The Bible teaches us that true Thanksgiving is identified or verified by a life of daily thanks-living. Today even as another Thanksgiving day is around the corner, let us consider how to lead a lifestyle of thanksgiving throughout the year. The Bible mentions three biblical ingredients that are needed for leading such a lifestyle.
1. A life of thanksgiving is marked by a life of Rejoicing
A. In the Bible, the word “Rejoice” appears about 14 times. But I selected 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 for a reason. In this verse, Paul commands the church of Thessalonica to rejoice while she was in the middle of a severe wave of persecution. Paul’s words may sound blunt but actually, it’s not.
B. Paul is speaking about joy, not happiness. Happiness is circumstantial and an emotion that we can’t control. We will be spontaneously happy when our circumstances are good but will be spontaneously miserable when the circumstances are not.
C. Rejoicing, on the other hand, isn’t a spontaneous emotion but an intentional act of faith. Habakkuk 3:17 teaches us that rejoicing is a decision we make. It’s the first ingredient for a life of thanks-living.
2. A life of thanksgiving is marked by a life of nonstop Prayer
A. Paul then advises the Christians in the church of Thessalonica to pray without ceasing. Paul stresses it so much because prayer is the heavenly fuel that keeps the aforesaid flame of joy burning even in times of trials.
B. The dictionary defines perseverance as “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. A direct reference to the concept of persistent prayer is first seen in Luke 18:1-8. Paul repeatedly urges us to do the same in Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18 and Colossians 4:2.
C. Humans are results-oriented and praying can be difficult when results delay. They are wired to look for substitutes when a given avenue seems to have failed. But unlike the world, we must pray persistently because Daniel 10:12 teaches us that in the spiritual realm God answers our prayers the moment we start praying, although we will not see results in our realm right away.
3. A life of thanksgiving is marked by a life of Giving Thanks
A. In the Bible men of influence were also men who thanked God verbally or literally, even when in despair. Job thanked God when everything was lost, Jesus thanked the Father before He fed 5,000 people in the middle of nowhere. Paul and Silas thanked and praised God from inside a prison cell in Philippi.
B. We meet such men outside the Bible also. St. Ignatius of Loyola has prayed he may become agreeable bread to the Lord while he was being devoured alive by Lions. John Hus while being burnt alive at the stake has prayed that God will have mercy upon him.
C. Finally, I want to conclude by telling why we need to give thanks for everything. The answer is in Philippians 4:7. Thanksgiving immunes our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus against circumstances that also nourish our faith.
Even as I bring this sermon to a close let us close our eyes, bow down our heads and make a fresh commitment to leading a life that gives thanks unto the Lord marked by a life of rejoicing, nonstop prayer, and thanksgiving verbally as well as literally.
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