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1 Thessalonians 5:18--In Everything Give Thanks

Youíre heading out the door to go to a Bible study.  When you go to get into your car, you notice the front, left tire is flat.  You call AAA, but by the time they arrive and fix the tire, you look at your watch and realize that the Bible study is probably almost over.  So, you head back into the house to change clothes and settle in for the night.

Sometimes our initial thought in these types of circumstances is to blame Satan for such incidences.  After all, you were going to a Bible study.  The Lord would have wanted you to be there; therefore, Satan must have made your tire go flat to prevent you from going.  On the other hand, if you had left your home at the intended time, the car that ran the stop sign three blocks away would have hit you directly in the driverís side at the very moment you were to pass through the intersection.  Therefore, God might have allowed your tire go flat to protect you from being in an accident.

Have you been in situations like this and wondered exactly who was in control?  The question makes perfect sense to me, but Iíve gotten strange looks when I have voiced it out loud.  When you can see both sides of the issue as with the scenario above, who do you give credit to?  Iíve long thought that this was one of the toughest discernment areas of the Christian life.

Early in the school year, the Christian school at which my husband once served as Headmaster had a Spiritual Emphasis week planned for the middle and high school students.  They were to spend four days at a nearby camp, and arrangements had been made months prior for one of their favorite youth speakers, Neal Hatfield, to fly in from North Carolina to minister to them for the week.   The church family had been praying for the teens for weeks, asking God to do a very special work in their lives.

Monday afternoon, hurricane warnings were issued for our area.  High winds and heavy rains were predicted, so the local public school system immediately announced that public schools would be closed.  Private schools quickly followed suit.  In addition, the camp owner called and said that if the area got the amount of rain that was predicted, it would be impossible for the school to use their facilities.  Therefore, after months of prayer, planning and expectation, the plans for this camp fell apart in a matter of hours.

The expectancy level had been very high for this event, and many were disappointed that the retreat wouldnít take place.  The day after the cancellation, I was once again pondering the ďwho was responsible for this?Ē question.  After all, Scripture does make it clear that Satan is the prince of this world.  Certainly it could have only been Satan. He would not have wanted this retreat to take place and risk some of the teens getting out of his grip.  Yet, at the same time, I was trying to assimilate this line of reasoning with the verse ďin everything give thanks.Ē  How can I give thanks for something that was so obviously Satanís doing?

In one of those rare occasions that are so precious in a believerís life, when weíre certain beyond a doubt that God has spoken to us, I sensed God saying to me, ďThe reason I want you to thank me for everything is because I donít want Satan to get credit for anything

That has been years ago, yet I still havenít gotten over the revelation of that moment and the clarity of that Scriptureís meaning.  Godís Word tells us in a number of places to give thanks in all things, and Iíve been familiar with them for years.  Itís one of the principles that Iíve been trying to improve on in my life, but I never could totally grasp how that could be done, particularly when circumstances seemed only contributable to Satan.  Now I had my answer.  It couldnít get any simpler or plainer.  The verse means exactly what it says, ďIn everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.Ē  Period.  By giving thanks to God for everything, I give Him credit for everything.  I give Him all the praise and glory.  My focus is on Him.  Thatís what He wants.  He wants my undivided attention.

To acknowledge Satan in any fashion, shape or form bestows credit, praise and attention on him, and that dishonors God.  If the tire goes flat, Iím to thank the Lord.  If the weather cancels out an important event, Iím to thank the Lord.  If I get fired from my job, Iím to thank the Lord.  If I get sick, Iím to thank the Lord.  When the Lord says ďeverything,Ē He literally means ďeverything,Ē regardless of the lightness or severity of the situation.

Many years after having this insight, while teaching a ladies Bible study, it hit me that another result of thanking God for everything is that it removes "me" and "us" from the equation.  We believers tend to do so many things in our power, rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, we don't thank the Lord for much of the good that happens in our lives because I think, deep down, we see our achievements as things we accomplished with our talents and our abilities.  We soak up compliments from others and become proud.

Again, by thanking and focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ, we give Him glory and credit for ALL things, recognizing that whatever talents, gifts or abilities we might have, they have been bestowed on us by a loving, generous and gracious God.

 

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