Monday, November 19, 2018

In Everything

Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It originated as a harvest festival. The event that Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. Although, what Americans commonly call the "First Thanksgiving" celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621, Thanksgiving services were a part of life and were celebrated in in Jamestown, Virginia in 1610. Their purpose was to have a yearly and perpetually holy day of thanksgiving to Almighty God. Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the United States on and off since 1789, with a proclamation by George Washington after a request by Congress. However, Thomas Jefferson chose not to observe the holiday, and its celebration was intermittent until the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Under Lincoln's Presidency, Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1863. Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul tells us, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Taken from the Greek, the word everything means; all things; every kind or variety; in the highest degree; the maximum; with all boldness. The Holy Spirit is our helper and comforter (John 15:26) and no matter what circumstances of life we may find ourselves facing, let us remember that He is with us always. The attitude of giving thanks for every believer should go beyond Thanksgiving Day. Simply put, Thanksgiving is not just a holiday every fourth Thursday in November where believers join with family and friends and share what they are thankful for, but everyday ought to be Thanksgiving Day for believers and as Paul tells us "In everything give thanks."

Honestly, we can always find something to be thankful for, especially the good things that come our way. But Paul is not saying, "in every good thing give thanks." As difficult as it may seem at times, believers are to have an attitude of thanksgiving at all times. Why? Every person, especially believers, owe a debt of gratitude to God for what He has accomplished for humanity through Christ. The Bible records Paul telling the church at Corinth of his trials, "In labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness, besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?" (2 Corinthians 11:23-29)

These things do not sound like they are something to be thankful for, nevertheless, he was a man who was thankful in all things. The Apostle Paul was a man who had learned the meaning of true thanksgiving, even in the midst of great adversity. Earlier, when he had been imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:19-20). Think about the last part, "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." He does not tells us to give thanks only in what we consider the good times, but, "giving thanks always for everything," that is, no matter what the circumstances may be. Thanksgiving for the Apostle Paul was not a once-a-year celebration, but a daily reality that changed his life and made him a joyful person in every situation.

Giving thanks to God in all things, should be one of the most distinctive marks of every believer. We must not allow a heart of ingratitude to have place in our lives, for it could effect our relationship with God and with others in a negative way. Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. Whereas, nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true attitude of thanksgiving. Sometimes believers take for granted God's blessings, because we tend to look at, and think about the adversities of life above the blessings. Believers may even find themselves taking people for granted, or even complain and become angry because they do not meet our every wish. But we need to give thanks for those around us; our spouses, our children, our relatives, our friends and yes, even those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Even though we may draw back from difficulties, yet, not one of us is exempt from the trials that come in this life. In many parts of the world it is dangerous even to be a Christian because of persecution, and yet, in the midst of those trials we can thank God, because we know that He has promised to be with us and that He will help us. (Isaiah 41:10) We know that He can use times of suffering to draw us closer to Himself. The Apostle James tells us, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-4)

Look at the benefits that we can receive by "counting it all joy when you fall into various trials...
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" PTL. Let us always remember, God has given us the greatest Gift of all, His Son, who died on the cross and rose again so that we can know Him and have eternal life. (2 Corinthians 9:15; 1 John 2:25) Also, the day you and I came to Christ, it was not the end, but the beginning of a whole new life! God is with us, and He wants to help us follow Him and His Word. In ourselves we do not have the strength that we need to live the way God wants us to live. But the more we turn to Him daily, we will discover, "For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13 AMP). "Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]." (Ephesians 3:20 AMP) It is the wonderful gift of grace. So, "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

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