In Everything Give Thanks?

I would consider myself to be a somewhat gifted communicator.  Sometimes I can get going and stay going for an hour without pausing; especially when I know what I’m talking about.  Often times, when I get in the zone, I drop truth bombs and wisdom grenades that even catch me off guard.  Then, smack dab in the middle of talking I say something that is either in direct contradiction to everything that preceded the statement, a lie or something that sounds great but holds no value.

Sometimes when I read certain passages of Scripture I can’t help but wonder, did the authors suffer from the same condition that I do? Here’s an example of what I’m talking about…

In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Church at Thessalonica, he penned these words:

12 Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.

16 Rejoice always! 17 Pray constantly. 18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Don’t stifle the Spirit. 20 Don’t despise prophecies, 21 but test all things. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil. (1 Th. 5:-22, HCSB)

Did you catch it?  Read it again; slowly.

Two statements in this passage recently stood out to me.  I mean, I’ve read the words before, but the other day as I was reflecting on this season of “Thanksgiving”, the phrases:

16) Rejoice always!


18) Give thanks in everything…

stood out to me like sore thumbs as if the verses had been misplaced.    Immediately questions began to formulate in my mind concerning the two verses.   Rejoice, ALWAYS? Give thanks, in EVERYTHING?

Did Paul really mean to write those words? Or was he just in the zone? Is it even possible to respond the way he exhorts his readers to?

I’m sure if you’re reading this, you and I could both create a long list of things and situations that  would not naturally cause one to rejoice and/or give thanks.  So was Paul being serious?  Should this be our response to life (not just Thanksgiving season)?

Yes; the answer is yes!!!

How do I know this?  Well, if you pluck these verses out from the larger context of the chapter they would definitely seem unreasonable, but if you read the verses in light of entire chapter (dare I say the entire letter and Scripture in general) it makes perfect sense.

Here’s why…

Paul exhorts his readers (and us) to rejoice always and give thanks in everything for two reasons;

1) Christ is coming (5:2) – Yes, the King of Glory is sure to return and in light of this truth we can rejoice because for those of us who are in Christ, we know that in Him we are eternally secure.    There’s hope in the fact that there is life beyond this life and are life is in Him.  He is our life, He is our hope.   There is life beyond our present circumstances, beyond our failures, beyond our crushed dreams, beyond our pain, beyond our persecution.

“And this is the promise that He himself made to us: eternal life.” (1 John 2:25, HCSB)

This life is not the end. Cancer is not the end.  Divorce is not the end.  Homelessness is not the end.  Why?  Because Christ promises us life; eternal.  Therefore, even in unfavorable, uncomfortable, inconvenient situations and circumstances we can choose to rejoice.  We can pursue joy.  Always.

Another definition for the Greek word used here “to rejoice” means, to be well and/or thrive.   Friends, we can be well and thrive in any situation because we know  to Whom we belong and we know that He is in control.  He is active.  He is with us.  He is coming.  The King is coming.

2) God is working (5:23-24) – Paul concludes the letter with a prayerful declaration that looks toward God’s completed work in our lives.  He prays and declares that the work started at the moment of regeneration would be brought to completion by the Faithful One who began it.  If you are a Christian, you can rest assured that God is working, transforming, purifying, making you fit for service to Him and for Him.   He is doing the work.  He is using our circumstances as tools to shape us and mold us and conform us into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).  Every trial and every test, every victory and every failure, every hurt and every moment of delight can be used by God for our good and for His glory.  Why? Because He is good. He is faithful.  He is in control.  He is God.

Let us therefore this season and every day of our lives,

Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Acknowledge that Yahweh is God.
He made us, and we are His[a]
His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal;
His faithfulness endures through all generations. (Psalm 100, HCSB)

Thankfully rejoicing,



Letting Go…

I have pride and control issues…

I guess you can argue that both are one in the same; nevertheless I struggle with them both!

Let me explain:

Often times when there is a conversation about faith, there is an element of human responsibility involved that “proves” that true faith is actually possessed rather than merely professed.  For example, if someone is seeking employment and asks me to pray that God would give them a job, I typically oblige. But as soon as the “amen” has been said my follow-up question is normally, “How many job applications have you obtained and filled out?”  The reason I do this is to gauge whether or not that person is holding up their end and really trusting God by stepping out and actively and intentionally seeking employment.  I do this to help the person understand that the evidence of their faith lies in the activity of their feet/hands (See Joshua 3).  Faith in this case is exemplified in “active pursuit”, but is this always the case? Is faith always displayed in the stepping out? Reaching out?

I have this desire. I’ve prayed about the situation, I’ve gone through my checklist to ensure that the apprehension of it would at least on the surface bring glory to God and I’ve in some ways put myself in a position to rightly pursue it.  So naturally, all that’s left to do is to go after it; right?

In this case…wrong!!! 

I know this because each attempt to pursue has caused further separation from the thing almost to the point where I’m not even sure if it it’s even and option anymore.  This last week and a half has particularly been a period of frustration and sometimes anger because I thought I was doing the right thing.  I thought this was the way it was supposed to go down.  I thought that by me putting myself out there, I’d be showing God that I’m serious about this one in hopes  that He would honor my “stepping out.”

It wasn’t until today that I was reminded (by an angel of sorts) that maybe my approach this whole time has been wrong.  Maybe in this particular situation, it’s not about me taking steps forward toward the thing, but remaining still; and maybe even taking steps  away from it.  Maybe, the demonstration of my trust and reliance in God’s love, power and wisdom is supposed to be evident in my waiting; in my letting go.  

Wait…letting go?

Yes, Terry…letting go!!!  

But if I let go it will look like the desire isn’t there anymore right? I may be forgotten about right? Someone else might get it before me right? 

 Not necessarily…There can be and there is desire in waiting.  Letting go doesn’t mean casting the thing aside as if it doesn’t matter or “forgetting” about it as if it doesn’t exist.  Letting go means, relinquishing my need to be in the control of the situation because I believe it’s mine and I’m in some way entitled to it.    Letting go is allowing God’s timing to be the determining factor and instead of my own unreasonable timetable.  Letting go in this situation is saying, “God I trust you enough not to pursue, because if it is for me, YOU will make it happen.”

You may be thinking Terry, that’s not how faith works! If so, I invite you to go read the story of David before he was crowned King.  It was over a decade between the time God anointed/called David to be King of Israel and the realization of it. In this story, David had plenty of opportunities to usurp Saul’s authority, execute a hostile takeover and even execute Saul.  Yet, David waited. He served.  He exercised faith!!!  He knew what he wanted, he knew his calling, but he trusted God’s timing for it to happen and in the end, it was God who received the glory and David who was beneficiary of God’s goodness. (1 Samuel 16:11-2 Samuel 5:3, read it all!)

So tonight, I’m letting go…Letting go of the need to control my life.  Letting go of fear.  Letting go of doubt.  Letting go of anxiety.

I am embracing God’s love.  I’m embracing God’s wisdom.  I’m embracing God’s power.  And most of all, I’m embracing God’s TIMING.  

Should my desire ever become a reality it won’t be because I earned it, it will be because God has graciously allowed me to receive it.  Selah.

Letting go,