Be Thankful In All Things
Give thanks. Why? Because that’s God’s Will in Christ, concerning you. The miracle of the Christian life is tied somehow to our willingness to thank God for what He’s doing in our lives, whether or not we like it.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Doin’ alright? This is your friend Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you. My heart goes out to some of you who I know who are going through trials just now. And I’m rejoicing with others of you who’ve written to me that God is doing great things for you. What I don’t always realize – and you may join me in this concept I think – what we don’t always realize is that when we’re going through the wringer and it’s tough, God is probably doing more for us then when we’re happy and everything’s coming up roses.
The great lessons of life are learned under the pressures that God allows to come to us. So, I have to, I have to learn, or maybe you can to learn with me to thank God for the pressures and the problems so that He can demonstrate His power to answer prayer and to solve the problems and lift the burdens. “Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul says, “Now thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest by us the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” God wants you to be His perfume. And you get perfume by applying pressure. Something always to remember, isn’t it?
We’re winding up our study in 1 Thessalonians, just sort of hitting the high spots once again. We’ve come to chapter 5 and I got down to about verse 11 I guess, the last time we were together by way of radio. There are some particulars that will help you to be ready for the second coming. What are they? He says, “Comfort yourselves and edify.” And then, “Take care of those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord, and who admonish you. Hold them very highly in love for their work’s sake.”
Now, why bring all this up in the light of the second coming? Because if you want truly to be ready for your Lord’s coming, there needs to be a lifestyle that is consistent with His will, and His commands, and His truth. Now, first of all it’s a personal application which shows up in verse 11. He says, “Comfort yourselves together and edify one another.” My relationship to the other saints around me, the Christians around me, is two-fold. One, to be an encourager who would comfort, really could also say encourage.
And second, to build them up. What I say and what I do must be planned and calculated to build up the other person in every possible way – emotionally, physically, spiritually – every way. That’s part of my preparation and in being ready for the Lord’s coming. To be interested in encouraging my fellow Christians, and in building them up in the Lord. And he said, “You, you have to have a right attitude toward people who are over you in the Lord.” That would be pastors, I suppose in our day, and elders – “which labor among you and are over you in the Lord, who admonish you. Hold them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” It’s not because you like the person or don’t like him, or her, but because God has placed that individual in a place of responsibility. And so you and I need to be good followers as well as if, if the Lord has put us in a position of responsibility – good leaders.
Now, what else about this matter of a lifestyle that is consistent with my blessed hope that Christ is coming again? Well he, he says, he gives us a, a number of very short admonitions. And I’ll skip over to verse 16: “Rejoice evermore.” You can have joy in the midst of trials because joy is not happiness; joy is that vast and ineffable sense of well-being that comes when you’re aware of God’s presence and you’re right with Him and in His will. “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing,” that is, pray your way through the day. You can whisper prayer without uttering a verbal word of any, audible word of any kind. You can be in a prayerful spirit, a prayerful attitude; you can whisper prayer before you tackle any particular job or a, a situation.
“Pray without ceasing.” Pray… I used to say, “Pray your way through the day,” when I counseled students there at the college. “Pray your way through the day.” Then he said, “In everything give thanks because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The will of God in Christ Jesus is that you give thanks in everything. And in chapter 4 the will of God in Christ Jesus is that you live a holy life.
These are two things that Paul says are God’s will. “In everything give thanks.” The quarrel that God has against the heathen is not that they are heathen but that they’re not thankful. It says in, in Romans 1, “When they knew God, they glorified Him, not God, neither were thankful. When they knew God they glorified Him, not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart were darkened, darkened. And professing themselves to be wise they became fools,” and so on.
The quarrel of God with the heathen is not that they are heathen, but that knowing that there is a living God they weren’t thankful. Interesting, isn’t it? Now here we have it, this is the will of God concerning you – give thanks. I’m really very grateful for my upbringing. Both my father and my sister who joined in bringing up this little stroobly-haired, motherless boy in those early years, emphasized the importance of saying, “Thank you.” “Please” and “thank you” were part of the things that were, almost I would, say literally pounded into my young heart and mind.
Appreciation – be thankful, appreciate things, notice things. Somebody gives you something or does something for you, be thankful. And so in the years that, that followed I have been counseling young people in, in my work as pastor, and then in Youth for Christ for a great many years, and then in the college work for 23 years. I’ve always reminded them, “Write a thank you note, and say thank you, and be grateful.” (Laughs) Ungratitude – I guess its ingratitude, isn’t? I better use the right prefix there. Ingratitude shows up so clearly.
A friend of mine who gives very generously to Christian work was remarking the other day as I sat beside him at a family picnic. He was remarking on the fact that, that a lot of people just expect him to, to give and they, and never say “thank you”. And he mentioned one or two whose names really surprised me because they are quite well known in Christian work. Never a thank you, just they expect it. Well, he got a little put out with one of them because of that very fact, he said, and that he’d given generously but there never was a thank you. And so he just stopped.
Now there came a letter (Laughs) – this is really funny. There came a letter addressed to him by name – personal letter. And said, “Dear ‘so and so’,” it said, “I want to thank you for what you used to do for me,” signed, “Your friend in Christ.” (Laughs) Well, you know gratitude. “In everything, give thanks.” Thankfulness for the things people do, go a little farther of course. And it’s thankfulness to God for what He’s doing. And the key to that is the word, ‘everything’, ‘everything’.
Mrs. Mulrain gave her entire life for many years to the rearing of her little daughter, Maryanne. Maryanne never achieved a height of more than above 3 feet 6 inches – something like that. Her body stopped growing at a given point, but she had a brilliant mind and went on after graduating from college, went on and got her doctorate and taught English Literature for some time before she passed away. But there’re many memories there, I am sure, in that mother’s heart. And now and again she shares one of them with me.
She said that on one occasion they were in an area, someplace in, in the eastern states here – New England, or wherever it was – where there was a hurricane. And the wind was blowing, and things were breaking, and the trees were being toppled, and all of that. And they were in a comparatively safe place, but they were in the middle of the storm. And so they had some prayer. And now here is this, this, this mind that’s so brilliant, and a heart that’s so warm toward God, praying and thanking God for so many different things. And finally ending the prayer; and Maryanne said, “And thank you Lord for the hurricane.”
Well, I think sometimes we neglect to thank our God for the storms of life. It’s so human – I know, I’ve done it. It’s so human to complain, say, “God, why are you doing this to me? Why, why this, now?” And of course the unspoken part of that question is, “…when I’m such a nice guy.” We think we don’t really deserve it. Well, just remind yourself that if you and I got what we deserved, we wouldn’t be here. We’d be in eternity lost without God, without hope.
Don’t ask God for what you deserve because His grace is giving you what you don’t deserve. Grace is an acronym that can be rendered ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense’. You can have God’s rich blessings because Jesus bought it for you at Calvary when He shed His precious blood on the cross. “In everything give thanks.” Yes, thanks for the hurricane, thanks for the hurricane.
You know, I suppose that takes some doing. But it’s not a matter of temperament nor indeed a matter of your circumstances. It’s a matter of will. Read the Psalms and find how often the psalmist says, “I will praise thee, I will give thanks to thee, I will love thee.” See, it’s a matter of will. You can will to love God, you can will to praise Him, you can will to thank Him, or you can will to neglect Him. And that choice, beloved, is strictly up to you and to me.
Give thanks. Why? Because that’s God’s will in Christ, concerning you. The, the miracle of the Christian life is tied somehow to my willingness to thank God for what He’s doing in my life, whether or not I like it. To believe by faith that God is doing His perfect will in my life and to thank Him for it – that is tied to the whole miracle of Christian living. Do you follow that now? It’s a very important point, isn’t it?
Stop momentarily on verse 19. How to get ready for the Second Coming now, we’re talking about. Thankfulness – yes. What else? “Quench not the spirit.” Don’t throw cold water on the flame of the Spirit of God in your life. See, unsaved people resist and blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Saved people can grieve and quench the Holy Spirit. Read the Ephesians, chapter 4 for things that grieve the Spirit. “Stealing, and lying, and anger, and bitterness, and clamor,” and so on, and unforgiveness.
“You can grieve the blessed Spirit of God who dwells within the believer.” But he says, “Don’t quench the Spirit”. Now quench is something that, a verb that is used in terms of putting out a fire. Don’t throw cold water on the fire of the Holy Spirit of God, and turn away from His guiding, and His leadings, and His promptings. Instead become sensitive. If you want to be ready for the second coming, become sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God in your life, so that should our Lord Jesus appear at any moment, you will be found obeying what the Spirit of God has whispered to your heart.
Dear Father, today help us to be ready always for the Lord Jesus to come back again, I pray in His name. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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