Watch What Comes Out of Your Mouth
It can be easy to forget ourselves and say the wrong thing. We might swear or tell a joke that isn’t very nice. We might repeat a rumor we heard or make a snide comment about someone. This sort of thing has become so common today. The things people post behind the anonymity of the internet are disturbing. These are things none of us would ever want our children to say or write. We must always be careful about the things we say. Words have tremendous impact.
Paul told the members of the church in Ephesus that they needed to avoid saying inappropriate things. Instead, they should speak thanksgiving. This would fill their minds with positive thoughts and have a powerful and positive impact on those around them. Paul’s advice is still good today. Develop the habit of giving thanks for others rather than saying negative things. It may take time but the effort is worth it.
Never Stop Giving Thanks
The apostle Paul prayed for the people he met in ministry. He prayed for them all the time. In all his letters, Paul told members of the church, not only that he was praying for them but also how thankful he was for all of them. Paul constantly gave thanks for all the different people in his life and ministry.
Today is a good time to consider the different people in your life, all the people you encounter throughout the day. As you thank about them, take time to give thanks for them and then pray for them. Even if you know nothing about some of the people you see regularly, you can still give thanks for them and the pray for them. It doesn’t have to be a long pray or even a very specific prayer. After all, God knows their needs and concerns. Ask the Lord to see to those needs and watch over them. It’s just as simple as that.
Showing Gratitude so Others Understand
The apostle Paul was having problems with the church in Corinth. The people were turning from Paul and his teachings which meant they were turning from Christ. Paul sent Titus to Corinth to get the church in Corinth back on track. In this passage, Paul is letting them know that what Jesus did through His death, what the Father did by resurrecting Jesus, what Paul did through his teaching and sharing the Gospel was done for the benefit of everyone in the church in Corinth. God only wanted grace, forgiveness to reach more people and for those people to be thankful.
All this was not only done for the church in Corinth but also for all of us today. Take time to feel the grace of God, to remember all He has done for us and to allow your thankfulness to overflow.
What Does that Mean?
In this passage, Paul is talking about people giving thanks to God but they are speaking in tongues at the time so no one understands. When people can’t understand, they can’t learn and grow from the experience.
Now, I know speaking in tongues may not be one of your spiritual gifts. Too often, however, we give thanks to God for our blessings in a way that doesn’t instruct others. You want others to grow spiritually as they see and hear you giving thanks to God. Make certain you give thanks in a way that everyone is able to understand.
Give Thanks? He Hasn’t Done Anything Yet!
Jesus’ friend Lazarus had been sick and Jesus arrived to late to prevent Lazarus from dying. Lazarus’ sisters were upset. They just knew Jesus could have saved their brother if only He had arrived in time. Now it was too late. Jesus, however knew it wasn’t too late and He began to pray aloud.
Jesus knew His Father would answer His prayers. Jesus didn’t even need to say the words for His prayers to be answered. Jesus wanted all the people outside the tomb where Lazarus lay to hear exactly what He was asking His Father to do. And, as Jesus knew, His Father heard Him and raised Lazarus from the dead.
I want you to notice that Jesus gave thanks even before His Father had answered His prayers. Jesus was so certain His Father would do as He asked that He immediately thanked Him.
We don’t need to wait until God does exactly as we ask. Perhaps we should begin thanking Him even before our prayers have been answered, having faith, like Jesus, that our Father is listening and willing to answer our prayers.
But for the Grace of God
Wow, is that harsh! Imagine giving thanks that you aren’t like those terrible people over there! That’s exactly what this Pharisee did. He thought he was oh, so much better than other people. He thought he was so good, probably too good to have to associate with everyone else. Yikes! How could he possibly minister to anyone with this kind of attitude? Oh well, that’s a discussion for another day.
For today, I want you to focus on the blessings you have been given. Then take time for all the people around you that aren’t as blessed. They may have financial problems. They may have family problems. Perhaps they have experienced a loss in their family. Take time to really look at the people you encounter during the day. I mean, REALLY look at them. Then take a moment to pray for them. You don’t need to know their specific need because God already knows their needs. Then give the Lord thanks that you have the opportunity to pray for those around you. That is a tremendous blessing that the Pharisee would never experience.
Thankful for Even a Little Bit
Imagine for a moment you have prepared Thanksgiving dinner for your small family, just 3, 4 or maybe 5 people. Suddenly, there are knocks at the door & the next thing you know, you have 20+ people in your home, all wanting turkey, dressings & the trimmings! YIKES! How would you manage?
This is exactly the situation Jesus was facing in the verse today. A multitude of people in the middle of nowhere, all of them hungry & only small fish & bread to feed them. What to do? Well, Jesus knew just what to do. He gave thanks for what they had & began breaking the fish & bread up to be distributed to those present. When everyone had eaten, there was food left over.
We often think we don’t have enough for the task at hand. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough resources. This is when we need to give thanks for what we do have & have faith God hears us & insures it is not one enough but some left over. God is good & He provides for our needs.
Love You Forever
Let’s face it, people sometimes, or even often disappoint us. This can be especially true during the Holidays. We associate more with family, friends, even strangers more during November & December. Some days, it’s enough to cause you to lose faith in humanity. Well, maybe it’s not that bad but it can test your limits.
When you want to lock yourself in a closet to escape all the people around you, remind yourself that no matter how much people may disappoint you, God never does. In fact, this verse reminds us that God’s love endures forever. No matter what, God will always love us. Some days, this is just enough to keep us going.
I Want to Sing & Dance
At one time, I belonged to a church that had this verse on the gate as you drove onto the property. We often think of this verse in terms of church, giving thanks as we enter the House of the Lord. Today, I want you to consider it in a different way. Think of His gates as the door of your home & His courts as the world outside that door. As you go out into the world today, out into His courts, His world, take a moment to give thanks for everything & everyone that the Lord puts in your path.
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the world, to curse its existence & everyone in it. Ok, maybe it’s not that bad but the world, people can be very frustrating. It’s hard to give thanks for the very things that seem to be making your life difficult. However, this is exactly when you want to give thanks. Giving praise for everything you encounter throughout the day can give you a different perspective on the world. You may find yourself entering His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise every time you leave home!