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Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
1 Thess. 5:16-18,
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
This week, we move into the holiday of Thanksgiving. For the next 30 days, life is going to get pretty hectic for most Americans. In fact, there will probably be a fight or two that will break out in the local brick and mortar store as people camp out in line to get the best buy on the hottest gizmo. There may even be an argument break out amongst family members crammed into a small living room about the current political controversy.
Then, there is the stress about going here and there in an effort to make sure to connect with everyone. Kids get tired and begin to whine, pulling on your last nerve. But hey, we’re supposed to be thankful! So, you yell at the kids, “Knock it off!!!! Sit down and be quiet and keep your hands to yourself!!!” When you pull up to mom and dad’s house, you jump out of the car with a smile on your face and look as though you don’t have a care in the world. Thinking through this whole scenario tires me. Yet, if we’re honest, it happens to all of us in some form. I think you get my point. It’s hard to truly have a grateful heart when you’re just going through the motions.
This holiday season doesn’t have to be like that. You don’t have to allow yourself to get caught up in all the stress. It’s true! I’m sure some of you might be thinking, “Yeah, right Jim. If that’s the case, then I’m just not going to participate; I’ll just be a humbug.” I’m not talking about not engaging, I think we can engage with the activities of the season, but as we do, we can make sure our hearts are in the right place before we do. We can orient ourselves to Christ, turn to Him, and make sure we’re living a single-story life. It begins with a choice—you can choose to be grateful—even in the midst of stressful circumstances.
Thankfulness is a prominent Bible theme. Our verse today “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” sums it up. Don’t read it to quickly… Did you catch that? Give thanks in all circumstances. How’s that possible? Did Paul really mean “all”? I think he did. You see, thankfulness should be a way of life for us, naturally flowing from our hearts and mouths. Thankfulness is not something that’s impossible for us to do. It’s just the opposite. in fact, it’s possible even in the midst of persecution when we recognize God’s control over all things (see Rom. 8:28).
Notice that we’re to be joyful, we’re to pray, and we’re to give thanks. These are things that we’re to do. Do they take effort? You bet! God is not opposed to effort; He’s just opposed to our earning. Effort implies that it takes work, so it means we’re going to have to work to engage our minds.
How do we engage? We choose to be joyful. Joy can be experienced because Jesus Christ is the source and subject of our joy. Think about it… Jesus is in control of the circumstances; He is sovereign. There is no place where we find ourselves and He is not be present. He has already secured our place with Him in eternity; He has promised that we will have life in Him if we walk in the light of His gospel. Now THAT is good news and is reason to be joyful!
We can choose to pray. Prayer should be the constant attitude—even as we go! Prayer is not just for your quiet times, but something that we should engage in constantly. Because of the authority of Jesus, we can be filled with gratitude because we can go directly to the Lord. We don’t have to be in a certain location or time of day; we can simply call out to Him right in the midst of our day and know that He hears us. You and I can enjoy continual communion with the Lord by prayer! That is definitely a reason to be joyful.
Finally, We can choose to give thanks. Giving thanks to God should simply be our native emotion. If Romans 8:28 is true, then we should be able to praise the Lord at all times, in all circumstances, and for everything!
So the question for us is this: will you choose to have a heart of gratitude? Will you choose to close the gap in gratitude as we move into the holiday season?
These three—being joyful, praying continually, and giving thanks—are key to living a life of gratitude. You can have a grateful heart no matter where you find yourself because Christ Jesus is for you.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.