1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 21 NOVEMBER 2021
Thanksgiving is a great family time. It is when most families get together to eat, share, laugh, have a good time, and demonstrate love to one another. I know I am looking forward to that time later this week as my sisters and brother, nieces, and nephews gather for a great time together.
Some people are fortunate enough to be with their family members on Thanksgiving. If so, thank God. Some don’t get to spend time with their family members on Thanksgiving, still, we must be thankful. IT IS ALWAYS RIGHT TO BE THANKFUL! We are blessed.
I saw an article about Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was entitled, “Arnold’s Toys.” Arnold is not only worth $800 million dollars, but he also loves his toys and he has plenty. He smokes $4000 cigars, wears shoes that cost as much as $5000 a pair, wears $3000 Italian suits, and has a $12.5 million Gulfstream Jet. Arnold and family cruise in style on a $4.5 million 88 foot yacht. He also has a great fondness for Hummers (autos) which run anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000. He has nine of them, estimated to be worth $1 million. The first one he purchased at a cost of $117,000.
When we hear about people like Arnold we might tend to become somewhat envious and would like to have more; more money and more material toys. BUT THOSE THINGS DON’T MAKE US RICH! We can be rich without those things.
Paul says in I Timothy 6:17-19 “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
When we read that and understand the riches we have because we have God and His Son Jesus Christ in our lives, we have greater riches than the so-called rich folks in this world have. And that is because our riches in Christ are eternal. They will not waste away, or burn up, or be stolen. WE ARE THE RICH OF THIS WORLD and we should not be arrogant about it.
I read of a man who was to be a guest speaker at a church gathering. He had just returned from a tour with the Peace Corps. He was troubled about the apathy of American church members. On this particular night, he was late to that church in Atlanta, GA. After the opening hymns had been sung he came to the platform. He hadn’t changed clothes after ten hours of work on the farm. Clumps of mud and manure clung to his clothes and boots. The aroma filled the church. The people began to whisper.
After he finished the sermon, he said, “You act shocked because of the way I am dressed. But you are the ones wearing the filthy clothes. Seventy-five percent of the world is dressed like me. Half of the world went to bed hungry tonight. You stuffed yourselves, fed the dog, and still threw away a good meal.”
He went on: “Something is wrong with a country that lets grain rot in the silos while bodies rot away in other nations. What’s more, do you even care? When I leave tonight, I will be remembered as the misfit. You will not think of yourselves as the strange ones. But you are. And the strangest thing of all is that you do not even realize it. Just by being an American, I am one of the richest people on this planet. The rest of the world wants what we’ve got…and are we going to give it to them?”
We are rich in America. Even the poorest of us are richer than we realize. We are abundantly blessed.
I Thess. 5:16-18 gives us some of the attitude and actions of Thanksgiving, which should be a part of our lives.
BE JOYFUL. Pray continually. Give thanks. Keep the fire going. Listen to the prophesies. Test everything. Hold on to what is good. Avoid evil.
“Be joyful always.” A thankful person is a joyful person and a joyful person is generally a thankful person.
The story is told of two old friends who bumped into one another on the street one day. One of them looked sad and confused, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, "What has the world done to you, my old friend?"
The sad fellow said, "Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me $40,000." His friend said, "That is a lot of money." You have been blessed.
Then the sad friend said, "But, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me $85,000." "So, you have been more blessed.”
The man then said, “There’s more. Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million." Now, his friend was really confused. "I don’t understand why you feel so bad. Why so downhearted and sad? Here was the man’s answer to why he was so disturbed: This week no one has died and left me anything!” Nothing!”
This is often the way we are. We are blessed in such great ways and we expect more all the time. We are not as joyful as we should be and that’s because we don’t recognize what we’ve already been given.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
Everything we have we received from God. Our jobs, incomes, cars, houses, land, food, clothing, you name it. We have no right to boast as if we provided everything for ourselves. Every good gift is from above. There should be no boasting or indifference on our part. Instead, we should be giving thanks to God who provides all for us.
Leslie Weatherhead told about eating with a couple in northern England right after WWII. Food was still scarce, but the wife managed to prepare a fine meal of fresh trout from a nearby stream and some fresh vegetables cooked in a delightful way.
He enjoyed the meal greatly and when it was over, he thanked his hostess for it. She blushed rather shyly and said, “Thank you. My husband never thanks me when I prepare a fine meal for him.”
Weatherhead said that he felt a little embarrassed for the husband. But he discovered that the husband was not embarrassed at all. He said that he could still see the man sitting there, saying, “Hey, I would have told you if I didn’t like it.”
Unfortunately, that is the way we are so much of the time. Instead of being humbled, thankful, and appreciative, are we quicker to complain if our blessings are not just the way we want them or the amount that we want?
A young man was feeling very proud of himself. He was a recent college graduate and he had taken the C.P.A. Exams and passed with flying colors. Now he was a full-fledged Certified Public Accountant.
His father had been an immigrant to the U.S. and now owned his own little business. The young CPA was feeling super important because of his accomplishments. He began to criticize his father’s way of keeping books. He said, “Dad, you don’t even know how much profit you’ve made. Over here in this drawer are your accounts receivable. Over there are your receipts and you keep all your money in the cash register. You don’t have any idea how much you’ve made.”
The father answered, “Son when I came to this country the only thing I owned was a pair of pants. Now, your brother is a doctor, your sister is an art teacher, and you are a C.P.A. Your mother and I own our home. We have a car and we own this little business. Now add that up, subtract the pants, and all the rest is profit.”
ADD IT UP. That is exactly what we need to do at Thanksgiving. Add it all up. We came into this world with nothing but the eternal soul that God gave us. Everything else is profit. We all have profited quite well. BE JOYFUL.
Secondly, at this time of Thanksgiving and every day before and after, we need to GIVE THANKS.
1 Corinthians 4:18 tells us: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
A thankful person is quick to give thanks to God in all circumstances.
At the drive-up window at the bank, the inside teller had been facing the hot afternoon sun, so he pulled down the large window shade, making it impossible for his customers to see him through the window. He could see out but they couldn’t see in.
A lady pulled up to the window and the teller pushed the button and the drawer moved out to the lady. She put in her deposit and the drawer went back in. A few moments later the drawer came back out again with her deposit slip and the money she had requested. She counted it and then put the money in her purse.
She looked at the window, but unable to see anyone inside, said, "I understand that you are totally automated, but I just feel I ought to say `thank you anyway." How often would we be inclined to ignore the opportunity to say thank you?
We should be thankful to God and to all people who bless us in life. We should be thankful to God for those who serve us even though we may not know them or see them.
GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. Notice something very important here. The Apostle Paul didn’t say to give thanks “for” all circumstances, but he said to give thanks “in” all circumstances. All our circumstances in life are not good, but there will always be something in those circumstances for which to give thanks.
That’s the attitude that we need to have. To give thanks in all circumstances. And then pray for God to show you the good and purpose you are in those circumstances. If we don’t do that, the devil gets ahold of us causing us to grumble and complain about hour circumstances.
What would happen if we say thank you to God for whatever circumstances we find ourselves in? Could that simple thank you make God’s heart jump for joy when we say, “Thank you. Thank you very much”? I think He would be blessed by that thank you. This is God’s will for our lives. To give Him thanks and praise in all circumstances.
A little eight-year-old girl named Christina had cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she thought long and hard and finally said, "I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!"
Brothers and sisters, we all have that great cancer of the soul called sin, but Jesus took it away. And because of that, we have everything. Let us repeat again, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”