Published on Oct 25, 2012
Sheri Easter, Jeff Easter, Charlotte Ritchie, Vestal Goodman – Official Video for ‘Thank You Lord for Your Blessings [Live]’
John Adams once said, “Gratitude is always in one’s power.” It is a state of mind and a condition of the heart. It is an attitude that can be chosen by anyone, anywhere, regardless of his or her circumstances. As Americans, however, we have more reasons than most to be thankful. This Thanksgiving week, let’s remember some of the ways in which “God shed His grace on” our nation, as the old hymn says.
He was right. Let us remember, and give thanks.
by RITA DUNAWAY
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Many divine commands seem perfectly reasonable. With the Ten Commandments, for example, we easily understand why God forbids adultery, idols, and murder. But elsewhere He gives instructions that ostensibly make little sense. Let’s look at why He calls us to the seemingly impossible task of giving thanks in everything.
The Scriptures clearly teach that giving thanks is meant to be a way of life, not just a seasonal event (Psalm 92:1-2; Phil. 4:6-7). The problem is that we often do not feelappreciative, particularly when facing painful circumstances or faith tests. In fact, expressing gratitude for bad news seems irrational. What seems logical to the human mind, however, cannot compete with God’s greater knowledge of what is best for His children. As a result, we live a successful Christian life only by choosing to thank Him for everything He sends or allows across our path.
The Lord knows that gratitude powerfully impacts the believer. Trials can leave us feeling isolated, but thanking God for His ongoing care or provision reminds us of His constant presence. Equipped with the knowledge that He is in full control, we can submit our will to His. Though our circumstances may remain the same, our attitude is divinely transformed through trust.
The Lord has a purpose for every circumstance He allows in our life, and thankfulness motivates us to seek His purpose. In God’s perfect time, the divine plan is revealed, and then we can tell Him with sincere hearts, “Lord, thank You!”
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.” (1 Timothy 1:1)
Paul, in his opening salutation to Timothy, makes it clear that the Christian’s hope is not just in Christ but is Christ! In the New Testament, the term “hope” does not refer to some vague wish but to a confident expectation of something (or someone) sure to come. It focuses especially on the promised return of Christ to complete His great work of redemption.
It is specifically called the blessed hope: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). It is also a living hope, for God the Father “hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
Furthermore, since Christ is our hope, it is a saving hope. “For we are saved by hope” (Romans 8:24). It is a glorious and joyful hope. It recognizes the present truth of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), so that we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
It is not a blind hope but a reasonable hope, one founded on solid evidence, and every believer must “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
Finally, this hope of the imminent coming of Christ, when at last “we shall be like him,” is a purifying hope, for “every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). It also is a stabilizing hope, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:19). In every way, God “hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). HMM
1 Kings 21:3
Naboth did not refuse to sell his vineyard merely because of a natural attachment to the inheritance of his fathers, but because the law of God forbade such a sale. The land might not be transferred from one tribe to another. Naboth knew this law, and bravely resolved to obey it.
1 Kings 21:4
Acting like a spoiled, self-willed child, he fumed and fretted because he could not have his way. How miserable are men who have not learned to bridle their desires.
1 Kings 21:7
An imperious woman is a fit tool for the Evil One. Ahab was bad enough, but he was a mere novice in evil compared with his fierce Sidonian queen. Bad women are often very bad, even as good women are the best of the human race.
1 Kings 21:13
Both the nobles and the witnesses were utterly devoid of honesty; they were willing and apt disciples of the vicious court of Jezebel.
1 Kings 21:14
A cold-blooded message indeed. Murder was in their eyes a trifle, yet these very men had just celebrated a fast. Superstition has no conscience.
1 Kings 21:16
He claimed it as a forfeit to the crown for Naboth’s alleged treason, but how could he have looked for a blessing upon it? Never let us dare to take to ourselves anything unjustly, for it will be a curse to us.
Rest in the Lord and keep his way,
Nor let thine anger rise,
Though providence should long delay
To punish haughty vice.
Thine innocence shall God display
And make his judgments known
Fair as the light of dawning day,
And glorious as the noon.
1 Timothy 6:17
When the rule of communism began to dissipate in the Soviet Union, it left the economy in utter shambles. Nearly every basic commodity was unavailable, including basic items such as sugar, flour, cheese, milk, and eggs. There was a huge deficit of light bulbs, toilet paper, and most household products. Gasoline was so expensive that most people preferred to walk than to pay the kind of money needed to fill the gas tank.
This situation meant that whoever controlled the basic supplies of life had the ability to acquire incredible wealth. Because it was a time of great political and economic confusion, nearly anything was possible. As a result, a large number of scoundrels, bandits, thieves, criminals, lawyers, politicians, and especially bright common people began to think of ways to turn this great disadvantage into their own personal advantage.
Today’s Russian society now includes a new class of super-rich. To say these people are fabulously wealthy is an understatement. They are what some might call filthy, stinking rich! It is difficult to imagine how this tiny part of Russia’s population could have made this kind of money in such a brief period of time.
In this category are people who arrogantly drive their Rolls Royces, Bentleys, and Mercedes through the streets of Moscow, expecting the whole world to move out of their way as they drive past. As is often true with people who make a lot of money in a short period of time, they are usually very rude. Their newly made wealth goes to their heads, causing them to strut through the stores, restaurants, and shopping centers as if they were the owners of planet earth. Their snobbery is on a world-class level. They are completely consumed with how to frivolously spend the riches they have amassed. However, most of them end up losing their money just as quickly as they made it.
This type of person who makes loads of money quickly and then distastefully flaunts his wealth can be found in every nation of the world. There were even such people in the Roman world of the first century. Paul wrote Timothy and told him to tell the rich, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).
It is a fact that a small minority of “rich” people came to Christ in the first century and were members of the Church. It was in regard to this group of individuals that Paul told Timothy, “Charge them that are rich in this world….” The word “charge” is the Greek word parangelo, which means to charge or to command. It is such a strong command that it should actually be received as a requirement—not a negotiable option. Thus, when Timothy deals with the wealthy in his church, he is to give them the strong exhortation that Paul is about to give him with such firmness that they receive it as an order from the Lord!
When Paul calls these people “rich,” he uses the word plousios, a very old Greek word that describes someone who possesses incredible abundance, extreme wealth, and enormous affluence. This word would not describe someone who is moderately wealthy but rather someone who is extremely wealthy. Just as there are people of great influence and enormous wealth who come to Christ today and learn to faithfully attend church, apparently this was also the case in the first century.
It is right that we should pray for the wealth of this world to pass into the hands of the godly who would use it for eternal purposes. God wants His people to be blessed. He wants them to have enough to meet their own needs and to abundantly meet the needs of others. He wants Christians to have enough to finance the preaching of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
But so often when large sums of money pass into the hands of people for the first time, their wealth goes to their heads and creates in them the “highminded” attitude I mentioned earlier and to which Paul now refers. This is not the attitude God wants from His people when money passes into their hands.
What exactly does the Greek word for “highminded” mean? The word “highminded” in Greek is hupsilophroneo. The first part of this word comes from the Greek word hupslos, meaning exalted, elevated, high, or lofty. The second part of this word is phroneo, which means to think, to consider, to deem, or to be of a certain opinion. When these two words are compounded together, the new word means to think too highly of oneself. It refers to the opinion one has when he thinks he is better than others.
Paul uses a negative in the Greek, which strongly alerts us that one shouldn’t think of himself as better than others simply because he has more money than others. Even if a person is uncommonly financially blessed and operates in exceptional financial circles, he still shouldn’t deem himself better than other people just because he has more money than they do.
Paul tells the wealthy people in the Church that they are not to “… trust in uncertain riches….”
The word “uncertain” is the word adelotes. This is the only time that this exact word appears in the New Testament. It means uncertain, inconsistent, or something so unstable that it can go as easily as it came. The word “trust” is the Greek word elpidzo, the most common word for hope in the New Testament. As used in this verse, it means not to place one’s hope on one certain thing. The particular Greek tense used here carries the idea of one who places his hope in something and then keeps his hope there.
Paul says the rich are not to set their hope “in” riches. The word “in” is the Greek word epi, which would be better translated upon. A more accurate rendering of this entire phrase would be that the rich are “… not to fix their hope upon uncertain riches….”
Riches are uncertain. Just ask those who thought they were financially set for life but then lost almost all their fortunes through a sudden change in the stock market. There are many people who wake up in the morning rich but go to bed that same night financially insolvent. Therefore, Paul tells the rich that instead of putting their hope in finances that are uncertain, they are to fix their hope “… in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”
If your sense of security rests in your financial portfolio and then your portfolio diminishes or disappears, you could be thrown into an enormous identity crisis that results in great fear, anxiety, and insecurity. But when your trust is in the Lord, you are never shaken no matter what happens in the material realm. Why? Because your identity is not in what you possess but in who you are in Jesus Christ.
If you know others who are being financially blessed, rejoice with them. Pray for such people to have the necessary wisdom to use their finances the way God wishes them to use it.
And if you are financially blessed yourself, praise God for it! However, be careful to keep separate who you are from what you own. Don’t let your identity get all wrapped up in what you own so that your sense of security becomes deeply shaken by any material loss. Never forget that who you are is much more important than what you own, and your relationships in this life are much more important than your possessions.
Financial prosperity is a blessing from Heaven and a great honor from the Lord. But if God has trusted you with riches, remember to keep your head on straight. Don’t ever think you are better than others just because you possess a lot of wealth. God blessed you so that you could be a blessing. Therefore, learn to see yourself as a servant of God whose job is to manage and distribute the funds you have amassed as He desires!
Today I urge you not to fall into the category of those who think too highly of themselves just because they have more money than others. God certainly didn’t give you wealth so that you could develop a pride problem!
Go to the Lord regularly and ask Him how He wants you to use those funds. As you keep your heart open to the Holy Spirit and stay willing to hear what He has to say, He will direct you on how to use the resources at your disposal. And if you ever get into pride, He will gently correct you and bring you back to the attitude He desires you to possess.
Lord, thank You for the blessings You have given to my family and me. You have abundantly blessed me, and I am so grateful for everything You have done. I ask You to help me keep the right attitude toward others who have less than I do; to refrain from a false attitude of pride or haughtiness; and to see myself as the manager of divinely assigned funds. I want to trust in You, Lord—not in the things You have placed at my disposal. Possessions and material things are fleeting, but You are always the same. Therefore, I choose to fix my hope on You and not on the financial increase with which You have blessed me.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that because my trust is in the Lord, I am never shaken. My identity is not in what I own but in who I am in Jesus Christ! Even though I am financially blessed, I keep WHO I AM separate from WHAT I OWN. Who I am is much more important than what I own, and my relationships are much more important than the material things I possess! I will not let my prosperity go to my head and make me think that I am better than others. God has blessed me so I can be a blessing. Therefore, I see myself as the servant of God, called to manage and distribute the funds at my disposal as He desires!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Recently I was on the phone with a friend who spoke about his dying marriage. Rarely are harsh words uttered between them. The family functions with clock-like efficiency. But slowly, almost imperceptibly, he and his wife are moving emotionally into separate orbits. The gentle touch, the tender word… the lingering together over coffee. Gone. Rarely do they find (or make) time to be together without the kids. And when they do, they seem to have nothing to talk about. Underneath, he finds a smoldering resentment building as he asks himself, “What is the purpose of it all? Will it ever end?”
Then there is the incessant complexity of juggling finances. The unending encroachment upon his time. The unrealistic job demands. How, he asked me, does a person resolve the issue of forever giving out while receiving little back in the way of affirmation or appreciation? Especially from those closest to him? So what is the answer? Does he simply continue to grind it out? How does he handle his anger and resentment, as he finds himself continuing to withdraw emotionally? Is the answer to follow his impulses and leave? Hardly.
There is a better way that can strike at the very core of the issue. A way that will move him from the coping level, to gaining the necessary inner strength and godly wisdom to deal victoriously with these vexing challenges. For starters, I wondered if he had discovered how to allow Jesus to become his “Hiding Place”?
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance… You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God… ” (Psalm 32:7; Colossians 3:3)
Jesus, in his preparation to face the crushing experience of the cross, hid himself alone with his Father — an experience of intimacy that saw him through to ultimate victory. (Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:40-46) Today the Savior avails himself to us as our “Hiding Place” in enabling us to also deal victoriously with life’s formidable tasks: “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings… God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” (Matthew 23:37b; Psalm 46:1, 2) (See Psalm 17:8; 18:2; 27:5; 31:20; 46:1, 2; 57:1; 143:9; Matthew 14:13, 23; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:15, 16; John 6:15)
It is His intention that we experience Him as our “Hiding Place” amidst the daily cacophony of demands. To help us toward developing that level of intimacy, let me ask you a question: When was the last time you, with your Bible in hand, disappeared to a private “hiding place” to encounter Him? Encounter Him until all sin was rooted out, confessed, forgiven and relinquished? Encounter Him until the Spirit calmed you down, and filled you up? Encounter Him until the Father reassured you from His Word of His love, and gave you promises and direction for your life and family?
QUESTION: So… when is your hideaway with God planned?