1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
There’s never a bad time to give thanks to God. In America we set aside a specific day to celebrate what God has done, calling it Thanksgiving, but if it’s the only day of the year that we’re grateful to our Lord, then we’re suffering from a lack of humility.
Whether we’re in good times of prosperity or bad times of suffering and need, we can be thankful because God is good. If we’re lacking something right now it’s not because God is unaware of our need; it’s rather because He has a purpose and we get to be a part of it. He will provide as only He can and we should thank Him everyday for doing so.
The difference between thanksgiving and praise is the purpose behind it. Thanks is given for what God has done, but praise is given for who He is, even when we don’t feel He’s done anything lately. Praise isn’t a response to God’s provision, but a celebration of all that He is and all that we know He can do. Thanksgiving and praise go hand-in-hand and they ought to be on our lips constantly, whether we’re currently receiving blessings or not.
Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
How should we give thanks to a God that gives us far more than we can imagine to ask for? How can we ever give Him thanks for all He’s done and all He is? Well, we never can. But the point isn’t to make things up to God with our gratitude. The point is that we should be grateful for everything and at all times.
We give thanks by praising Him. Just telling Him, literally, thank you for what you’ve given me, for what you’ve done, and for who you are. Express in words your thankfulness.
We give thanks by responding. God has done so much for us all, we can show Him we’re thankful by carrying out what He’s called us to do. We can show Him we’re grateful for what we have by sharing it with others, by taking care of what we’ve been given, and by being content.
We give thanks by trusting. When we’re in hard times and it seems as though God has forgotten about us, we can be thankful to Him for what He’s done in the past by trusting Him with the present. Sometimes just praying, knowing that God has provided in the past, and believing that He can do it again, is a great way to thank Him.
1 Chronicles 29:12-13 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
Not only should we give thanks to God for who He is, but we should be ever so grateful for all that He’s done. He’s able to do far more than we can even imagine, and He even sometimes responds to prayer better than we thought He would. Not only is He good, but He provides.
All of the good we have in our lives is from the Lord. We owe Him our thanks because nothing we have here is our own. It’s all His and He allows us to be temporary caregivers to His things. He provides our physical needs, but think of all the other wonderful blessings He gives that have nothing to do with “things” at all. The intangible blessings are usually the most satisfying.
Imagine, the Lord of all things created, in heaven and on earth, giving up His Son for the sake of mankind, that we might be reconciled to Him. Even if He never gave us another single thing in this life, that’s a sufficient reason to give praise and thanks for the rest of eternity. We give thanks because of who His is, and because of what He’s done.
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Joshua prayed with confidence because he knew that God would hear his prayers. God had told him earlier that He was on Joshua’s side. The apostle John also knew the value of approaching God in prayer with confidence.
If we know that He hears us, we know He’ll grant us all that we ask accordingly with His will. To pray according to His will though, we must be daily in His Word, seeking Him. When we’re in close communion with our heavenly Father, we’ll know what we can ask for and expect to be heard. With that, we can ask with confidence.
Knowing that our Father loves us and cares for us makes a world of difference as we approach Him. Thankful hearts, knowing that He hears us, make it all the more likely that we’ll ask according to His will.
———- What are you asking God for right now?
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
No matter where you find yourself, you’re not too far away for God to find you. No matter what your circumstances, He can walk you through. He is good, and you can trust Him in good times and bad times.
As followers of Christ, we would benefit from following the example of Paul, learning how to be content in all situations. A heart that’s truly fixed on God will not let events determine faith. Focus on the nature of God and know that no matter what, no matter how good or how bad, you can trust Him.
You can do all things through Him who strengthens you. Pray in all things and rely on Him to provide. He is more than able to be your everything.
———- Where are you trying to find your strength? Is it in God or in the things of this world that don’t live up to their promises?
Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Central to Paul’s thoughts on prayer given to the Philippians is the aspect of thanksgiving and praise. Want to be free from your burdens? Rejoice in the Lord! Are you bringing your requests to God? Do it while giving thanks for what He’s already done!
Pray knowing that God hears the cries of His people. Bring all things to Him, cast them all before Him. Know that God is faithful and just. Trust, knowing what He has already been faithful in, that He will continue to provide your every need and hear the desires of your heart. Give Him thanks!
Echo the thoughts of Paul: Rejoice in the Lord always! This attitude in prayer will lead to peace, no matter what burdens you carry. The Lord is good and He will lighten your load.
———- What’s your biggest worry? Cast it before God and have the faith to let it go.
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
This life on earth is like a breath. Before we can know what happened, it’s come to an end. No matter how much effort we put into gaining things for ourselves – possessions, wealth, prestige, pleasure – we leave everything behind in the end. As the saying goes, “You can’t take it with you.”
As followers of Christ, we should be seeking to prioritize our time in this short existence to use our time in the way God wants us to. Our prayer should mimic the Psalm, asking God to teach us to number our days, that we may know Him more fully and bring about His will. Our desire should be for a heart of wisdom.
Two practical applications for learning to number your days: seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and store up God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11). Make the most of what God’s given you.
———- What changes can you make to the way you use your time in order to make the most of it?
Proverbs 8:34 Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
In the world of Christianity, we’ve come to refer to prayer time spent with God as “quiet time,” but in my life there’s very little time that could be qualified as “quiet.” With three little kids running around, it’s not easy to etch out time for a daily devotional time. Waking up earlier is not always an option, because certain kids in my home (who shall remain unnamed) wake up at incredibly early hours. So am I doing this quiet time thing all wrong? Am I less of a Christian if I don’t follow the many people who get up SO early and spend that time dedicated to the Lord?
The thing is, when we boil down time with God to a few minutes first thing in the morning, we do two things: 1) we cause people who don’t do well at that to feel very guilty or like a failure, and 2) we make prayer to our Father into something that can just be checked off of a list. Time with God is so much more than something to get us going in the morning, though it’s a great way to start the day. It’s an ongoing conversation throughout the day with Him.
Reality check: All that said, if we don’t take some time every day to intentionally meet with God, it may never happen at any other time during the day. If you’re like me, that may not mean you do “quiet time” when you first wake up. I’m willing to be that many of you, like me, don’t function at all until the first cup of coffee has been consumed. I spend time with God after I’m capable of processing what I’m reading from His Word and able to communicate coherently in prayer. Maybe that’s not the way everyone does it, but the important thing is that I spend time with my Lord every day.
He’s always got something to say to me, and I’ve always got something to say to Him. It’s time well spent. Better than anything else I could be doing, as a mater of fact. If you don’t take specific time to meet with God daily, will you give it a try? Start today.
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. – Jonathan Edwards
Are you like me? Do you ever realize that you’re going to God when things are tough but not spending much time with Him when things are going well? I’m not proud of those times, but I also know I’m not alone in doing that.
If I’m completely honest, a lot of times in my life have been that way. Hard times have a way of bringing us to our knees like nothing else. When there’s nothing else and no one else to turn to, we always know we have Jesus as a backup. But He’s so much more than that.
Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
The love God has shown me and you through Jesus should make us bow down on our knees often, praising Him and giving Him thanks for everything He’s done. If He dwells in our hearts, we should all the more approach Him in love, not just when we need something. Will you resolve with me to spend more time in worship and stop waiting until things are bad to reach out to the Lord?
Colossians 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you
Do you pray for others? Most of us do, but maybe we spend most of our time praying for the needs of others rather than going so far as to give thanks while we pray for them. The example Paul gives in many of his letters is one we should follow.
Who has been a blessing in your life? Who has done something for you that was selfless and kind? Have you thanked God for them? It’s interesting to note that Paul doesn’t specifically say here that he gives thanks for the people he’s praying for, just that he thanks God while he’s praying for them. (Actually, if you read this verse in context, it’s quite the run-on sentence)
Why don’t you try that today? As you pray, when someone comes to mind, thank God. It might be for something that person has done or you might just thank God for what He’s done while that person is on your mind.
There’s never a bad time to give thanks to the Lord. He’s never upset to hear praises given up to Him, whether it’s during a designated prayer time or just some random time during the day. Thank Him for all things, for all He’s done, for all He is, and for the people that He’s placed in your life. Let them know that you thank the Lord when you pray for them. It’s good to hear.