Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Promise of Thanksgiving

Want peace? Give thanks.

The Heart of Thanksgiving (4)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4.6, 7

What could be easier?
It’s hard to imagine a discipline that could be easier than giving thanks in every situation. How long does it take, after all, to say, “Thank You, Lord”?

Yet how many of us practice this discipline with the kind of regularity Paul calls for in 1 Thessalonians 5.18?

As easy as giving thanks might appear, it’s apparently harder than it seems. But if we can keep God in mind more consistently throughout our day – our Creator, Keeper, and loving Savior – and practice giving thanks in various ways and as often as we think of it, we should find this discipline beginning to become more a normal part of our walk with and work for the Lord.

And as we improve in giving thanks, we’ll be strengthening an important muscle in our souls that can aid us in improving all our affections, and in keeping our hearts with all diligence for an ever-stronger soul.

But in case we still need more incentive to give thanks, God holds out a most appealing promise.

What’s in it for me?
God knows that we are, at heart, self-seeking creatures. And, as we have seen, a certain amount of self-love is perfectly in order. We might ask, What’s in it for me? That’s not necessarily a bad thing, if our desires are of the noblest sort. Even Jesus, the writer of Hebrews tells us, was able to endure the cross and despise the shame of it because of the joy that was set down before Him (Heb. 12.1, 2; cf. Ps. 22). He endured suffering and shame for the joy of satisfying the will of God, accomplishing His purpose in life, and securing the blessings of redemption and eternal life for all who believe in Him.

In the Scriptures, God consistently leads His people to follow and obey Him by holding out promises, expectations of goodness and blessing, which may be realized through obedience. Those blessings not only bring abundance and wellbeing to His people, but glory and honor to Him. Thus, whatever God promises can be regarded as a noble interest, one fully in line with proper self-love and which, while it satisfies a deep need and longing in our souls, at the same time achieves a larger, more transcendent purpose.

The command to give thanks in all circumstances is attended by just such a promise. Paul says that, if we will give thanks in everything – even those situations or circumstances that might otherwise lead us to feel anxious or distressed – the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Let’s make a few observations about this “peace of God.”

The peace of God
First, we confess that we cannot understand it, not completely. When God grants His peace to us, it invades our mind, pervades our heart, settles our conscience, and puts our body at ease and at rest. When we are resting in the peace of God, external circumstances and situations can neither disturb nor disrupt the overall sense of wellbeing that fills us with calm and delight. We don’t know how this happens. That’s because it is not a work of our minds or affections. It is the peace of God, and is wrought by His Spirit, according to His Word in a way that affects every single aspect of our lives with the assured sense that all is well.

This peace, in the second place is “in Christ Jesus.” It is therefore accessible only by faith, only by believing that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven of sin, assured of eternal life, accompanied through all our journey in this world by His indwelling Spirit and unfailing Word, and bound for an eternal destiny of joyous rest and praise. We belong to Him, and He keeps us in the Father’s love. He is with us always, even to the end of the age. Our lives are hidden with Him in God. Nothing that can happen to us in this life can change that circumstance; therefore, nothing in this life can deprive us of the joy, rest, and peace we may experience by giving thanks in everything.

A word of warning is appropriate here: This is not some “add-water-and-stir” formula for being at peace. The command here is not simply, when anxiousness begins to settle upon us, that we should fire up some prayer of thanks to God, and then we’ll be at peace. Rather, this is a call to relentless faith – like Jacob, wrestling the angel – that perseveres in giving thanks and seeking the Lord and calling out to Him until, in His way and time, He grants the promised peace that settles all our souls.

That doesn’t mean our peace will be free of trial or loss or even suffering. But what are these, except mere circumstances, sent by God, ruled by God, and triumphed in by us because of His peace at work within us?

God wants us to be at peace, and He has promised that we can know that beyond-understanding state of being if only we will turn to Him with thanksgiving and stay that course until He blesses.

For reflection
1.  How would you describe the peace of God that is beyond understanding? How do you experience this peace?

2.  Given the choice, do you think most people would prefer to live in anxiousness or in peace? Explain.

3.  How does thanksgiving open the door to the peace of God?

Next steps – Transformation: What’s troubling you at this moment? What is robbing you of your peace? Offer it up in thanksgiving to God, and keep wrestling with it until He grants you His promised peace.

T. M. Moore

Your soul in the Kingdom of God
All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here.

Jesus has conveyed us into the Kingdom of God. It is in the context of seeking the Kingdom that we can grow strong souls. Our book, The Kingdom Turn, can help you understand and begin making yourself more at home in the Kingdom of God. Order your free copy by clicking here.

Thanks for your prayers and support
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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