Take nothing for granted

Psalm 103:1–22

Are you afraid this morning, worried about something that threatens your future and your happiness? Perhaps you are concerned over the way politics is going, or by the way the economy is moving, or regarding the future of the planet. Maybe you are worried about school, about work, about retirement, about the cost of living, about getting robbed. People have let you down, people you thought you should be able to trust. Good people have experienced bad things and friends who are faithful disciples of Jesus have got cancer. Do you find this morning that it is a struggle to trust God in all things?
We have forgotten what God has done for us, and we have failed to see what we have done to ourselves. This is how sinful people have always been, and it says in Proverbs 9 that we ruin our lives by our own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.
It’s the way of world to reduce the causes of psychiatric problems to the body, but the Christian knows the root cause is Satan. If we are swept up in sinful anger at the Lord, we have become like Satan; bearing the diabolical image of the enemy of God’s people as it is written in the letter of James. (James 3:15; 4:7)
I’m sure you don’t want that to happen to you, and so you want to know how to avoid it. Scripture gives the answer. It’s a simple way, but perhaps not an easy way. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
What you think about determines how you feel. This is well known to psychiatrists and it is a truth of the Bible. Don’t sit around waiting to feel like praising God, waiting to feel thankful to God. Start by expressing your thanks to him and the nice feelings will follow.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
If things are difficult in your life right now, and lots of things are going wrong, how are you supposed to do this? This is the second law of spiritual success. At all times, and in all situations, have an attitude of gratitude. Take nothing for granted.
The first and most obvious things we can be thankful for are the common blessings of life. We can give thanks for the fruit and vegetables, the air and water, the sun and rain that God sends to us all. Sunsets and flowers, beaches and mountains. We can think of people in our lives, friends and family, with whom we share love. We can think of how people have helped us and brought us joy. We can think of the spiritual blessings in our life that God has given us.
There is the Bible and the Holy Spirit, angels and our Lord Jesus to give thanks for. There is the free gift of salvation and the grace of sanctification to be grateful for.
Scripture tells us to, “Be thankful in all circumstances”. Scripture does not order us to be thankful for the circumstances, but be thankful despite them.
Count your blessings and rejoice, praise God for all he has done. As you remember and think about these things, the feelings of gratitude will follow. As you remember what he has done in the past, you will start to grow in your trust for what he will do in the future. The word of God commands it in these verses and many more.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34)
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17)
“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
Of course it isn’t always easy. How do you give thanks when you are diagnosed with cancer, or when you lose both legs in a tragic accident? How do you give thanks in times of disaster?
The answer is to remind yourself that God can take the evil done by Satan and use it for good. God will never desert you or fail you, even in the most terrible circumstances.
Don’t look at the circumstances or judge based on appearances, but instead look at Jesus.
We can thank God for being with us and being faithful.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)
At the darkest and most hopeless moments of life we can give thanks for what God will do.
We are to give thanks in everything. In absolutely everything. Everything means everything.
In the worst of times, give thanks. We don’t give thanks for these awful experiences when friends desert us and life seems impossibly hard. People are evil and they do evil things. We don’t give thanks for the evil and the pain. We admit we are hurt, but we still give thanks in those times for God and we trust him for what he is going to do.
We remind ourselves of all the times in the Bible when God raised up people who had been betrayed and abused because of the sin of others. Joseph is one of the great examples, sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was thrown into prison for no crime by a lying hateful evil woman. This same Joseph praised God because God had turned it all to good, and used the hard times to save his entire family from death by famine.
No matter what happens to you, no matter what people do to you, God will bring good.
There will never be a situation out of which God cannot bring good for those who trust him. So learn to trust him. Trust God can turn the extreme worst into the absolute greatest.
Jesus is himself the greatest example of that. Jesus experienced great betrayal from a close disciple. Jesus was innocent and yet convicted to death. Jesus was tortured and mocked before being cruelly killed. God turned it into the greatest victory and eternal rejoicing as Jesus defeated death.
God does the same for us.
King David wrote, “Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.” And once he had started David continued, all through Psalm 103, to give praise to God.
The thing about having an attitude of gratitude is that although it’s a command, it’s not because God needs us to always be grateful to him. Sure it will please God, but the real reason is for our benefit. As we constantly remind ourselves of his great love and the wonderful things he has done for us, we will instinctively trust him and be filled with peace and joy. We are surrounded by bad news and misery, and we ought not to ignore these things. But the second rule is that we are to always give thanks.
“Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
It is a law of the soul that the more we concentrate our thoughts on what we have, rather than thinking of what we lack, the more our soul starts to thrive. We grow stronger and healthier. Our life changes as we find ourselves being flooded with a deep settled peace. We discover a confidence towards the future that nothing can shake. These laws are given by God for your benefit. Now you know two, and here they are.

The first law of spiritual success is to worship.
영적인 성취의 제1 법칙은 경배함이죠.
Be a worshipper before everything else.
하는 모든 일마다 경배하는 이가 되십시요.
The second law of spiritual success is to give thanks.
영적인 성취의 제2 법칙은 감사드림이죠.
Maintain at all times an attitude of gratitude.
모든 순간에 고마움의 자세를 가지시기 바랍니다.
Next week we will examine a third law. Until then, let’s practise these first two.

Amen 아멘

About Pastor Simon

Pastor at Jinju International Christian Fellowship. Formerly of Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK. I am Simon Warner of Jinju Church. We speak English at Jinju Church, South Korea.
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