In recent weeks I have been blogging about NDC’s mission statement which reads, “Making Disciples, Teaching God’s Word, Glorifying God”. I think one of the ways that we glorify God is when we give thanks to Him in the face of difficult problems. When we find the resources and words to thank God in the midst of our difficulties the best way that can be humanly explained is because we have a relationship with the Lord God of the universe. In Psalm 136 the psalmist writes these amazing words, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of hosts: His love endures forever,” (Ps.136:1-3 NIV). And on and on it goes for 26 verses with every other line being, “His love endures forever”. This was probably a responsive reading or song as it was used in their worship and sang by the congregation uniting them in these words for the folks to always remember, “His love endures forever”. The repetition of these verses demonstrates a very important lesson for us that we need to allow to sink in. We will never have to worry about God running out of love for us, even in the midst of our brokenness and problems, “His love endures forever”. God’s love, which includes all the aspects of His character, like His kindness, mercy, and faithfulness, will never be in short supply. His love is part of the splendor of His majesty and gives us the reason for daily thanksgiving and thanks living. The well will never run dry of God’s amazing love and grace, all praise to Him and let Him be glorified.
The apostle Paul very clearly illustrates this principle of giving thanks when he writes to the Philippians and states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. The peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:6-7 NIV). Earlier in the same passage, Paul had stated, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4 NIV). It’s so important for us to remember that when Paul was writing this letter to the Philippians he was in a Roman prison. Yet here he is instructing them to rejoice and give thanks to their Almighty God. Paul reminds them and us that the attitude of a grateful heart should always accompany our prayer life. In our personal and family devotions we should have a thankful heart for what Jesus Christ has done and is doing in and through us. I believe that God is glorified when our prayers are filled with praise and thanksgiving to the Source of every good thing in our lives.
It is important to recognize that when the Philippians read Paul’s words they had a living model of rejoicing and praising God for His glory in the midst of great pain and trial. In the 16th chapter of the book of Acts, Paul and Silas had been unjustly beaten and placed in stocks in the inner chamber of a Philippian jail. How do you respond when you are mistreated, or when your rights have been violated? We read Paul’s response, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:25-28 NIV). It doesn’t seem like Paul and Silas were in a very good place for glorifying God in a Philippian prison, and yet their response resulted in the majesty and mighty power of God being displayed. I think it’s highly likely, given the fact that the jailer and his family got saved that night, that he was also part of those who would be reading Paul’s later letter from prison telling them,“to rejoice and to give thanks to God in everything”. When we thank God in the midst of our trials and difficulties, He can use anything for our good and for His glory. Realizing that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered many incredible things and out of His brokenness and blood God brought about our salvation. He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving, even when we don’t understand exactly what He is doing. Won’t you join me in giving thanks to our great God who has provided salvation and redemption for us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is worthy of all of our praise and all of our thanksgiving? “His love endures forever”. Let us pray for God to be glorified in our fruitful service and thanksgiving to Him.
All for God’s glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo