Chapel – 5/13/20
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Ps. 118:24
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
The Apostle Paul was inspired to quill these words about 2000 years ago, but we might think, “He must be kidding!” Give thanks in ALL circumstances? Certainly, Paul has no idea what we’re going through today, right? And to REJOICE… always??? What is there to rejoice about given the deaths, uncertainty of the times, and the total disruption of life as we knew it?
In Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, we find both he and they knew some very hard times. Paul spent time in prison, had a serious disagreement with a close friend (Peter), had some of his own people (Jews) attempt to kill him, survived a famine in Judea, was shipwrecked near the island of Malta, and watched as Emperor Nero allowed Rome to be burned to the ground. The new Christians of Thessalonica even suffered persecution from some of their own people who thought the Gospel message was foolishness. Whew! How did they manage to remain faithful through all of this?
For Paul, it was enough knowing Christ and Him crucified. Regardless of what the world sent his way, Paul stood on the very Gospel message that changed his life: 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Paul was a tremendous example of realizing and proclaiming that his hope of salvation was secure in Christ. No question about it in Paul’s mind! He was willing to give thanks for God’s grace despite what happened to him. And the Thessalonians, as Paul was slowly nurturing their new faith, remained faithful to the Gospel, even as their own people persecuted them. The Thessalonians saw it as an opportunity to give glory to God! They did indeed REJOICE as their faith was strengthened daily by the afflictions they faced.
We could all make a list of the awful things that have happened to us, especially today, but what good would that do? Here’s a challenge for you: take 5 minutes and briefly write down everything you’re thankful for. Dig deep. Dig real deep! (i.e. I’m thankful for reruns of Psych on the Hallmark Channel). Go ahead: we’ll wait…(have someone hum the Jeopardy theme 5 times). Okay…time is up. Hopefully, you filled a page or more. Hopefully, you have the “biggies” such as the peace of Christ, eternal life, His precious Word, forgiveness, His presence, parents, friends, teachers, etc. Hopefully, you dug real deep to offer thanks for something in your life that is known only between you and God. The bottom line is that we have SO MUCH to be thankful for that I bet it’s hard to name them all. Let’s take Paul up on his challenge to give thanks in all circumstances and watch as the Holy Spirit actively strengthens our faith until Jesus returns or calls us home!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, we do give thanks that Your grace is at work in us each day. Your love for us is clear by how much You have blessed us. Keep us humble, and keep us open to Your many gifts, especially the salvation that cost You everything. In Your name we pray, Amen.
Lots of songs about “being thankful.” Enjoy them all!
“I’m Asking You” (country) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5ZpG8hyfvE
“Thank You, Lord” (by ??) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbWL7yvK80E
“Give Thanks” (J. Salvador) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYRgB26rPIs
Contributed by: Mr. Kurt Hofmeister