Just to follow up from last Sunday's sermon, I want us to continue to think upon Giving, and more specifically Giving Thanks.
We know that God is a Giver and not a taker. When Jesus was here on the Earth He constantly gave of Himself. He never took, for He was always pouring out and giving.
God gave us His Son (John 3:16). Then Jesus gave us His Life's Blood on Calvary's Cross. And now God asks that His Bride give back to Him.
Sure, we are to give our money, to give our time, to give any attachments to this world that we have continued to hold close. We are also to forgive or release any debts that people owe us. As we do this, as we forgive everyone of any and all offenses, we can enter into Sabbath Rest.
But perhaps the most difficult thing to learn to give is the giving of thanks. It doesn't cost us anything, but we tend to hold on to this tighter than any other thing.
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" - I Thessalonians 5:18
"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" - Ephesians 5:20
Is God on an ego trip? Of course not! Then, why do we need to give Him praise? Giving thanks and praise is for our benefit, just as giving money to God is for our benefit. God does not need our money. He already owns everything. But we give our money, our tithes and offerings, because God's Word instructs us to do so. And we learn that we will receive a blessing if we give with a grateful and willing heart. God does not need our breath. He already owns it. Giving it back to Him in the form of praise is for our benefit, not God's. For it is only when we are giving praise and thanks that our soul is in proper unity with God.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" - Romans 8:28
How can the most popular verse in the Bible be the hardest one to accept and believe?
We all are happy to give God praise when everything is going our way. The secret is learning to give God praise in the midst of pain.
"I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work and my God" - Helen Keller
"Cry for Grace from God to be able to see God's hand in every trial, and then for grace... to submit at once to it. Not only to submit, but to acquiesce, and to rejoice in it....I think there is generally an end to troubles when we get to that" - Charles Spurgeon
"If anyone could tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness and perfection, he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn in into a blessing..." - William Law
It is my belief that in order for us to be grateful:
- We first must always be aware of the presence of God at all times.
- Then we must believe that God loves us and that God is the Supreme, Sovereign Ruler of our lives.
- We also must realize that we do not deserve anything good. God's Grace gives us what we don't deserve, and His Mercy holds back what we really do deserve.
- But God always deserves our praise, honor, glory, thanks, and obedience.
Our attitude is a direct reflection of our understanding of Who God is and who we are in relation to God. Or better said, our attitude is a direct reflection of our relationship with God.
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" - James 1:2-4
What is the most painful thing in your life right now? Have you earnestly thanked God for allowing this to happen? Have you counted your most recent trial as joy, understanding that God will use this for your good and for His glory?
Bring it to Jesus, by faith; then, thank Him for it. Climb the Ladder and get above cause and effect. Remember, Jesus is the Ladder, and by faith we can bring our painful circumstances to Him. As we connect to Him, or as we turn the management of our lives over to Him, then we can begin praising God for all things.
First, come to Jesus with a big Amen! Then you can praise Him with a Hallelujah!
It is simply "Amen and Hallelujah" all the way up the Ladder and when you arrive at the top of the Ladder, up above cause and effect, you will find the Sun of Righteousness shining in your heart, and you will experience His joy, peace and love even in the most difficult or painful circumstances.
We can look in the Gospel of Luke at a story about two sisters and learn one of life's most valuable lessons. Out all of the things we can do in this life, Jesus said that one thing is the most needful, or one thing is essential. Or we could say that this is the most important thing we can do.
"...[A]nd a certain woman named Martha received him [Jesus] into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her" - Luke 10:38-42
"One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it" - The Message Bible
That is a gigantic statement to say that this thing that Mary was doing is the one and only thing that is really important. What was Mary doing that is so important?
She was simply sitting at the feet of Jesus, and she was hanging on to His every Word. She was giving Him her undivided attention. She was looking her Creator in the eye and shutting out all other influences of the world as she listened intently to His Voice. This was the Voice of the Good Shepherd, the Voice of her Creator, the Voice of her Redeemer. It was the only Voice that is full of Truth and Life. While Martha was busy preparing for Jesus to visit her house, Mary was preparing for eternity by stopping all human activity and tuning in to the Voice of the Eternal, Living Word of God, Jesus Christ Himself. Mary was giving Him honor, praise, thanks, and obedience just simply by putting Him first above all else.
He asks us to give Him thanks. When you think about it, He is not asking too much of us; in fact, it costs us nothing to give thanks in all things. The only reason we refuse to give thanks is because we believe that we do not deserve this pain and suffering. If we continue to think this way, we will wind up just like the children of Israel, and they wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years complaining, murmuring, and grumbling because they didn't think they deserved the pain and suffering that life dealt them. They couldn't enter into the Promise Land because of unbelief. They just never could believe that God needed to bring them pain as well as pleasure in order to perfect them.
God help us! Please give us the Grace to give You thanks in the midst of every situation and circumstance.