The Thanksgiving holiday is only a few days away, so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about it in today’s blog.
Let’s start by looking at Ephesians 5:18-20.
“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The major truth in this passage is underlined. It is being filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the key to living the Christian life.
Being “filled with the Holy Spirit” – is a command and it’s talking about now – today. It’s talking about doing it in the present. God is interested in how we are living our lives today. You know, we like to think about the past – nostalgia – the good old days. And we also love to think about the future – we tend to fantasize about how we want things to be. But the truth is – we only live in the present. And God says we have to live it under the Spirit’s control.
In the passage Paul says there are two results that happen when we are filled with the Spirit. The first one — is we sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs and we make music to the Lord in our hearts. This is a picture of a Spirit filled person with a heart full of joy. A Spirit filled person literally overflows with songs of love and praise and happiness and contentment and joy of the Lord. A Spirit filled person has no room in his heart for sorrow and grief and pain and regrets. I think you would agree that’s a wonderful way to live.
The second result is giving thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. A Spirit filled Christian is thankful to God — for everything. Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter his courts with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.” That’s the way God wants us to enter His presence. Why?
Because thanksgiving is the ultimate form of worship. It gets our focus off of ourselves and on to God.
You see the essence of worship is focusing on God. A thankful heart allows that, because it recognizes God as the source of everything. It says — “God be praised” — in the midst of the good and the bad as well as the extremely difficult. A thankful heart sees beyond pain – it sees the sovereignty of God. A thankful heart believes Romans 8:28 — which says, “God works everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
A thankful heart says, “God I thank You for hard times.” “I thank You for a difficult marriage” “I thank You for a job that’s unfulfilling.” “I thank You, because You are using all these things to make me like Jesus.”
After Job lost everything – what did he do? He worshipped God. Let’s look at Job 1:20-21.
“Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said, ‘I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!’”
That’s maturity – that’s a Spirit filled person.
Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
So, our ultimate response to God must be thanksgiving. However, this brings up several questions. First of all – what are we to be thankful for? The answer is EVERYTHING. Second – when are we to be thankful? The answer is ALWAYS. Everything and always.
But you say, “You don’t know what I am going through. It doesn’t matter – always be thankful. “You don’t know what’s going on with my teenagers and how they are treating me.” It doesn’t matter — always be thankful. “You don’t know how terrible my job is. You don’t know how unfairly I am being treated.” God says — ALWAYS give thanks.
But through a burdened heart you may ask, why? Why must I do that? Because it recognizes God is in control, and He uses everything that happens to us to make us like Jesus. Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
But let me ask – how often when trials come into our lives do we gripe and complain instead? We start to second guess God. We forget what James told us in James 1:2-4.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
Once again, God is working through our circumstances. He is using them to mature us. Admittedly the trial is still painful, but knowing how God is using it for our good helps us to endure.
Well, that’s it for now. Think about what we have said as you celebrate Thanksgiving this year…