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Thanksgiving Every Day!

1 Thessalonians 5:18

"In everything give thanks."

These words have something of the impossible about them. They call us to heights which seem to be too rugged and steep for our feeble feet. That is probably why many of us never think of taking this great passage seriously. We simply bypass it.
But Paul was perfectly serious in presenting this truth. He believed that it was possible to make every day a day of thanksgiving. This was not simply a theory with Paul -- this was his conviction. This was his experience. As you study his life, you find him in many trying situations. At times you find him without his cloak. At times you find him without his books and his parchments. At times you even find him without his freedom and his friends. But never once do you find him without his song of thanksgiving.

"In everything give thanks."

This is something more than just good advice. It is good advice, but it is far more. It's a command. It is a binding command:

"In everything give thanks."

Gratitude is not optional. As Christians, we cannot be grateful or ungrateful as it suits us. To refuse to be thankful is to refuse to be obedient. Notice the widespread of this command.

"In everything give thanks."

That includes so much that many of us would be inclined to say that it is utterly impossible. In fact, it is impossible unless we receive help from above. God is constantly calling upon us to do the impossible. It was impossible for the paralyzed man to rise and walk, but as he was willing, Christ made the impossible possible. And God will help us -- if we will allow Him.

"In everything give thanks."

Have we ever taken that passage seriously? Notice what it says: "In everything."
In the joys and in the sorrows, in the laughter and in the tears, in the moments bright with meaning and the times dark with night --

"In everything give thanks."

That means that we are to be thankful when we succeed. We are to be grateful in the moments of prosperity and of victory. It means also that we are to be thankful when we fail. We are to be thankful when our bodies are healthy with vigor and energy. We are also to be thankful when the hand of disease is upon us.

"In everything."

This is a wide-sweeping command. We are to be grateful when friends are kind, and when they give us flowers. We are to be thankful when friends seem unkind, and when they throw mud at us. We are to be grateful when others pass us by in forgetfulness and even when they totally neglect us. We are to be thankful beside the cradle alive with life. We are also to be thankful beside the grave gloomy with death.
This is truly a high standard that our Lord has set before us. But it is a possible standard. God never calls us to do that which through His grace we cannot do.
How can we really be thankful in everything?

"In everything give thanks."

How did Paul do it? He did not do so by having circumstances that were always favorable. Nor will we. There will never be a time in our lives when everything will come to us right-side up. We will have to pass through sorrows and losses, struggles and perplexities. So, if we never expect to be thankful in everything until everything is entirely to our liking, then we will never follow this important command.
Read the letters of Paul. He was always speaking out in the most wonderful praise. His letters are exultant with thanksgiving. They ring with triumphant hallelujahs. This is not true because Paul had everything. He had been shipwrecked, stoned, hounded, whipped, imprisoned. At last, they killed him, but they never killed his gratitude.
How is this amazing possibility to be realized? The answer: it is to be realized through faith in God. Gratitude is a child of faith. If we ever get to the place where we can really give thanks in everything, we will have to possess a real and vital faith in God. We will have to believe that Paul spoke the truth when he said, "All things work together for good to them that love God."
There will be many occasions when we will not see how the trials and defeats that will come upon us can be for our good. There will be many times when we will not understand.
There have been those days when we look out and see the black clouds and the pouring rain, the slick streets and the muddy roads and the water-soaked fields, and faith can still look out and thank God and sing:

"It isn't raining rain to me,
It's raining daffodils;
In every dimpled drop I see
Wild flowers upon the hills.
A cloud of gray engulfs the day
And overwhelms the town;
It isn't raining rain to me,
It's raining roses down.
So a health to him who's happy,
And a fig to him who frets;
It isn't rain to me,
It's raining violets."

That is how faith can sing in all circumstances.
While gratitude is a child of faith, it is also a childhood that we must nurture, watch, train, and develop. Gratitude must be cultivated. It must be watched over or it will die.

"In everything give thanks."

Do not ever think that Paul reached this height of gratitude without a struggle. This does not come easily. We will never realize that high achievement except by conscious effort. Here are some ways that we can help our selves to cultivate this rare flower called gratitude.
If we are going to be thankful in everything, we cannot begin to do that by ignoring the daily blessings of life.
We often take such blessings for granted.
A pastor happened to meet an old friend who had been suffering from a dreaded disease. But he had recovered and was in perfect health. His dreary days of depression had passed. And he was so happy and so grateful. He was filled with praise and thanksgiving. This pastor shared this great gratitude with another friend who said: "Of course! I also would be thankful if I had recovered from that terrible disease."
This person seemed to forget to thank God that she had never even been sick. The constancy of God's blessings sometimes seems to kill our gratitude. We are so like little children. Take your child a toy every day when you go home, and it will not be two weeks before that child will cease to appreciate it. In fact, that child will even feel wronged, if one day you fail to bring him a toy.
Cultivate the good habit of being thankful for life's daily blessings. Appreciate God's mercy that is new every morning. Common place as these daily blessings may seem, they are the blessings without which life would not be worth living.
Then appreciate the sunrise and the sunset, the springtime and autumn time, the comforts of home, the hand clasp of friends, the confidence of associates, and the love of family.
So, appreciate the open Bible and the church with its welcome. Be grateful for the constant invitation to worship and prayer. Be thankful for Christian friends.
In everything give thanks, and to do this, we must do away with our pride and self-sufficiency.
Have you ever noticed how we try to blame others for our misfortune and then to thank ourselves for our good fortune?
The rich fool raised an outstanding crop, but he congratulated only himself. He thanked only his own wisdom, prudence, and hard work. Paul was totally different. After he had returned from a successful missionary journey, he didn't tell what he had done, but he told of what God had done through him.
May the Lord teach us to have wisdom like that.
What do I have that I have not received?
And what do you have that you have not received?
Do you have some wonderful ability?
Are you physically attractive? Even beautiful?
Are you a tremendous athlete? Are you successful in business?
Do you have a task, a place to work, and skill to fill your place?
If so, thank God -- it has all come from Him!
Remember, you cannot simply thank yourself. The truth of the matter is -- there is not a single blessing that you possess for which you have only yourself to thank.
If you have a tendency to self-conceit, ask yourself how much you would have if God took from you everything except what is yours alone?
If God should do so, civilization would be gone. We did not create it.
This city would vanish. We did not build it. The sun would suddenly
disappear in the sky. The stars would vanish. The sea would vanish.
Your body would melt into thin air.
Your immortal soul would be ushered into eternity.
So, if there is a single thing you value this morning, give thanks for it because it comes to you as a gift from God .
If we are to be grateful in everything, we must refuse to allow the blessings of others to cause us to despise our own.
It is strange that we should be so foolish and so wicked as to do this and yet we often do.
Saul appreciated the praise that was given to him until he found that David had the greater praise.
You appreciated the little daisy flower that was given to you, until you saw that a friend of yours had received roses.
You enjoyed your family car until your friend began to drive a luxury car.
We will never learn to be grateful if we have attitudes like those.
If we are going to be thankful in everything, we must cultivate the habit of giving expression to our thanks.
This is what Paul did. He was always expressing to his Lord and to his friends how very thankful he was. He was giving constant expression to his gratitude, and the more he expressed it, the more thankful he became.
What excuse could we have for our silence?
What excuse could we have for our lack of gratitude?
Have you heard it said: "God knows we are grateful,"
"She knows that I appreciate her," and "Our friends know that we are grateful?"
But that is not enough!
God desires that we give thanks. Surely, many hearts are hurting because we fail to give expression to our gratitude.
To be a thankful Christian is pleasing to God. Gratitude brings out more gratitude. A little gratitude from someone tends to strengthen us. We all work so much better when we know we are appreciated.
As you go down the street on which you live, you notice the wreath on the door of a friend. Then, you hurry to the funeral home where his dead body lies, and you spill a thousand words of praise into an ear that does not hear and into a heart that cannot be touched.

Give Them Flowers While They Live.

"If I should die tonight,
My friends would call to mind, with loving thought,
Some kindly deed the icy hand had wrought,
Some gentle word the frozen lips had said --
Errands on which the willing feet had sped;
The memory of my selfishness and pride,
My hasty words, would all be put it aside,
And so, I should be loved and mourned tonight."
O friends, I pray tonight
Keep not your kisses for my dead cold brow.
The way is lonely; let me feel them now.
Think gently of me; I am travel-worn,
My faltering feet are pierced with many a thorn.
Forgive! O hearts estrange, forgive, I plead!
When ceaseless bliss is mine I shall not need
The tenderness for which I long tonight.

Give gratitude now -- to others -- and to the Lord

Gratitude is pleasing to God because God is love and love always wants to be appreciated. We must understand that love will live without appreciation, but it lives in grief and pain and disappointment. If you love someone, the most terrible wound that they can inflict upon you is the wound of ingratitude.
The high water mark of English tragedy is King Lear, and the climax of that tragedy. It is the father learning "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child."
Will the recording angel be able to write your name and mine this morning in the gilded volume of those who are thankful?
Believe me -- you and I can bring no greater joy to our Lord than to fulfill this command:
"In everything give thanks."

Dr. Harold L. White
Edgar G. Burgonios

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