abound in any aspect of human life. It will activate the joy of the Christian life. Because true thanksgiving is a life of daily thanksliving. Happy Thanksgiving and Thanksliving to you all!!!
Pastor John Punni, II