Thankfulness Tells You What You Really Are (Eph 5:20 )
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Sermon Manuscript …
Thankfulness Tells You What You Really Are
What an ordinary Christian acts like when they’re filled with the Spirit–
the fruit of being filled Ephesians 5:20, part 2
Who do you love to hang out with? What kind of person do you most gravitate to? I guaranty you, the kind of person you love being with, and the kind of person every single one of you wants to become is the person Paul describes in Ephesians 5:20 (and next week in verse 21). Have you ever thought, or actually spoken out loud, “Why can’t I be more like them?” Or maybe folks said, “Why can’t you be like your brother/sister?”
Have you asked yourself, “Why is it I like being around this particular person? Why do I actually enjoy this person so much?” The best spouse, the kindest friend, the parent you love, the children you want to spend time with are the ones who fit the description of Ephesians 5:20. And amazingly, the attractive qualities you and I want to have, and the desirable qualities you and I are drawn to in others, are true of every genuine Christian who is filled with the Spirit. If you are filled with the Spirit, you will be this person, and if you are not in the Spirit but in the flesh, you will not be this person. That’s why it’s so important to be filled with the Spirit.
In the second half of Ephesians, Paul is telling us to practice our position. In saving us, our Lord has done things to us and for us–now we’re to live like all that Jesus has done is actually true. Paul uses the word “walk” to describe our new lifestyle. We’re to live worthy, different, lovingly–shining light on the Gospel, and wisely. And the biggest part of walking wise is to be being kept filled with the Spirit.
Look at chapter 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Drunkenness results in a lifestyle of dissipation, and being filled with the Spirit results in four distinct outcomes described in verses 19 to 21. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
In the original language, this breaks down into five participles that explain the results of being filled. Two of these belong together, which leave us with four major consequences that are true of every normal, everyday Christian who is saturated with the Spirit of God. Last week we looked at the first two of those outcomes, and this week we will look at one more result of being filled. Again, these are true of you only if you are filled with the Spirit, and only those who are filled will live out these truths. Just like a drunk person will manifest dissipation, and a filled person will manifest . . .
#1 The communion of praise
Verse 19a, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” We clearly speak God’s truth to our own hearts and then to others with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
First The focus of psalms is on Old Testament psalms put to instrumental music and given to reflection
Second The focus on hymns is poems of praise, easy to memorize
Third The focus of spiritual songs has to do with celebration
Every Christian filled with the Spirit is going to manage their own heart and commune with God. Then the filled church will desire . . .
#2 Public praise in song
Verse 19b, “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” The Greek connects singing and making melody, so when you are filled with the Spirit you will both desire literally singing with the voice and making melody with instruments. Singing to each other and to the Lord is the expression of the fullness of the Spirit from the heart to the Lord, trusting in His sovereign control, and varied in style.
We sing because God sings, we love music because God loves music, since God Himself is a musician and a poet. One pastor even pointed out when God created Adam, then created his lovely wife Eve, what does he do? Some believe he is singing a song when he says in Genesis 2, “bone of my bone flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.” In the Hebrew it is a rhyming song, it’s a poem–why? Because when you see the beauty of a woman, the language has to correspond to the beauty that God created, and poetry or song is the only language which is most fitting.
Some things never change–women always go for the musician. It’s sad for most men, but women love musicians. It goes all the way back to Eve. She’s had a traumatic day, she was just created, she’s naked and meeting her husband for the first time–that is a big day. What does he do? He sings to her–Adam is a genius. It is still true today–a guy can be illiterate, homeless, a bum, but if he’s a musician, some gal is going to be attracted to him. And better than that, our love of music and singing is a direct result of being filled with the Spirit.
Next, is one of the most frightening results of being filled with the Spirit. The reason it is frightening is because it is so rare in Christians, which may mean there are less truly Spirit-filled Christians than we think. What is a direct result of being filled with the Spirit?
#3 Expressing heartfelt thankfulness for all things
I can tell who is filled with the Spirit and who is not by the amount of thanks they express. Are you a thankful person? Do you say thanks for your spouse, kids and church? Okay, that was easy–what about for your elders, political leaders, income, police, and work? A little tougher, are you thankful for your circumstances, trials, health, age, appearance, general wellbeing, difficulties and crisis?
If you are filled with the Spirit, you will express thanks often. Notice verse 20, “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” Friends, I have to tell you this study has blown me away, and I hope it is a rich challenge to you.
First What is thanks?
Paul says always giving thanks. One writer says thankfulness is the grateful acknowledgement of benefits received, and once you understand that you quickly discern why there are so few thankful people who always give thanks. Why? To give thanks means . . .
One You do not take credit
You have to admit that the blessings you enjoy were given to you. You didn’t pick that spouse, raise those kids, buy that home, attend this church, get that job—you didn’t pick it. God gave it to you. You say, “I work hard to get my pay.” Yes, but who gave you the ability to work hard, the health, stamina and desire? God did. You are not a self-made man, you are not the captain of your soul, you didn’t, like Frank sings, “I did it my way.”
True thankfulness acknowledges that God has given you all you’ve received–therefore you don’t take credit. Want to grow in gratitude? Every day recognize just how dependent you are for everything. Don’t take credit, but give credit to your Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer.
Two Being thankful means you believe your life is better than you deserve
You’re totally unworthy of the blessings you’ve received. Let me state it a different way, ready? How many of you have ever lied? If so, you’re a liar. Have you ever stolen anything, even if small? If so, you’re a thief. Have you ever said God’s name in vain? You’re a blasphemer. You are a lying, blaspheming thief. You need to be punished for your sins. A perfect God can’t let you into heaven later, and in fact should pour out His wrath on you right now. That is why true Christians are so thankful–they recognize they deserve hell every single day, and for all eternity.
But when Christ took their punishment on the cross, rose from the dead, and at some point awakened their dead heart to see that the only way to be right with God, forgiven now and going to heaven forever, is to totally depend on Christ and His work on the cross for us, true Christians realize every single day they’re getting better than they deserve.
True believers know because of their sin they deserve punishment now, and God would be right to toss them into hell forever. And every single day they recognize that Christ delivered them from that horrible fate–therefore believers are thankful. Only those who recognize we don’t deserve all the blessings we’ve been given, only those who remember that any day we are not in hell is a pretty good day are those who are thankful.
When you read your Bibles, aren’t you amazed at how thankful the apostle Paul was for everything? Look at His thanks: Colossians 1:3, “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.” First Thessalonians 1:2, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers.” First Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Second Thessalonians 1:3, “We ought always to give thanks to God for you.”
Let me show you one of the reasons why Paul was so thankful–even though he was a godly man, a man of God and an apostle, every single day Paul continually saw his own sinfulness. First Timothy 1:15, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” Daily, the godly apostle recognized his sinfulness. Literally, Paul says here, “It is a fact, I currently and continually am the chief, the first, and foremost worst sinner.” No wonder Paul was thankful for the grace of God–thankful for His salvation, thankful for every day he was not in hell. No wonder he sang hymns in prison, gave thanks for being jailed, and suffered hardships with a thankful joy.
One of the main characteristics of the unsaved is ingratitude. Paul says those without Christ, Romans 1:21, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks.” But one of the main characteristics of those who have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, and a direct result of being filled with the Spirit is thankfulness.
Three Thankfulness is also the result of recognizing that you have been given more than you deserve
God’s blessings are great and manifold. Manifold is not your muffler, but many-colored. Thankful people are those who see God’s blessing in many different ways. Beyond their marriage, or family or material possessions, they are thankful for peace, love and joy. They are thankful for purpose and a passion to pursue. They are thankful for intimacy with God, for trials that change us, for pains that make us dependent, for hurts that make us tender. They see a loving, heavenly Father blessing them with a thousand small things every single day.
Four Thankfulness grows with the increase of awareness
Thankfulness intensifies as you realize the depth of your sinfulness. Self-righteous people are not loving, nor thankful. People who see the increasing depth of their sinfulness are the most thankful for God’s forgiveness. Turn in your Bibles to Luke 7:37–Christians are only thankful when they recognize the depth of their sinfulness, that you always get better than you deserve.
Remember the sinful woman and the Pharisee in Luke 7:37 to 38, “And behold, there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet, and anointing them with the perfume.”
Then verse 44 to 47, “And turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears, and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.’”
It doesn’t matter whether you were raised in a good home or a wicked one. It doesn’t matter whether you were raised in the church or in the world. What matters is you understand the depth of your sin–when you are overwhelmed by how sinful you really were and you currently are now, you will be thankful. Those who don’t recognize their sinfulness love little and give little thanks. Now back to Ephesians 5:20.
The Gospel is the spring of thankfulness. We must never go through any day without remembering not merely who we were, but who we are now and what we deserve for our sins, and where we fall short of God’s character when we are not like Christ, when we don’t do what He expects us to, and when we live, speak, or think contrary to His Word. Daily living the Gospel is the only way we will be thankful.
Are you a glass half full, or glass half empty, or totally empty person? If you have a negative bent, then practice remembering who you are, what Christ has done for you, and how He is at work in your life in the little things and big things, every step of every single day. Set your watch to ring every hour, and when it goes off reflect on the last hour and things you can be thankful for. You say, “That’s crazy.” No, that’s biblical. God wants us so thankful that Colossians 2:7b says God wants us overflowing with gratitude–to abound in thanksgiving.
Once you start practicing the regular expression of thanks, you will find that worries will tend to disappear, complaints will vanish, courage to face the future will grow, peace is experienced and God will be glorified. Give thanks. “But, Chris.”
Second When do we give thanks?
Verse 20, “always giving thanks for all things.” This is pretty straight forward–always means “at all times” or forever. We are to acknowledge God’s control of our lives in every detail as He seeks to conform us to the image of Christ. Remember the Holy Spirit is the wind that fills the sail of our life to move us closer to Christ. And to be blunt–making you to look like Jesus is a big job, and requires a lot of work, and at times will be very painful.
So here is your challenge–to be thankful all the time at every level. What do I mean? There are three levels of thankfulness–easy, medium and hard.
One is easy thanks–this is to be thankful when we’re blessed. When things go great or God grants some special benefit, it is right and good to say thanks. When we get that job or are delivered from sickness, or so blessed by our spouse or one of our children. When we are desperately in need of some money and God gives us a surprise check, when we’re in need of some encouragement and God overwhelms us with it, when we’re filled with so much joy we could burst, we must express thanks.
Turn to Luke 17 and listen carefully–just because it is easy thanks doesn’t mean it should not be expressed. Oh skip that, it’s no big deal. No, it is a big deal. Do you remember the ten lepers described in Luke 17? They begged Jesus to heal them, but when He did only one of them bothered to come back and say thanks. Verse 15 and 16, “Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.”
I am confident that the other nine were thankful–they had to be. If you had a terminal illness that rotted your limbs off and made you a social outcast–then suddenly you were cleansed and healed, wouldn’t you have tremendous feelings of gratitude toward your healer? Absolutely, you would. But nine lepers didn’t take the time to come back to express thanks, and that mattered to Jesus. So in verse 17 and 18 Jesus said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine–where are they? 18 Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?”
Parents admit it–we struggle when our children are not appreciative. Wives, when your husband neglects to notice your special efforts in providing his favorite meal. Men, when you’re killing yourself to be that good provider, and all they do is complain about what they don’t have. Teachers, you’re bothered when your students don’t give a rip about how much you do for them? And the Lord is bothered when we don’t express thanks. Even when the blessings are normal everyday blessings, expressing thanks is important and will be a part of the Spirit-filled Christian’s life. Easy thanks is expressing thanks for the Lord’s every day, easy-to-see blessings.
Two is medium thanks–this is being grateful for the hope of blessing yet to come. Easy thanks is being thankful when we are blessed. Medium thanks is in anticipation of blessings to come. Thanking God before a blessing is more difficult than thanking Him after a blessing, and it requires more faith and spiritual maturity. This is being thankful for the unseen and un-realized. It is thanking Him while standing over the grave of a solid Christian, knowing they’re experiencing heaven. It is expressing thanks for God who will build His Church in spite of our sinfulness, imperfection or lack of commitment. It is saying thanks for what He will do in those children, or students who you are currently ministering to, thankful for what they will become for God’s glory. It is thanks for blessings yet to come.
Three is hard thanks–this is being grateful in the middle of the trial while the battle is raging, in pain or agony, while suffering disease or persecution, even when it looks like you are failing, overwhelmed or losing the battle. It is giving thanks. When King Darius signed the decree that forbid Daniel to pray, instead of being afraid of the lion’s den, Daniel gave thanks in prayer. While in the belly of the great fish, Jonah wrapped his prayer up with a voice of thanksgiving. Peter and the apostles are flogged by the religious leaders–their skin on their backs is torn off, they’re bloody and won’t be able to lay on their backs for weeks, yet they leave thankful for the honor of suffering for Christ.
If we only thank God when life is going well, easy thanks, then our thankfulness is only the bottom rung of faithfulness. When we begin to thank Him in anticipation of what He will do in the future and begin to thank Him in the midst of pain, trials, suffering and illness, then we will bring Him greater glory, and you’ll experience even greater joy. It is hard thanks that clearly points to Christ. It is hard thanks that causes others to marvel at how great God is. It is hard thanks that the mature Christians love to express. Again in Ephesians 5:20, that’s what Paul means when he says, “always giving thanks.” When do we give thanks–always and forever.
Third What do we give thanks for?
Always giving thanks for all things. Always give thanks for what? Paul says for everything–for all things. What does that mean in the Greek? This is surprising. The word “all” means all–any, total, every kind, everything. You say, “I can’t be thankful about everything.” Yes you can–let me show you how this works and break this down.
You don’t have to be a spiritual weirdo to be thankful for everything. “I got hit by a car, praise the Lord!” . . . “What did you do, hit your head? You’re not making any sense at all.”
“I have cancer, praise God!” . . . “What’s the matter with you, Pleasnick?”
“Praise the Lord, I got fired!” . . . “What is wrong with you?”
Sometimes you can’t rejoice in the circumstances of life, because those circumstances are arduous, painful or hurtful. But again, what is our goal? To be as close to Jesus as possible, and as much like Him as possible. Let me remind you that the Spirit of God in you has one goal–Romans 8:29, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” If we are filled with the Spirit, the Spirit is going to make us like Christ, and as He does, we can be thankful in difficult circumstances. How is that?
I lost my job, but it is pushing me closer to Jesus and making me depend upon Him. I have cancer, yet it has resulted in closer communion with Christ than ever before, so I am thankful. I have never prayed like this before. I now see what is most important more clearly than ever. Trivial things just do not matter anymore. Our marriage is not going as well as I was hoping it would go, but I can be thankful, because both of us are going to have to grow closer to Christ than ever before to make this marriage work. My health isn’t good, I’m not doing well, but I am closer to Jesus.
When I understand He died on my behalf, He suffered on my behalf, and He felt excruciating pain on my behalf, I feel closer to Jesus because I understand what He did for me and His great affection for me. Now I don’t want to have a hard marriage or poor health or cancer or financial distress, but if my goal is to get closer to Jesus, then Romans 8:28, God does cause “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
And God does accomplish His will, according to Ephesians 1:11, for those who have “been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” Our God will even take the wicked plans of evil people and turn them out for His glory and our good. Remember what Joseph said to His brothers who almost killed him and did sell him into slavery? Genesis 50:20, “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
My suffering and pain isn’t wasted, tragic, or an event with no value. If we start to think that way, then “what we are going through” or “what we went through” actually was terrible, tragic and a waste. This is terrible, tragic and a waste. No–that was terrible and tragic, but it was not a waste because it pushed me closer to Jesus. It actually made me more like Christ, so the result worked out okay.
You see, don’t forget what it means to be like Christ–not merely becoming loving and gracious and wise, but to be like Christ your life is no longer your own. You live to show and share the Gospel–you will become a fisher of men.
To be like Christ, you have to suffer for things you didn’t do
To be like Christ, you have to have all your friends abandon you
To be like Christ, you have to be persecuted for doing what’s best
To be like Christ, you have to be betrayed by those closest to you
The Holy Spirit is making you like Christ, and there are no short cuts! Do you see the profound theology of giving thanks in all things? The Spirit-filled heart sees God’s gracious hand in every circumstance, and knows that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God. To be thankful in all things means you have to believe God is in control, He is all wise, and He deeply cares for you. To be thankful, you have to trust God. I highly recommend everything Jerry Bridges writes, and one of my favorites is his book, Trusting God–get it, read it, own it.
Do you trust God? He knows you so well, Matthew 10:30, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (for some that’s a lot of hair—for others, He knows how little hair). His care and concern for you is beyond comprehension, Psalm 139:17 and 18, “How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand” (I love the beach.) And 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.”
His desire is to give you good things, Psalm 31:19, “How great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee.” And Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord,’ plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” And He proved His trust through His Son Jesus Christ, Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
The Spirit-filled believer sees God’s wise and loving care in the difficulties and trials was well, as in blessing and prosperity. The Spirit-filled believer can thank God for a job, even if it is demanding and unfulfilling. He thanks God for his health, even if it’s far from being what he’d like it to be. He thanks God even when his dearest loved ones die, saying with Job (in 1:21), “And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’”
We’re thankful for the Lord Himself, for His love and grace and care. We are thankful for creation–He made us, protects us and sustains us. We are thankful for our salvation, His forgiveness and kindness. We are thankful for people, saved and lost, made in His image. We are thankful for blessings and difficulties, victories and defeats.
Don’t ever forget, when Paul says we will be thankful for all things, he is not an armchair critic. He is not coaching from the booth above the field–Paul is a player. He wrestled with his own sin–in Romans 7 he felt the sins of others when he was stoned and beaten with rods, and as he writes to the Ephesians he is currently in prison in Rome. He went without food and clothes and shelter. He was harassed in almost every city, never knowing when his life would be put to an end by some assassin’s dagger. Plus Paul suffered from some kind of chronic ailment that God would not remove, no matter how hard Paul prayed. Instead God taught Paul some of the purposes of struggling with sin and suffering.
So when Paul says in Ephesians 5:20, “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father,” he is not in some dream world where all is easy and healthy and holy. He is not telling us to do something he is not doing. He is not telling us to do anything but that which is best for us and results in God’s glory. But he is telling us to do that kills our pride.
You see the only person who can give thanks in all things is the humble person, the one who knows he deserves nothing, therefore gives thanks even for the smallest things. Lack of thankfulness comes from pride, and the only cure for pride in your life is to live filled with the Spirit, saturated with His Word, dying to self, depending on God, dealing with sin, serving and sharing. Then and only then will you live thankful. But Chris . . .
Fourth How do we give thanks?
Verse 20, “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the name of Christ, why? Because it was the Lord Jesus Christ who earned all these blessings for us. When you’re served a truly great meal, you thank the chef who prepared it. When you’re the recipient of a great gift, you thank the giver. This is why we always give thanks for all things, because Christ did all things for us. We can give thanks, because no matter what happens to us, because it’ll not only turn out for our ultimate blessing, but more importantly, for God’s ultimate glory. Look at it this way . . .
When we are singing in the Spirit, it is Christ singing through us to the glory of God–that’s what makes it so acceptable to God. When we are giving thanks in the Spirit, it is Christ giving thanks to the Father through us, which is pleasing to God. Were it not for Christ, it would be foolish to be thankful for everything, because apart from Him, all things do not turn out for good. But because we are in Christ, good things and bad things all have a part in God conforming us to the image of His Son.
If you are here today and you do not have Christ, then He is not intervening on your behalf at the right hand of God. The Holy Spirit is not indwelling you, nor will He fill you. You are not an heir, and you will not receive an inheritance (you’re not in the will, because you’re not a part of the family). You are not clean from sin, and you are not headed to heaven, but in fact are headed to eternal punishment in hell forever. But once God transforms you, working it out so you will depend only on Christ and follow Him, then the Spirit indwells you and the Spirit can fill you, which results in thankfulness in all things, just like Jesus was thankful.
Did you notice during His earthly ministry that Jesus was continually saying thanks to the Father? Before He multiplied the loaves and fish to feed the four thousand He gave thanks. He gave thanks before He called Lazarus from the grave. When He instituted the Lord’s Supper foreshadowing His own death and agonizing sacrifice for our sins, He gave thanks. Jesus was ridiculed, despised, rejected, beaten and finally crucified, yet because of His great humility He always gave thanks for all things.
He deserved glory but received humiliation, deserved love but received hate, deserved honor but received dishonor, deserved praise but received scorn, deserved riches but received poverty, and deserved holiness but was made sin on our behalf. Yet He never lost His thankfulness to His heavenly Father. Verse 20 says we give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, meaning according to His character, His person, and all that Jesus represents. When you are in Christ, the Holy Spirit is in you, and He desires to have you sing, speak and act like Christ.
So like Him, even though we deserve humiliation, in Christ we receive glory. We deserve to be hated but instead are loved. We deserve dishonor but receive honor. We deserve scorn but are given praise, and we deserve poverty but are given riches. Finally we deserve sin’s curse of death, but are given eternal life. How can we not give thanks being in Christ?
We always give thanks in all things through the person, character and work of Jesus Christ, who is Lord–verse 20 calls Him our Lord Jesus Christ. He is in charge, He knows what He is doing, He is all powerful, He can start or stop anything anytime, and nothing is too difficult for Him to do. Whatever you are going through is not an accident, He was not caught by surprise, and He never says, “OOPS.”
He is Lord, but verse 20 also says, Jesus is our Lord Jesus Christ. He cares about you–He is your Master, your Lord, your King, your friend, your Savior, your Creator and your Redeemer. He is personal and intimate to you, Christian, and He is able to determine that you are going through will turn out any way He wants, which is good because He is all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful, and He sacrificed Himself for your sins, He saved you even when you resisted Him, He intimately cares for you, therefore trust Him enough, to give thanks no matter what. If you are filled with the Spirit, you will give thanks. And finally . . .
Fifth Who do we give thanks to?
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” We give thanks to our God and Father. The thanks we give always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ are given to God, even the Father. This is to say that as a Christian, you are family and you are close, intimate, personal, loved, protected and cared for as family. God is not a distant despot sending impersonal signals to the front, ordering you to charge into certain death for no purpose.
God has blessed you as His children in so many ways, just as James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” Paul already reminded the Ephesians of God’s care and blessing to His own precious Children in Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
Though at times we give thanks to secondary sources, like friends, parents, family members, or church leaders, Paul says the first source of our thanks, the first source of everything we enjoy is God the Father in Ephesians 3:14 to 15. Paul prays, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” It is our loving Father who sent His Son to die on our behalf, it is our gracious Father who sent His Son to suffer for our sins. It is our Father who cares for us, watches over us and protects us every moment and it is our Father who will ultimately bring us home. We give thanks through Jesus name, to our Heavenly Father.
Are you thankful? Do you show it? Do you say it? Are you known for it? If you are filled with the Spirit, you will be thankful. If you are filled with the Spirit, you are not going to complain as much, you are not going to be as grumpy or negative, you are not going to rag on others as much, you will not accuse others as much, gossip about others as much, say things that tear down others as much. When you are filled with the Spirit, you won’t want to take credit, you will feel your life is better than you deserve and more than you deserve. When you are filled with the Spirit, you will give thanks more often for littler things, for blessings, for the hope of God working in the future, and you will give thanks even in the midst of terrible trial. When you are filled with the Spirit, you will give thanks for all things knowing that God cares for you and is worthy of your trust. When you are filled with the Spirit, you will give thanks because of all that Christ is and what He has done for you, and you’ll express that thanks to your loving Heavenly Father who made you, then lost you, but with the costly price of His own Son bought you back.
True Christians are the most thankful people. Just as certain that drunkenness leads to a life of dissipation, so being filled with the Spirit leads to a life of thankfulness. Like the sermon title says, thankfulness tells you what you really are. What is it telling about you? Let’s pray.
You can’t be truly thankful without being filled, and you can’t be filled without coming to Christ—turn to Christ today. You can’t be thankful and have it please God without being filled–do whatever you have to do this week to be being kept filled with the Spirit. P.A.S.S. You can’t be thankful in difficult times without trusting God–today repent of that which is causing you to doubt His character and His care for you.
You can’t be thankful unless you practice expressing thanks–make a plan this week throughout every single day to say thanks for every little and big thing. Work at expressing thankfulness because it matters to Christ that you say it, and it makes you a strong witness when you live it. And let’s give thanks to God for creating us, then redeeming us through our giving, then remembering the sacrifice of Christ through communion