The Reach of Our Thanksgiving
By Dr. Charles Stanley
Watch The Reach of Our Thanksgiving video.
Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-8
- Introduction: Oftentimes, Scripture will tell us we are to do something but does not tell us how. For example, how do we love our enemies or walk in the Spirit? The truth is that God’s Word is not a step-by-step guide because, if it were, we could easily find the passage that fit our situation and close our Bibles. Instead, the Lord wants us to seek Him and to learn His ways (Ps. 119: 105, 130).
- An example of this can be found in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18. The apostle Paul gives many instructions in this passage, including giving thanks in every circumstance, without exception. It is easy to be grateful for good things. However, the Lord expects us to give thanks for our disappointments and hurts as well.
- There are ten reasons why this is beneficial for believers:
- It motivates us to look for God’s purpose in everything.
- It helps us to submit to His will.
- It reminds us of our dependence.
- It helps us trust the Lord when we’re confused.
- It gives our witness greater impact.
- It displaces our anxiety and frustration.
- It helps us focus on the Father instead of our circumstances.
- It energizes us in exhausting situations.
- The Key to Thankfulness
- A. How can we possibly give thanks when everything? Psalm 103:19 provides the answer: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” In short, He is in control of every circumstance in the lives of believers.
- Romans 8:28-29 does not say “God causes all things” but that He causes them to “work together for good to those who love God, those who are called according to His purposes.” He called believers into salvation for a reason, and we must understand He has control of every aspect of our lives.
- Whatever the Lord allows, He knows where it’s coming from and how it can be worked out for our good if we trust Him. When we became His children, our heavenly Father encircled us with a shield of protection, and He chooses the things that get inside. We must simply be willing to trust, obey, and thank Him for them all.
- Consider Joseph’s life. He was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and imprisoned. What was being done in those thirteen years of trials? He was being prepared for leadership and eventually sat second only to Pharaoh in Egypt.
- God cannot cause us to sin; it is against His character. However, in His infinite love, He uses our failures. By putting a limitation on the temptations and trials we face to make them bearable, the Lord makes it possible for us to avoid sin (1 Cor. 10:13). However, when we choose to go beyond His limitations, He may allow us to do so in order to teach us. The consequences of disobedience make us think twice before sinning again.
- The Father’s Involvement Benefits Believers. When we stumble and fall in our walk with the Lord, He uses those moments to help us learn to. . .
- A. Acknowledge our sin and weakness. Without challenges, we might begin to feel prideful and ruin our testimonies.
- B. Depend on His strength, knowledge, and understanding rather than our own. Only when we fail can we understand our need for God.
- C. Accept His limitations. We might not understand why the Lord allows or forbids certain things; we must simply trust Him.
- D. See the consequences of our sin. The bitter fruit of our failures help us learn His way is always best.
- E. Understand His willingness to forgive. Only when we falter will we humble ourselves before the Lord and experience His loving forgiveness.
- F. Comprehend the scope of His grace. When we experience the fullness of God’s grace, we can forgive others who have harmed us.
- G. Know Him more intimately. Walking with the Almighty is a source of great joy for believers.
- We may not understand the Father’s ways, but we should give thanks because He is in absolute control. Once we accept this, we will discover…
- A. Our faith is unshakable.
- B. Conflicts with other people will not leave us bitter.
- C. Comfort in times of heartache and sorrow.
- D. Our circumstances cannot steal our contentment.
- E. We can sincerely give thanks in everything.
- Conclusion: God is shaping believers, conforming them into the likeness of Jesus Christ, which is His ultimate purpose for their lives. Understanding that awesome privilege is what makes it possible to be genuinely thankful in all circumstances.