Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 November 19, 2017
“In Everything, Give Thanks”
Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:18
We come once again to our national day of thanks this Thursday—and we each come to the day with a mix of evident blessings, sober realities, and particular pains. Let us, the Body of Christ, consider every day a day in which we may thank the Lord for His Person and benefits. Yet, inasmuch as the national day of thanks now stands enshrined on our national calendar, let us display before God and before our nation our heartfelt thanks to Him.
We have before us a single verse—a verse not too difficult to memorize, to wit, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” The Apostle Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, wrote these words to a struggling, infant, yet faithful local church. What help these words must have been to the Thessalonian church ca. A. D. 49—within the first three or four years of its existence—and what help these words are to us in our time. Let us see just how helpful these Spirit-spoken words are to our needy souls today.
“In everything give thanks.” Let’s begin properly this way: In every situation, at all times, let us render our thanks to the Lord. Thanksgiving unto God is always in season. First, we thank Him for His Person; that is, we thank Him for Who He is. In so doing, we thank Him using the language of attributes. We thank Him for being all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. We thank Him for His unique essence as three-in-one, or as trinity-in-unity. We thank Him for the unique nature of Jesus, God incarnate, as both fully God and fully man. We thank Him for the Spirit, given as the Christian’s new-birthright to every Christian at conversion. We thank Him for His perfect justice and His matchless grace. We thank the Lord for His love manifest toward us—to which we now turn for a closer look.
Second, we thank God for His providence; that is, we thank Him for what He does. More precisely, we thank Him for what He has done, does, and shall do. We thank Him for His decisive act for us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ—Who, for us elect humans, for our salvation, suffered unto death on the Cross, was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s borrowed tomb, and rose from that tomb the third day victorious over every foe. We thank the Lord for calling us to faith in Jesus Christ, and, thus, to abundant, eternal life—not to mention rescue from the miseries of hell and healing from sin’s ravages. More than this, we thank Him for every benefit bestowed upon our lives—great and small, far-reaching and close at hand. Truly our God is good—and He expresses His inexpressible goodness to us moment by moment.
Yet some—yea, maybe many in our culture and perhaps at least some here—see no good ground in circumstance for thanking God. Life hurts physically due to bodily infirmity, or life hurts inwardly due to emotional, or to mental, or to spiritual infirmity. If this be you today, then do not err—thinking this message either inapplicable to you or sadistically cruel. We can thank the Lord even in our pain. Let’s see how.
The Lord uses pain, trial, adversities, and the like to grow us. He grows us into increasing maturity in Christ through pain. He also grows our compassion for hurting people—and He uses our pains to grow our capacity to minister unto the hurting—through the providential paces He puts us through. God makes us, through pain, increasingly like His Son, Who—as we well know and for which we rejoice—knew suffering, even unto the death. There are other uses of trial—weaning from self-dependence onto God-dependence and weakening the tether holding us to this world, to name but two—and for these and the other we can thank God.
“For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Sometimes I contemplate, and at times others pose to me, this question: “What is the will of God for my life?” I have several guides for this: Scripture, the inward witness of the Spirit, the testimony of Godly folk, and the right discernment of providential circumstances. These may lead us to the will of God for a course of action given a set of circumstances, but—apart from this—I can tell you without fail one facet of God’s will for your life. You and I are to thank Him in everything, for this is His will for us in His Son.
There are times that thanking God is as easy as lifting a feather or exhaling a sigh on a peaceful day. Then there are the other times—times when thanking God is the hardest thing we have done to date. There are times that our souls hurt so deeply or our minds are so bewildered that we cannot aspire to thank God. We feel unable in the moment to thank Him. Yet with the command of God comes the power of God to comply. He will give us supernatural ability from on high to render Him thanks when bruised, baffled, exhausted, and otherwise crippled naturally from thanks. And, when the supernatural thanksgiving comes, we can testify to another—with integrity—that it indeed does, and will, come.
Thus, in this Thanksgiving week—and especially on Thursday—thank the Lord for Who He is and for what He does. Enjoy Him, then enjoy His blessings. Know for a surety His good favor toward you who believe in Jesus, and look forward with me to the day when every pain will be relieved and every tear wiped away—and thank Him for that too.