The following are my notes from this past weekend’s teaching, I Choose Thankful.
The barracks where Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy were kept in the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbruck were terribly overcrowded and flea-infested. They had been able to miraculously smuggle a Bible into the camp, and in that Bible they had read that in all things there were to give thanks, and that God can use anything for good. Corrie’s sister Betsy decided that this meant thanking God for the fleas. This was too much for Corrie, who said she could do no such thing. Betsy insisted, so Corrie gave in and prayed to God, thanking Him even for the fleas. Over the next several months a wonderful, but curious, thing happened. They found that the guards never entered their barracks. This meant that the women were not assaulted. It also meant that they were able to do the unthinkable, which was to hold open Bible studies and prayer meetings in the heart of a Nazi concentration camp. Through this, countless numbers of women came to faith in Christ. Only at the end did they discover why the guards had left them alone and would not enter into their barracks. It was because of the fleas.
The Big Idea: Why is it important for us to be thankful IN all circumstances?
Phil. 4:6-7 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
1 Thess. 5:18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Ps. 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!
To rejoice, to be thankful, is a choice!
HAVING AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE IS HEALTHY!
It may not be very healthy to overeat on Thanksgiving or anytime for that matter. But it is healthy to have an attitude of gratitude. As a matter of fact. the healthiest human emotion is not love- the healthiest human emotion is gratitude. It actually increases your immunities. It makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. It’s the healthiest emotion. The attitude of gratitude!
But let’s get real here. We often don’t have this attitude and we have stress and lack of health- physically and emotionally in our lives, because we WORRY! How many of you worry? How about being worried about something or someone in your life right now?? Aren’t we all susceptible to worry? Just like we’re all susceptible to colds or the flu or to germs… And what do we do to avoid a cold or flu or germs, or if we think we have a cold or the flu?? We go to the doctor or we take some medicine or we get vaccinated! We get a prescription. Well the Bible’s remedy, or more importantly, means of avoiding stress and anxiety and sickness that accompanies those things, IS, are you ready for this?? “DON’T WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING!”
But it doesn’t stop there!! Paul writes this prescription, “Instead pray about everything. Tell God want you need, and thank him for all he’s done!” There it is, to avoid worry and stress and unhealthiness, PRAY and choose to be THANKFUL! Remember that old Hymn: “Count Your Blessings, Name Them One By One.” I think that’s a good thing for you to do. Go make a list this week!
BE THANKFUL IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES!
1 Thess. 5:18 Be thankful IN all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Get it? “IN” all circumstances… It does not say “Give thanks FOR all circumstances!” That’s a misinterpretation! The Bible doesn’t teach that. It says give thanks in everything, in every circumstance. You have a car wreck… “Thank God.”!? You just found out you have a serious illness… “Praise the Lord!?” You just lost a loved one or you lost a job or a home… “Well, glory, hallelujah!?? Be serious. That’s loony Christianity not biblical Christianity. You don’t have to give thanks for evil in the world! Like wars, diseases, murders, and perversion, etc.
- I’m not thankful that men and women in the armed forces have died or that their families have had to bury them! But I am thankful that they were willing to pay that price for other people’s freedom!
- I’m not thankful that my father got cancer in his lung! But I am thankful that the doctors were able to remove it!
- I’m not thankful that a teenage drunk driver killed my grandparents and two aunts when he hit them with his car! But I am thankful that they all knew the Lord and that someday I will see them again!
- I’m not thankful that Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State football coach, may have molested young boys! But I am thankful that the truth has come out and perhaps families involved can now fully deal with it appropriately!
- The Bible does not say be thankful for evil. It says “In everything, in every circumstance give thanks.” NOT FOR everything or every circumstance!
What’s the difference? Even out of bad things, God can bring good things. In everything, in every circumstance, no matter how bad it is, you can give thanks to God because:
- He has a purpose bigger than the problem
- He will give me the power to overcome the problem
- I will grow through the experience if I allow it to help me grow
Why? Rom. 8:26-28 helps me to do that! Praying, Praising, Petitioning- when we don’t know what to do, what to think, how to pray, etc. God helps us by His Spirit- Rom. 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work togetherfor the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
CHOOSING THANKFULNESS IS GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE!
“Be thankful… for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” What is God’s will? To choose thankfulness, to be thankful! In fact, if you’re not experiencing the attitude of gratitude you’re out of God’s will. How can I be grateful when I’ve lost so much? I’ve lost my job, I’ve lost my health, I’ve lost my husband or wife. How can I be thankful in that situation? You don’t look at what you’ve lost. You look at what you have left. Don’t take anything for granted- be grateful!
What are you taking for granted? Your health? Your freedom? Your relationships? In all circumstances… choose thankful! Gratitude is a stress reliever because it gets your eyes off the problem and puts it on the positive things in your life.
And when you’re grateful, you give because thanks and giving go together! The way we express thanks is by giving. And the most giving people are the most thankful people. It’s an expression of gratitude. Don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything. Be thankful in all things…
(c) 2011, Terry Broadwater. For personal use only. To use for other purposes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.