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Thursday, February 18, 2016


by Pastor Mark Taylor
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
 ( I Thessalonians 5:18)

God expects us to live a life of thanksgiving rather than offering limited thanks. And we must never lose sight of God’s goodness, and God’s hand at work in everything we face. 

In our Christian Community we often ask Pastors and other spiritual leaders about the “will of God” for our lives.  That question is usually asked in the context of “What does God want me to become occupationally, or with whom is the person He wants me to enter into a marriage relationship.  Certainly those are life changing decisions for which we should spend a lot of time and prayer, and seek Godly counsel.  But there are also many daily decisions that we should think of as “God’s Will”.  For instance many people pray the “Lord’s Prayer”, and in that we ask Him to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  That is asking Him to direct us and help us to make decisions that will not cause us harm.  This is also a good prayer to pray for our children, grandchildren, and friends.  This is called “intercessory prayer”.

There are however, scriptural principles that are given to us about “God’s Will” for our lives.  One example that is His will, is that we live a life that is “holy”.  “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, but the mercies of God, to present your bodies (dedicating all of yourselves, set apart) as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world (any longer with its superficial values and customs), but be transformed and progressively changed (as you mature spiritually by the renewing of your mind (focusing on Godly values and ethical attitudes), so that you may prove (for yourselves) what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (in His plan and purpose for you).  (Romans 12: 1-2 -Amplified Bible).   I know the word “holy” is a religious term that seems to be unreachable in our daily lives.  I will discuss it in another writing in more detail, but a brief definition would to be willing to live our lives with a lifestyle that is compatible with God’s Holy Word.  I do not view it as “sinless perfection”.  I have been a devote follower of God, our Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit for over 50 years and I have not reached that level for even a short period of time.  But I strive to live my life each day in a way to please the Lord as we all should.

The scriptural principle that I would like to discuss is something all of us can do even if we don’t feel “holy”.  That principle is “Thanksgiving”.

Why is it that so many people have chosen to be negative and have an unthankful attitude towards God and others?  Possibly it is because of the way people have been raised in their childhood and the many disappointments they have  faced during their life times.  One word seems to sum up those experiences and that is rejection.  Possibly, the unthankful attitude is a result of feeling that our friends, our family, our wives or husbands, our children, or even God has rejected us.  When we feel that way it is hard to give thanks.  

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ experienced all those feelings, yet He remained thankful.  “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.  We turned our backs on Hm and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.”  (Isaiah 53:3).  Yes, this was a prophecy that the Lord knew about 740 years before He chose to come to Earth and die for us.  He knew that not only the people of His life time would reject Him, but that you and I would reject Him, but He came anyway.  He overcame His feelings of rejection by fulfilling His purpose and demonstrating His love for you and me.  “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8).  And even though the very people He came to save rejected Him, many others were saved and blessed by Him.  He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t receive Him.  He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him.  But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1: 10-12)  How did he remain thankful and positive?  He knew that this was the will of God for His life and He focused upon His Father’s love for Him.

In every situation, we are to have an attitude of thankfulness toward God.  Have an “attitude of gratitude”.  How in the world is that possible?  First, recognize that although not everything is good in itself, God can and will use everything in our lives for our ultimate blessing and good.

God is good all the time but life isn’t.  God allows, (not causes), circumstances that ultimately can result in something good if we let Him work.  I don’t personally believe that God causes any evil of any kind, but He can turn bad circumstances into a blessing for us.  As Christians who love God, we should take the attitude that since God is good, then this bad circumstance can bring about some further good in or through my life, or else God would not have allowed it.  Bad things are going to happen everyone, regardless if they are a child of God or not.  But God is very concerned about His children when bad things do happen to them.

Giving thanks reminds us that God uses all our circumstances to make us more like Him   “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:28-29). 

God has a good, wise, and loving purpose for everything He allows into our lives, even pain and suffering. We can give thanks in the knowledge that He loves us and will never permit us any pain unless the ultimate benefit is worth the cost. That doesn’t mean we can understand His ways. We may have no idea how anything could be worth this much pain. But God’s Word tells us that it will be worth it.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance (determination). Perseverance (determination) must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  (James 1:2-4).  If you allow God to help you, your difficulties will make you a stronger person.

There are times we cause our own problems.  This includes health issues, financial difficulties, and relationship failures.  Certainly this is not “the will of God” for you.  Sometimes the sins and failures of others cause us hurt and hardships.  Neither are the pains others inflict upon us “God’s will”.  All of us have free will to choose positive or negative behaviors that both affect us and others.  This is why the Lord Jesus Christ shed His precious blood for you and I that we might be forgiven and start over when we make wrong choices or others cause bad things to happen to us.  
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and cleanse us from all sin.” ( I John 1:9).
Our response can be negative, when bad things happen to us.  But that is not “God’s will concerning you”.  Our response should be thankfulness.  You may ask: “How can I be thankful for the losses in my life, the illness in my body, the rejection I feel?”  It is not easy.  
But you can start by:
Thanking God for the people you have left in your life that love you; 
Looking around and see that your health could be worse, and thank Him for the years of good health you have already received; 
You can look at the homeless, the physical and mentally disabled; the prisoners in jail, those bound by the chains of drug and alcohol addiction; and those in war torn countries around the world and thank God for your freedom and comfort;
You can thank the Lord that you have heard the Gospel, and God has chosen you to love Him and live with Him forever and that He loves you and wants a relationship with you.
Our Lord did not promise us a life without pain or difficulties. 
 He said this:
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33).

Do you want to do God’s will today?  His will is that you be thankful.