Thanksgiving to God

 

                                I.     Thanksgiving Principles

                              II.     Spiritual Life Skills Related to Thanksgiving

                            III.     Mandates for Thanksgiving

                           IV.     Thanksgiving and Capacity for Life

                             V.     Thanksgiving and Prayer

 

Pertinent Verses

 

ü    …always be thankful with reference to all things toward God, even the Father, through the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20 RBT

 

ü    Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us for a share in the endowment of the saints in the light.        Colossians 1:12 RBT

 

ü    In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.    1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB

 

ü    …having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.   Colossians 2:7 NASB

 

ü    For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude…   1 Timothy 4:4 NASB

 

ü    Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; Hebrews 12:28 NASB

 

I. Thanksgiving Principles

For many people, thanksgiving can be a shallow fleeting system of gratitude; of thanks, given without much thought behind it. However, for you, believer in Jesus Christ, thanksgiving is much more because it indicates how well you know, love and appreciate God.  The more you know God the more grateful you will be toward Him for everything He has done for you. Everything you are, everything you have is due to the grace of God.  It is only through the study, the inculcation and application of the Word of God, that you really become cognizant of the vast scope of grace, the foundation for gratitude.  God has freely provided everything to you as a gracious gift.  Thanksgiving also serves as the foundation of your worship of God the Father, which acts as an indicator of your capacity for life.  Thanksgiving is that form of worship in which the Church Age believer acknowledges the benefits related to God’s grace from eternity past and in time.  It is worship and an expression of the wonderful functions of the spiritual life without which function thanksgiving has no meaning. It is the moment-by-moment mental attitude produced by your spiritual life.

If you are not living the spiritual life God has provided you in this Church Age, there is no way you can have true gratitude toward God, nor can you ever actually come to love Him.  Gratitude is foundational to forming divine viewpoint in your life, whereby you come to recognize what is ultimately real in life. So much of what we perceive to be important just distracts us from God’s plan for our lives, which is where our happiness and fulfillment lies. 

Thanksgiving is the mental attitude forged from cognition and inculcation of Bible doctrine resulting in great capacity for life from the fact that you have learned and continually apply our Lord’s thinking.  Thanksgiving is the application of Bible doctrine to experience and your daily attitude toward God.  It is an expression of gratitude toward God based on doctrinal capacity to appreciate who and what He is.  Thanksgiving is more than an expression of gratitude, more than appreciation in a human sense.  It is appreciation for God, which cannot exist apart from the function of the spiritual life. Thanksgiving is your application of Bible doctrine to your experiences as well as your daily attitude toward God. Only mature believers have capacity for true and complete thanksgiving.

 

II. Thanksgiving Related to Spiritual Life Skills

Because thanksgiving is a part of worship, you must relate it to every skill of your spiritual life.  By skill, I mean an activity that you learn or a way you must learn to think.  It takes effort.  You must want to do this.  You must want to think this way.  For you, believer, it is the only way you are going to be happy in this life! 

One category of spiritual skills applies to your exploitation of divine power, so you must relate your gratitude to the power options of the spiritual life.  The term, “power option” needs some explanation.  The spiritual life is a supernatural way of life.  It runs on divine power, not our power.  God has provided a means, through the Holy Spirit, by which to exploit His power.  We must learn to exploit His power to the maximum if we are to grow in grace as He has mandated.  This is optional, that is, you have a choice in the matter.  However, if you choose not to use the power He has provided, unbearable difficult consequences are sure to come your way.  They will be unbearable because you will not have the spiritual resources to handle them.  You will not have the capacity to retain any happiness at all when you face testing and suffering; even prosperity will not bring happiness. Furthermore, a believer who rejects the spiritual life power options will lead a miserable life eventually terminating with the sin face to face with death.  Furthermore, if enough believers in a given nation decide against exploiting God’s power, then that nation will see very hard times, facing national discipline and eventual destruction.   

The power options, that is, the means that God has given us to exploit His power includes: the filling of God the Holy Spirit, the circulation of Biblical truths in your thinking and the resultant formation of ten problem-solving devices. We will discuss each one of these in more detail.  The point here is that God has given to us the means to exploit His power.  He has designed these power options specifically for you, believer in this Church Age.  He has designed these for your satisfaction, prosperity as well as fulfillment in this life.  It is also the only way you are going to glorify God.  It as also the only way you become grateful to Him.

The first power option, the filling of the Spirit demands more explanation because many believers relate the Spirit’s ministry to emotion, disregarding His true function in this Church Age.  The Spirit’s filling ministry plays an integral role in our spiritual life.  Through His filling, He mentors us, teaches us, and empowers us, enabling us to live the spiritual life, all without emotional connotation. This does not mean the cessation of emotion in our lives, because God has given those to us as an “appreciator.” Properly functioning emotions respond to thought! How is the believer motivated to thanksgiving by the filling of the Holy Spirit?  First, the believer who understands this three-fold ministry will come to appreciate God for spiritual power and be motivated to maintain them in his life.  Notice that this is a positive motivation.  We have mentioned a few negative motivations like the various categories of discipline!  I would much rather be motivated positively! If you look at the fantastic blessings that God has provided us for exploiting His power, He prefers positively motivating us as well.  It is impossible for you to come to an understanding and appreciation of God’s grace without this power.   You first receive the Spirit’s power when you believe in Jesus Christ.  You then lose it when you first sin.  God the Father restores the Spirit’s power to you when you name your sin to the Him.  This follows the mechanic delineated by the Apostle John in 1 John 1:9. 

 

ü    If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

 

You simply name your sin or sins to the Father for forgiveness and spiritual purification.  The Spirit cannot empower the impure or carnal believer. This is what Paul called “judging yourself that you would not be judged.”

 

ü    But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 1 Corinthians 11:31

 

Because Jesus Christ bore the sins of the world, God the Father forgives every sin the believer names to Him.  By utilizing this mechanic, you are utilizing the work our Lord accomplished on the Cross, as it relates to any sin you commit after salvation.  How can you apply this doctrine to your life right now?  You should never indulge in self- pity or self-castigation for sins you have committed.  Why? Because by the use of this simple mechanic, God forgives those sins and restores you into fellowship with Him. Understanding and applying these doctrines should certainly result in tremendous gratitude toward God!  This is an incredible spiritual mechanic and provision! 

The second power option involves what, through Bible teaching, you believe to be true.  When you believe accurate Bible teaching, the Holy Spirit takes that doctrine and circulates it through out your stream of consciousness, where you do your thinking.  Let me emphasize the word “accurate” here.  This doctrine must be accurate Bible teaching! God the Holy Spirit will not take what is false and circulate that through your thinking.  You do that well enough by yourself!  Once God the Holy Spirit circulates this doctrine throughout your stream of consciousness, it then becomes available for application to your life.  You increase in spiritual strength as you increase hearing, metabolizing and applying Bible doctrine to your life. 

If you remain ignorant of those two power options, you cannot be grateful to God, nor will you ever come to love Him.  The greater the content of Biblical truths in your thinking, the greater your capacity will be for mental attitude gratitude.  Doctrine that you understand and believe builds the thought structure of gratitude in your soul.  When you heard and believed the gospel, from that moment you had eternal life.  When you learned from the teaching of the Word just what that salvation involved, that understanding gave you capacity for thanksgiving.  How can you be thankful for eternal security if you do not understand it or able to apply it to your life?  The Apostle Paul, writing to the Colossian believers listed three results of learning and applying doctrine and then related them to gratitude:

 

ü    Having been and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.   Colossians 2:7 NASB

 

The last phrase, “overflowing with thanksgiving” is a participial phrase.  “Overflowing” is translated from περισσεύοντες PERISEUONTES, the present active participle from the verb, περισσεύωPERISUEUO.  Translation of participles can vary greatly, being dependant upon grammatical structure, syntactical considerations and above all, context.  The Amplified translation of the New Testament implies that this gratitude results from the process of being rooted in Him, growing up spiritually:

 

ü    Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:7 The Amplified New Testament

 

Thanksgiving then results from having been rooted, having been edified in Him, and becoming stabilized; all by means of doctrine circulating in your soul.

The third power option results from continual doctrinal inculcation and the accompanying increase in faith.  As you grow spiritually, believing the accurate doctrines you learn, you will build within your soul ten problem-solving devices.  Applying these to your life also leads to gratitude toward the Father, who designed them, the Son, who bequeathed them to us, and to the Spirit, who empowers us to use them.  Through His Word, God has provided the solution to every problem in life we can possibly face.  The greatest example of this provision is our Lord Jesus Christ, who faced the greatest suffering than any human being in history while yet in His humanity, maintained His integrity. He did this by applying the power of Bible doctrine to His suffering. 

Without the formation and use of these ten problem-solving devices, you will remain spiritually immature and unable to be grateful.  However, by applying these solutions to your life, you can reduce you problems to ten general categories then resolve them using divine power.  We will briefly mention them here as they relate to gratitude though leave a detailed discussion of them to a future study.  Bob Thieme developed this system of problem solving devices and taught them to his congregation.  I am grateful for this categorical development.

The first problem-solving device is naming your sins to God the Father, as per 1 John 1:9, by which the Father restores you to fellowship with Him. Once you begin to understand the ramifications of this grace recovery spiritual mechanic, inevitably it becomes an expression of gratitude to God for the forgiveness of sins and restoration to fellowship with Him. 

Directly resulting from naming your sins to the Father, the second problem-solving device involves the filling of God, the Holy Spirit who mentors, teaches and empowers you.  Not only should His mentorship and teaching ministry result in gratitude, but also without His empowerment, you cannot begin to express appreciation to God.  You will not have the power to do so!  Without the filling of the Spirit we cannot even possess true thanksgiving to God.

As the third problem-solving device, the faith-rest drill results in capacity and expression of thanksgiving because it builds your faith and confidence in the spiritual life.  Your development of the faith-rest drill serves as the foundation of your spiritual life as you begin to learn and apply verses to your life.  As you mature, your application of doctrine principles and rationales supersedes the simple application of verses.

Mastering the fourth problem-solving device, grace orientation, results in a continual source of thanksgiving to God because here you begin to understand that everything you are and have in this life is a result of His grace provisions.

Doctrinal orientation or orientation to Truth, the fifth problem-solving device provides greater and greater capacity for thanksgiving until your capacity is so great that God shares His happiness with you.  Doctrinal orientation moves your thinking closer and closer to that of our Lord’s.  By mastering doctrine orientation, you base your life upon the realization that Bible doctrine is the sole source of spiritual truth.

The sixth problem-solving device, your personal sense of destiny, forms gratitude from your soul because mastering this orients you to the objectives, purpose, and understanding of God’s will, plan, and purpose for the human race and specifically, for your life.

With this seventh problem-solving device, you break into spiritual adulthood, having left spiritual childhood and spiritual adolescence behind.  You finally arrive at the point in your spiritual life where you have reciprocal love for God the Father.  This problem-solving device adds a motivational virtue to your thanksgiving.  You will love God because He first loved us. You become oriented to His love for you because now you understand it.  Here you reach an understanding that your growing love for others merely reflects His wonderful love for them.

The eighth problem-solving device is the flipside of the coin from personal love for the Father.  This category of virtue love, directed toward all humanity, relates every interpersonal relationship to your thanksgiving toward God. The result? You are thankful regardless of what kind of treatment people give you.  Here you reflect God’s virtue love for the entire human race.

Sharing God’s happiness, the ninth problem-solving device, provides tremendous contentment in life, and therefore, thanksgiving and tranquility in every circumstance in life.

Finally, the most sought-after, the tenth problem-solving device is occupation with the Person of Jesus Christ. This results in mental attitude thanksgiving and the overt expression of gratitude toward God.  Without occupation with Christ, capacity for life, or Bible doctrine in the soul, thanksgiving has no meaning.  Thanksgiving reaches its peak in personal love for God the Father and occupation with the person of Christ.

III. Mandates for Thanksgiving

God has mandated every believer to be grateful toward Him, to appreciate Him to the maximum.

ü    …always be thankful with reference to all things toward God, even the Father, through the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20

 

ü    Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us for a share in the endowment of the saints in the light.  Colossians 1:12

            “In the light” indicates the manner in which you qualify “for a share in the endowment of the saints, in the light” If you are “in the light,” you are in the process of growing in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by learning and applying Bible doctrine. The only way that you qualify for a share in the endowment is through learning and applying doctrine.  The thoughts of Christ must be circulating in your stream of consciousness.

Paul delineates another mandate for gratitude toward God:

ü    In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Let me emphasize the phrase: “In everything!”  Every blessing and every disaster in life has a reason. Be grateful for it!

IV. Thanksgiving and Capacity for Life

Before you can qualify for blessings, you must possess capacity for them.  This fact indicates God’s justice and integrity.  His justice demands that He only blesses believers who have capacity for those blessings.  If you have matured spiritually to the degree that you have capacity for a certain category of blessing, it means that now you have the capacity and potential for thanksgiving to God. Thanksgiving potential depends on the amount of Bible doctrine in the thinking part of your soul. 

An indicator of your capacity for blessing deals with your response to blessing.  Do you think more of the Giver or think more of the gift?  A person who truly has capacity for blessing must be occupied with the Giver as well as with the gift.  To enjoy the gift, you must be occupied with the Giver.  The truly grateful believer thinks more of the Giver than the gift.  See, if you posses capacity for life, you will also enjoy the Giver more than the gift.

Thanksgiving, always directed toward God, is capacity and appreciation for life, a function of the believer with capacity for life.  Your level of gratitude therefore is a great test of your capacity and spiritual growth.  Listen to the Apostle Paul as he addressed the Corinthian believers:

 

ü    For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.  2 Corinthians 4:15

 

ü    Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.  For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.  2 Corinthians 9:10-12

 

V. Thanksgiving is an aspect of prayer.

We will be discussing the subject of prayer in a fair amount of detail in our study of verse four.  We will discuss thanksgiving in detail at that time.  For now, note four verses that related thanksgiving to prayer:

ü    I do not cease giving thanks for you, and I make mention of you in my prayers.  Ephesians 1:16

 

ü    We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.  Colossians 1:3

 

ü    Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.  Colossians 4:2

 

ü    Stop worrying about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  Philippians 4:6

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