************ Sermon on Philippians 4:12 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on March 25, 2007

1 Chron 16:34; Phil 4:12; 1 Thess 5:18
"Having a Thankful Heart"
GEMS Sunday 2007

A computer company promised to credit me $2100. They sent me $1500. They promised me the remaining $600 two times. Then they decided they did not owe me $600. Then I was told $600 was posted to my account. This was followed by a phone call from another person telling me $300 was posted to my account. Have I been overpaid or underpaid? I wait with breathless anticipation.

I was working with a computer software company. I kept telling them their software did not work on the latest computers because it was out-of-date. It was like talking to a brick wall. The guy on the other end made me do the same thing 7 or 8 times and couldn't believe it wouldn't work.

Now, I have a choice. I can let stuff like this ruin my day or I can have the contentment Paul talks about in our text.

Paul talks about the secret of contentment. I want to tell you girls that contentment does not depend on outward circumstances. Contentment does not depend on everything working out. Contentment does not depend on fame or fortune or glamorous looks.

Look at Brittney Spears. She shaved her head and went into rehab. She has looks, she has fame, she has fortune. Does she sound like a happy woman? Look at Anna Nicole Smith. She had fame and fortune. But we all know she wasn't happy.

I have noticed something over the years. Some of the most miserable people I know are rich. And, most of the happiest people I know are poor. So happiness does not depend on riches. And happiness does not depend on health. One of the sickest people I know is one of the happiest.

I want to tell you girls this evening the secret to being happy.

If you have a thankful heart, you have learned the secret of being content or happy. You don't need to have lots of stuff to be happy. You don't need to have lots of money. You don't need anything to be happy. Because happiness is not based upon outward circumstances. Happiness is based upon the heart.

How thankful are you? Quick, mention three things you are thankful for ... in creation, in your bedroom, at school, at church ...

Our text says, "give thanks in all circumstances" (I Th 5:18). Paul is writing to Christians. Christians are supposed to be thankful people. And, it is unbelievers and pagans who are not thankful. One of the reasons why Paul condemns the pagan world in Romans 1 is that "although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him" (Rom 1:21). Thanksgiving is God's due. Thanksgiving is what all men and all creatures and all of creation owes to God. We owe God thanks "for he is good; his love endures forever" (1 Chr 16:34).

I Philippians 4:12
A Who are we as Christians? We are women and men and children who have "died with Christ" (Col 2:16) and have been "raised with Christ" (Col 3:1). We are united to Christ and joined with Christ. Paul says we are saints in Christ Jesus (Phil 1:1).

If we are in Christ and with Christ and joined to Christ, then we should be like Christ. Paul says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5). This means we should be imitating Jesus.

B One of the ways we imitate Christ is by being thankful. If ever there was anyone with a gratitude attitude, it was Christ Jesus. If ever there was anyone whose whole life was a song of thanks to God, it was Christ Jesus.
(Mark 6:41) Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.

(Mark 8:6-7) He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. (7) They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.

(Mark 14:22-23) While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." (23) Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
Did you notice how Jesus keeps giving thanks?

If you are joined to Christ then you should be like Him. If you are joined to Christ you should be thankful.

C Listen again to what Paul writes to the church at Philippi about thankfulness:
(Phil 4:12) I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Do you remember what happened to Paul at Philippi? He was beaten. He was in jail. He was hungry. He was sore and bleeding. He was tired. He was thirsty. Yet, do you remember what he was doing? He was singing songs. Paul was content. He was happy. He was thankful.

Paul was so thankful that he was God's child. Paul was so thankful for what Christ had done for him. Paul was so thankful because of Christ that nothing else mattered. It didn't matter that he was beaten and in jail. It didn't matter that he was hungry or thirsty. It didn't matter that he was rich or poor. It didn't even matter whether he lived or died. He said, "To live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21). The only thing that counted was Paul's relationship with God in Christ. And because of that he was happy, he was content.

II 1 Thessalonians 5:18
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess 5:18).

"Give thanks in all circumstances" sounds all inclusive, doesn't it?! Does Paul mean that we need to give thanks all day long? Is Paul suggesting that we need to give thanks before, during, and after all of our daily activities? Is Paul suggesting that we give thanks regardless of what is happening in our lives? Is Paul suggesting that we give thanks even if bad things are happening?

Yes, that is exactly what he is saying! Give thanks whether you are working or resting, whether you are learning or teaching, whether you are leading or following, whether you are doing the laundry or driving a truck, whether you are delivering a meal to a shut-in or visiting a loved one, whether you are playing a game or reading a book. Give thanks whether you are sick or healthy, whether you are rich or poor, whether you get your money or not, whether you get your computer to work or not, whether you are all by yourself or part of a crowd. Whatever it is that you are doing, give thanks that you are able to do it, that you have the opportunity to do it, that God has given you the ability and strength to do it.

And notice, "this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess 5:18). This is what God wants. This is what God commands. This is what pleases God's heart.

Charles Dickens said that we are somewhat mixed up here in America. He told an audience that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year we should have 364. "Use that one day just for complaining and griping," he said. "Use the other 364 days to thank God each day for the many blessings He has showered upon you."

Wouldn't that be great? Only one day each year for complaining. And all the other days for giving thanks!
Forgive Me When I Whine

Today upon a bus,
I saw a lovely maid with golden hair;
I envied her -- she seemed so gay,
and how, I wished I were so fair;
When suddenly she rose to leave,
I saw her hobble down the aisle;
she had one foot and wore a crutch,
but as she passed, a smile.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two feet -- the world is mine.

And when I stopped to buy some sweets,
the lad who served me had such charm;
he seemed to radiate good cheer,
his manner was so kind and warm;
I said, "It's nice to deal with you,
such courtesy I seldom find";
he turned and said, "Oh, thank you sir."
And then I saw that he was blind.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two eyes, the world is mine.

Then, when walking down the street,
I saw a child with eyes of blue;
he stood and watched the others play,
it seemed he knew not what to do;
I stopped a moment, then I said,
"Why don't you join the others, dear?"
He looked ahead without a word,
and then I knew he could not hear.
Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two ears, the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go;
with eyes to see the sunsets glow,
with ears to hear what I would know.
I am blessed indeed.
The world is mine;
oh, God, forgive me when I whine.

III 1 Chronicles 16:34
Notice according to our text why we are to give thanks. We read in Chronicles:
(1 Chr 16:34) Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

All of us mess up. All of us sin. All of us make mistakes. But in spite of our mistakes and sins and messes, God is good and His love endures forever.

Dr. Billy Graham, the great evangelist, gave a message at the remembrance service in the National Cathedral right after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. He said, "I don't know why bad things happen ... But I do know that God is good, and that He loves you, and that He loves me."

When we stop looking at our life and look to God, everything changes. When we stop looking at what makes us mad or sad and look to God, everything changes. When we put our eyes on God and Christ, nothing else is important anymore.

Of course, the number one reason we want to say thanks is for salvation.
Topic: Thankfulness
Title: Rescued by a Dog

A lady and her daughter were on a boat when the little girl fell overboard. A man on the boat had a large Newfoundland dog. The dog was directed to leap into the water and save the child. He did so and swam ashore with the little girl, part of her dress in his mouth. The mother seized her saved child, and kissed her again and again. Then turning to the dog, she hugged and kissed that dog, with a heart full of gratitude to the animal.
What the mother did for the dog we want to do for Jesus. We want to say thank-you to Jesus because He hung on the cross to save us from sin and hell.

IV How to Give Thanks
A How we are to give thanks? Let me start off with obedience.

Why should we want to live the new life? Why should we obey God and keep His commandments? Why should we set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col 3:2)? Why should we rid ourselves of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lies (Col 3:5-9)? Why should we clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Col 3:12)? Why should we bear with each other and forgive each other and put on love (Col 3:13-14)?

One of the main reasons for living the new life is thankfulness. Out of thankfulness to God we want to live the new life. Out of thanksgiving for all the physical and spiritual blessings He has given to us we want to respond with obedience and holiness and righteous living.

Notice why we are to live the new life. We should not be motivated to live the new life because of guilt. We should not be motivated to live the new life because of fear. We should not be motivated to live the new life because of obligation.

Just about every world religion reduces life to a list of dos and don'ts. Many Christians go along with this mindset and reduce their religion to a matter of dos and don'ts. But this is not why we observe the law or live the new life or try to be obedient and holy. Our motivation is never legalism. Our motivation is never with how our religious life looks to other people.

Christians do not obey God in order to get rid of their guilt or in order to earn their salvation. They obey because God already has removed their guilt and given them the free gift of salvation. Obedience is the Christian's way of saying thank you for the gift of salvation.

Paul reminds us that all obedience flows out of a heart filled with gratitude to God.

B How else do we show thanks? When you live for Jesus, you are showing thanks.
(1 Cor 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

This means that all of our life is supposed to be an offering to Jesus. Every task is supposed to be dedicated to His service. Every calling is supposed to be done before Him and for His glory.

C What else? Prayer is a very important part of the thankfulness God requires of us too. And, the offering, the giving of gifts, is a very important part of our thanksgiving as well. I also thinks of what Paul says to the Colossians,
(Col 3:16) ... sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
One of the primary ways we show thanks is in song. One of the main reasons we sing is to thank and praise God.

How many of your girls have a "Thankful Heart Journal" or list? When you are tempted to be grumpy and miserable and complaining, start writing down the things you are thankful for. It is amazing how long the list will be.
A boy named David was born without an immune system. He underwent a bone marrow transplant when he was 12 years old in order to correct the deficiency. Up to that point he had spent his entire life in a plastic bubble in order to prevent exposure to common germs, bacteria, and viruses that could kill him. He lived without ever knowing human contact. When asked what he'd like to do if and when released from his protective bubble, he replied, "I want to walk barefoot on grass, and touch my mother's hand."
We don't think twice about walking in the grass or touching the hand of our mother.

Read the Psalms. The Psalms are filled with expression of praise and thanks to God.

Thank-you starts on this earth. Remember to say thank you to people. Who says thank you to mom for supper, lunch, clean sheets on the bed? When you visit someone, do you say thank you for letting you come over? Do you say thank you to your grandparents when they give you a present? If you don't say thank you to people on earth, chances are you don't say thank you to your Father in heaven either.

GEMS, my brothers and sisters, get in the habit of thanking God all day long. Thank God regardless of what is happening. That's the secret to being content.
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