November 24, 2010

Thanks A Lot!

This time of year we hear a lot about all of the things we have to be thankful for but sometimes life has us saying, "Thanks for NOTHING!" We find ourselves in situations we never asked for or dealing with circumstances (sometimes through our own choices and sometimes not) that leave us feeling scared, anxious and doubtful. Is it possible to be thankful even when life doesn't make sense? I think it just might be.

Let's take a look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and see if we can break it down into manageable parts.

Rejoice always…
-The idea of being joyful always sounds like a fantasy world
-It's important to recognize there is a difference between joy and happiness
-Happiness is fleeting; joy is deep
-True joy comes from a consistent relationship with Christ which helps us maintain consistency despite life's crushing lows or deceptive highs
-Psalm 31:7
-These ups and downs are meant to be shared within a community (1 Corinthians 12:25-27), if you don't have one, find one

Pray without ceasing…
-For some of us, we think of praying as the thing that happens when our heads are bowed, eyes are closed and hands are folded and only then
-Prayer is attitude over posture
-What if prayer is simply keeping God in mind?
-The early disciples were devoted to prayer
-Do not underestimate the power of prayer (James 5:14-16)
-We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties. When a man is at his wits' end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get in touch with Reality. ~Oswald Chambers
-I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. ~Abraham Lincoln

Give thanks in all circumstances…
-You're kidding right Paul?? This seems absolutely impossible
-Everyone knows hard times will come
-We have the hope that God can create something out of nothing; turn dead ends into open doors
-In my opinion this is easily one of the most difficult aspects of discipleship, giving thanks when it doesn’t make sense or even when it hurts
-I think this is part of the reason Jesus said the gate is small and the road narrow
-The ability to give thanks despite the circumstances comes down to a trust issue, believing that God is truly in control

...this is God's will for you through Christ.
-This is God's desire for you and you don't have to do it alone...because you can't.