In Everything Give Thanks

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”―1 Thessalonians 5:18

In our focal verse, the Apostle calls believers to give thanks to God in all circumstances, not simply when we become the recipients of some blessing from God.

The call is to thank God in every circumstance, whether it is in joy or sorrow, adversity or prosperity, times of peace or times of stress―in everything!

We are also to give thanks for everything. Read Ephesians 5:20 and Colossians 3:17. This does not mean that we thank God for evil―He is not the author of evil―however, even in the midst of what seems to be the most terrible of circumstances, we can always find a reason to thank God for His sovereign hand in our lives.

We are also to thank God in every place: in the house of God and the bed of sickness; as we come in and as we go out; when we are with the people of God and when we are among the unsaved. Thank God!

Thank God in:

  • Private prayer.
  • Personal attitude.
  • Public worship.

Why is it God’s will to be thankful in everything?

  1. It honors Him (Ps.50:23).
  2. It reflects the stability of your faith (Col.2:6-7).
  3. It displays the rule of Christ in your heart (Col.3:15).
  4. It is the fruit of God’s Word dwelling richly in your heart (Col.3:16-17).

Why should we give thanks to the Lord?

  • Because He is good (1 Chr.16:34).
  • Because it is good to give thanks (Ps.92:1). Thanksgiving keeps the heart soft and prevents the hardening of your heart.
  • Because we have received an unshakable kingdom (Heb.12:28).
  • Because of the gift of Christ (2 Cor.9:15).
  • Because of God’s supply of our daily needs (1 Tim.4:3-4).
  • Because of God’s goodness and mercy (Ps.111).
  • Because it is God’s will (1 Thess.5:18).

Matthew Henry, the commentator, was once robbed by a group of thugs who took his bag with several of his personal items. When he arrived home, this is what he wrote in his diary:

“Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they take my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

 What a perspective!

How are we to thank God?

  • Whole-heartedly with our song (Ps.28:7).
  • Continually with our lips (Heb.13:15).
  • Generously with our gifts (Phil.4:17-19).
  • Thoughtfully with our prayers (Eph.1:16; Phil.4:5-7).
  • Reverently with our worship (Ps.95:2, 100:4).

Indy Race-Style Gratitude

Here is a typical dinnertime scene at the Lack household:

We all sit down to our kitchen table. It’s time to pray. Lack boys, start your engines! 3-2-1… “DearGod Thankyouforourfood Jesus’nameamen.” Elapsed time: 1 second.

Sometimes this frustrates me, and I find myself thinking “How thankful can you be if you can’t give God more than a second of your time before you start eating the food He has provided for us?” It does not take long, though, before the Holy Spirit convicts me of displaying the very same attitude, moreover, of modeling an Indy race-style gratitude towards God for my children. I can see a lack of gratitude in at least a few areas in my life:

In our family prayer time: Am I expressing gratitude for who God is and what Christ has accomplished on my behalf on the cross, or does my “thanksgiving” sound more like a redundant list that I repeat without much thought day after day because I am tired and in a hurry? Christ warned us about praying with vain repetition, and He urges us to cast our cares before Him “with thanksgiving.” How can I be frustrated when my unregenerate young boys seem not to express genuine gratitude towards God when I, who am a new creature in Christ, often express lukewarm thanksgiving at best?

In my speech: I have, on many occasions, chastised my sons for not being thankful for what God has provided us. Yet, what do they hear more from me—complaining about the disorderly appearance of our house, or thanksgiving for the comfortable roof over our head? Frustration with work deadlines, or gratitude for God’s faithfulness in providing me with a job? Complaining how tired I am, or gratitude for a comfortable bed and a body that has very little trouble falling and staying asleep?

If you can relate to any of what I have said, be thankful that God is infinitely forgiving, and we can come to Him at any time, in prayer, to thank Him for His forgiveness and to ask Him to help us reflect the new life that He has created in us. I also want to try this: when I find myself complaining, I will stop and think about God’s grace as it relates to the source of my complaint. Then, I will ask Him for forgiveness and thank Him. So…instead of grimacing at my floor that needs sweeping, I will seek to thank God for the floor he provided, as well as the broom and the food that produced the crumbs that need to be swept up.

My God, as I read through this confession ashamed of how poorly I can model gratitude for my children, I am thankful for Your unfailing patience with me. Though I can be woefully thankless in my speech and even in my prayers, You remain faithful. You provided Your Son to die for me, a self-centered sinner. Even my gratitude is a gift from You, and I pray that You will help me to give You the thanks You deserve.

What’s In It for Me?

As we approach this holiday season, many people will start to set their dials to their favorite radio station, WII FM (What’s In It For Me). Or for those of us west of the Mississippi, it may be KAI AM (Keep Away, It’s All Mine)! We all feel the stress of this time of year—Christians and non-Christians alike—but as Christians, we have a hope, a faith, and a love that are different from the world’s (1 Corinthians 13:13). We hope differently. We believe differently. We love differently. So what better time of year to display that hope, faith, and love than during the holidays? I’m not suggesting that shouldn’t be our disposition all year (it should!); but what a great reminder the holiday season offers us to practice what we believe.

Love wins the day and is the emphasis of 1 Corinthians 13:13. As I consider my assignment this month to blog on faith and “Thanksliving,” I’m reminded that my thankfulness is fully wrapped up in the One in whom I entrust my salvation, Jesus Christ. Instead of tuning in to WII FM, I can now tune into WGHD FM (What God Has Done For Me). Ok, I’m done with the call letters. But seriously, Thanksgiving (the holiday) is typically seen as a “day” to reflect and give thanks for all we have and to remember what God has done for us in His Son Jesus. When I think of Thanksliving, it causes me to go deeper and to think outside myself: to think of others as well. Yes, I’m thankful for what God has done for me in Christ; but let’s remember the disposition that God Himself took when He sent His Son into the World. Jesus came as a servant. He came into a world of sinners who despised Him, persecuted Him, and ultimately killed Him for doing no wrong. He came to serve them and to save them. WOW!

Because we have put our faith in Him and in what He did on our behalf, we are called to a life of Thanksliving to display our hope, faith, and love to a world that may despise us and persecute us, as some are martyred even now. But we should always be thankful and proclaim, like Asaph and the Levites, “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Then say, ‘Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us and deliver us from the nations, to give thanks to Your holy name, and glory in Your praise.’ Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting” (1 Chronicles 16:34-36).


During the long, hot summer months in Phoenix, if you don’t have a swimming pool in your backyard, you have to get creative when thinking of ways to occupy your kids as they’re cooped up in the house. One such pastime that I play with my young boys is hide-and-seek. Now granted, our home is about 2,000 square feet and has a pretty open floor plan, so there are only so many places to hide, but it usually keeps us busy for at least a half hour and the kids love it.

On one occasion when my wife was out of the house, the boys and I began a game of hide-and-seek. They usually count together while I go hide and when I’m found, I count while they inevitably hide together. During one of my turns to hide, I quickly and gingerly climbed up on the top bunk of their bed set and covered myself with as many stuffed animals and blankets as possible to conceal my whereabouts.

I soon heard the boys calling for me while running through the house trying to find me. Sometimes when I’ve hidden myself well, I’ll help them out by giving a short, sharp whistle and after a couple minutes of searching, Benjamin was calling for me to do so. However, this time I decided they were going to have to find me on their own.

Maybe another minute went by, which must have seemed like an eternity to my boys, because suddenly I heard them running through the house screaming and panic-stricken. I immediately called to them from their room and they came running in, tears streaming down their faces, as they slowly backed away from the precipice of uncontrolled fear.

I asked them what was wrong. They exclaimed that they thought I had left them because they couldn’t find me. My supposed absence quickly drove them to hysteria.

The funny thing is that nothing really changes as we become adults. We grow up and pretend that we’ve got it all together, that we’re self-sufficient; but after salvation in Christ, we realize how much we need our heavenly father and how dependent we really are. Many times, when He feels far off or we’re experiencing some difficult providence, we begin to anxiously cry out for Him just like children. We panic just like my kids did. However, as Christians, this should not be so. We must strive to remember His Word, His character, and His love for us.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Just as I was only hiding in the next room when my boys were driven to panic, God is never far off. In fact, He promises that He is with us (present tense) so we need not panic ourselves. If we give into our fear, we distrust our heavenly father and cast a shadow on His character. Instead, we should remember His perfect love for us, which casts out fear (1 John 4:18), and that He has promised that if we diligently seek Him, we will find Him (Prov.8:17). May God give us the grace to seek Him diligently so that we may cast out fear in our homes.

Journey of Financial Freedom

Finances! Even the word scares me a bit, I must confess. But, being honest and real about my disobedience and mistakes, confessing all and seeking direction have been blessings for our family. I cannot continue typing and not mention this journey has been and continues to be a humbling experience; but as we continue to pray as a family and make decisions together, we are starting to see that the journey will soon be over. I know we will continue to apply everything we have learned. Especially because we want to be an example to our Olivia.

Continuing our journey of financial freedom, we as a family with a new toddler have noticed many changes in our lives, as well as how we are affected by our choices. We have seen how our past choices have affected our freedom from debt today. We continue to seek the Word of God to be aligned with what honors the Lord (Philippians 4:6-7).

Praise God! We have started to see good changes: we have eliminated our debt by at least 50% or more of what we had just six months ago. What a blessing! God remains faithful, even when we are not. Remembering that God’s promises are good causes His peace to take over us. Knowing He will always be with Olivia is just an indescribable assuredness (Psalm 119:90).

Although, the journey is not and has not been easy, we again and again realize we are being molded with His mighty hands (Isaiah 64:8). We lift our eyes to the hills and SHOUT! Our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He is our great provider (Psalm 121:1), the One who has the words of eternal life. Where else can we go to, but you, Lord (John 6:68)! These words, as we read them in the Bible, reassure us that we are going to make it, and know it is all in His good timing (John 14:27).

We pray we be an example of good stewardship. All we can say today, as when we started, “Praise Him at all times”; it is worth the journey.


The Heart of Fear

I think the scriptures can be absolutely hilarious (please hold your stones and let me explain). In the Gospel accounts, the life of Jesus is so vividly portrayed, and as you read, you come face to face with the God man and stand in complete awe and wonder. What cracks me up at times is the disciples: one, because they are walking with Jesus and yet they say and do some of the funniest things; and two, I often see myself in their responses to Christ, which leaves me then to laugh at myself.

One account that I think of is found in Matthew 8:23-27 where Jesus calms the raging sea. The disciples have been following Jesus long enough to see His great power and attributes that testify of His divinity. Christ has been healing the sick and demonstrating His authority, and yet when we make it to this point on the sea, the disciples STILL don’t seem to grasp whom they are with, which is too comical. They become crippled by fear upon seeing the storm and respond in unbelief rather than faith.

This is the heart of fear: unbelief. Fear looks at the inadequacies in self and draws the conclusion that our personal lack calls for us to not react. This is something we can all relate to, seeing that we are weak and needy sinners and at times refuse to act in faith simply because we are afraid and know we are unfit. Here is where we miss the mark: we allow our insufficiency to blind us to God’s perfect character. If the disciples would have just believed Jesus for who He said He was, they would have responded with a steadfast faith instead of responding in panic and distrust. They would see their weakness and instead of panicking and being self-reliant, they would see the opportunity to humble their anxious hearts before Christ and simply cry for help.

It’s so easy to look at these biblical accounts and see the disciples’ responses and not see how, today, we respond in the very same way. We have experienced God in salvation and know His Word and have tried Him time and time again, yet we still fear and doubt His character in times of trouble. Let’s learn to fight our fears with faith—faith in Christ. Faith in His promises revealed in the Scriptures, faith in His finished work on the cross, and faith in God’s perfect love. This is the love that boldly and intentionally says “I have chosen you and I will be with you forever”; this is the love that casts out all fear. When we realize that nothing can separate us from God’s love, what should we fear? He alone will remain faithful; He alone will be my anchor and will continue to remain.

Wisdom in Parenting

Parenting is a commitment of epic proportions! As parents, we spend our days accomplishing a vast list of important (and not so important) things. Just consider the sheer volume of resources available to “help” us in our parenting duties. There are books that deal with ADD, bedtime, discipline, defiance, curfew, complaining, bed-wetting, biting, finances, friends, fighting in the car (yes, there is an entire book on automobile arguments!), manners, media, potty training…you name it!

When my children were young, I was often left wondering, “Will I make it through this day alive and sane?” Now, as an empty-nester, I can’t help but wonder how it all happened so fast!  Although the necessary duties fill our days, there is something spiritual about our parenting that often gets lost in the mundane.

How can parents capture a glimpse of eternity in the midst of the ordinary in order that they will not merely spend their hours, but invest their days?

  1. Abandon the idea of perfect parenting.
    • When you fail, ask for forgiveness.
    • Stop trying to impress everyone; including yourself!
    • Kill the “Super-Parent” lie and ask for help!
    • Live an honest and authentic life before your child.
  1.   Determine to worry less and pray more.
    • Set aside time each day for a few minutes of prayer and quiet reflection.
    • When a difficult situation arises, choose to pray for wisdom and strength before acting.
    • Write out prayers or Scriptures and place them around your home for encouragement.
    • Pray with and for your child.
  1. Talk with (not at) your child every day.
    • Look at your child in the eyes when speaking.
    • Be aware of what is not being said; ask questions that will allow your child to share his or her heart.
  1. Give your child a strong sense of identity.
    • Share your faith journey with your child.
    • Tell your child stories of your family’s history and heritage.
    • Offer words of blessing to your child at meals and before dropping them off at school or special events.
    • Speak positive words about and to your child.

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5-6

Striving for Wisdom as You Work

Oh, how easy it is to get distracted by mounting bills, shrinking paychecks, the never-ending list of needs, and the fear about whether the amount in your checking account will last until the next payday! How do we balance it all? There are some truths we need to keep in mind when we think about God’s provision of our financial needs. First, God created work for mankind before Adam chose sin; therefore, work is good and right and doing our tasks to God’s glory (Col.3:23) honors Him. Second, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps.50:10)—it all belongs to Him and He gives as He chooses to whom He chooses. Third, God expects that we strive to fulfill our part in the work-provision equation (2 Thess.3:10).

But we need to take a step back in order to understand what this has to do with striving for wisdom as you work.

Find your goal in God. We have to always start here. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What is it that you’re working for? If we’ve gotten off track and are headed toward a lesser (or wrong!) goal, wisdom will not be found. We must strive in our desire to attain Christlikeness; in our love for God’s Word; and in our single-minded focus on that one, all-consuming goal: the knowledge of God. Knowing that God created work and that He will be honored as you work for His glory will help you keep your eye on the right goal.

Find pleasure in your treasures. God didn’t give us five senses and expect that we reject the pleasure they bring. He didn’t give us the love and warmth of family and friends, only to require that we remain cold and untouched. No, He chose to provide pleasure for us as we walk with Him on this earth. Do you treasure your family? There is pleasure to be found there! Of course, when we treasure Jesus, the ultimate pleasure is found in Him! And, ultimately, it all belongs to God, so give thanks to Him and choose a daily attitude of gratitude.

Find joy in the journey. Yes, even in the trials, there is joy to be found. Remember, Jesus hasn’t changed—He’s the same today as He was during your recent time of relative ease. The journey He has carved out for you includes your continuing to strive. So don’t give up and don’t give in. When we stand strong, by His grace, in our faith, our eyes remain focused on truth—His truth. And it is always in His truth and by His Spirit that we find wisdom.

Do You Know Your Mission in Life?

Just the word “mission” sounds adventuresome, doesn’t it? Life is meant to be a wonderful adventure, filled with meaning and purpose, but most people don’t know what their mission is in life. Do you? Practitioners of the soul believe that every human being has “telic” (purpose) questions embedded deep within the hearts. Questions like…

  • Who am I?
  • Who made me?
  • Why am I here?
  • Where am I going?
  • How can I know?

Until you know the true answer to these questions there will always be a void in your heart. It was the great North African bishop Augustine of Hippo who once said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” The good news is that God has answered these telic questions for us in His Word, the Bible. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt.11:28).

The key to finding your mission in life and rest for your soul is simple: you must to come to Jesus. Have you? Will you? I know that some say that at the “right time” and at the “right place,” everyone will have their “come to Jesus” moment. But how do you know if that time has come for you? There is never a “right time” or a “right place”—so the moment you hear the Gospel invitation to come, come, dear friend, at that very moment! How?

Just as [you are], without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me.
And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as [you are], and waiting not,
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

God’s Mission, Our Mission

Although the basic definition of the word “mission” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is simply “a task or job that someone is given to do,” we typically reserve the word for more than taking out the trash or giving the kids a bath. In the secular world, the term is primarily used for important, newsworthy tasks, such as military missions or space program missions. Most of us don’t regularly think of ourselves as being part of a mission; instead, we watch or read about others who have been, or are part of, important history-making missions.

If you are a regenerated son or daughter of the King of creation (a.k.a. a Christian), however, we need to renew our minds on this point. Every man, woman, or child who has placed faith in Jesus has been placed smack down in the middle of the longest-running, most costly, and most significant mission in history. And you and I are not just bystanders of this mission, we are crucial members of it.

What is this mission? In truth, it is one big mission comprised of millions of smaller missions. The one big mission is God’s own mission: to glorify God throughout the universe (Ps.106:7-8; Ez.36:22-23; Hab.2:14; Rom.11:36; Eph.1:3-14). The smaller missions are the various ways we glorify God in our individual lives (Matt.5:16; 1 Cor.10:31). Every war consists of battles, and every battle consists of small missions; therefore, the great mission to win a war depends upon the success of the smaller missions. In the same way, our great mission to glorify God is worked out primarily in the smaller missions He gives us every day.

The hard part for us, it seems, is to keep the great mission before us—in our minds and in our hearts—at all times. We are so easily distracted away from the mission by the busyness, or even the routineness, of our lives that we forget about our main mission. We try to go about the smaller missions without the larger mission in sight, and we sink into despondency and legalism.

What we need is to make a point of waking up every morning reminding ourselves of the great mission we are on, and go about our day recognizing the importance of every small mission we are given. We need to recognize that we can choose to glorify God by making sure He is our greatest desire; that pleasing Him through our joyful obedience is our meat and drink. We need to ask ourselves if we are actively seeking to love and encourage and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ for the purpose of bringing God glory. Are we practicing kindness, humility, patience, self-control, etc., in the home and in the workplace for the purpose of bringing God glory? Are we preaching and teaching for the purpose of bring God glory? Are we evangelizing the lost and giving to/sending/going as missionaries for the purpose of bringing God glory? Are we praying, ultimately, for the purpose of bringing God glory?

If you have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, you are on a mission, the one great cosmic and eternal mission. And don’t forget, if you are on this mission, God has given you everything you need to accomplish the smaller missions He gives you (2 Pet.1:3).



Andy Lack serves as our Pastor of Missions. He is married to Sara and the father of two energetic boys.