“IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS”: A Message on How we have been translated into the Kingdom of God.(A) (3 SEPT ’16) Praise God from whom all blessings flow. “My Jesus, My Savior…my Comfort, my Shelter…I want to praise the wonders of your love.” “Forever I’ll love you, Nothing compares to the promise I have in You!” This message is in line with the Scripture that speaks about imparting a spiritual gift to establish a brother, and to encourage him by our mutual faith.(ROM 1:11-12) Over the years I have given this important message to new Christians to help them be overcomers. All that we have is a gift from God,(B) which includes lots of suffering, often along the lines of Job. Sad to say, it seems this message to strengthen the new brethren is usually rejected, because their immature expectations are that becoming a Christian will mean living only healthy & wealthy from there on out. Yet we are given a hint of difficult times, when we sing, “Farther along we will know all about it…” and “God will make a way, Where there seems to be no way.”
WHY IT WILL BE O.K.? You will notice that the words at 1 THS 5:18 precisely say give thanks “in everything” NOT “for everything”. It is because life has bad tragic moments, it has atrocities, it has disease & random crime. No, we can’t be thankful for the fruit of evil, but we can be (as servants of the most High) grateful in every situation. Why? I am reminded of an innocent American, who had done nothing, who was arrested in Stalin’s USSR during the 1930’s. Everyone in the Gulag was amazed at his cheerfulness. What kept him so hopeful & cheery in the midst of unjust incredible suffering? What kept him from breaking, and allowed him to overcome?? He knew that his country was going to do everything they could to rescue him. Likewise, those of us who suffer like Job, know that our nation (the Kingdom of God) will use its power to turn our tragedies into blessings: “… we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (C) Not everyone has this divine insurance…only those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The apostle tells the church at Corinth that he knows they are standing in faith (D), and then tells them that they had better determine it for themselves.(E) You need to have that assurance, so that you are confident of God’s ROM 8:28 insurance. If you watched a film of your life, would you detect the presence of God?? At times, we ignore Him, or sin makes Him distant. “Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see You.”
GOD’S SPIRIT GROANS WHEN WE GROAN. Over half a dozen Scriptures discuss how God’s people groan, and then we learn in a verse just prior to the quote in ROM 8:28, that the Spirit also groans in prayer over our situations!! The Word describes the Spirit praying: “The Spirit also helps in our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray…but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”(F) While you were groaning, so was the Spirit of God!
I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IN HEAVEN. Someday, when I enter into heaven, I will say, “I have always been in heaven.” I have been in God’s presence all along. The Kingdom of God has truly been within me.(G) The life of Jesus is manifested in us!(H) But you may be surprised how the life of Jesus is manifested in us…we experience the things he experienced. Paul explains the dynamics of life in the Son: “Death works in us, but Life in you [Christ]!”(I) “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
“DEATH WORKS IN US, BUT LIFE IN YOU”.(I) Wow…if we read the whole section of Scripture of this verse it talks about how “we are afflicted in every way” and “perplexed” (i.e. at a loss for an explanation). It says we are knocked down but not knocked out, or to quote it “struck down, but not destroyed”. It talks about how “outwardly we are wasting away”…yes the body gets worn & torn. But our momentary troubles are achieving an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. This is the special perspective that life in Christ gives us. This helps explain why God’s people are joyful.(J) We can truly find God in all things. We discover the sacred rhythms of life all around us. We are told to pursue what gives life.(K) We can truly appreciate the ordinary things of life…because God gives meaning & joy to it all. It is truly good to be a human on this planet. As Christ had joy, so do we. “He that saith he abideth in him [Christ], ought himself also to walk even as he walked.”(L) And while suffering does lead to spiritual maturity…no where in Scripture does it encourage us to self-inflict suffering upon ourselves. The challenges of life & the what the enemy bring will be enough. Another divine insurance plan: “Now we know if the earthly tent [our body to house the spirit & soul] we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God…For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened…”(M) I find the words of 2 COR 4:12 profound: “So then death is working in us, but life in you [Jesus].” The life of Jesus is being manifested in our mortal flesh. Hallelujah!
REPHRASING IT ALL. Christ lives in us…and as he does, we experience many of the painful things he experienced, but the good Lord’s Spirit is aware of what we suffer, and groans along with us, all the while assuring us that everything bad & tragic is going to be redeemed for good. And this is what allows our hearts to jump with joy, like the Christian singer Jeremy Camp, who full of enthusiasm jumps on stage as he sings songs about Christ & the Holy Spirit. We are full of boldness & confidence like the Apostle Paul, while perhaps also suffering an ongoing “thorn” in our side, like he did. God sustained Paul in the midst of all kinds of adversity, and He will us also. When we stay faithful to God no matter what the enemy throws at us, we defeat him. Christ is pleased & we can be also of our achievement. When walking in the insurance of ROM 8:28 & 2 COR 5:1,4, we also can experience going from glory to glory, like Paul described.(N) Hallelujah!! “Come! now is the time to worship. Come! now is the time to give your heart…” COME! now is the time to see the loving Creator God in our lives! Don’t let the negative distract you from the greatest treasure.
(A) In everything give thanks-1 THS 5:18; The Father…hath translated us into the kingdom–COL 1:13 (B) 1COR 4:7 (C) ROM 8:28 (D) 2 COR 1:24 (E) 2 COR 13:5 (F) ROM 8:26 (G) LK 17:21, & COL 1:13 cf. MT 10:7, MK 12:34, LK 10:9 (H) 2 COR 4:10 (I) 2 COR 4:12 (J) ACTS 13:49-52, 8:5-8. (K) JN 10:10 (L) JN 2:6 (M) 2 COR 5:1,4 (N) 2 COR 3:18