It's All in Your Perspective
Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
November 27, 2016
Central Passage
Ephesians 5:19-20
Attached Document
Open Document
Description

Ephesians 5:19-20 tells Christians toSpeak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The following proclamation was made by Governor Bradford in 1623, three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth: “To all ye Pilgrims, Inasmuch as the great father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, squashes and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the raids of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of nine and 12 in the day time, on Thursday November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Plymouth rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

Most of us celebrated Thanksgiving last Thursday…and it’s certainly good to set aside a day each year to do that…but the word of God tells us that thanksgiving should be a continual, and daily celebration by Christians.

In the Scriptures that we read today, Paul’s main subjects are praise and thanksgiving.  And please take note of the fact that this praise and thanksgiving he speaks of is to be always…continually…and in all circumstances.  In fact, it sounds as if Paul is talking about a church service here…especially when he says “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart...”

But, of course, Paul isn’t just talking about a church service.  He’s talking about what should be the attitude of Christians all the time…an attitude of the heart…how we’re to relate to each other.

As to how to maintain this attitude continually…and especially “in all circumstances”…I believe the answer lies in our perspective of thanksgiving.  We need the proper perspective…which requires an acknowledgement of what our circumstances are…and an understanding of who God is.  We also need to admit to at least three attitudes that steal away our gratitude and keep us from being thankful.

The number one attitude that keeps us from being thankful is pride…an attitude that nobody ever gave you anything…that you worked hard for everything you have.  It’s an attitude that you have no one to be thankful to other than yourself.

The number two attitude that keeps us from being thankful is a critical spirit…or constant complaining.  Instead of being grateful for what they have, many people will always find something to complain about.

A pastor told a story about one of his flock that was known as an incurable grumbler…constantly complaining about everything.  One year her garden was the finest and most bountiful for miles around.  He said to her, “Mary, everyone is saying how healthy your potato crop is this year.”  That’s true,” she said, “but now I don’t have any bad potatoes to feed the pigs.”

The number three attitude that keeps us from being grateful is carelessness.  Someone once said that if the stars only came out once a year…we would stay out all night to watch them.  But since they’re there every night…we just expect them to be there and take them for granted.

If you recall the Israelites grumbled because they had no food…so God miraculously sent manna to cover the ground each day…except on the Sabbath.  Then they grumbled because it was the same thing every day.  They received a miracle straight from God…but it didn’t satisfy them.  And because of pride…carelessness…or a critical spirit…most of us are never truly thankful for all that God daily gives us.

The word thanks is too seldom heard…too rarely spoken…and too often forgotten.  But if you do adopt an attitude of thanksgiving in your life…it will be changed.  You will savor each day.

If any nation ought to be thankful to God and grateful for his goodness…it ought to be America.  And if any people in America ought to be thankful to God and grateful for his goodness…it ought to be Christians.

Luke 17 includes the story of 10 men who were healed of leprosy by Jesus.  Only one took the time to go back and say thank you.  That’s about right statistically for our day.  Probably no more than 10 percent of people thank Jesus for what He has done for them.  Jesus told that one grateful man “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

The man had already been healed of his leprosy…so Jesus wasn’t talking about physical healing.  He was talking about spiritual healing.  Physical healing is a wonderful thing…but it doesn’t make you whole.  A person’s wholeness requires spiritual healing…and that comes only from God and requires a special thankfulness to Him.

Psychologists say that gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.  It produces more positive emotional energy than any other attitude in life.  And a thankful heart will endear others to us…and us to others.  Thanksgiving is not only good for the giver…but also good for the receiver.

God appreciates our thanksgiving.  It glorifies and lifts Him up…and it draws us closer to Him.  If we’re not grateful…if we don’t express our thanksgiving…it can have the opposite effect.  In Romans 1:21 Paul wrote: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

This passage implies that people who are ungrateful to God will soon fall away.  Their hearts will become hardened…and their pride will keep them from worshiping Him and being thankful.  We’ve seen that happen here with some people…where self has become more important than salvation.

As our thanksgiving to God expands…it should include the blessings of life.  For example, have you ever stood over a sink full of dirty dishes and thanked God for the opportunity to wash and dry them?  Most of us would say no…but we should thank Him…because a sink full of dirty dishes usually means that we have been blessed by God with food and drink…whereas two-thirds of the world goes to bed hungry every night.

Our prayers are often too general.  We thank God for all our blessings…but what blessings are we really thankful for?  He should heed the words of that hymn that says, “Count your blessings...name them one by one...count your blessings see what God has done.”

As our thanksgiving to God expands…it should also include the burdens of life.  And that’s a tough one.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul tells us to “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  He follows that up in verse 20 with “…always giving thanks.”

Here’s a guy who knew quite a bit about burdens and suffering.  He obviously suffered from a very difficult problem that he called a thorn in the flesh…but that wasn’t all.  He had for the cause of Christ been naked, cold, hungry, shipwrecked and stoned because of his faith…and he had been run out of town, beaten, whipped, imprisoned and betrayed by friends…yet Paul never stopped giving thanks to God.

He had faith in God and the proper perspective for the burdens of life that came his way.  In Romans 8:18, he wrote: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us...”

Paul went on to say in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong...”  And in Philippians 1:12, he told Christians that what had happened to him had really served to advance the Gospel.  When you have that kind of perspective…you can give thanks in all circumstances.

In our weakness…God can make us strong.  When we are struggling…God is able to work in our lives.  He helps us through the tough times that we could never face on our own.

Now Paul isn’t saying that we have to be thankful for our problems.  He is saying we can be thankful in our problems.  That’s because being thankful in them allows God to use them for His greater good.

If you recall, the Philippian jailer was ready to take his life because an earthquake had freed his prisoners.  What changed his mind was the attitude maintained by Paul and Silas during their undeserved imprisonment. They sang and praised God…even though they were in chains…knowing that God would help them through.  Because of the joy they had in their faith…the jailer and all his household became Christians.

As our thanksgiving to God expands…it should also include the benefits of life.  When the Israelites focused on what they didn’t have…they failed to see all that they did have.  For example, we are constantly adding to our prayer list…but more than anything we should also be adding to our praise list.

Most of us have had some difficult times…maybe even times when we have despaired of life itself.  But if we really look at all the benefits in life that God provides…they far outweigh the difficulties and problems.  The greatest benefit of life for a Christian is being forgiven of sin…and having freedom from sin.

Our thanksgiving to God is not only expressed and expanded…it’s also expected.  Paul says, “…give thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  His will for us is also life changing for us.  Accept His will and you will never be the same.

God’s will for us is to grow in Christ Jesus…and we know we’re doing that when we can express gratitude for how we are blessed by both others and by God.

Our gratitude to God should also be expressed by giving.  When we realize how much God has done for us…and how much He continues to do…we should be more than happy to give something back to Him.

This church continues to have many needs…but it has been the recipient of so many blessings that we should never complain.  James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the father of lights.”

We need to remember that…that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father…and that we are merely stewards of what God gives us.  Many Christians…whether happily or unhappily…give the church 10 percent of their income…which is how the Israelites financed what became a religious hierarchy.

So think about this: God gives us 100 percent of what we have…and let’s say that we give 10 percent back to Him.  In contrast, we go to a restaurant…pay for a meal with money God provided to us…then tip a good waitress 15 to 20 percent for bringing it to us.  Are we then showing the waitress more appreciation and thankfulness than we’re showing God?

Thankfulness to God is the mark of a growing Christian…a giving Christian…and a glowing Christian.  If you are thankful to God…then you will be glowing.  You won’t be constantly critical and pessimistic…you’ll be eternally thankful.  Difficult times won’t be able to break you.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed...For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen.”

The Psalmist was right, “It’s a good thing to give thanks to the Lord.”

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