Last year, I gave a sermon about what we have to be thankful for. I found that the word thankful appears only 3 times in scripture in the KJV: Psalm 100, Romans 1:21 and Colossians 3:15. Once again, I’m going to be preaching about being thankful.
Merrian Webster defines it this way.
- conscious of benefit received <for what we are about to receive make us truly thankful>
- expressive of thanks <thankful service>
- well pleased : GLAD <was thankful that it didn’t rain>
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.Colossians 3:1-3, 15-17
Verse 15 says, “and be ye thankful.” For what? Everything in this passage is telling us one thing: be thankful that God is God and that Christ is His son. Be thankful that Christ lives in us.
According to scripture, being thankful isn’t an expression of thanks, or being glad; rather, it is a mindset about who God is, what He is, and the fact that He is God. God calls us to be thankful always not just when something good happens. Being thankful is a state of mind that we are to be in at all times.
So how is that possible? How can I, being the sometimes pessimistic human that I am, negative in my attitudes and always seeing the bad things that are about to happen, or the possibility of the failure that I know I can achieve today, how can I be thankful all the time? What exactly is there that I can focus on that will allow me to have a “thankful” mindset?
A couple of weeks ago, I was really struggling at my workplace. I seem to be doing that a lot lately. Things are not going well, my superiors don’t seem to have a clue as to what I can do, or what I should be doing. I’m apologizing to the teachers about not being able to solve their problem more often than I am actually able to fix the issue. It is frustrating and almost humiliating. There is no respect for any of the technicians for their abilities or their knowledge or their work ethi … the list goes on. Generally speaking it is a difficult task to go into work knowing that you can fix problems, yet not having the authority or the ability to do so because of the restrictions placed by those in charge. I was to the point that I wanted to quit, and every day I had to force myself to go to work.
I love how God works in our lives: He places people in a position to minister to us; He sends people to say things to us; He puts us in positions that we have to learn what He wants us to learn. It almost sounds as if He has a plan.
Anyway, I went to a customer’s house, her name is Betty Chaplin. We tend to see each other on a regular basis, usually when one or the other of us is struggling with something in our lives. She is a wonderful woman who loves the Lord and whom God puts in my path on many occasions, especially when I need correction or encouragement. This time, she asked me a question. She asked, “Do you believe that God has a plan?” What a simple question, and one that I, myself, have asked others many times! Do I believe that God has a plan? Of course I do; God has to have a plan: He sees everything, knows everything, has everything, does everything; He is God. So ,of course I answered, “Yes.” to her question. Then she asked me, “If you believe God has a plan, why are you so worried about what is happening at work?”
Good question! Why was I so worried about “stuff” at work? What was it that I was so consumed with that I could not seem to find any joy or anything to be thankful for at work? I don’t remember exactly what was said after that, but it was something like, “So why are you so worried about what’s going on at work? Why not just do what God has set you to do, knowing that He has bigger and better plans for you?”
One of the best examples in scripture about God having a plan for us is Joseph. Joseph went through a lot of bad times, but God definitely had a plan for him; he just had to get through the bad stuff first. Now if that isn’t the truth. If you ever think you’re having a bad day, think about the stuff Joseph had to go through – being thrown down a well, sold into slavery, taken from your land and your family, thrown in prison. Now that’s a bad day at work, and all he did was go out to check on his brothers because his father asked him to. Did God have a plan? Absolutely!
God openly tells of us His plans throughout scripture. One of the first in scripture is the plans He makes for Abraham. Open your bibles to Genesis 18:10-19 (KJV).
10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. 16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
First, God is going to make an old couple pregnant. Then, He is going to make that one child, the one child of promise, into a great and mighty nation. Then, He is going to bless the entire world through that nation. Now that is a plan!
So We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster. The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished. Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the Lord, people avoid evil. When people’s lives please the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them. Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. God have a plan for us? Scripture says that He does.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11
O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.Psalm 40:5
The Lord will work out his plans for my life – for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.Psalm 138:8
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.Proverbs 16:1-9
These are a few of the passages that tell us that God has a plan for each and every one of us. But we can also see in our own lives, look back at some of the things that have happened to you, can you see God’s divine hand involved? I know that I can. Some of the things that I’ve done should have ended in my death. But God has a plan, and we can never fail to do what God knows we are going to do, He is God after all. Sometimes it takes a few bumps and bruises, but if we believe in Him, and we seek Him, and we want to do His will, then He will direct our paths and His plan will come to fruition through us. Ofcourse, His plan is going to prevail whether we believe in Him or not. However, when we are believers in Him, then He can direct us and make our lives exactly what they should be.
For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building. So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you – whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.1 Corinthians 3:9, 21-23
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Those called by God – we – are God’s workers: powerful, wonderful, exciting statements. And we should be thankful for them every single day. We know we are called by God: He says so in His Word. Here are some verses that should make us very thankful:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.John 10:27
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.Romans 8:14
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.Proverbs 3:5-6
God says that we should be thankful always, that it is a mindset and we should walk around joyful and thankful, giving praise and glory to God in everything we do. I didn’t see that for a while, but now, I just have to remember that no matter what we are going through, we can hear His voice and be thankful that He has a plan … and it’s good.