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In Everything Give Thanks

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
November 22, 2022 3:00 am

In Everything Give Thanks

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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November 22, 2022 3:00 am

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The believer operates in a completely different world, a completely different realm. We can rejoice always because of what we know to be true about God and His plan for us and we can be thankful in everything for the very same reason. So since we know that all things are being worked together by God for our eternal good, we can be thankful for everything. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Thankfulness, it's foundational to your spiritual health and it's one of the easiest attitudes to neglect, even on the day bearing its name. So how do you cultivate a thankful attitude both this holiday week in the United States and all year? Consider that today in a message John has titled, In Everything Give Thanks. Now John, before you look at what Scripture says about the importance of giving thanks, maybe you could take a minute to talk specifically about the people who we here at Grace to You are thankful for this year, because each one is a precious and strategic partner with us in connecting people with God's Word. Well, of course, and that's the folks that give to this ministry, that donate to this ministry. I thank the Lord constantly, unendingly, for bringing folks alongside Grace to You for all these many decades, because we would have no ministry apart from you. You encouraged me more than you would ever, ever know through your letters, your calls, your prayers, and your gifts.

And I know it's a sacrifice to make, and it takes time and effort and a willingness to lay things aside that could be used for other purposes to continue to invest with us. And so many of you do that, and many of you do it regularly. Those folks who do it most regularly we call Grace Partners. You may be a few miles away or a lot of miles away, but from a distance you hold us up. You hold up our arms. You sustain this ministry. What I hope you know is that we are full of gratitude for the fact that you believe enough in this ministry to sustain it year after year after year after year.

We provide not only the radio broadcasts, not only all the resources on the internet, television, but we also provide books and CDs and whatever we can to put the Word of God in people's hands, because we know it is the power of life, spiritual life. All of this is only possible because of your gifts, and it doesn't go unnoticed to us, and it certainly doesn't go unnoticed to the Lord. You're in a very real sense placing your gifts into His hands and from Him to us. So God is meeting our needs through you. I hope you feel like you are appreciated.

We want that to be the case. Thank you. We praise God for you.

Yes, we do, friend. We are thankful for you, for your love of God's Word, and for your support of this ministry. The fact is, lessons like today's are possible because of people like you. So thank you for all you do for grace to you. And now let's get back to God's Word.

Here's John with today's lesson. If you'll turn again in your Bible to 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 18, we're looking at just a couple of commands that are given to us in this very practical section. In everything give thanks. In everything give thanks. Rejoice always in everything, give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. This is a responsibility to which we are all duty-bound.

It comes to us in the form of a command. And in fact, people who reject God are described in Romans 1 21 as those who did not honor Him as God or give thanks. One of the characteristics of the unregenerate is that they fail to be thankful to God. They are like those lepers who are described in the seventeenth chapter of Luke, having been healed by Jesus. Remember there were ten of them, but only one returned to give thanks.

And he was the one who received not just a physical healing, but the salvation of his soul. The unregenerate people are like the nine thankless lepers who receive anything and everything good from God, but render Him absolutely no thanks. On the other hand, we are commanded to thank Him in everything. It's that same kind of consummate thanks that defines our joy.

We are to at all times be rejoicing and in everything giving thanks. In the Old Testament sacrificial system, there were, as you might remember, sin offerings. Sin offerings were designed to be brought by the people as constant reminders of their sinfulness, constant reminders of the ongoing need for forgiveness, the ongoing need for atonement, the ongoing need for cleansing, the ongoing need for penitence, the ongoing need for righteousness. Every time they brought a sin offering, and they did it often throughout the year, they were reminded of how sinful they were and how desperately they needed to be made fully and completely righteous. But the Old Testament ceremonial system included not only sacrificial offerings that were meant to remind people of their sins, but also what were called thank offerings, or peace offerings.

They're described in the seventh chapter of Leviticus. And they were reminders that the people continually needed to be thankful to God for all His merciful and gracious provisions for their spiritual and physical needs, that they were to come, and as it were, by manifest gratitude to God, maintain a right relationship with Him. Now as Christians, we don't have a sacrificial system anymore and we don't have any thank offerings, or sometimes called peace offerings, so that we are celebrating the goodness of God toward us because we have a relationship with Him of peace.

We don't have those kinds of offerings anymore. We basically have only one ceremony, only one sacrament that relates to this apart from the one-time baptism. We only have one ongoing ceremony, and that is the Lord's Table. But I believe the Lord's Table as a way of combining both of those elements of the Old Testament system. The Lord's Table is a reminder of our sin. You cannot remember the Lord's death without remembering your sin. We don't have ongoing sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice, continually pointing to our sinfulness and our need of a Savior. The one sacrifice of Christ eliminated the need for any other sacrifices. But we do need the constant reminder of our sinfulness and we need to address that sinfulness and we need to be brought to penitence and confession of that sinfulness.

We don't do that by more sacrifices, we do that by remembering the one sacrifice. So every time we come to the Lord's Table, we are thrown back, as it were, on the sacrifice of Christ and reminded again of how desperate our sinful condition is and how glorious was the sacrifice of Christ to provide the sacrifice that satisfied the wrath of God regarding our sin. Therefore that very same Lord's Table becomes for us a celebration of gratitude. Remembering how sinful we are causes us to offer up thanks to God. And so the Lord's Table is for us the focal point, both of the remembrance of our sin and the expression of thanks. In everything, verse 18 says, give thanks in everything. Thanks in the Greek, en ponti, it has the idea of in connection with everything that comes along in life. It's just very, very broad. It has no limits.

It has no confines. No matter what it might be, eucharisteo applies, that is the giving of thanks. Rejoicing that isn't sin, obviously sin falls outside the purview of that command. As it does in rejoicing, we certainly always rejoicing wouldn't rejoice in sin and in everything giving thanks wouldn't give thanks for sin. But apart from that, everything else should precipitate an attitude and an expression of thanks to God. In Romans 1 21, thanklessness is a characteristic of people who are outside the kingdom of God. In fact, in 2 Timothy chapter 3, you probably should add this expression of man's fallenness. They are, according to verse 2, lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, defilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, etc., etc., treacherous, reckless.

In all of the litany of what defines unregenerate people, right in the middle is thanklessness. The unsaved man goes through life complaining, going through life bitter, angry. His life moves along a path of trying to manipulate the world around him to satisfy the matrix of his own passions.

And whenever he can do that, he has something to be happy about. Whenever he can't, he is entrenched in bitterness and disappointment, sadness. He thinks that some things are a matter of luck, some things are a matter of manipulation. So he works any combination of those things he can, trying to force into reality the things that he wants. There's a thriving foolish philosophy today.

You hear people say it all the time, you can be anything you want to be, you can do anything you really want to do, which isn't, of course, true at all. But this sort of garrisons man's mind against fatalism, which is the idea that the reality is you can't do anything you want to do, you can't have anything you want to have, you can't achieve anything you want to achieve. It's not the way life works, but rather than deal with that kind of fatalism, we believe a lie and launch off in a fantasy world believing what down in our hearts we know is not true, trying to do whatever we can, manipulating people and events to put us in a position where we get what we want and if that moment ever comes, then there may be manifestly a moment of gratitude.

It's like joy. If we get what we long for, if we get the pleasures we chase, then we rejoice and then we're thankful. If we don't, we don't rejoice and we aren't thankful.

The believer operates in a completely different world, a completely different realm. We can rejoice always because of what we know to be true about God and His plan for us, and we can be thankful in everything for the very same reason. So since we know that all things are being worked together by God for our eternal good, we can be thankful for everything. There is nothing outside the all things that are working together for good because God is making that happen.

There's nothing outside those all things. Because God is working all things for our good, there is cause for joy. In the end, there is the same cause for gratitude. The early church made Thanksgiving an essential part of their fellowship.

It wasn't something that just came along seasonally. And I think for any mature Christians, any obedient Christians, any Christians who have a grip on spiritual blessing, they would understand this. First Corinthians 14, 16, otherwise if you bless in the Spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted...listen...say the amen at your giving of thanks, without going into all the details of that verse.

Paul is describing a church service in the early church and he's describing some of the things that ought to go on and some of the things that ought not to go on. But among those things, he defines a time in the service when you give thanks. In verse 17 he adds, for you are giving thanks well enough, but because of other things you're doing, you're not edifying. So he affirms that a part of the early church service was the giving of thanks and this was a good thing to do.

Church engaged itself in being thankful. And it should be so since it is part and parcel of what it means to have a proper and appropriate response to the goodness of God. In 2 Corinthians 4, 15, just building on this command, for all things are for your sakes.

That's quite an amazing statement. God has in mind everything He does for your sakes...everything. That the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Paul says, everything I do in my ministry as a representative of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ, everything that God has me do, every ministry that I have, every time I teach and preach and every time I counsel and every time I bring the truth of God to you, every promise that I bring you, every measured truth that I bring you is from God an element of grace spreading for the purpose of causing gratitude...gratitude that abounds to the honor and the glory of God who is the giver. So you could say that in everything you give thanks because everything that comes into our lives fits into God's purpose to spread grace to us in a richer and richer way.

Second Corinthians 9, 11 is a promise and actually starts in verse 10. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will multiply...supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. The same God who causes crops to grow and produce seed so that seed can be planted and more crops can grow, the same God who takes care of the food supply also takes care of the righteousness supply. He's the same God who multiplies your seed for sowing and increases the harvest of your righteousness. And then verse 11, you will be enriched in everything. God is going to give you everything you need, He's going to enrich you in everything and He's going to do it liberally so that you can be liberal as you share and dispense these spiritual blessings.

Why? Which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. God blesses us in order that it might redound to His glory and His honor, in order that it might produce thanksgiving. Then in Ephesians 5 we find similar instruction. We are called upon to obey, verse 3, do not let immorality or any impurity of greed even be named among you as is proper among saints. In other words, you ought to live a saintly, godly life free from immorality, that's porneia, justification, and impurity which is a generic word meaning every other kind of sexual sin, or greed. Let none of that be named among you because it isn't fitting for saints and there must be no filthiness, or silly talk, or coarse jesting, that's obscenity, which are not fitting but rather giving of thanks.

That seems like a strange contrast, doesn't it? You should never be engaged in immorality, any kind of sexual impurity, any kind of greed. There should never be any filthiness or silly talk, actually the word can mean dirty talk, or obscenity, that's not fitting. You be characterized as being thankful. It almost is as if he sums up a righteous life as characterized by gratitude. To live a righteous life, and I think that's really a very important principle, if you get a hold of this, it's very practical and applicable. To live a righteous life means to be characterized by incessant gratitude because incessant gratitude means that you have a grip on the goodness of God in your life, that you're literally swept up in what God is doing in your life. You have a Godward focus, and that's the essence of righteous living.

That's the essence of godliness. That's what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Go down in that same chapter, Ephesians 5 to verse 18, don't get drunk with wine.

Here's another one of these contrasts. Don't get drunk with wine, that's dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. There were people in the ancient Greek world who believed that the way to ascend into the transcendent realm of religious experience, the way to commune with the deities, the way to escape the low level of the world and ascend to the higher knowledge was through drunkenness.

As you became more inebriated, you sort of, in their view, escaped the mundane and you were lifted to loftier concepts. He says, if you want to be elevated to the presence of God, if you want to commune with the true Spirit of God, don't get drunk with wine, just be filled with the Spirit. Just as Colossians puts it, let the Word of Christ dwell in you spiritually, just be under the control of the truth and the Spirit of truth. And when that happens, you'll speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

You know what happens in an orgy when you get completely drunk? You might sing, but it isn't going to be hymns and songs that exalt God. But when you're filled with the Holy Spirit, you truly are communing with God, you'll speak to one another in psalms and hymns, spiritual songs, you'll sing, make melody with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father.

Characteristic of a Spirit-filled person and characteristic of a Spirit-controlled person is incessant thanks, incessant gratitude. That means you're under Holy Spirit control. So all these verses essentially are saying the same thing.

Really? It is normal for us, back in chapter 5 verse 4, it is normal for us to give thanks. That's how you sum up a holy life as in contrast to all those sins. A Spirit-filled life is characterized by incessant thanks.

And then verse 21 says, and be subject to one another and wives do this and husbands do this and children do this and parents do this and servants do this and masters do this, and he goes through that whole section. But the first response is joy, speaking in one another's psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing, making melody in your heart to the Lord. When you get your spiritual life right, when you're under the control of the Word of God and the Spirit of God, when they dominate your thinking and your life, the first thing that happens is joy that comes out in praise and then it's followed by and companion to gratitude. So you will always give thanks for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God, even the Father. You'll be thankful for everything.

That's how Spirit-filled people function. I guess you could sort of sum up a godly person's life by saying they're full of joy and gratitude...full of joy and gratitude. That's not a stretch because if you ask, what are we going to be like when we're perfect? What are we going to be like when we're in heaven? What are we going to be doing when we're in heaven? Well, we could sum it up with the same reality. When we get to heaven, we're going to spend all eternity expressing joy and gratitude.

Is that not true? The purest joy and the purest unending gratitude. That is, in a sense, the summation of spirituality.

It is a person who cannot be overcome by circumstances, cannot be overcome by disappointment in this world because they're so filled with the Spirit, controlled by the truth as to be incessantly thankful. In Philippians 4, 6, somebody might say, well what about when trouble comes? What about when bad times come? Well he says, be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Let your requests be made known to God.

You've got some problems that could create anxiety for you, don't be anxious about it. Just start praying, start supplicating before God, but be thankful in the process. In the midst of that thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Spirit-filled people, Spirit-controlled people, godly people are marked out as thankful. Turn to Colossians 2, I think it's a high point of these verses. Verse 6 of Colossians 2 is a wonderful verse. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus to the Lord, so walk in Him.

What it means is, walk means your daily life, daily conduct. So now that you have received Christ Jesus to the Lord, pattern your life after Him. Verse 7 then says, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him, you were rooted in Him at the point of your salvation. Now you're being built up, you're being edified, you're being sanctified, you're being established in your faith just as you were instructed and overflowing with gratitude.

This is a command again. You're in Christ, you're growing in your faith just as you were instructed. In other words, you grow in faith as you receive instruction about divine truth and be characterized as literally overflowing with gratitude. The kind of joy that we're to have is the kind of joy that is causing us to leap for joy. It's the kind of joy that makes us glad. It's the kind of joy that we don't have enough outlets to express. It's that surpassing joy. It's that over-the-top kind of joy and the same is true with gratitude. Our gratitude is to be, as indicated here, an overflowing gushing kind of gratitude. This is characteristic of one who is spiritually mature.

Let's pray. We have found that true spirituality is manifest joy, manifest gratitude. That sums up what it is to be filled with the Spirit. That sums up what it is to be dominated by divine truth. So make us people of joy, make us people of gratitude, not unsympathetic, not insensitive, not lacking compassion, always laughing with those that laugh and weeping with those that weep, understanding the toil and the tears of human life. But down below, underneath all of that, people who know that because you are our sovereign God, all wise, all loving, all powerful, there is constant joy and gratitude as a reasonable response to everything that goes on in our lives. That's our desire, we pray in His name.

Amen. That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, with a lesson here on Grace to You, titled, In Everything Give Thanks. Now, before we go, a quick reminder that we really want and we need to hear from you. Your notes help us know that we're hitting the mark with programs that we put on the radio, the teaching resources that we put online, really everything we do.

If Grace to You has made a difference in your life, please let us know. Jot us a note when you have a moment. Email is a great way to contact us. Our address is letters at gty.org.

One more time. That's letters at gty.org. Or if you'd prefer to write by regular mail, you can write to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. And make sure you take advantage of all the free Bible study tools that you'll find at gty.org. That includes the Grace to You blog, past episodes of this broadcast and the Grace to You telecast. You can also download any of John's sermons free of charge in audio and transcript format. That's 3,500 sermons by John from more than five decades of his pulpit ministry. And again, to take advantage of those free Bible study tools, go to our website, gty.org. And to keep up to date on the latest news from Grace to You, make sure you follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today and join us tomorrow when John shows you how to live a life of gratitude and joy no matter what trials you face. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-22 10:46:46 / 2022-11-22 10:56:22 / 10

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