“Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
It is appropriate that we talk about giving thanks on Thanksgiving Day.
But what does giving thanks have to do with walking in God’s power?
More than we realize.
Most of us will agree that we need to be more thankful. We are richly blessed. Even if we are “poor” (by American standards) we are richer than most of the people in this world. So it is good to make it a habit to take stock of our blessings and give thanks for them.
But giving thanks is far deeper than that.
The Bible talks about having an attitude of thanksgiving that permeates our whole life – in spite of our circumstances. We are pretty good at being thankful when good things come our way. But when those “bad” days come, we can get pretty salty in a hurry. “Be thankful for THAT… I think not!”
But when it comes to God, and bestowing the promise of His power… He is looking for certain kinds of hearts. He is seeking hearts that will eschew worry for an opportunity to worship. For hearts that realize that tragedy and triumph can be found in the same event. Those hearts that are truly convinced that nothing can touch their lives accept what is ordained by God, for His purposes. And those who understand that IF we are used of God for His divine purposes… there will be resistance and opposition.
In Acts 3-5, the Apostles (especially Peter) are being used by God to do mighty miracles. The city is so stirred that they start bringing out sick people into the streets in the hope that Peter would walk by… and his shadow might touch the sick and they would be healed (Acts 5:15).
You would think that everybody would be happy that God was doing miracles… but you would be wrong. The religious rulers were decidedly unhappy – to the point of violence against Peter and the Apostles. The Apostles were called in. They were “called on the carpet.” They were commanded to stop what they were doing. And to enforce the severity of their “misdeeds” they were “scourged” (a form of excruciating whipping… on bare skin).
The apostle’s response to this terrible treatment? Call the lawyers? File a formal complaint? Berate the religious leaders and condemn them publicly?
NO. Take these words to heart: “The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.” (Acts 5:41) How could anyone “rejoice” in the face of such terrible treatment (especially when so much good had been done?).
Only hearts filled with gratitude can rejoice in the midst of inexorable mistreatment and persecution. Only hearts that are immersed in an attitude of thanksgiving can see joy… in suffering “disgrace.”
Two things are true. One: joy flows out of thankful hearts – and if we want the “joy of the Lord” to be our constant strength, we must have thankful hearts, at all times.
Two: our circumstances truly reveal what is in our hearts. If our hearts are full of gratitude, when the “knife” of daunting circumstances cuts into us, we will “bleed” only thanksgiving and joy.
The Apostles’ response to such horrible treatment reveals one of the most important reasons why they were imbued with power.
Grateful hearts will always glorify God – and God will always powerfully use people who glorify Him in all things!
Prayer Focus: God, I seek only to glorify You… instill in me a wellspring of thanksgiving that fills my heart to overflowing… because I am Yours.