I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Part 3: In every thing, give thanks.
So this is a little more difficult than what we’ve previously done. And I don’t say that lightly because, 7 days of eating the same thing?! (I’m kind of kidding, kind of not.) We can rejoice over things we have that bring us joy. We can pray without ceasing because the more we pray, the more we find out how much we can’t go WITHOUT praying.
But to be thankful IN every thing. We can easily thank Jesus FOR the things we have, those joys He’s given us. But IN every thing? That gets a little harder. Not only does Jesus want us to be thankful when things are going well, we must be thankful when things are not going well. Because, and here is the heart of the matter, this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Why does it concern God what we do and how we live?
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
We know who the thief is and he wants to steal, kill and destroy us. And one of his best weapons? Unthankfulness. Because if he can get us to be unthankful, he can defeat us. Unthankfulness breeds discouragement. Because we start thinking about all the bad around us. Our focus shifts from what we have to what we don’t have. We might start missing some of the things we chose to give away. We might let bitterness creep in that we can’t have ” nice things”. And ultimately, that kind of thinking and living will destroy us.
I’m going to tell you something that’s hard to share but it’s a good example. Many years back, we had a whole lot of DVDs. And I’m ashamed to say that some of them had language in them and other things that we didn’t really need to be watching. We can fast forward things, or turn our heads and even hit the mute button, but still, in doing this, we know in our minds what’s going on in the movie. So our mind is on those things. Which is not good because, Philippians 4:8…..And we decided to throw all of them away. ~GASP~ I can hear your thoughts now. How crazy!! Yes, that was a lot of money down the drain. And yes, sometimes, we would miss having something “ententertaining” to watch. And yes, maybe it’s extreme to some.
But I want us all to get real for just a minute. What good do those movies do in light of eternity? I get it, I promise. Sometimes, I just want my mind to rest and watching tv or a movie allows my mind rest. I don’t have to think, I can just numbly sit down and allow myself to escape reality for a few minutes. Isn’t that sad? That my greatest example I can give you of sacrifices we’ve made, is that we threw away some movies? But when I stand before God – and we will, whether you believe it or not, whether you think you have all the time in the world to “live” or not, it will happen – I don’t want to be guilty of not using every moment I had to affect eternity. If I live every moment to try and affect eternity, won’t that be difficult? I mean, I’m going to have to reassess everything I do. I think of all the things I do on a daily basis. Does God really want me living every second with eternity in mind? Is it even possible?
Jesus came so that we would have life. And have it more abundantly. Can I ask you something? What does abundant life mean to you? Is it how much fun you can have and how happy your life is? What kind of movies you watch is just scratching the surface. Because if we are going to LIVE THANKFUL we are going to have to start thinking eternally. There’s no way to live that way without thinking that way. And if we start intentionally living for eternity, it is going to affect areas of our lives that we don’t want to change.
I’m normal. Mostly. I know what a typical American day consists of. I have the same wants and desires as the next person. I like to sleep in. I like to drink sugary caffeinated drinks. (Venti salted caramel mocha frap, hold the whip, please!) I like to spend money on cute hair cuts and nice clothes and awesome shoes. I love buying things for my kids. I love seeing their joy and I like knowing I can make them happy. I love to have fun, to go out to eat, to have a girl’s night. I still enjoy dating my husband. I love to go on vacation. I love sitting at home on the couch and doing absolutely nothing. Just being around my family with nothing pressing that has to be done. We have tv shows we can’t miss. We have ATVs we like to ride around in. Football, unfortunately, takes up our Saturdays during the fall. Very unfortunately.
WAIT! But, but we still go to church! We still serve the Lord! We still pray and read our Bibles! We tithe and give to missions. We have a nice and neat little red check mark beside each point of the “Good Christian Duties Checklist”. But you know what? Those are the easiest parts of the Christian life. Anyone can do that. Some of it takes discipline, but not too much sacrifice.
But are all of those other things I mentioned above going to affect eternity?? Do I even care about it? So what if one day, I go without being thankful? What does it really matter? Why isn’t the “checklist” enough?
You know what? I’m not going to try and answer that for you. I’m not going to argue a point here. I think we all know. Deep down, we really don’t even need to be reminded that we only have this day, that we only have this moment. We are not promised another. We just like to push things of eternal worth from our mind. I’ll do it, IF I have the time. IF I don’t have anything else more important to do. IF I get around to it and if not, there’s always tomorrow. But there isn’t. Was what I did today and how I lived today enough to affect eternity?
I’m afraid that 99.9% of the time, in Faith York’s life, that no. It wasn’t.
I am too busy and too stressed to give thanks in every thing. And the worst part about it? I haven’t really even faced anything, any situation, where I should even have a problem giving thanks. I’ve never been “in” something that was too difficult to give thanks. And yet, I am unthankful for so much.
Affect eternity. What does that even mean? It means that something I did down here on Earth will either last or make a difference when I die. When I arrive in Heaven, will I have anything to offer Jesus with the time and life He gave me? Will I be able to bring anyone with me? Because I can’t bring those movies. I can’t bring my clothes. I can’t bring my precious home decor. I can’t bring any of those things I’ve poured my life into that will not matter one day. Time slips away so quickly, at lightning speed. And if I don’t make it count, it was just wasted no matter how much fun was had.
I share my story and my songs and my posts in the hopes that for all the people who could care less, maybe, just maybe, there is a single person God can touch. Maybe there’s one person who might not ever have heard about Jesus except through what He allowed me to live and experience and “endure”. How can I ever expect to fulfill His purpose for my life, if I’m not living thankful? There’s so many things we MISS when we don’t live thankful. There’s so many people we ignore and never even give thought to. There’s so many opportunities that pass us by because we are not living intentionally to directly affect eternity.
Do you see it? How important thankfulness is?
I wanted to end this post with, “Now don’t get me wrong. I like to have fun and I think God wants us to be happy and have nice things. He wants us to enjoy life. It isn’t a sin to have things.”
But I can’t. It isn’t a sin to have things and have fun as long as they don’t control us. But you know the sad part? They do control us. If our only mission (or commission) in life is supposed to be bringing souls to Jesus, and as a Christian, it is, what do we need to accomplish that? A lot less than we have, I’m afraid. God wants us to live life, yes. But I think the life He wants us to live looks vastly different than the ones we’re living. “Abundantly” in John 10:10 means superabundant in quantity or superior in quality; by implication excessive. Depending on our perspective, that could mean we live with a lot of material things and possessions. But does our perspective match His?
You may not care today or tomorrow or maybe even at the end of this week about living thankful. But one day, you will. And by then, it will be too late.
Last thought. I’ve always wondered what I would feel like if a real, living, breathing person I knew and could see and touch actually gave their life for mine. If it were to happen right before my eyes. They decided, for whatever reason, that they were going to sacrifice their own life so I could live. I understand my husband or a close family member or maybe even a friend doing it. But what if a complete stranger did? That would be something that touches my life and changes it completely. I would want to live differently, because I’d been given a second chance. I would want their family to know that their son or daughter or wife or husband didn’t die in vain. I think we all would. But Someone who lived and breathed on this earth, actually did that. Just because we didn’t see it with our own eyes, and we can’t physically touch Him now, shouldn’t lessen our gratitude or dampen our enthusiasm to make sure we make good on that second chance that we’ve been given. If anything, it should heighten it. For whatever reason, and there isn’t a good one, because I am not lovable, I am not good, He decided to sacrifice His own life for mine. And I didn’t even know Him. In fact it would be thousands of years before I even paid Him any attention at all. I am not worthy of a perfect life being given for mine. But because He did die for me, I want to live differently. I don’t want His death to be in vain. I don’t want to live like I don’t care about the sacrifice Jesus made for me so I could have abundant life. He deserves better and so much more than what I’ve been giving Him.
He’s faithful to me
And I want to be
I am praying for every single person that reads this series. That you will live intentionally to be thankful. Would you do the same for me? It isn’t going to be easy.
But one day, it will be worth it.
Our homework assignment for Part 3:
- Biblical application: In every thing give thanks. ~Always~
- Practical application: There isn’t a ‘practical’ one for this type of living. Nothing I’ve said is practical. Especially, not in the day we are living. And you know what? I have to live this for myself. We each have to live our own lives. And living thankful will be different for each of us. Whatever and however we choose to do this ‘living thankful’, let’s make sure we affect eternity for the BETTER. For good. Because not a single other thing in this life matters. Except what we do for Jesus. That’s the only thing that will last.
As always, there’s a song you can listen to at the link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1wAe7-zc-5sqS539GJVQY9-HHbwX4IXMj
AND someone that wishes to remain anonymous wrote this after reading these posts. I thought it was very convicting so I made it into a printout. Please feel free to download it, print it out and hang it somewhere that you’ll see everyday. The link is here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1YbB2xf_wzL5nCXWC724PPdF-5D3yX3RL
“People say life is short so we might as well enjoy it
God says eternity is real so how can we ignore it?
All the temporal things that we cherish on this Earth
And the wasted years lived for ourselves will have no lasting worth.
An unread Bible, many unsaid prayers
Every selfish motive, every moment we didn’t care.
Every one will give an answer for how we lived our life
No excuses will we have when we bow in God’s sight.
No more time do things right, no second chances will we find
How much differently would we have lived if we had eternity in mind?