GIVING THANKS IN ALL THINGS AIN’T EASY, BUT THE REWARDS ARE OUT OF THIS WORLD!
1st Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
1st Peter 4:16: “Yet, if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
What are some things that you give thanks for? When you think about your life, in what areas of your life are you grateful?
What do you think you should give thanks for? Should you give thanks for the good things of life only, or should you also give thanks for the bad? The Bible has a lot to say when it comes to giving thanks.
THE EASY ANSWER — Of course, we should always be thankful for the blessings and good things that come into our lives. Every book in the Bible speaks of the need for giving thanks to God for the good times, for the blessings, and for the good things we receive. The Book of James states that every good and perfect gift is from above, from God the Father (James 1:17). We all probably know someone who is an ingrate.
Do you know that word, ingrate? An ingrate is someone – no matter what he or she receives, be it good or bad – who does not say, “Thank you” and is basically ungrateful, unthankful for anything and everything. If you look at many of today’s celebrities, many of them are truly ingrates. They think that everything is theirs to enjoy, and even when someone gives them something, they never say thank you. God. However, instructs his followers to behave differently. His Word speaks that we should give thanks for every good thing we receive. This shows that we are truly grateful.
This should be especially so when we think of the price that Jesus Christ paid on the cross. For you who are a Christian, how often do you say“Thank you!” to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness he has given you? Do you truly understand what Jesus Christ did, what he gave up,so that you and I could be saved from a fiery eternity? When we think of Jesus Christ, when we think of the price He paid on the cross for our sins, and if we have received Jesus into our hearts and lives, we must be thankful.
We can never repay him for what he has done for us. The best way to be grateful is to give yourself to Jesus, and to live for him completely.. It’s also good to thank him for his gift of eternal life when we pray. We need to give thanks for the good things, and for the ultimate gift of eternal life.
THANK YOU FOR PUNCHING ME! We know that we ought to be thankful for the good things we receive, but how about the bad times? Should we be thankful in hard, bad times? If you have some terrible thing happen,do you say thank you to God for it? If someone steals your money, or you are hit by the driver of another car, are you grateful? Maybe you think that these words are crazy, but consider today’s verse from 1st Thessalonians 5:18. God says through Paul to be thankful in all things. How is this possible?
How can we be thankful in all things? Think about Job. Do you know this person? Have you read the book of Job? Besides Jesus Christ, nobody in the Bible suffered worse than Job. He lost all his goods, lost his family, his home, and even his health. His wife turned against him,and his children were killed. Even his friends, when they came to comfort and help him ended up criticizing him. But in spite of all of this, job praised the Lord, and even thanked him for the hard times.Listen to his words to his wife; Job’s wife told him to “curse God and die” but Job, instead, said this:
“Shall we receive Good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).
In another part of the book, Job also said this:
“The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD…” (Job 1:21).
How is this possible? How can someone, who had his home, his life, his possessions, his health, and everything else taken away say these things? How can a father and husband who saw his children killed, and watched his wife walk away from him lift his head and his hands and praise the Lord for it all?
When bad times, hard times happen to people around you, what are other peoples’ attitudes? When tragedy or hardships strike you, what kind of spirit do you have? It is hard to have a grateful heart in hard times, and yes, it is also hard to have a positive attitude when tragedy strikes, but this is what God says. Consider the words of Job and the words of Jesus Christ. When Jesus was crucified, he did not complain. Instead, he said “Father, forgive…”
It is important to give thanks when we go through hard times as well as blessings.
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER — One of the reasons that we should give thanks even in the hard times is because strength comes from the hard times. Think about a sport that you enjoy. One of the best sports to partake in weightlifting. Many coaches in weight lifting teach that the muscles of the human body grow stronger when they are broken down. This breaking down comes through the hard, tough training of lifting. It’s the same for any sport, or for any study, for that matter. Hard work, hard training, and hard study produce great results later. It is the same with the formation of a diamond. What is a diamond? How is it made?
Do you know what a diamond really is? A diamond is really just a lump of coal. The difference, though, between a diamond and coal is that the diamond has gone through long, hard, hot, and intense pressure. A diamond is formed by way of pressure, heat, and time. Some scientists say that it takes 1,000 or more years for a diamond to form. During that time, it is going through intense heat, pressure, and difficulty.
In the same way, God tests us. Job was tested by God. In the end, with God’s help, Job proved himself faithful, and Job was doubly rewarded in the end. In the same way, we, too, will grow stronger, and receive a great reward from God if we hold true to Him, and are thankful for the hard times. One of the greatest rewards is being identified with Jesus Christ, and when we suffer, all the while being thankful, we are taking Christ’s attitude, and people will see it! Later, we will be able to help others because of the strength that God gave us because of the hard times. The hard times we go through make us stronger.
PRAISE GOD AND GIVE THE DEVIL A BLACK EYE! The last reason we need to be thankful for hard times is because of the enemy. Though God allows hard times to come, it is the devil that brings hard times. Job chapters 1 and 2 show clearly that the devil brings hard times upon everyone, especially followers of Jesus Christ. The reason God allows the hard times is to make us stronger, but the devil brings the hard times so that we will “curse (God) to (his) face” (Job 1:11, Job 2:5).
The devil wants us to turn away from God, grumble, complain, whine, and eventually turn against him. Have you ever heard someone say “Why is God doing this to me?” or “Where is God in my trouble?” This is why the devil brings trouble. Think about the children of Israel when Moses led them out of Egypt. How often in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy do the children of Israel grumble and complain about the hardships of their travel to the Promised Land?
How often did they accuse Moses and God of “bringing us to the desert to die?” What happened to these ungrateful children of Israel? Instead of taking a trip that was about a year or two at most, the grumbling and complaining of the children of Israel resulted in them wandering in the desert for 40 years.
This is what the devil wants from us! He wants us to turn from God, to complain, to “curse (God) to (hid) face” and die. But when we praise God in the face of hard times, we do something to the devil that is like punching him in the eye. The devil wants us to complain, but when we praise God for the hard times, instead of curse him, we stop the devil in his tracks. Praising God in the hard times instead of cursing him proves the devil a liar. In the hard times, Praise God (don’t curse him), because it helps to defeat the devil.
THE BOTTOM LINE: IN HARD TIMES, IT AIN’T EASY TO GIVE THANKS! How many people would give thanks, right now, for the scourge of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic that has spread to nearly 170 countries and regions of the world? Many have lost jobs, lost savings, lost employment, and are confined to their homes because of the panic and fear that has gripped the world over the China Flu: how many people are giving thanks right now because of this episode? Granted, Friends, giving thanks in hard, hard times isn’t easy. Praising the LORD for the locusts that are eating gigantic swaths of Africa and Asia is seemingly crazy! Praising GOD for the hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones that ravage parts of the oceans of the world is seemingly insane. And yet, this is what the LORD GOD wants us to do. Why? Why give thanks in the difficult times? It certainly isn’t easy…yet we see time and again how people in the Bible did just that: give thanks in hard, hard times. Friends, hard times cause us to place our eyes and focus back on GOD! The good news form the COVID-19 Pandemic is that we are seeing Americans come together to work and make an effort to defeat this virus in ways that we’ve not seen as a society in nearly a century (not since The Great Depression and World War Two). Yes, we’ve seen unbridled greed and fear; even greater, we’ve also witnessed boundless care, limitless sharing, and unfettered care like we’ve not seen as a nation since the September 11th, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, in the very least! And we have, also, seen people return back to GOD. Aren’t these reasons to give thanks to GOD for such hard times?
CONCLUSION: ARE YOU GOING THROUGH HARD TIMES? Are you having a tough time right now? If you are, what kind of attitude do you have? Is it a good attitude, one of thanks and praise to God, or are you ungrateful, cursing and complaining to God, blaming him, and ignoring the test? It is hard to go through tough times and have a good attitude. We can do it if we go on the strength of the LORD. Alone, we will become bitter, hard, ungrateful, and, in the end, in a place where God doesn’t want us to be. Let’s pray…
PRAYER — We pray, today, O LORD, for anyone who is reading this who is going through some hard times. For those who know you not, Father, I pray that they will come to know you, in spite of the hard times, and that they will see this as the day in which they came to know you. We pray for the believer, father, the brother and sister who may be going through a hard spot or a tough time. We pray, LORD, that you will comfort them in the hard times, and strengthen them, helping them to rejoice despite the pain, and praise you, in the face of the hurt. We pray all of this in the saving Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
THE LAST WORD – “Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually…O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. And say ye, ‘Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.’ Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, ‘Amen,’ and praised the LORD.” (1st Chronicles 16.8–11, 34–36)
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