Happy Thanksgiving! Great time of the year as we remember to give thanks to God for His many blessings. Today, we’re beginning a new message series called “Touching God.” Sometimes, we may think it would have been great to live when Jesus lived. To be able to walk and talk with Him. Yet, when Jesus was here, there were only a limited number of people who could personally talk to and touch Him. That’s why Jesus had to leave us so that many more could touch Him. Jesus said in …
John 14:16-17 (ESV) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
When Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of every believer. Through the Spirit, we can communicate with God in prayer. And through the Spirit, God speaks back to us in 2-way conversation.
John 14:26 (ESV) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
The Spirit is our Helper and teaches us everything we need to know in life. In this series, we’re going to focus on the role of the Spirit in helping us touch God through prayer.
This morning, the topic of our message is simply “Give Thanks.” When you give thanks to God, you acknowledge that there was something you lacked that God supplied. And in giving thanks, you acknowledge and thank God for His generous gifts. Giving thanks is a fundamental daily practice in prayer for every true believer. In fact, every human being should give thanks to God.
1:18b-21 (ESV) … men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
So let’s summarize. These verses tell us that every person should honor and give thanks go God. Why? Because by simply looking around at creation, God has shown them that He exists and has eternal power. Yet, many unbeliever suppress the truth they know to be true. They refuse to acknowledge, honor and thank God. So their thoughts and thinking become dark and sinful. If people would honor and thank God as Creator, He would lead them to the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ.
This Thanksgiving week, let’s be reminded to honor and give thanks to God, not just this week, but all through the year. So, how can we learn to and grow in Giving Thanks to God?
Your attitudes, how you think and feel are incredibly important, both for yourself and for others around you. As we read through the Bible, we are taught that our attitudes are not uncontrollable, but can be directed by our will as God enables. What godly attitudes should we have?
Philippians 4:4-5a (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.
In one short verse, we are commanded to rejoice twice. To rejoice is to feel and show great joy, delight or happiness. To rejoice is a choice, an act of our will, to choose to be filled with the joy of the Lord. Notice, we are not commanded to rejoice in our circumstances, we are to rejoice in the Lord. We find our joy and happiness in Him first and foremost. God never commands us to do something, that is impossible. So, this morning, rejoice, allow God’s joy to fill your hearts.
The next phrase “let your reasonableness be known” means that we should let our gentle patience be known to everyone. Even when we’re in difficult circumstances, even when we may face trouble or persecution. When you rejoice when the going is tough, others will notice.
Philippians 4:5b-6 (ESV) The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Whatever you’re going through, the Lord is near. So, you shouldn’t worry or be anxious about anything. Why? Because you can touch the Creator of the universe through prayer. You simply pray and ask Him to meet your needs with thanksgiving and He’ll take care of you.
Circle that two-word phrase “with thanksgiving.” So easy to forget when we asking God for things. Remember to thank Him for all the blessings you’ve already received. That builds your faith to believe for further answers to prayer. The solution to worry and anxiety is prayer with thanksgiving. What will be the result of such prayer?
Philippians 4:7 (ESV) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The previous verses were full of commands as to what we should do. Rejoice, let your gentleness be known, don’t be anxious, pray with thanksgiving. If you do those things, then God has a promise for you. The promise is that God’s peace will guard your hearts and minds.
God’s peace is so wonderful that we can’t fully comprehend it. It is the polar opposite of worry, anxiety and fear. This peace will guard, a military term, your hearts and minds from the enemy’s attack. As you obey God’s instruction through the Spirit’s power, you will be filled with joy, thanksgiving and peace.
So how can we put these attitudes into practice? I think it begins with thanksgiving. Every day, think about the blessings that God has brought into your life. Even if every circumstance seems difficult, God has promised to never leave or forsake you. Thank Him for His presence. Thank Him for past blessings. Thank Him for Jesus and what He has done for you. As you thank Him, your faith will grow to ask for help in your present situation.
As you spend time in thanksgiving, then your heart will be prepared to rejoice. Rejoice in the goodness of God in the past. Rejoice in the answers to prayer that you know are coming in the future. Refuse to worry about anything. Choose to trust God and pray. You will then be guarded by His peace.
If you’re a member or a regular attender, I’d encourage you to sign up for our Prayer Team. The only requirement is that you make it your goal to try to pray just 5 minutes a day for the Life Church family. To sign up simply text the word “pray” to 636-442-0210. The number is in your bulletin. We’ll send you our Prayer Guide and keep you in our Prayer Loop.
As you pray, you’ll stay in that worry-free zone of peace and you will make a difference with your life.
The battles that we face in following Jesus are not primarily fought with circumstances, they are fought in our minds. When we win the victory in our minds, then other things fall into place.
Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
In this verse, we have a long list of adjectives describing what we are to think about. We can summarize the list as thinking about good things. Our human tendency is to think about bad things.
We see this reflected big time in our news. What percentage of news is good versus bad things? The vast majority of the news is about bad things. If you spend most of your time thinking about bad things what will be the result? You’ll be anxious, worried and out of peace and have nothing to give thanks for. When you think about good things, you’ll be prepared to …
Philippians 4:9 (ESV) What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Paul, who is writing this letter, tells the church to not only think about good things, but to practice the good things that Paul has set an example doing. Thinking about good things, about godly things, will lead to making good plans. Good plans lead to good practices and habits that honor God and help others. The result will again be that the peace of God will be in and protect your life. You will be rejecting worldly practices and living God’s way.
We all face peer pressure in life, the desire to fit in with the society around us. There is good peer pressure and bad peer pressure. Bad peer pressure comes from our mass media, from unbelievers around us and even from believers who are giving in to worldly practices such as gossip and worry.
Don’t spend too much time with negative news or negative people. Choose to spend your time with positive godly people in the church family. One good way to do that is to be part of a Life Group here in the church. Think about good things. Ask God to help you practice good things. Be an example of someone who stands out by having a encouraging attitude.
Philippians 4:11b (ESV) … for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
As we learn to replace worry with thanksgiving, to rejoice at all times, to live in God’s peace, we will be learning to be content. To be content is to be at peace in whatever situation you may be in.
Philippians 4:12 (ESV) I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
How can we be content in any and every circumstance? It seems easy to be content when we have plenty. But how can we be content when things aren’t going well. There is a secret that Paul learned. A secret that makes it possible to rejoice at all times. A secret that helps us to be people with thankful hearts, who no longer worry. A secret that makes us stand out in a world filled with worry and fear. It is a secret that must be learned. The secret is to …
Philippians 4:13 (ESV) I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Here is the secret that we are all on a journey of learning. Let’s examine this astounding secret in detail. It begins by saying “I can do all things.” Some think this means that you can do whatever you want to do, but that’s not what this means. The things that you can do are the good things you are to think about. The good things that you can do are the good things that God is calling you to do.
How can we do these things? Not in our strength, but through Him, that is Christ. How does Jesus help us do all things? By strengthening us or better translated, empowering us. We are not strong enough, we are too weak to do what God calls us to do. But when we acknowledge our own weakness, when we humble ourselves and ask for God’s help, He give us the strength to do everything He desires us to do. When we truly learn this secret, then we can be content in every situation. No matter how difficult, God is there with us, giving us the power to do His will.
Everywhere we go in life, everything we do, there’s an opportunity to give thanks and be content.
This Thanksgiving, let’s rejoice and give thanks to God for His blessings in our lives. Rather than worry about the future, God will help us be content with our situation. We can be content because we can do everything God calls us to do, through Christ who strengthens us.