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November 18, 2012
"How to Have Real Joy"
Read I Thessalonians 5:16-18.
This Thursday is National Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a time when we
take time to give thanks for our nation, family and many other things. The above
Scripture tells us to "be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." But the giving of thanks
in all circumstances does not imply that every circumstance is good. How does giving
thanks in all circumstances give us real joy?
First, the Christian is charged with giving thanks because of his confidence
in the purpose of God in any and every circumstance of life. 1) Note God's purpose
in Romans 5:1-5. "We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces
perseverance ... character ... hope." 2) Joni Erikson Tada, who has been a paraplegic
since she was seventeen, said "Everything that happens to us has been filtered through
God's fingers." We have real joy and give thanks to God in knowing that He in His
sovereign grace is at work in every circumstance for our good.
Second, note God's providence in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, "But this happened
that we might not rely on ourselves but on God." 1) 2 Corinthians 4:6-10, "We have
this treasure (the knowledge of God in Christ) in jars of clay (earthen vessels/cracked
pots) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2) Read
James 1:2-4, 21-22. "The testing of your faith develops perseverance ...
so that you may be mature and complete ... accept the word planted in you." 3) God's
design even in suffering is seen in the story of Paul Orfalea who had dyslexia
and was called "kinko" by school kids but as an adult ran a successful copy shop
that went international. To fellow dyslexics, Orfalea said, "God gave you an advantage.
So work with your strengths." 4) God often uses what we think is "misfortune"
to answer our prayers. Corrie ten Boom's sister used I Thessalonians 5:18 to give
thanks for the fleas in their concentration camp barracks because they kept the
Nazi guards away and they were free to worship and study the Bible.
Third, how can we have this attitude? 1) The pivotal word is "PRAY"
(5:17). Prayer is the means of appropriating God's grace which enables us to rejoice.
True story: When a man with terminal cancer began praising God, the cancer disappeared.
2) GIVING THANKS (5:18) is the method of prayer which gives us genuine joy.
Regular prayer produces JOY. 3) In conclusion, once we understand what it
really means to be blessed, we will be able to give thanks "in every circumstance."
4) In Matthew 5:3-12 (The Beatitudes) our Lord shows us what the good life
is all about. Rather that emphasizing material success, Christ taught us that genuine
prosperity begins in the heart. The bottom line is that the working of God's
Word in our lives produces these qualities.
"Be joyful always; Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this
is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).