The Attitude of Thanksgiving
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-20, 1 Thessalonian 5:16-18
Sunday 2nd August 2015
As we take this weekend to celebrate God’s faithfulness to us as a church over the last 22 years, having also been instructed by God to offer our thanksgiving to Him, I want to share this message titled, ‘The Attitude of Thanksgiving’. As a church, I pray that we will indeed be a people of thanksgiving and praise.
Our foundation scriptures from Ephesians 5:15-20 reads: ‘Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, at all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father (Amplified). Here is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reads: ‘Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]’ (Amplified). From these scriptures, we can deduce that thanksgiving is important to God, and He desires that we offer Him praises incessantly. God has been good to each of us individually, to our families, and to the New Wine family corporately, over the last 22 years. Despite the various challenges and trials that have confronted us in the past and may possibly still be confronting us, we still have reasons to be grateful to God. He has been our rock, our hiding place, our refuge, our hope and fortress. He’s been our Provider, Strength, Help and the Lifter of our heads.
The Psalmist in Psalms 103:1-5 put it this way: ‘Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name! Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits— Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]! (Amplified)
Can I encourage you to make thanksgiving a lifestyle, and a spiritual exercise irrespective of your circumstances? As a lifestyle, thanksgiving enables you to see beyond the boundaries of limitation, seeing life through the cross. It is an attitude that embraces God’s all sufficiency in the face of life’s difficulties and challenges. Thanksgiving is appreciating God for the things He has done that you have seen or may not have manifested physically yet. Psalm 34:1 reads: ‘I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth’. God is raising up a generation of worshippers who will be grateful in the midst of the good and the unpleasant situations; convenient and inconvenient moments of life. King David admonishes us in Psalm 100 to give thanks to God in all circumstances: ‘Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation (NLT). As Christians, we must always take note that the enemy is always looking to steal our joy, as he knows that a joyless Christian cannot really praise God. Instead of acknowledging the devil’s plan, shift focus to God and enter His courts with thanksgiving and praise. The psalmist concludes this Psalm by reiterating the truth that God is good!
This is a new Season; there is a change because a decree has gone out. God’s counsel concerning each of us has been declared at Maximise Life 2015. Once God’s decree has gone out, it does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). It is vital that we are fully aware of this season. Like the sons of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32, we must understand the times we are living in. So I declare that in this year you will excel, reach further and be favoured by God. Psalm 102:13 reads: ‘You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come’. Here is an excerpt from Ezra 1:1, which reads: ‘Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, ‘Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem’. Just like Cyrus was stirred up to fulfil the prophecy given by Jeremiah, God has also stirred up our ‘Cyrus’ to initiate the fulfilment of His word concerning each of us.
Psalm 126:1-3 records the song that the Israelites composed as a result of the events that occurred after this prophecy: ‘When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad’. Now I make this declaration concerning you: ‘Your change has begun, and your hour of laughter and singing has arrived! Your days of struggles are over, these are the days of great things.' Three things occurred as a result of God’s counsel concerning the nation of Israel: Total restoration, a time of celebration and a season of experiencing uncommon blessings.
Below are seven significance of thanksgiving:
(1) Thanksgiving Honours God: It is important that we cultivate an attitude of gratitude for all God has done for us, including our requests that has not manifested physically yet. Give praise for circumstances beyond your control. Psalm 50:23 reads: “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” It is important that we desist from complaining. Complaints shut the windows of Heaven and stop the flow of God’s provision in a person’s life. A trip to a cemetery or a hospital’s ICU could help us give praises to God a bit more, for those things we take for granted that He has bestowed upon us.
(2) Thanksgiving moves Heaven on your behalf: Acts 16 describes the imprisonment of St. Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail. Verse 25-26 records this: ‘But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed’. When faced with a challenging situation, why not give praises to God and watch Heaven intervene on your behalf?
(3) Thanksgiving is a weapon of warfare: When clueless as to what to do when the enemy confronts you, then it is a good moment to break out in praises to God. Psalm 149:5-9 reads: ‘Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute on them the written judgment— This honor have all His saints. Praise the Lord!’
(4) Thanksgiving is an act of true worship: Psalm 50:12-15 reads: “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” God desires our thanksgiving and praises – it is all He requests from us.
(5) Thanksgiving brings you into a place of submission and dependence on God: Thanksgiving keeps us consciously aware that God is able and He’s in charge. Having learnt from the words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:10 that reads: ‘I am what I am by the grace of God’, we have all reasons to thank God for who He has created each of us to be.
(6) Thanksgiving focuses your attention on God: Your thanksgiving takes attention from you, from your circumstances and problems and places your focus on God. We must remember that whatever takes our attention becomes magnified in our eyes. As you praise and worship God; God becomes magnified in your eyes while your situation diminishes.
(7) Thanksgiving gives you strength: Nehemiah 8:10c reads: ‘Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’. From this scripture, we can infer that God’s joy precedes His strength. So the question is this: ‘How can I obtain God’s joy?’ Psalm 22:3 reads: ‘But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel’. Psalm 16:11 also reads: ‘You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore’. As we worship and praise God, He inhabits the praises of His people.
God’s strength is released when we praise Him, and His strength gives us the grace to rule over our circumstances and enjoy the life He has given us to live. So can I encourage you to make thanksgiving a lifestyle? Develop an attitude of thanksgiving.
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