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I love this comment about George Whitefield.
“No one who saw him could ever doubt that he enjoyed his religion. Tried as he was in many ways through his ministry – slandered by some, despised by others, misrepresented by false brethren, opposed everywhere by the ignorant clergy of the time, worried by incessant controversy- his elasticity never failed him. He was eminently a rejoicing Christian, whose very demeanor recommended his Master’s service.
A venerable lady of New York after his death when speaking of the influences by which the Spirit won her heart to God use these remarkable words – ‘Mr Whitefield was so cheerful that it tempted me to become a Christian.”
I wonder if people met us if they would think the same. I wonder if they came into our worship services they would think the same.
As a side note, it’s interesting the author of this quote about Whitefield connects his cheerfulness with two other qualities… (TO READ THE REST CLICK HERE)
I learn alot of really good stuff from my daughters. I honestly believe it would be impossible for me to love them more. They are sweet, sweet girls.
Every once in a while though I learn a little from them when they are not at their absolute best. When some of their worst comes peaking through.
People have asked for a listing of items for prayer: So here is that list.
Please pray for the items on Joshua’s previous blog about him and his move to RSA with all that has to be done prior to that.
Praise for God’s continuing faithfulness and goodness.
Praise for the opportunities to serve Him and for the kindness of fellow Christians.
Praise for people who love His Word and are being changed through the teaching of His Word.
Praise for the way the Lord is beginning the process of Josh and Marda’s move to RSA.
Praise to God for Werner and Thomas and Hanrais IN South Africa who are looking after our house in Pretoria while we are away.
Praise to God for the dear brothers and sisters in RSA who love Christ and love us and are praying for us.
Praise to God for His mercy and grace and willingness to put up with us and even use us in spite of our weakness and frailty.
Praise to God for the students who are continuing to enroll at Grace School of Ministry for courses this October.
Praise for the publishing of my books Out of the Blues and Sweethearts for a Lifetime.
Praise to God for the dedicated pastors and people of The Bible Church of Little Rock who take care of us and provide for us while in the USA.
Praise to God for the way He is blessing and expanding the ministry of The Bible Church of Little Rock and other churches in the USA.
Praise to God for the 49 years of marriage that Carol and I have been privileged to have with each other.
Praise to God for 49 years of privileged service for Christ that Carol and I have had together in various parts of the USA, other parts of the world and now in RSA.
Praise to God for all the people who have loved us, encouraged us, challenged us, comforted us, been loyal to us, ministered to us, put up with us and been willing to allow us to minister to them for the last 49 years.
Pray for our continuing courses we’re teaching here in Little Rock (3 times a week) and then on to Mexico for a conference at the beginning of September.
Pray for healing for Carol’s hand.
Pray for the stabilization of my blood sugar level.
Pray for all the things that need to fall into place before Josh and family move to RSA.
Pray for strength to do all we must do prior to our return to RSA.
Pray for more eager students for Grace School of Ministry courses in October. We already have a sizable enrollment, but would still ike to have more.
Pray for more godliness and improved likeness to Christ on our part.
Pray for Ryan, Ian, Joel and others in RSA who are working on GSM and Tschofleo orphanage details in RSA.
Pray for all of the details related to the development of Tshofelo orphanage in Pretoria, for Hanrais, for the board, for all the necessary government details to be expedited, for the raising of funds for constructing the buildings.
Pray that God might cause people to give so that the funds necessary for the operation of GSM and Tshofelo orphanages and training schools might be raised.
Pray for a movement of the Spirit in bringing people to Christ and building them up in Christ in RSA and the USA and all over the world.
Pray for our families that all of them might be increasingly devoted to Christ and serve Him with all their hearts. Pray for them and us as we are separated from one another.
Pray for the Christians in America that they might realize that since God has blessed us with material blessings they might recognize their stewardship and more diligently use what they have for His glory.
Pray for the ministry in which our daughter, Beth, is involved in the Joburg area – Lambano orphanage homes and Grace Christian Church and Mercy Christian Church.
Pray for Pastors Lance Quinn, James Henrich and Todd Murray as they leave soon to speak at a Reformation conference in Zambia sponsored by the church where Conrad Mbewe is the pastor. They are expecting pastors and people from many parts of Africa. They will also be making contact with Christian leaders in South Africa to see how they can partner with the churches in RSA in ministry.
I could go on, but that’s probably as much as you can handle for the present. Thanks you for your support.
http://www.themacks.wordpress.comYours because we’re His,
Wayne and Carol Mack
Psalm 115:1; Romans 14:7, 8
Missionaries to South Africa
Professor of Biblical Counseling at Grace School of Ministry in South Africa
Adjunct Professor of Biblical Counseling at The Master’s College (July)
I’m glad my mom always told me I was special.
I was the last of four children, born eight years after my sister. I guess I was a surprise, my parents weren’t supposed to have any more children. I had some problems at birth and then they thought I had hydrocephalus, I think you call it, about six months later.
So my mom, she always let me know she thought I was special. And I’m glad.
Recently, after I wrote a blog about examining yourself, someone said to me that they really don’t like to examine themselves because when they do they see too many ugly things and that causes them to have a bad day. I understand what that person is saying, but still believe that getting an accurate knowledge of self in comparison to the standard set in the written (the Bible) and living (Jesus Christ) Word of God is a very important practice for us as Christians. I still believe that taking time to examine yourself is an important part of having a good day.
Examining ourselves is an important part of having a good day because without it we have a tendency to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (Romans 12:3). Without it we may have a propensity to indulge in the practice described in Proverbs 16:2; we have an inclination to clean up or justify our own ways and make them something other than what they really are in God’s sight. In other words, without appropriate self examination (using the Scriptures as our standard of evaluation) we are inclined to live in a world of unreality, a fantasy world..
This practice is also an important part of having a good day because it causes us to appreciate God’s grace and love and forgiveness and kindness to us in Christ more. It motivates us to run to Christ for forgiveness and love Him on a continual basis. It expands our understanding of the importance of the cross of Christ throughout our Christian lives and not just at the time of salvation (Galatians 6:14; I Timothy 1:15). It provokes us to deal with continuing sin issues in our lives and to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit and to pursue holiness out of the fear and love of God (2 Corinthians 7:1). The ultimate purpose of getting to know yourself is not so that you would wallow in your sin, but that you would love Christ more and become a more grateful and godly person.
In keeping with this perspective on self examination being an essential part of having a good day, I want to quote a prayer about Self Knowledge from the book The Valley of the Vision that beautifully illustrates the value of this practice. The prayer goes like this:
Searcher of Hearts,
It is a good day when thou givest me a glimpse of myself;
Sin is my greatest evil; but thou art my greatest good;
I have cause to loathe myself, and not to seek self-honor, for no one desires to commend his own dunghill.
My country, family, church fare worse because of my sins, for sinners bring judgment in thinking sins are small, or that God is not angry with them.
Let me not take other good men as my example,and think I am good because I am like them,
For all good men are not as good as thou desirest, are not always consistent, do not always follow holiness, do not feel eternal good in sore affliction.
Show me how to know when a thing is evil which I think is right and good, how to know when what is lawful comes from evil principle,
Such as desire for reputation or wealth or usury.
Give me grace to recall my needs, my lack of knowing thy will in Scripture, of wisdom to guide others, of daily repentance, want of which keeps thee at bay, of the spirit of prayer, having words without love, of zeal for thy glory, seeking my own ends, of joy in thee and thy will, of love to others,
And let me not lay my pipe too short of the fountain, never touching the eternal spring, never drawing down water from above.
At the beginning of this prayer, the author said “It is a good day when thou givest me a glimpse of myself”. Having stated that, he then goes on to give us many reasons why getting a knowledge of ourselves is a good thing. I encourage you to reflect on this prayer and enumerate the reasons that substantiate his original assertion. I love his last petition which really is his way of saying that an accurate knowledge of self will cause us regularly and consistently draw water from above, from the fountain and eternal spring which are found in Jesus Christ. Accurately knowing ourselves in a godly way will cause us not to be satisfied with anything in ourselves or in our world, but it will not, as some would suggest, drive us to despair. Rather it will cause us to turn away from the broken cisterns of this world to find our sufficiency in Christ alone. And that my friends is a good thing!
So I say, have a good day by making sure that your pipeline for joy and meaning and purpose and peace and satisfaction in life is attached to the right fountain, to the eternal spring found in Jesus Christ (John 4:7 – 14; 7:37, 38). Attachment to any other source of satisfaction is laying your pipe too short.
If you were to tape record the conversations of most people, what do you think you would hear coming from their lips, mostly positive statements of thanksgiving or negative statements of complaining and dissatisfaction?
Or, to make it more personal and specific, if you were to keep a record of everything you say during the day time, would the percentage of words you speak come out in favor of a positive slant or negative slant? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been personally challenged and convicted by that question especially in the light of I Thessalonians 5:18 which says that we are to give thanks in everything.
Unless I’m way off base I think the negative stuff I hear coming from the mouths of most people far outweighs the positive statements of thankfulness. To me this is problematic for many of the reasons that we’ve discussed in previous blogs. As a person who has been involved in biblical counseling for over forty years I know that identifying what a problem is and why a problem exists are important parts of solving the problem. You can’t rightly prescribe a good solution unless you understand the nature and causes of the problem. I’ve thought long and hard about the causes of this negativity phenomenon and drawn some conclusions. I’ll share some of these conclusions with you in the next couple of blogs.
Think about them and see if you agree with me or perhaps you’ll come up with some additional reasons why we, even as Christians, are more prone to be negative rather than positive. As evidenced from the previous blogs on this subject, one thing is certain: our proneness to negativity is not due to a lack of reasons for positivity. Take a refresher course in reasons for positivity by reviewing some of our more recent blogs. (And thanks to Chris who informed me that I didn’t make this word up in that the word “positivity” is found in the online dictionary. So don’t bother writing to us and telling us that there is no such word. Yes, there is. Dr. Chris affirms that there is and I believe him.) Anyway, here are some of my conclusions about why we are so prone to negativity. (*Acknowledgment and gratitude is given to Dr. John MacArthur for nudging me in the direction of some of these conclusions.)
One reason that some people are not continuously grateful to God may be due to the fact that they are not really Christians. We noted according to Romans 1:21 and 2 Timothy 3:2 one of the distinguishing features of non-Christians is that they do not honor God and are not grateful to Him. If they are thankful at all they are thankful to themselves or to other people; they are thankful for some things, but not all things; they are thankful at some times, but not at all times. Their thankfulness doesn’t go any further than that.So a proneness to negativity may indicate that a person has not been regenerated (John 3:3; Titus 3;5,6). Perhaps they had some emotional spiritual experience and nothing more. If a person can't find in his heart an endless cause for thanksgiving, then maybe that person doesn't really have a new life. And what that means is that if anyone has problems giving thanks in everything, they ought to do as 2 Corinthians 13: 5 says and examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. Moving beyond that, let me give you a second thing that can hinder our gratitude and that is that our thankfulness to God may be hindered by doubts or misunderstandings about God. If a person doesn’t think God is really in charge, if a person is ignorant about that or doesn’t really believe it, if a person is not sure God is really all wise, if a person is not sure He knows everything about everything, if a person is not sure He really loves him as His own, if a person is not sure He really has his best interests in mind, if a person is not sure He's using circumstances to conform him to the image of His Son, if a person doesn't understand who and what God is and what His purposes are, then he may not be thankful. Or, if a person does understand these truths about God but tends to forget them as he faces struggles in life, he may be hindered from being a thankful person. On the other hand, if he knows about and believes that God is wise, powerful and loving he has every reason to be thankful. If you know God's power is at work in your life and circumstances, God's wisdom is at work in it, God's purpose is at work in it, God's love is expressed through, it you have every reason to be thankful. But if you doubt that, you're going to have a problem being thankful.
Unfortunately, there are some well-known counselors who tell people that there are times when you need to get angry at God. They tell them to let it all hang out; that God is big enough to handle it. They tell them that there are times when you need to get angry with God; they tell them that it's good to vent your anger. They tell them to blast away; let God have it. In reality, these counselors are encouraging people to sin because the Bible says in Prov. 29:11that a fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back; Proverbs 10:19 asserts that “when there are many words transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Proverbs 16:32 instructs us that “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Psalm 141:3 teaches us that we should constantly be praying, “Set a watch before my lips; keep the door of my mouth.” And Psalm 19:14 reminds us that it is a wise thing to pray, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer.” The words of Matthew 12:36 certainly refute the error of spewing out venomous remarks to God when it tells us that we will give account for every careless word we have spoken and that our words will either demonstrate that we are justified or unjustified before God. Surely, God is big enough to handle it, but is that really the issue? Isn’t the issue more what lashing out against God rather than “giving thanks always” tells me about my heart, about my view of myself, about what I think I deserve, what I think about God and what I think about the Gospel which is a message for sinners who deserve nothing but hell. When I asked a friend of mine who was dying at age 58 from prostate cancer why in the midst of his pain and suffering he had an attitude of positivity, he answered my question in this way, “I’m not grumbling and complaining because I know that if I got what I deserve I would have been in hell a long time ago. I know that anything short of hell is more than I deserve. Besides I believe what the Bible says about who and what God is. And I believe what the Bible says about heaven.” This man knew and believed the great Bible truths about God and himself and his future and this sustained in him an attitude of gratitude. Instead of meditating on the awfulness of his situation, he meditated on the character of God, the message of the Gospel and the promises of God about his future. Did this mean that he was some kind of masochist who enjoyed his pain? No, but it did mean that his biblically based convictions and focus on God, himself and the Gospel kept him from being overwhelmed by negativity and sustained in him an attitude of positivity. Others (unfortunately including some of us – me at times), either do not know, believe or focus on what the Bible says about God, us and the Gospel and as a result we lack that attitude of gratitude when faced with difficult circumstances. So, in my judgment, that’s the second reason why people are more apt to negativity rather than positivity. In the next blog we’ll spell out more reasons.
We welcome any of your ideas. Join us in exposing and hopefully counteracting negativity by making a comment. Remember, you can’t rightly solve a problem unless you rightly define its natures and causes. And one other thing, if you think there is any merit to what we’re presenting in these posts, tell somebody else to tune in at www.themacks.wordpress.com .
I haven’t met too many Christians who would admit they want to be remembered as complainers.
For one thing, we’ve got the commands.
“Rejoice always…” “In everything give thanks…”
There’s just way too much clear teaching on this subject for a professing Christian to say he wants to be a complainer and get away with it.
But besides all the commands, most of us don’t want to be complainers because we’re well aware of all its negative effects.
It destroys friendships.
It makes getting things done difficult.
It steals the joy out of life.
And on and on we could go.
Believer, unbeliever, most of the people I’ve met would say they don’t want their lives to be characterized by complaining.
Thing is, I’ve met alot of complainers.
Most people would say they don’t want their lives to be characterized by complaining and yet many, if not most people’s lives are characterized by just that.
Oh, I know we’ve all got our excuses.
But I’m convinced the real reason our lives are characterized by complaining rather than thanksgiving is more fundamental, more basic than all that. Our complaining reveals we don’t appreciate the gospel the way we should.
You show me a person whose life isn’t characterized by thanksgiving and I’ll show you a person who isn’t really gripped by the truths of the gospel.
Think about some of the reasons a right understanding of the gospel should cause us to give thanks in all things.
I’ll give you one.
We complain because we think we aren’t getting what we deserve.
The gospel knocks us to our knees and causes us to give thanks because we know for sure we aren’t getting what we deserve.
You have more?
In my previous post, I think I invented a new word, a word that isn’t found in any of the dictionaries on my book shelves. (If you have a dictionary that contains this word, please let me know. I never wanted to be a word inventor anyway.)
In any case, my newly invented word is “positivity”. Now, I realize by inventing a new word I’m opening myself to all kinds of criticism from linguistic purists, but frankly I really don’t care because I can’t think of a better word that expresses what I want to say better than this newly invented word. I also know that it’s not a word that is actually found in the Bible, I affirm it is like the word trinity. The actual word “trinity” is not found in the Bible, but the concept clearly is. So it is with my word “positivity”. The concept is clearly found in the Bible. By the word “positivity” I’m referring to an attitude that is the opposite of “negativity”. I’m suggesting, as I demonstrated from Scripture in previous posts, that Christians have no reason for being murmurers (Philippians 2:14, 15), complainers, grumblers or gripers. I’m suggesting with clear biblical warrant that Christians have ample reasons for being thankful in everything, for having an attitude of “positivity” as they go through life (I Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 4:2).
Now, please don’t misunderstand me when I say that Christians should have an attitude of constant “positivity”. I’m not referring to what some have called the power of positive thinking which encourages the idea that we should always look (for no substantial reason except that it makes you feel better) on the bright side, that we should without a solid basis for doing so choose to believe that everything is going to work out just fine. Nor am I talking about or recommending that we join the “word of faith” or “rhema” movement in which you verbalize something you want to happen and believe it will come to pass and “presto” or perhaps “antipresto” it will happen. After all, we’re told, words have the power to create when we really believe. God spoke and it came to pass and that means that we who are His children can also speak and if we have enough faith it will come to pass.
Well, that’s not what I mean by an attitude of “positivity”. What I mean is that we need to search the Scriptures to see what our infinite, all wise, all knowing, all sovereign, all loving, all gracious God says is true and then choose to believe God’s interpretations and promises rather than the faulty, finite, limited opinions of human beings. It means that we choose to walk by faith (in God and His infallible Word) rather than by sight, by what we see with our eyes, understand with our minds, and what makes sense to our senses (2 Corinthians 5:7). It means we lean on God’s infallible understanding as revealed in Scripture rather than our own or any other person’s understanding (Proverbs 3:5,6). It doesn’t mean that we become mindless and just take a leap in the dark without any good reason to believe what we believe. No, it means we choose to believe on the basis of good authority (the authority of a God who knows everything and never lies and has revealed truth and reality to us in His Word) all of the things we’ve mentioned in previous blogs as solid reasons for having an attitude of “positivity”.
Most of you reading this post probably know the name Joni Erickson Tada. She’s the woman who was severely injured many years ago when she jumped into a pond (or lake or stream – I can’t remember which) and hit an object that pretty much completely paralyzed her from the neck down. Well, recently I was reading a book she wrote (with the help of others I’m sure in that while she has some, but not much use of her hands and arms). The book was called “Secret Strength”. One of the articles that caught my eye was an article entitled “Surprising” Trials. In that article Joni writes, “I just can’t get used to trials. Every time I get hit broadside with a fresh does of trouble, my first response if, Whoa! Where in the world did that come from? God picked me to handle this?
Like the other day when my van had a flat tire (she has a specially equipped van that allows her to drive). My first thought was, God, you’ve got the wrong person for this one. Remember? This is Joni – the one who’s paralyzed. I can’t exactly hop out, flip open the trunk, grab the jack and spin on a spare! Good grief, I can’t even flag down a passer-by or thumb a ride to a local gas station.
Frankly, I was surprised.
I would have thought God could have given me a trial more in keeping with my limitations. All I could do was sit helplessly in my van and wait for some kind soul to walk by and give me a hand. And wait and wait and wait.
But guess what verse kept floating to the top of my thinking? You guessed it … ‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you’ (I Peter 4:12, NIV).
I know I talk a lot about trials, but I don’t really think I get an unfair share of them. We all encounter adversities virtually every day of our lives. But for as many times as I’ve fallen into trials, they still come as a surprise. It seems I would have learned that lesson from reading those verses in Peter so many times. ‘Don’t be surprised … as though something strange were happening…’”
After mentioning that she is sometimes surprised by adversity that comes into her life, she goes on to ask the question: “So why do trials still come as a surprise to me?” And then she gives an answer to that question. She writes, “I’m certain it’s because I forget what I should know.”
In this quote Joni Erickson Tada mentions that in spite of all the reasons she has for not being surprised when trials come, she still is surprised. And by implication she is admitting that she doesn’t always immediately respond with thanksgiving and joy. And then as an explanation for why she doesn’t immediately respond with “positivity” she states that she believes it is because she forgets what she should know. Well, of course, as we have previously noted she is right. Ultimately, we don’t go through life with an attitude of “positivity” or gratitude because we’re not at the time when trials come believing or focusing on the biblical reasons for giving thanks in everything. Instead, we’re focusing on the unpleasantness and pain that we’re experiencing. We’re looking at the circumstances through the lens of our own understanding and senses. We’re trusting our own fallible interpretation rather than God’s infallible interpretation. The result: anger, fear, discouragement, worry, depression, putting pressure on others, looking for unbiblical ways of securing release from the pain and the possibility of a lot of other unpleasant and even ungodly consequences. In diagram form it is EVENT & UNBIBLICAL INTERPRETATION OF AND UNBIBLICAL FOCUS ON AND UNBIBLICAL BELIEFS ABOUT THE EVENT = UNGODLY AND UNPLEASANT EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL RESPONSE TO THE EVENT or it is EVENT & GODLY, BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION OF AND BIBLICAL FOCUS ON AND BELIEFS ABOUT THE EVENT = THANKFULNESS , AN ATTITUDE OF “POSITIVITY”.
That in general is the answer to the question, what is it that hinders us from being thankful in everything (I Thessalonians 5:18). In the next post, I want to mention other specific factors that may promote an attitude of negativity and hinder us from maintaining an attitude of “positivity.”.
(*Is there such a word? If not, there should be, so I invented it.)
In the previous posts “Speaking the language of heaven on earth” and “Is the command of I Thessalonians 5:18 absurd or not absurd” I began to give some reasons why it is not absurd to expect that Christians should give thanks in everything. This post is a continuation of that discussion.
I’ve mentioned that it is not unreasonable to expect that we as Christians should give thanks in everything because of what “we know”. We looked at four truths “we know” that provide substantial reasons and motivation for practicing a life style of thanksgiving. It is my contention that when rightly understood, considered and believed these reasons along with the additional reasons I’m going to mention in this blog will inevitably promote a constant attitude of gratitude. As you read what I have to say, please keep in mind that the reasons I’m mentioning that I say should sustain a thankful attitude and practice are not exhaustive, but only partial. I encourage you to read the ones I’ve selected and then add to my list others that you’ve identified. Please list the ones you’ve identified on the comment section of my post for the blessing and the encouragement of others who may read my blog.
Please do this in that I am convinced, after long years of counseling hundreds of people and teaching counseling to hundreds of people, that many professing Christians are unhappy, disgruntled, angry, anxious, discouraged, defeated, depressed, jealous, contentious, argumentative, and extremely demanding because they have not learned to do what God commands in I Thessalonians 5:18. Still further, I am convinced that one of the reasons many of us fail to rightly glorify God (the chief end of our existence) and impact others for Christ and fail to experience personal blessing in our own lives is because we are not gripped by all of the reasons we have to give thanks in everything. Moreover, it is also my contention that focusing on these biblical reasons for thanksgiving will demolish a negative, discontented, complaining, murmuring attitude toward life and propel us into a life of joy and contentment and satisfaction that make giving of thanks in everything a reality. This, in turn will bring glory to God and blessing to us and other people.
We pick up this partial list of reasons why giving of thanks in everything is not absurd at number 5.
5. According to Romans 8:15 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that we have been adopted into the family of God and that God is our Father. In some ways being adopted into the family of God is the choicest of all our spiritual blessings. In some ways it goes beyond being justified or forgiven or redeemed. God could have done all these things for us and still not adopted us into His family and declared that now we have the right to call Him Father. And what a Father He is. The idea that God is our Father is mentioned in at least one hundred and seventy two places in the New Testament. (You’ll find these passages identified in my book, A Christian Growth and Discipleship Manual. You’ll also find information about what it means for God to be called our Father in my book Reaching the Ear of God.) To give you some idea of the kind of Father we Christians have I’m going to list a few (not all) of the phrases the Bible uses in describing our Father. I encourage you to take the time to look up the references where He is declared to be the kind of Father these phrases say He is. According to the Bible, He is our heavenly Father; He is the Father of all comfort; He is the perfect Father; He is the glorious Father; He is the Father of all mercy; He is the Father who sees in secret; He is the Father who causes His sun to rise and the rain to fall; He is the Father who rewards His children; He is the Father who feeds the birds of the air; He is the Father who arrays the lilies of the field; He is the Father who knows what you need before you even ask; He is the Father who gives good gifts to His children; He is the Father who forgives; He is the Father who is Lord of all; He is the Father who controls all the birds of the air; He is the Father whom the Jesus came to reveal; He is the Father who is like Jesus Christ; He is the Father who has a Kingdom; He is the Father who reveals Jesus Christ to us; He is the Father who is in charge of the angels; He is the Father whom the angels worship and serve; He is the Father who will not allow one of His children to be ultimately lost; He is the Father who gives the true bread out of heaven; He is the Father who draws people to Jesus Christ; He is the Father who has given a people to Jesus Christ; He is the Father who gives us eternal life; He is the Father who raises us up on the last day; He is the living Father (the Father who is life and gives life); He is the Righteous and Holy Father; He is the Father of Lights; He is the Father who doesn’t change; He is the Father who is God; etc. I say what a Father we Christians have and what a privilege to be adopted into His family. Think carefully about these truths about God as your Father because they are part of the reason why we should give thanks in everything.
6. According to Romans 8:17, 18 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that the sufferings of this present time aren’t worthy of being compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us and in us. In another place Paul informs us that we know that the trials we experience are productive in that they are producing an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison with any good things or bad things we’ve encountered in this world (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18). We know that one day He will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory (Philippians 3:21). We know that one day we will receive a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). We know that one day Christ will be fully glorified in us and we will be glorified in Him (2 Thessalonians 1:10). We know that one day we will be revealed with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4). We know, as Scripture assures us, that in the ages to come God is going to show the surpassing riches (i.e., riches that surpass anything we could imagine) of His grace in kindness toward s in Christ Jesus. We know that in this world we have only a small glimpse of how rich in kindness and grace God is toward us, but in the future God is going to show us the fullness of His riches toward us. We know that these riches which become ours surpass (go beyond) anything that has been part of our experience. We know that there is no standard of measurement to which we could compare these riches; riches that will all be ours forever to enjoy; riches that go beyond anything we have ever seen or heard (I Corinthians 2:9). Think carefully about these truths about the incomparable nature of the glorious riches that we will one day receive because they are part of the reason why we should give thanks in everything.
7. According to Romans 8:28 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that God is working all things together for our ultimate good, the good which according to Romans 8:29 and 30 consists in making us more like Christ and bringing us to eternal glory. As part of the rationale for giving thanks in everything we need to remember that God’s thoughts toward us are not thoughts of evil but of good to bring us to a desired and desirable end (Jeremiah 29:11).We know that though Satan and others who fulfill his desires may mean what they do to us for evil, God who works all things according to the counsel of His own will means it for our good (Genesis 50:20).
8. According to Romans 8:31 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that God is for us and that if God is for us nothing can be against us.
9. According to Romans 8:32 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that if God did not spare His own Son from the cross or from drinking the full cup of His wrath against our sins on the cross, he will freely give us everything we need to handle the challenges of life; we know that God will not abandon us.
10. According to Romans 8:33 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that Satan nor anyone or anything else can bring a charge against us that will stand up in the court of our God.
11. According to Romans 8:34 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that Christ died for us, was raised again for us and that He now is at the right hand of God interceding for us, representing us, defending and protecting us.
12. According to Romans 8:35 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that our present sufferings can’t separate us from Christ and His love. As illustrated in one section of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Satan wants to use the difficulties we experience in life to cause us to question His love for us and drive us from Christ. However, when rightly considered they do no such thing. Instead they drive us to Christ who in the midst of our sufferings proves Himself to be our sympathetic, dedicated, faithful refuge and strength, our ever present companion and sustainer who shows compassion and concern and provides the grace we need to press on toward the mark of our high calling in Christ. It is in the context of difficulty that we experience in a new and fresh way the comfort of the One who is the good shepherd of His people. It is in the context of difficulty that Christ restores our souls, leads us beside the still waters, uses His rod and staff to sustain us in the valley experiences of life, provides for us even when attacked by enemies, heals our wounds, causes our cup of blessing to run over, showers us with His goodness and mercy and gives us assurance of our final destination – living in the very immediate presence of God..
13. According to Romans 8:37 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that we can overcome whatever comes our way through Christ who loves us. We know that we can handle anything that comes our way because He has promised to give us the strength we need; He has promised that His grace will be sufficient; that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9 – 10; Isaiah 41:10). Think carefully about these truths I’ve mentioned in this post; let them grab hold of your heart and let them motivate you to give thanks in everything.
You can have a life that brings maximum glory to God; you can have a life that makes a maximum impact for Christ on others; you can have a life that will bring maximum joy to you. But if you want that to be true of you, you must make it a practice to regularly reflect on the biblical reasons you have for giving thanks in everything and then you must on a daily basis train yourself to do it by actually opening your mouth and telling others of God’s goodness to you.
Next time: what is it that hinders us from giving thanks in everything? I welcome you to put any of your suggestions in the comments section of this blog.
At the end of my last blog, I mentioned that the general reason being thankful in everything (I Thessalonians 5:18) is not an absurd command is found in two words. I also stated that I would in the next blog explain what that reason is. The two words that explain why it is not absurd for Christians to give thanks in everything are the words “we know”. I.E., it is not unreasonable for us to go through life with an attitude of gratitude because of what “we know”.
There is a great hymn that reminds us of the fact that there is much we don’t now know about how blessed we are. One of the verses goes like this, “When we stand with Christ in glory, looking o’er life’s finished story, then Lord shall we fully know, not ‘til then how much we owe.” No doubt the hymn writer was right. Until we get to heaven we won’t fully know how blessed we are and how much we really do owe. However, in spite of the fact that we will not know fully until then how much we owe, Scripture does mention an abundance of things we can know right now that make doing what I Thessalonians 5:18 commands the only reasonable thing for Christians. In the next few blogs I want to mention some of the things we know right here and now that turn this command which at first glance may seem absurd into not absurd, but rather the only sensible thing to do.
1. According to 2 Cor. 8:9 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though He, as the second person of the Godhead, was infinitely rich for our sake became poor (he laid aside the independent exercise of His Divine attributes, took upon Himself the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of men, humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the excruciating, humbling, undeserved death of the cross) in order that we might become rich (in the future as we enter into heaven and enjoy all the incomprehensible privileges thereof; but even right now as we presently experience the riches of His grace – forgiveness, mercy, deliverance from the penalty and controlling power of sin, joy, peace, meaning in life, fellowship with God, hope for the future, etc.). Think on these things my friends because they provide part of the rationale for giving thanks in everything.
2. According to 2 Timothy 1:12 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know whom we have believed and are convinced that He is able to keep what we have entrusted (our soul’s well being) to Him until that day (the day of His return or our departure for heaven). I.E, we will make it in spite of our difficulties because He is keeping us. He has begun a good work in us and He will not quit until He finishes it in us. He’s not going to take us half way there and then drop or abandon us. Nothing or no one will pluck us out of His hands. Jesus Christ will lose none of those whom the Father has given to Him. Think on these things my friends because they provide part of the rationale for giving thanks in everything.
3. According to Romans 5:1 and 8:1 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the work He has done for us in His life and His death on the cross we have been justified (declared righteous before God) and are now at peace with God. We were alienated from God, enemies of God because of our sin and deservedly under the curse and wrath of a holy and just God but now this God has imputed (put to our account) the righteousness of Christ to us and declared us to be righteous. He has removed us from being under His condemnation and brought us into His favor. He has taken our sin and imputed it to Jesus and taken His righteousness and put it to our account and because of this great transaction He now sees us united to His righteous Son. As a result, He could no more condemn us than He could condemn His own altogether righteous Son. Think on these things my friends because they provide part of the rationale for giving thanks in everything.
4. According to Romans 5:3 – 5 it is not unreasonable for us to give thanks in everything because we know that the tribulations God allows us to experience are intended to bring incredible benefits into our lives right here and now: 1) they are intended to produce perseverance (the spiritual muscles which are necessary for becoming steadfast, unmovable, persistent, mature, long distance runners in the race of life; they are intended to develop the qualities of determination and strength which are necessary for productivity in the Christian life), 2) proven character (internal integrity, consistency, sincerity regardless of our circumstances, an internal depth of godliness that has weathered the tests of time, an internal depth of godliness that manifests itself in godly behavior that does not have to be restrained from doing wrong or coerced into doing right from the outside), 3) a hope that does not disappoint (a positive expectant attitude that is based on the reality and experience of God’s presence, promises and power in the midst of difficulties rather than a fantasy kind of expectation of good that is based on living in a mental or experiential world of denial, evasion and unreality), and 4) a deepening experience and realization of the love of God (knowing God’s faithful, consistent, sacrificial, practical, unchanging love in the context of real life, a love that is most fully demonstrated in what he has done for us and in us through Christ, a love that compels Him to discipline us rather than coddle us, a love that is not put off by our foibles and failures, a love that motivates Him to forgive us when we act or react wrongly, a love from which nothing can separate us, a love will do the necessary hard things to us and for us that will make us more like Jesus Christ). Think on these things my friends because these things are part of the reason why giving thanks in everything is not absurd.
Well, that’s enough for today about the things we know that make giving of thanks in everything a realistic and reasonable rather than an absurd thing for us to do. In future blogs I want to enlarge on other things we know which validate the reasonableness of the command of I Thessalonians 5:18. After that I want to do two other things: one, I want to discuss some reasons why we find it difficult to actually do what is clearly the will of God for us and two I want to present some suggestions for making the giving of thanks a life style for us.
In closing I want to briefly give you my reasons for spending so much time on this subject in these blogs. I’m doing this because I believe fulfilling this command is one of the primary things that God wants from us. After all, I Thessalonians 5:18 says that it is the will of God for us. I’m doing this because I believe developing this kind of a lifestyle is one of the best ways for us to make an impact on the non-Christians with whom we associate. After all, Philippians 2:14, 15 indicate that it is only as we avoid its opposite (murmuring and disputing) that we become blameless and harmless, shine as lights among unbelievers and hold forth the Word of life. And third, I’m doing it because I believe developing a lifestyle of gratitude will be good for you. Thankful people are happy people. Unthankful people are unhappy people and they provide the context in which others are influenced toward unhappiness also. You know that from personal experience and so do I.
And here’s a suggestion (challenge, invitation) for you. Why don’t you join me in discerning a biblically based list of things (with Scripture references) which make it clear that giving thanks in everything is not an absurd thing for Christians to do? Include your thought in the comments section of my blog so that you can be a blessing to me and others.