1 Thess. 5:18
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God.”
Good morning by the way. Good morning. Um, we’re going to be looking at one verse of scripture. It’s in first Thessalonians chapter five, verse 18. What I want to talk to you this morning about is the assets, the assets, or the benefits of gratitude.
And as we look at this, we’re going to look at a variety of things, but I want to remind you in this verse of who it is talking about when it says we are to express Thanksgiving, and it says this in first Thessalonians chapter five, verse 16, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ.
Jesus. We’re going to look at that in a moment, but let’s, let’s pray together.
Lord, we come and we give our praise to you that we’re able to meet this morning. Lord, thank you for the joy of not doing Christian faith alone. Thank you for the community of believers and the body of Christ and. The family of God at all those pictures that remind us that we are, no, we are not doing a solo flight.
We’re we’re designed to do this in community with others. And thank you for the chance to, to meet either in the room or online together today. Lord guide us what we think about being grateful, um, why we tend not to be, and more importantly, why we should be. In jesus’ name. Amen. We are going to talk this morning about the benefits or the assets of gratitude, but I just want to give a couple of thoughts as we launch into that, because this passage says to us where to give thanks in all circumstances.
And of course there’s a very Godward component in that, like, when we say. Thank you and teach our kids from the earliest days too, to say, thank you. There’s a you part, right? We don’t just say thank we. Who is the you that he’s talking about? Who’s the you in this passage, who’s the you and the scripture preeminently.
It is God. It is God. That is the you, that we are ultimately to be grateful for. And what he says is God’s will. For us in Christ. Jesus it’s interesting years ago, Phillips Schalfly was talking to a group of congressmen and she was talking about how we teach American history or fail to teach American history in our culture.
And she was, uh, giving as an illustration of a recent survey that had just been taken of 150, uh, elementary Stu school kids on a Wednesday the day before Thanksgiving. And as they had been interviewed, these kids had been asked three questions. And the first question is, what holiday are you celebrating tomorrow?
Almost a hundred percent of them said Thanksgiving, second question, who first celebrated it happily, surprisingly, maybe almost a hundred percent said the pilgrims. And she said, who were they thinking? And almost a hundred percent again said. The Indians or the native Americans. Now, if that would be your answer, I want you to know they were thanking God.
That’s what the first Thanksgiving was. And this Thanksgiving that is being talked about here in first Thessalonians five is the same. It is a spirit of gratitude. Ultimately to God, but permeates every part of our lives. So he says, give thanks in all circumstances. And just two questions I want to float out there.
And I’m sorry that I don’t have, uh, uh, slides this morning. You’re going to have to listen today. Um, first question I want to ask is why don’t we express gratitude in all circumstances? And the second question. Which is really the one focusing on the assets. The benefits is why should we express gratitude?
Why don’t we express gratitude in all circumstances? And I’d suggest there are two primary reasons. Um, and they tend to be in different circumstances. Often we don’t express gratitude in our circumstances or find it difficult to because we feel anger. Toward God’s works in some circumstances, this was the great habitual sin.
Of course, if the people of Israel in the wilderness journeys, which in Romans chapter 15 are told that these were given as an example for us at these people, their greatest sin. Repeated over and over their chronic sin was, they were murmurs or complainer’s other words were used. They grumbled, uh, we might throw in the word they groused all the time.
Basically they didn’t express gratitude to God. Cause they were ticked off at God. I mean, why did God allow this? Why did God do this? And so their spirit was one of continual room. Well, why, why don’t we go back to Egypt and expressed in, in verse like Exodus 16 and the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
And the people of Israel said to them would that we had died by the hand of the Lord and the hand in the land of Egypt. When we sat by the meter. Pots and a bread to the full for you have brought us out into wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. A lot of times when we find it difficult to be people of gratitude.
It’s our own sense that what do I have to be grateful for? Why would I be grateful in this? Which is in my life and yet the scriptures from cover to cover say that God is the one sovereignly at work in our lives and whatever is in our lives has ultimately come by the allowance of God that God has purposed to use, even that in our lives.
Now there are some times that are really. Heavy. There are some times when God asks us to be grateful for something that just seems, um, beyond the pale of what we think we can accomplish. Maybe one of the greatest examples I’ve ever heard of that, uh, was of, uh, dr. Helen Roosevelt, Helen Roosevelt was a medical missionary to the Congo.
Uh, now’s a year, uh, in the fifties, 1950s, 1960s. And when she was there, there was a continual threat of, uh, the rebels coming to the missionary compound, the medical compound, where they were. And, uh, one day their fears were, were, were fulfilled. Yeah. As, as they heard that a local, uh, chief had been taken brutally murdered by the rebels and they were on their way and they did come to the medical center and they did at, um, At spear point and bayonet point capture Helen and she then was, um, mistreated in the most vile way imaginable for a woman.
And in her brokenness on the first night of the dark night after she had been so brutally mistreated and raped, she said this, I felt unalterably alone. For a brief moment. I felt God had failed me. He could have stepped in and prevented the rising crescendo of wickedness and cruelty. He could have saved me out of their hands.
Why didn’t he speak? Why didn’t he intervene? And then Helen Roseveare says that the question that came to my heart was this
Helen, can you thank me? For trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why she talks about how it was a life-changing moment in her life, where she was willing to even thank God for allowing something, she didn’t understand why, but she would trust God with it. Now, your scenario of life, no matter how hard it’s probably not going to be something of that level.
But we all experienced seasons. When you say God, I do not know what, I don’t know how this can be good. I don’t know why you’ve allowed this or why you’re not doing this. And God says, will you thank me? Will you say God? I know I don’t understand that at the time, but you have a picture I don’t have, I will.
Thank you. Believe that you have trusted me with this experience, whether you ever tell me why. One of the reasons we find it very difficult to be grateful in all circumstances is anger toward the things that God has lot a second reason. I think we find it difficult to.
Tort to, uh, I’m trying to think of how I want to express this. Well, why we find it difficult to express gratitude in all circumstances is because we feel apathy toward God’s work. In some circumstances, there were some circumstances we feel apathy towards God work. Here’s how he told us in Deuteronomy chapter eight, he says, take care of less when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them.
And when you’re heading. Herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied. And all that you have is multiplied. Then your heart will be lifted up and you forget the Lord, your God. He says, you’re going to multiply. He keeps saying it, things are gonna multiply. They’re gonna, they’re gonna multiply, multiply and multiply.
And he says, that’s going to be a time when you’re going to find it difficult. To remain continually grateful in all circumstances. Now you see it’s the opposite, right? One is a circumstance we hate and say, God, how can I think of the other is a circumstance where we, we are joyful in the provision, but he says, you know, when you’re multiplying, when things are multiplying, it might be a season where you’re going to find it difficult to be.
Expressing gratitude, Luke 17 is the classic new Testament picture of this, the 10 lepers that come to Jesus and he heals them all. And, uh, nine of them immediately, uh, walk away. The one guy follows Jesus in order to thank him. And it’s the picture of w what happened to the 90 percenters. Now, I don’t want to be too hard on these guys because there’s a lot of things these guys probably were doing.
I mean, they’re lepers, they’ve been cast out of society. They weren’t even be able to be with their own family and relatives and loved ones. And now they’re healed. And understandably, we can imagine that some of them were just wanting to go and see their family. Some of them were just so overwhelmed with exuberance and joy.
Some of them probably. Later on thought. Well, you know, I ought to, I ought to thank Jesus, but at that point, the window had closed because Jesus had gone on to another part of the area. What happened was it wasn’t necessarily always a calloused who cares shrugging of the shoulders. Sometimes it’s just that being grateful is sorta down the line of priorities.
You know, it’s fourth or fifth. These guys, I guess, see my wife, I got to see my kids,
but that’s exactly what happens in our lives. We have been blessed. We have multiplied. And then what happens is we find ourselves not remembering to be grateful. And so we go on and, and what it does is it begins to, to almost being grateful, becomes an indifference to us. I think both of those are reasons why we find it difficult to and why we don’t express gratitude in all circumstances.
So why should we express gratitude in all circumstances? And I’m going to give a few quick reasons. Number one, gratitude transports us into the presence of God in Psalm 100, which is a song that is subtitled a Psalm for giving. Thanks. In other words, it’s an aid to help you give thanks and be a person of gratitude.
He says, enter his Gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise in this particular song, he talks about two reasons to express thanks to God. And he says, these are the motivating realities. He says, first of all, one is the Lord is God. He says that in verse three in verse five, he says, The Lord is good.
He says, this is the motivation that, that, that if your mind is wrapped around these realities and you, you, you, you are constantly disciplining yourself. Say, Lord, I’m going to be grateful. I’m going to continually seek to be a person that is thinking about who you are, your, your bigness, your goodness. I’m going to be expressing praise, but it will be an intentional.
Practice that we build into our lives, that as we look at this song in Psalm 100, he’s basically talking, he uses adjectives there of God, of good, and he’s loving and faithful. Those are all terms that are used there, but if we are not expressing our awareness of that and our gratitude, what gratitude does is transport us into God’s pleasure and remind us God.
Yeah. You, you did do this. And I, and I don’t want to forget, I don’t want to be the leper that gets so busy with life. Now, remember, man, I need to intentionally take time. If you don’t do that, what will happen, Ben is you tend to do what we all tend to do. You know, sorta start looking at God-like. Kirk did fictitious Kirk, Kirk’s lying in bed.
One day. It’s a bad day. Everything went wrong, completely exhausted, more and more upset as he reflects on his circumstances. And he falls asleep and in his sleep, he, he dreams and he blurts out to God. Why me? God, why does everything always go wrong with me? And suddenly in his dream, the ceiling of his room was pulled back and a huge hand with an outstretched finger came down and poked him in the chest and allowed voice said, because you bug me Kurt.
I’m glad you left. Gratitude reminds us. That’s not what God is. Like. He can feel like that. And, and when troubles come, you just sort of feel your shoulders and caring and God’s distant and you feel like God is just something that you don’t measure up to on the other hand. If you’re praising, if you’re expressing gratitude, you’re just finding yourself, lifted into the enjoyment of God.
He says, enter his Gates, come into his presence. And the way you do it is with Thanksgiving. One of the reasons we want to be expressing gratitude in all our circumstances is because it transports us into the presence of God. Secondly, It protects us from a downward spiral into sin. Romans chapter one, if you’re familiar with Romans chapter one, it’s this sobering picture of, of humanity.
And it’s a picture of how civilizations and individuals, 10, uh, people groups tend to progress and into severe immorality, severe violent behavior, all these things that are shown there. But I don’t know if you know or have thought about where that progression starts. Here’s what he says in Romans one 21 at the beginning of that passage for all they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him to not be praising is to open ourselves to an inevitable downward spiral towards sin.
Dr. James Kennedy said it this way. And ungrateful person is only one step away from getting his or her needs met in illegitimate ways. In other words, when we’re growing and if you think of your own life experience, and I can certainly think of mine and identify with this when I’m a, grumbler when I’m not, when I, when I’m a Wiener and not a worshiper when I’m not giving it to the Lord and remembering and looking at circumstances.
Through the goodness and bigness of God, I don’t just stay as a grumbler. I find myself, I become more greedy. I become more, um, uh, Tencent and, and able to fly off the handle. I would suggest you will find yourself starting to cut corners. You wouldn’t have cut people. You see what, how did all this happen?
I can’t how many people I’ve heard over the years? How in the world did I give here? Almost inevitably, there is a spirit of, of, of forgetting to just be a, praiser a person of gratitude to God at the beginning of that. It protects us from a downward spiral. Number three, it freezes from worry. This is what Paul is saying in Philippians four, where he says in verses four through six, he says, do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with Thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ. Jesus. I’ve often talked about the value that I’ve found in at times doing my worry list. Just putting all the things down that I’m worried about or are, are gnats flying around my brain that I know are there, but I couldn’t really, you know, I only want to think about them all.
But I actually log them all down and then I go to Philippians four and I, I give them to the Lord, but I also give them a Thanksgiving. God, thank you for allowing this. Thank you for what you’re going to do in this. Thank you for this circumstance. And what happens is you begin to look at the very things you’re worried about through the perspective of a God.
You can trust God. I’m trusting you. I thank you. This didn’t come unexpectedly to you. You have allowed this into my life. That gratitude as an antidote to being controlled by worry fourth, it frees us from envy. This is an important one. You see the heart of envy rises from the belief that we deserve better than we’ve got.
Right? One of the classic examples of this in, in film photography, cinematography is the film, uh, Amadeus, which was. Back in the eighties, probably it’s the, it’s a story, a loosely built on the lives of, uh, of, uh, Amadeus, Mozart and Antonio, Sally, Eric, and Sally Ari was the court musician, the court master music master in Vienna, Austria.
Under the, the emperor of Austria at the time, a fellow named emperor, Joseph, the second, a lover of music, and he had a court, as many of the courts did in Europe. At the time his court musician was an, was this guy, Sally RA, and the movie starts with Sally airy. In an insane asylum as an old man, he just tried to commit suicide and he’s talking and he’s telling his story to a young priest and he tells the story about how he was joyfully serving God as he served the emperor and wrote music in the court.
And then he heard of this young phenom that was coming, who was name of Moser. And he was excited to have me wrote a piece of music for him and everything. And the guy came and he turned out to be this, this. Beyond brilliant composer, but he was a crude, foul mouth, um, disreputable guy and Sally at each scarily air up because the more he listened to his music, the more he realized he would never have the genius of this young composer.
And yet he looked at his life and thought, why in the world would God entrust such gifts to a man like this? And not to me? And he actually in his bitterness, uh, plotted the downfall of Mozart and through the whole thing, it caused him to lose his own mind. And now he was an insane and silent where he’s just tried to take his life.
And he makes this interesting statement, uh, as he bitterly declares to the young priest, this statement, I am the patron sate, Saint of mediocrity. What happened? He got his perspective off of what he had been given by God and his acceptance and joy in that to an envious perspective, because he thought I deserve more.
If he’s got it, I should have it. I mean, I’m more deserving. Compare that to a woman in our church who years ago. I was talking to one time and she would just have me talking and it sort of came up in a conversation. Um, she was telling about, she’s not a good singer, but she loves to come to worship. She loves worship music and, and she said, and many times I’ll be sitting in front of someone who has a beautiful voice.
And she said, I. I will, I will sing, but I sing quietly because I, I, I hear the, I hear the singing of the person in back of me. And she said, I feel like all of our gifts have come from God. And she said, I feel like I share in their gift of music. So in a way I feel it’s me also singing this beautiful perspective.
I did notice she has never sat in front of me that I could ever remember, but, but there was this beautiful picture where she was saying, I’m not an envious of I’m sharing in the voice. Why? Because she was praising the giver. This is the exact opposite of Sally Ari. He is saying, I want it. I have to have it.
I deserve more, but a spirit of gratitude frees us from having to be envious that we haven’t been given because our true joy is in the giver, not in the gifts. It frees us from this contentment in Genesis chapter three, Satan comes to Eve. And what does he do? He gets her to look at what she doesn’t have.
Right. I mean, she’s got everything except for one little tree that has one little fruit on this paradise on earth that any human being would kill to live in. But what he did was enabled her to get her, to forget her riches. And focus on the restriction. Gratitude helps you to be content with what you have, not what you don’t have.
It’s like the story of the two old friends that met up one time. They hadn’t seen each other for awhile and they happened to bump each other in a pump public place. And, and the one guy. Realized his friend looked, looked depressed. I mean, he had a foul expression in his face and he didn’t even seem to be able to work up a, even a weak smile with his friend.
And so the guy said, well, what’s the trouble man. And so his friend told him and he said, Oh, let me tell you three weeks ago, my uncle died and he left me $40,000. I said, really. He said, yeah, two weeks ago, my cousin who I hardly know died and he left me 85,000 though in last week, my great aunt passed away and she left me a quarter of a million dollars to which his friend says you got to be kidding me.
Then why the long face, the guy responds this week? Nothing.
when we are ungrateful, we’re like a container with a hole in it and just it’s leaking out every blessing that’s come to us and we gotta get, we gotta get another hit quick. Oh, we’re going to be grumbling and mumbling rather than embracing the blessings. We let the, we let the blessings flow through the holes.
Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, two psychologists from the university of California. And back around 2000, they began a whole movement of studying the impact of gratitudes now, uh, uh, a nationwide SU uh, uh, confab of a number of, uh, Psychiatrist and psychologist, but in their early studies, what they did was they did a lot of, uh, trying to test what is the influence of gratitude when people choose to be grateful.
And one of their early ones was, they got together about 200 college students and they put them into three groups for over a 10 week period. And they said, okay, the first group. They didn’t tell him this, but they, they told they called them the gratitude group. They had another one that called the hassles group.
And another one was just sort of the, the control neutral control group. The gratitude group were given this instruction each week. This week. We want you to take some time and come up with at least five things that you’re grateful for. That’s going on in your life right now. The S the hassle group, we’d like you to write down as you look at your life, and you’re thinking about things, what are five hassles that are going on?
I mean, you know, things that are happening that you’re frustrated with that are, that are sort of eating your lunch and the control group, they just said, write down five things that are going on in your life. They didn’t tell one or the other. And during the same time, They were asking them questions, psychological questions, their wellbeing, how they were viewing life, how were they feeling about life?
Right. And they would do in this as a separate process, but for 10 weeks, these individuals and they were astounded, even though they expected it, they were astounded with the results of the participants in the gratitude group, felt habitually continually better about life on the whole. We’re far more optimistic about the coming week and reported even fewer physical complaints than participants in the other groups.
Particularly the hassle group, the only difference was focus. The only difference was where they put their attention.
The last thing, the last benefit, the asset of. Gratitude in all circumstances, it, it centers you in God’s will in first Thessalonians five 17, our texts this morning, or where we started our, he says, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, many of us struggle, and probably a number of you are, are right now struggling to find, you know, what is God’s will, what does God want me to do?
What should I do? Well, One of the best ways to get you centered in God’s will, is to do exactly what he says we know is his will for us to be grateful in all circumstances. It’s my belief that God is more desirous of us finding as well than we are. It’s my only if that it’s not a secret code book that he’s trying to get us to, you know, make it tough on us as we can.
He delights to show us as well, but we do it. As our line, our lives are centered with him. The way that we are centered, he tells us here is by pinging, by pink being people that choose to be grateful. I’m just going to run back through it. Why don’t we express gratitude in all circumstances often it’s anger, hostility, because we don’t like what has come our way.
Probably more often, it’s just apathy and indifference. We’re the lepers that are moving on to the next thing we got to keep gone. We got things to do. Why should we express gratitude in all circumstances, it transports us into the presence of God. It protects us from a downward spiral. It frees us from worry.
It frees us from envy. It frees us from Discontentment and it will send it. Are you in God’s will there’s a lot of assets, a lot of things on the plus side of the ledger. When we talk about being grateful in all circumstances, Lord.
we thank you that you have revealed to us that you’re a sovereign God that you are working through all circumstances in our lives. It’s the basis of us being able to be grateful. Lord, I believe that our gratitude is ultimately the expression of our trust. So God enable us with this simple study, maybe to just take one thing as we leave the room that we can reflect on live on.
We can be people of gratitude in jesus’ name. Amen. Now go in peace to love and serve and enjoy the Lord.