In Every Thing Give Thanks
By David J. Stewart
What a wonderful passage of Scripture! The Bible teaches to give thanks to God “in” every thing; not “for” every thing. This is God's will. A person is not Biblically expected to thank God for pain, loss and suffering; but God wants us to give thanks in every circumstance and at all times. It is a matter of trusting God. Pain and suffering are a part of living in a fallen world of sin. We are to give thanks in prayer to God at all times, and under all circumstances.
There's another related passage of Scripture that comes to mind in Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Here again we find “thanksgiving” mentioned.
The word “thanksgiving” in Philippians 4:6 is the Greek word eucharistia and means “gratitude; actually grateful language (to God, as an act of worship).” Christians are to pray without ceasing. The word “careful” in Philippians 4:6 is the Greek merimnao and means “to be anxious about: (be, have) care (-ful), take thought.” Literally, we are commanded to cast all of our cares and burdens upon the Lord in prayer. We are to be anxious (careful) over nothing; but rather, to take everything to God in prayer, expressing our gratitude toward God in worship. 1st Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
Count Your Blessings
I read a news story last week that broke my heart. The following man (Rom Houben) was thought to be in vegetative state for 23 years. Consequently, everyone didn't pay attention to him; but he was fully conscious the entire time. Can you imagine being trapped in your body? Not being able to talk, exercise nor even blink your eye? Not being able to tell someone how lonely you are? Not being able to do anything 24 hours a day? Not being able to tell someone that you feel pain, irritation or need something? I can't even imagine what this poor man has endured? Talk about hell on earth! We all have nothing in comparison to complain about that's for sure...
It is frightening what this man has and is going through. This is the stuff that nightmares are made of. I can't even imagine being fully conscious for 23-years while being totally paralyzed and labeled as a vegetable. The poor man couldn't even talk to tell someone. He just laid there trapped in his motionless body 24-hours a day for 23-years and NO ONE in the world knew he was still alert.
He was involved in a tragic automobile accident 23 years ago and is now only 46-or years old. Although still totally paralyzed, he can now communicate through an electronic voice box. This case has raised awareness worldwide concerning all patients labeled as vegetables like Mr. Houben. They totally misdiagnosed him. We are so blessed.
At only age 23, before the horrible accident, Rom Houben was into martial Arts (Karate) and attending college to be an engineer. His future seemed bright! But there was a tragic unforeseen car accident that paralyzed Houben. Life is truly what happens to us when we're making big plans (Proverb 27:1). This is why the Bible warns us about bragging of future events (such as getting married, a job promotion, surviving surgery, et cetera). I could mention a million things. We should ALWAYS say, “Lord willing” while mentioning any future plans. This glorifies God..
Keep On Praying
Most people decide whether or not to continue praying based upon the visible results. If they don't see something change, then they quit praying. I think every immature believer has done this. However, there ought to come a point in every Christian's life when we realize that God works in mysterious ways, and it's not our place to quit praying just because we don't think God is working. The most important thing I can tell you is to stand firm upon the PROMISES of God. I pray even when I don't see results, because I have God's PROMISE of blessing, provision, protection and guidance. God tells us that He cares in 1st Peter 5:7 and thus wants us to cast our burdens upon His shoulders in prayer. If we believe the Bible, then by faith we'll do what God asks and trust Him.
It is very possible that when a believer prayers, things sometimes get worse. It is not uncommon for Christians to feel that God is not answering. Listen to what king David said in the Old Testament to the Lord in Psalms 44:23, “Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.” Even the man after God's own heart (1st Samuel 13:14) felt that God wasn't responding; but it wasn't God's time yet. Do you know why David was a man after God's own heart? It was because David loved God's Word. Psalms 119:47, “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.” The important thing is to continue praying, no matter what happens.
God cares (1st Peter 5:7). God commands me not to worry; but rather, to let my requests be made known unto Him (Philippians 4:6-7), claiming the perfect peace of God that passeth all understanding. It is entirely a matter of living by faith. I pray because I have faith in the PROMISES of God, and it doesn't matter to me if I see immediate results to my prayers. I know that God works in decades, not in months or years. God works in decades and over the decades I can see the hand of God working.
I assure you according to the Scriptures that your prayers are not in vain. God has a reason and purpose for everything. It is God's character to work in ways that we do not understand, and the Bible makes that very clear in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God works in mysterious ways in man's eyes, but God sees the complete picture. This is why Proverbs 3:5-6 teach us not to lean unto our own understanding, but to trust upon the Lord.
Oh, but listen my friend, if we don't pray, then we cannot claim that perfect peace which passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I don't know about you, but I don't want to go it alone in life without God's help. God will always be by your side in this life (Hebrews 13:5), but He resisteth the proud and not praying is definitely a form of sinful pride. If we don't pray, then we are telling God that we don't need His help. We all need God's grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).
The Bible commands believers to pray, period. Whether we feel like God is answering or not is irrelevant to whether or not we should pray. A lot of Christians pray and don't see immediate results, and so they quit and live the Christian life superficial without a life of prayer. They now have religion, attempting to serve God in the flesh. Most professed Christians don't pray regularly. How can we expect God's blessings if we don't pray?
Prayer is Synonymous with Holy Living
Jesus told His disciples to pray lest they enter into temptation (Luke 22:40). Believers who live in sin don't spend time in prayer. Prayer and humbleness are synonymous. In 2nd Chronicles 7:14, the first step to God healing our nation is to humble ourselves in prayer. People don't pray because they're not humble, and sinfully proud people don't care about seeking God's face. God turns His face toward those who fear Him and try to obey Him. Genesis 33:10, “And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.” God turns His face toward those in whom He is well pleased, toward those who humble themselves in prayer, keeping God's Commandments, turning from sin, and fearing God. God knows who is trying and who is not, who is building and who is destroying, who is loving and who is hating, who is serving the Lord and who is playing church.
Being saved makes our relationship right with God; but living according to His Commandments makes our fellowship right with the Lord as well. Many believers have a right relationship with God as a child of God; but they are out of fellowship and living in sin, and God will hold them accountable at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:9-11). I dare say 1-out-of-100 people are genuinely saved (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24). And of those who are truly born-again by the Word of God (1st Peter 1:23), by faith alone in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26); I dare say 1-out-of-10 are right with the Lord in fellowship (John 15:1-14)—praying, witnessing with the Gospel, genuinely trying to live right, living for the things of Jesus Christ, caring, loving, giving, forgiving, contending for the faith, taking a stand against evil, desiring to do God's will, et cetera. God wants to live the Christian life through us if we'll yield to the Holy Spirit's leading in the Word of God, searching the Scriptures as Christ commanded (John 5:39).
That's why I expose those false prophets who say that you have to clean up your life of sin (reformation) before you can be saved (regeneration). That is a false gospel of works salvation. The Bible teaches that when God saves us, He cleanses us from all sin. God cleanses us. 1st John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1st Peter 2:2 teaches that as new born babes, Christians grow on the milk of the Word. As we grow in the grace of our Lord, HE CHANGES US. I have always heard people use 1st Peter 2:2 for new believers; but I don't care if you've been saved for 50-years, you still need the milk of God's Word to live spiritually.
Yesterday's manna will rot, we need to search the Scriptures continually. Older Christians tend to go on yesterday's gathered manna, becoming deeper-life deadbeats, but we all need to stay hungry for the Scriptures for spiritual nourishment (Hebrews 4:12). As we grow in the Lord, the Holy Spirit convicts us of what changes need to be made in our life, and God helps us make whatever changes need to be made if we so desire. If not, God will chastise us because He loves us (Hebrews 12:6-8).
Each believer should be compelled to pray because we need God. To not pray is to tell God that we don't need Him, that we can go it alone by our self. I desperately need and want God to work in and through my life for Christ. I must pray, for there is no other way.
And may I say, there is nothing more evil and wicked than prayer books. It is a horrible thing to recite any so-called “prayers.” Our nation's leaders are so Godless that they have to read a prayer from a piece of paper at White House Prayer Breakfasts, prewritten by a staff speech-writer for them. It is pathetic and sad! Roman Catholicism has sinfully taught for centuries the pagan Rosary, idolatrous Hail Marys, fake religious incantations, heartless recitals, and demonic chants and vain repetitions. When you pray, worship God from your heart in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
God does not work in man's time, nor does God work in man's ways, nor does God do what makes us happy. Again we read in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omnisapient (all-wise), omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (God is everywhere)—God does what is best according to His purpose and plan for our lives, which often means allowing pain and suffering for us throughout this earthly life.
Pain pushes us closer to God. James 4:8 says that if we'll draw near to God, then He will draw near unto us. The next Verse says to “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” God lives with a broken-heart over the wickedness of the world. God DOES see all the suffering. God sees the Lake of Fire where the unsaved will spend eternity. God sees things that we cannot see, but He has informed us in His Word of what is important to Him, that He wants us to know and do now. So many people are trying to figure out what God did not say, instead of focusing on and obeying what God did say.
God works in mysterious ways; mysterious to us, but not to God. There's no such thing as a miracle to God. I hope you will pray, with a thankful heart, expressing your gratitude unto the Lord for His goodness and mercy. This is God's will for our life. Prayer is not an activity, nor is it a part-time job. One's prayer life, or lack thereof, reveals how much we depend upon God. I don't know about you, but I desperately need and want God's presence in my life. Only a fool wouldn't want to pray and appeal unto God for His blessings and grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16)...
Our prayer life should be based upon the PROMISES of God in the Scriptures, and not whether or not we feel like God is listening or answering. I know that God is always with me for He has PROMISED in Hebrews 13:5 to never leave me nor forsake me. If I pray then I know that I am not forfeiting God's blessings. If we don't pray, then the Bible teaches that we will miss out on God's blessings (James 4:2). Jesus taught His disciples to pray “thy will be done” in Matthew 6:10. Proverb 3:5 instructs Christians to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” If we pray, but then stop because we don't see immediate results, then we are leaning upon our own understanding instead of trusting the Lord in prayer.
The Bible says that God cares (1st Peter 5:7). I choose to believe that! The Bible tells us to cast our cares upon God because He cares. I don't go by my feelings, because my feelings change from moment to moment. There is no promise in the Bible that God will answer every prayer, nor that He will heal our body of afflictions, nor that things will improve in life when we pray. The Bible teaches in Philippians 2:13 that “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” let God be God!
May we pray to God about everything, especially that which burdens our mind and heart, expressing our gratitude toward God, being thankful “in” everything.