Monday, November 19, 2018

Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

With this being the week to celebrate Thanksgiving, I've been pondering the New Testament words of the Apostle Paul to give thanks in all circumstances. Paul started the church in Thessalonica and within a few months of leaving he wrote the first Epistle to the Thessalonians. You see, after starting that church, Paul joined Silas and Timothy in traveling to Athens from Thessalonica. However, after a short time in Athens, Paul felt the need to receive a report from the new church in Thessalonica, so he sent Timothy back to serve and minister to the new believers there. Paul wanted to check on the state of the Thessalonians’ faith, for fear that false teachers might have infiltrated their number. Timothy soon returned with a good report, prompting Paul to write 1 Thessalonians as a letter of encouragement to the new believers.

Impressed by the faithfulness of the Thessalonians in the face of persecution, Paul wrote to encourage the Christians in Thessalonica with the goal that they would continue to grow in godliness. Paul taught the people that any spiritual growth would ultimately be motivated by their hope in the ultimate return of Jesus Christ. Paul was never interested in simply telling people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, because he knew that what ultimately inspired change was a life of consistently walking in the power of God’s Spirit. So, to a group of young Christians with questions and uncertainties, Paul offered words about the hope of Christ’s return, providing both comfort in the midst of questions and motivation to godly living.

One of Paul's teachings was to give thanks in all things. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 he wrote, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." You may be going into this Thanksgiving season focused on troubles in your life and wondering how you can "give thanks" with all that is transpiring. Jesus said that we would all have troubles (John 16:33), and He really understands (Hebrews 4:15). So, how can you give thanks in all circumstances? There’s only one way: look to the joy through Jesus -- salvation through Jesus, a relationship with Jesus, and eternity with Him. As is written in 2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." If you accept Jesus and believe in His promises, there is no circumstance that can steal your thanksgiving.

Personally, I am going into this Thanksgiving season with my heart overflowing with thanksgiving for all that I've been blessed with this year -- a closer relationship with the Lord; the joy of marrying Kelley; the gift of being a parent and step-parent; the benefits of  my employment; the comfort of a new home; the peace of good health; and, so much more. God has been incredibly good to me and my family in 2018.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, giving thanks for all circumstances.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso