Good Manners and Our Good God

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“Give thanks in all circumstances.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

Yes ma’am. No sir. Please. Thank you. If you were raised in the South, you learned these manners before you could walk. “Thank you” was imperative whether you received the best present ever or Aunt Ethel’s yearly gift of tidy whities. Which of us have never been on the end of a perfunctory “Thank you”?

And how many of us have been guilty of offering God one?

Let’s explore giving thanks:

1) Differentiate yourself. Negativity can be the norm on social media. Thankfulness, not so much, though there’s nothing toxic about thanks. In fact, your thankfulness gives me hope. If God came through for you, perhaps He’ll come through for me.  When my daughter was hired for her dream job, a true God-story, it encouraged me that God was preparing something for me too. 

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

2) See the big picture. When our circumstances are anything but great, we as believers understand God’s sovereignty. If He has allowed it, He has purpose in it. We thank Him in the circumstance for what He will accomplish through it. Thanks center on God, because we know He reigns over all. In 2014, I was praying about attending seminary. In February, my husband lost his job. That same February, God gave the green light to apply to seminary. I was accepted and was scheduled to begin that summer. By April, my husband had a new job and I started school in May. 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

3) Don’t stop. This verse, too, is linked to the previous commands of continual joy and prayer. Matthew Henry said, “If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in everything.” All things work to our good, so we should never hit the pause button on our thanks. All three, joy, prayer, and thanks, are commands. Why? Because they are God’s will for us. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15-19

Note: Verse 19 reads, “Do not quench the Spirit.” Could a lack of the Spirit’s movement in our lives be connected to a lack of joy, prayer, and thankfulness?

Let’s nurture a thankful heart, one that truly expresses gratitude, for God gives good and perfect gifts to all His children.

Activities:

1) Talk about the toxicity on social media and on the news. How does it affect us? How can we promote positive change? Search for positive stories to share. How are we as Christians to affect the emotional and spiritual climate around us?

2) Take a photo, painting, or quilt. Cover it except for a 1” x 1” square. Describe what you see. Now look at the whole thing. Was what you initially saw true of the entire object? Why or why not?

3) Start a thankfulness jar. Get some mini sticky notes and a jar. Each day, write down two things for which you are thankful and place them in the jar. After a week, examine your mindset. Has it changed? After a month? A year?