Always Giving Thanks

Ephesians 5:18-21

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Let’s get this first thing out of the way quickly.  This verse does not say we should not drink wine.  It says to not get drunk with wine.  Paul tells Timothy a little wine for the stomach is a good thing (1 Tim 5:23).  I have seen a lot of contention in the church over wine or beer.  To me, it is a non-issue unless the person is overdoing it, which is clearly spoken against here.  Let’s not make a big deal  out of it.  For some, God may require total abstinence.  For others He may allow a sip here and there.  Who are we to judge what God will allow in someone else’s life?

The main point we need to gather here is that we are to be filled with the Spirit!  When the Holy Spirit fills us, we will walk as God wants us to walk.  The Spirit will convict us of sin, righteousness and judgment if we are walking contrary to God’s word (John 16:8-11).  But the main reason we should be filled with the Spirit is that the Spirit cries out to praise God and will lift us up to a higher level.  Notice in verse 19, Paul says we are to speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.  This is not worship to God.  This is uplifting talk to ourselves!  How many of you need a pick-me-up once in a while?  I do!  As I walk in the Spirit, He rises up within me and causes me to worship within myself to God.  You can be sure that will lift your own spirits to new heights.  I know it does for me!

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Always.  Not some of the time. Always.  Not only when I feel like it.  Always.  Not only when things are going right.  Always.  Give thanks always for all things.  All things.  Give thanks for all things.  You mean  am supposed to thank Him for the hard times and trials?  All things.  This is a hard concept to grasp and that is why I  am repeating it so much.  It is similar to Phil 4:4, where Paul tells us go rejoice in the Lord always.  If you missed my comments on that, you can read them HERE,

This is no misprint or mistake.  It’s easy to give thanks for the good times, when things are going right.  But understanding that the trials in life are there to help us grow, we can easily give thanks in the middle for them.  Thanks that God loves us enough to bring growing pains into our lives.  Thanks that we know He will bring us through anything that comes our way.  Thanks that He walks with us through the fire and through the storm.  Giving thanks always will free us from worry and doubt. Thanksgiving lifts our spirits above the doldrums  of life, and into heavenly places.

Practice giving thanks for all things.  You will quickly learn the benefits of this practice.

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

One to another.  No one is above another, except your Pastor.  And the Pastor is servant to all, as Jesus was.  Submitting does not mean we are subservient.  It does not mean we become second class citizens in the church.  It is simply that we acknowledge that all are equal and have the same rights to express their opinions and views.  All are important, from the elders all the way to the janitor.  It s so important that, if we hold a position on the church that is more visible, like elder or worship leader, that we never see ourselves as more important.  I’ve been there, and I never want to go back there.  Stay humble on your ministry, whatever it is.

As A Child

Ephesians 5:1-7

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned at Pure Life Ministries is summed up in verse 1.  “As dear children”.  I thought I really knew scripture inside and out and yet I was steeped in  sin, especially the sin of pride.  They counseled me to start looking at scripture differently.  I had read through the bible at least a dozen times, and studied all through out Old and New Testament.  But they said to try and imagine I was reading each verse for the very first time, as a child who never had heard those words before.  It was very difficult,, but I put my whole being into it.  And the words took on new meaning – they jumped off the page at me and shouted “This is the way”.  A new learning curve had begun.  I  could now walk in love, because I saw it so much more clearly.  I saw His love for me with a new understanding.  The sacrifice He gave took on greater meaning to me.

I encourage you to do the same.  Try to put aside any learning you may have had in  bible knowledge and read the word with fresh eyes, as if you’d never sen it before.  Take it in as a child takes in new truths, with amazement and awe.  Put aside any  pre-conceived ideas of what it says, and just read the words and ask God to revel it’s truth to you.  I think you will be in for a thrilling time!

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

There are certain things that Paul says should never be found in the church.  Fornication, which is sex outside of marriage basically.  This is on the rise in our society today, and should be a point of concern for all of us.  It’s not all that unusual for couples to have e=sex on the first date, and for them to have multiple partners.  It’s a scary scene to me, and totally against God’s law.

Uncleanness can deal with any part of our lives, but  want to concentrate on words.  I am amazed at the way  our language is used today.  It is atrocious in many cases.  There is no doubt our TV and Movie habits have been dumbed down when it comes to using proper language..  Words to songs can’t even be mentioned for so many “artists”.  The words are unclean, and it is permeating our society.  Make sure your words are in line with Phil. 4:8!

Covetousness – having a desire to own what is someone else’s, has also hit epic proportions.  Adultery is rampant and that is nothing but covetousness.  We hear of people breaking into homes, companies being unethical to gain an edge, even church secretaries who steal embezzle the church.  It’s a shoot out sometimes.  Filthiness, foolishness and jesting are next on his list.  Crude jokes, making fun of people, just not being serious when we should be.  So many things fit this description.

What should rule our lives?  The giving of thanks – that’s what.  Under all circumstances,, thanksgiving should rise to the top.  Thanksgiving should be our daily habit.  Thanksgiving should be what leaves our lips and goes into the atmosphere.  Thanks should be the cry of our heart.  Thank you Lord should be our song.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

He tells the Ephesian church that they know these people that are not thankful., but participate in all those other things, will not enter the Kingdom of Christ.  There may be some who will try and deceive them and make them believe that God will accept all into His kingdom, so Paul tells them not to be deceived by that.  There are those today who tell us grace covers it all, and you can live whatever type of life you want.  God loves you and you will go to heaven.  Well grace does cover it all, but Christ tells us to go and sin no more once we accept His forgiveness.  And we must do that to the best of our ability.  we are not to partake in those activities, but do all we can to live holy and righteously before God.  That is our calling!

 

 

The Attitude of Gratitude.

Philippians 4:8 Part 8

Finally, brethren,

whatsoever things are true,

whatsoever things are honest,

whatsoever things are just,

whatsoever things are pure,

whatsoever things are lovely,

whatsoever things are of good report;

if there be any virtue,

and if there be any praise,

think on these things.

 

 

How thankful are you?  Are you someone who rarely says thank you to those around you?  Do you tend to find fault everywhere you turn?  I bet if you’re not that person you know someone who is.  There are plenty of people who fit that description.

 

I bet there were the same type of people back in Paul’s day.  Ungrateful, not responsible, not accountable.  They refuse to acknowledge the good deeds of others, preferring instead to find the one thing that wasn’t done right.  The scribes and Pharisees in Jesus day are a perfect example.  Look at all the good Jesus was doing, yet all they could see was the people following Him instead of them.

 

If there be any praise, think on these things.  Now we start out by giving praise to God, of course.  And there is NEVER a time that He is not worthy of our praise – NEVER.  No matter what is going wrong in your life, there are a million things going right that you can praise Him for unless you are dead, and then hopefully you will be praising Him in heaven.  There is always reason to give Him praise!  Are you breathing?  Praise Him for the sair He supplies.  Can you see? Praise Him for the sunlight, even on the cloudy days it’s still there!  Are you sick?  Praise Him that your blood is still flowing through your body.  Do you have cancer (Yes, I do)?  Praise Him that your breathing, that He gave the doctors amazing knowledge, that you still have sight, hearing, taste, touch, the list is endless of things I can praise Him for, not matter what my situation.  Give Him praise.

 

But this verse goes beyond that.  If there be any praise!  What about that janitor in your church who does such a good job – doesn’t he deserve some praise?  How about the grocery clerk who helped you out with your groceries?  Or the bank teller who helps you with a transaction?  Or the convenience store clerk who assisted you today?  Don; these people deserved praise – in the way of a thank you?  A simple thank you is praise in it’s simplest form. And we as a church need to be doing more of it.  An attitude of gratitude is what it is often called.

 

Our world today has lost a lot in this area, and we need to show the way.  We as a church should be the most grateful people alive.  We should never have reason to gripe and complain.  So many blessings have been lavished upon us by our Heavenly Father.  Let’s let the world know that gratitude is he way to go!

Don’t Worry, Be Praying

Philippians 4:6

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known unto God.:

 

You might remember song from decades ago that told us “Don’t worry, be happy”. It was quite a hit back then and it was a lot of fun to sing. The beauty of that song is there’s a lot of truth to it. Philippians 4 6 it’s a reminder to us that God has things in control.

The first thing Paul says is to be careful for nothing.  That word careful can literally mean full of care. It can also mean don’t worry. I want to take you back to Matthew chapter 6 during The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus tells his disciples to consider the lilies of the field.  They don’t work but they’re clothed. Or consider the birds flying in the air. They don’t work but they’re fed. Our heavenly Father loves us a lot more than He loves them. And what does Jesus tell us to do?  Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Matt 6:33).

Then he goes on to say we should take no thought for tomorrow. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  Again, Jesus is telling us not to worry about what’s coming tomorrow. Now that doesn’t mean we should hide our head in the sand and not plan for a future. All of us have schedules to keep, and God expects us to be faithful to those things we are committed to, like work, kids events, church, etc.  We have to plan our days accordingly.  What Jesus means is that we need to concentrate on today and serving God today and fulfilling the Great Commission today. We’re not sure whether we’ll even be alive tomorrow.

One of my favorite authors is a man named Fenelon. One of my all-time favorite quotes of his is “Don’t insult today by looking for a better tomorrow”. Fenelon rights over and over again about the fact that we have only been given enough grace for today, for this very moment. We cannot possibly know what situations we will get into tomorrow, but when we do God will give us the grace to make it through. There is absolutely no reason to worry my friends.

After all that he tells us that we should take everything to the Lord in prayer. If we’re in a position where we might worry that’s a great time to pray.  Not just pray “Lord save me from this situation” but pray and give thanks that God is going to deliver you. We see this over and over again in the Psalms. David is talking to the Lord about his enemies being close at hand or overcoming him and then in the very next sentence he’s giving the Lord thanks and praise for delivering his for him from his enemies. This is the attitude we need to have every day.

David also says we should take everything to the Lord in Prayer by supplications. Supplication is a stronger word than prayer. It’s almost like begging but it’s in a humble fashion. A person who gives supplications feels unworthy to do so but they need an answer.  So they continue asking until the answer comes. They are not so high and mighty that they think they deserve one, they just know that the person they are asking is faithful.

The umbrella of Thanksgiving over all of our requests is huge. Not only giving thanks for the answer but giving thanks for the to the one who provides the answer. We should be in a continual attitude of praise to our Heavenly Father as we go before Him with our requests. Never take his Mercy for granted.

Philippians 1:3

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”

 

 

Am I continually thankful for the people God has brought into my life?  Even before I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, there were countless people who sowed seeds of faith into my life.  Sunday school teachers when I was young at the First Congregational Church;  the choir directors and pastors who instilled a sense of God and His presence in me;  all those

grown-ups who showed by their example what it was to be a Christian.  As I think back, there were countless people throughout my youth who planted seeds in my life.

Then there was my good friend David.  We got to be friends at 5 or 6 years old, and stayed good friends through most of high school until our interests parted us in the last two years.  He went off to Vietnam, I stayed home.  But when he returned, he started to minister Christ into my life.  He planted seed after seed.  He watered the seed with his love.  And it finally got through to my heart.  I became a follower of Christ.

Since that time, there have been almost a dozen pastors, countless evangelists, wonderful Sunday School teachers, deacons and elders, and precious saints of God who have ministered into my life.  And then there are those whom I have ministered to in some form or fashion, either through preaching, or teaching, or leading worship – or just sitting down and sharing.

I am so thankful for all the wonderful people God has brought into my life through the years.  Both the edifying ones and the ones who brought me trials.  All of these things shaped who I am in Christ.  They all contributed to my growth in spiritual things.  So when one of them comes to my mind, I take a moment to pray for them.  You never know when that prayer will produce a harvest of its own.

Lord, keep me thankful for all those who have sown into my life.  Help me to pause and pray for them whenever you bring them across my mind.  Help me to continually sow into other people’s lives as well, that I may help others grow.