November 2018

“….in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

  One of my favorite things about November is our national emphasis on thanks. That, and great food. But, primarily, it’s the focus on thanksgiving that makes this time of year so special. We are encouraged, called even, to remember the blessings that God has lavished on us as a nation, and as individuals. Made a national holiday by presidential proclamation in 1863, giving thanks for the provision and protection of our Creator and God has been a part of the fabric of our country almost since its founding.  
It is a similar idea that causes the Apostle Paul to commend thanksgiving to the church at Thessalonica over two thousand years ago. Here, Paul inserts this instruction in the middle of a running commentary on what should be ideal Christian conduct. He says, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:16-22) Good advice for the Christian – then and now. To Paul, thanking God for everything He has done for us ranks right up there with praise and worship, prayer, and theological thoughtfulness. It is a part of who we are as children of God, and it marks us as brothers, sisters and followers of Christ.  
Notice the words “in everything” that begin this passage. Not in some things. Not in the things that give us pleasure. Not in the circumstances in our lives that are easy and natural to be grateful for. But, we are called to give thanks in ALL things. This calls us to remember our discussion on contentment, doesn’t it? As much as during our mountaintop seasons, when praising God is easy, we must thank Him for his continuous presence during the valleys in our lives, when circumstances may be dire, and the world would tell us to give up on God, because He certainly couldn’t be there in times of such struggle.   May it never be! Thankfulness is not something we withhold from God, to express our disapproval in Him for something that is happening in our lives. It should be continuous, overflowing, and ceaseless, like the life He gives, the love He shows, and the mercy and grace He pours on us every day. The more we seek Him, the more we learn about Him. And the more we learn about Him, the more obvious our need, indeed our desire, to praise Him becomes. Thankfulness is the fruit of a contented life, a life of satisfaction in the sovereignty of God and our salvation through Jesus Christ.  
What are you thankful for? Your family, your friends, your job, financial security, good health? How about the relationship you have with your Savior that offers the promise of eternal life? What about the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit? Absolutely! But, what about the blessing of hard lessons, times when your faith is tested, and times when you have to rely, like David, on what you know God has been to you, so you will know that He still is? Those times, too!   As you sit down with your family, friends, and church family to remember all of the things we have to be thankful for, my prayer for all of us is that we will be thankful in everything.
Leave nothing back. Give God the worship and praise!  
In His Love, Bro. Heath

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