The Point of Purity Podcast

Episode #53 - Happy Thanksgiving!

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Episode #53 "Happy Thanksgiving!"


I am so excited to wish each and every one of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

In a world gone crazy, there’s still a reason to give thanks. Scripture doesn’t tell us to give thanks “for” everything but rather we are commanded to give thanks “IN” everything.

Welcome to a special Thanksgiving edition of The Point of Purity Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Etner, Author, National Speaker, and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry. In this episode I want to talk with you about giving thanks in everything. No matter the situation, no matter the circumstance, no matter the problem – you can be thankful. So let’s dive into God’s Word and discover together what God has to say about being thankful

We are going to focus our attention today upon one particular verse from Scripture. Namely, 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It’s very simple, very short, yet very to the point. It says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NASB) Let me repeat that. Listen now. “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

There are three things I want to note from this verse. Three things that should be powerfully impactful upon our hearts and influential in our lives.

1st The COMMAND to give thanks.

“In everything give thanks!” This is a divine order. This is a divine expectation. This is a command from God to give thanks in everything. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 5:20 that we are to “give thanks always and (in) everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Philippians 4:6 he writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Scripture commands, “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17) Why? Why would God expect, why would God decree, why would God command us to always give thanks? Psalm 92:1 declares “It is good to give thanks to the Lord!”

Psalm 100 says this: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (ESV)

God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that of all people, Christians’ ought to be truly, genuinely thankful. I love the words of Psalm 103:1-5 which declares “Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things.” (NLT)

Scripture is clear that we are to thank the Lord. In fact, the Bible goes so far as to say that it is evil not to thank God. The Apostle Paul declares in Romans 1 that mankind acts as if they themselves are God, as if they are self-sufficient and thus need no one else. And in verse 21 he

says that “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks.” (NLT) In fact, I submit for your consideration that the person most taken for granted in the Universe is God. There is absolutely nothing you do in life that does not totally depend on God. God is the source of everything good.

Listen once again to Romans 1:21 within its greater context of verses 18-21. “All sinful, wicked people suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.” (Romans 1:18-21 NLT)

In Luke 19:11-19 we find the story of 10 men plagued with a horrendous disease called leprosy. A vile disease that slowly ate away the flesh right off your bones. We read that “as Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, crying out, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’” Verse 14 tells us that Jesus “looked at them and said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.” What an astounding miracle Christ just performed in their lives. Not only are they now cleansed of their leprosy, but they are also reunited with their family and friends. They are welcomed back into society. They are no longer considered Anathema – unclean!

Our text goes on to say, in verse 15, that “one of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, (in other words, with a very loud voice he exclaimed) ‘Praise God!’ He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done.”

Jesus then asks him a very provocative question. In verse 17 “Jesus asked, ‘didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (NLT) Let me tell you where the other nine were. They were off somewhere enjoying the blessing. Don’t lose sight of the fact that those other nine men were healed too. But they were so excited about receiving the blessING that they completely forgot to thank the blessOR. They got the blessING but didn’t thank the blessOR. Aren’t we all guilty of that from time to time?

Think back in your minds to the Old Testament story of the nation of Israel – God’s chosen people – wandering for 40 years in the wilderness. God blesses them each morning with this stuff called Manna. Exodus 16:4 tells us that God “rained down food from heaven. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day.” Then on the weekends “on the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.” (Exodus 16:4-5 NLT)

Every day of their lives, for 40 years God rained down holy corn flakes from Heaven. Every day. And then on Friday He’d give them twice as much so that they didn’t have to break Divine Law and gather food on the Sabbath. God provided for their need! Guess what they did.

“Manna again? Are you kidding me? Can’t God expand His menu? Is this all He knows how to fix and serve? I have a hankerin’ for some deep-fried chicken. I’d be happy with two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions on a sesame seed bun! We deserve a break today. We want to have it our way. Anything is better than this Manna!”

Get some perspective folks! C’mon. You’re in the middle of a wilderness. You’re out in the middle of nowhere. Your stomachs are full, your clothes and your footwear aren’t wearing out. You have need of nothing! Your Creator, your Savior, your Omniscient and Omnipotent Heavenly Father is right here with you, taking care of you. And you’re complaining? Seriously?

So, God says in Exodus 16:12, “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” Sounds like a good thing – right? Scriptures tell us in Numbers 11 that “the Lord sent a wind that brought quail from the sea and let them fall all around the camp. For miles in every direction there were quail. So the people went out and caught quail all that day and throughout the night and all the next day too. No one gathered less than fifty bushels! But while they were gorging themselves on the meat – while it was still in their mouths – the anger of the Lord blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.” (Numbers 11:31-33 NLT)

Psalm 106:14-15 describes it this way: “They had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them.” (ESV) These people saw God work miracle after miracle after miracle, and they were complaining that they had to eat Graham Crackers instead of Fillet Mignon. And so, instead of being grateful, they grumbled.

Back to our primary point here, there is a Command in Scripture to give thanks. A command.

2nd let’s talk about the CONTEXT of thanks-giving.

Back to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we see the words “in everything give thanks.” We are to give thanks in everything. Now don’t mis-read that. Don’t mis-quote it either. The command here is not to give thanks FOR everything but give thanks IN everything. And there is a big difference here. A big difference.

He’s not saying here, that when you’re sick – be thankful that you’re sick, be thankful for the sickness. I can’t say that I’ve ever met someone who says, “I have COVID and am I ever so thankful for COVID!” I don’t believe God wants you to say, “I am so thankful that I have cancer.” No! If you’re house burned to the ground, you’re not expected to be thankful that you lost all your earthly possessions. The command isn’t to be thankful FOR everything, but rather IN everything. Context here is important.

To put it another way: when things go well – give thanks. AND, when things go wrong – give thanks! Not FOR the things that going wrong, but IN the midst of those things generate a thankful heart. When things are good – give thanks. AND, when things are bad – give thanks. Not FOR the things that are bad, but IN the midst of those bad things you can still be thankful. When things are easy – give thanks. AND, when things are difficult, when things are hard, when things don’t go your way – give thanks! Not FOR those things but IN those things.

Listen to Habakkuk 3:17-18. “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (NLT) In other words, even though life around me as I know it seems to be falling apart at the seams, I will rejoice NOT in my circumstances, NOT in my situations, NOT in my struggles – no, I will rejoice IN THE LORD! I will be thankful IN everything. Verse 19 goes on to say, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”

Even though I cannot praise God FOR my circumstances, I can praise Him that He is with me IN my circumstances. Although I cannot praise Him FOR my current situation, I most certainly can praise Him that I am not in this situation by myself. Deuteronomy 31:8 declares, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” No – instead be thankful!

Think with me for a moment about the familiar story in the Bible about the man named Job. He finds everything – and I do mean everything – in life collapsing around him. He loses all his earthly possessions, he loses his children, he loses his health, he loses the support of his wife, and he loses the support of his friends. He’s in a bad spot – I mean a really bad spot. It’s so bad that Mrs. Job, his dear sweet loving wife, says to her suffering husband ... “If there was ever a time to go off on God and give him a piece of your mind, this is it! If there was ever a time to cuss out God, this is it. Just curse God and die!”

We see in Job 2:10 his response. “But Job replied, ‘You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?’ So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.” (NLT) In other words, are we so foolish, are we so shallow, are we so self-centered that we measure our relationship with God by the stuff, by the things, by the good that He gives us? When you are thankful IN everything, you are able to say with Job, “The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21 NLT)

Everything in Job’s life came crashing down around him. Everyone in Job’s life gave him bad counsel. Nothing was as it should be. And yet Job was able to be thankful – why? Watch this now. You cannot lose what you never had. You cannot lose that which you never had. Listen once again to Job’s words in verse 21 of chapter one. “The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” You see, Job understood that those possessions that were lost weren’t his possessions – they were God’s. Those children that he lost weren’t his – they were on loan to him from God. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away – blessed be the name of the Lord!

Look with me at Acts 16:22-25. “A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” (NLT) These two men were falsely accused. These two men were poorly treated and beaten. These two me were wrongfully imprisoned. And yet these two men – at the midnight hour, at the time when it’s the darkest, at the time when evil seems to rise up and prosper – these two men were singing praises to God – thankful IN the midst of horrific circumstances.

Back to our primary point here, we’ve seen that there is a Command in Scripture to give thanks. A command. Second, we’ve looked at the Context of giving thanks ...

3rd let’s talk about the CONCERN regarding giving thanks.

In other words, why should I give thanks IN everything? What’s the point? Look again at our base text of 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It says, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (ESV) Watch this now: When you give thanks in everything, you are in the will of God. Let me repeat that. When you are being thankful IN everything, you are in the will of God for your life. “Be thankful in all circumstances, (in everything give thanks) for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

So when you have an attitude of grumbling, when you have a disposition toward griping, when you have a spirit of complaining, you are outside of God’s will for your life. I wonder – right here and right now, in this very room in this very moment, how many of us are currently living outside of God’s will? Hmm? To have a thankful heart, to find yourself being thankful, to be filled with a heart of praise in the midst of any trial, trouble, or test is to find yourself smack-dab in the center of God’s will for your life.

Why is that so critical? Because of Romans 8. Look carefully and consider seriously the words of verse 28. Romans 8:28 says, “ And we know – and we KNOW.” Watch this now – it’s not about WHAT you know as much as it is WHO you know. You see, the people who know what this verse is talking about are those who ... even in the midst of the craziness, the chaos, the confusion, the calamity, the disappointment, the discouragement, the distraction, the destruction that is happening all around them – they still know something / they know someone powerful enough to carry them through it all.

And we know that for those who love God ALL THINGS.” Now hold on a minute here. How many things? All Things! Somebody say, “All Things!” Now think about this. That phrase “all things” in this verse doesn’t leave any room for your one thing that you keep holding on to. We know – this isn’t just a head knowledge here. We know – this isn’t a “I hope this is true” thing here. We know – this isn’t a conjecture here. No! We know that in the midst of anything and everything that is going on in life ... “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” ... to those who are living in concert with His will.

Even now, even if you cannot see His hand in your life, even when you are unaware of what He is doing, even while you are struggling to make sense of it all – God is at work. He’s moving, shifting, adjusting, planning, purposing, bumping, flipping, tweaking and turning things around to accomplish His perfect will in your life. A will that will bless you yes, but one that will glorify Him for sure!

“But Steve, I can’t see it, so how can I be sure of what He’s doing?” Romans 8:28 is talking about what you know – not what you can or cannot see. The Apostle Paul says “we know that all things are being effective in our life for the purpose of glorifying God. You may not see it, but you can know it. You may not feel it, but you can know it. You may not experience it, but you can know it. And we know that God causes ALL things work together for good to those who love Him! So no matter the situation, no matter the problem, no matter the circumstance, no matter what - you can in everything give thanks because we know that God is at work! Seen or unseen, obvious or hidden, God is always at work.

In Exodus 1 we see that “a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He said to his people, ‘Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more.” (Exodus 1:8-10 NLT) So, “Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, ‘When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” (Exodus 1:15-16 NLT)

The situation was dire. The circumstances were grave. The problem seemed insurmountable. But God. But God had a plan. But God had a plan, and He was working all things together for good. In Exodus 2 we see that baby Moses was born. His mother hid him for three months. And “when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.” And baby Moses’ “sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him.” And wouldn’t you know it, mama put baby in the basket, mama put the basket in the Nile. And sister stood there watching at the exact time when “Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her. When the princess opened it, she saw the baby.” And wouldn’t you know it, almost as if on cue, “the little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him.” And by Divine design, inspired by God Himself, Moses’ sister “approached the princess. ‘Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’ she asked.” And so, God’s plan began to unfold. Moses’ mother was able to raise her own son and get paid for it!

So, in the midst of horrific times, God places a young child in the center of the action in Egypt, in the home of the most powerful man in the then-known-world, to be raised, tutored, and educated in the inner workings and politics of the nation of Egypt, because 80 years later God was going to use Moses to deliver His chosen people from bondage and slavery and lead them to the promised land. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Because we know that God works all things together for His good!

How could a man named Joseph possibly give thanks in everything? His brothers despised him. His brothers hated him. His brothers plotted to kill him. His brothers sold him into slavery. He is dragged away from his home, his family and placed in a foreign country with foreign people eating foreign food in a foreign culture worshiping a foreign god. He is wrongfully accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He is unjustly thrown into prison and left there to rot.

The situation was dire. The circumstances were grave. The problem seemed insurmountable. But God. But God had a plan. But God had a plan, and He was working all things together for good. God hadn’t forsaken Joseph. God hadn’t turned His back on Joseph. God hadn’t forgotten about Joseph. No way! God was actively working out His perfect plan in His perfect way to be revealed in His perfect time. God wanted Joseph in Egypt so that when the famine came, he could personally take care of his family and preserve the 12 tribes of Israel, from which would come the Messiah who was to die on a cruel Roman cross to save us for eternity!

In Matthew 14 “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. That evening the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.’ But Jesus said, ‘That isn’t necessary – you feed them.” (Matthew 14:14-16 NLT)

Wait a minute. Say what? Jesus, how on God’s green earth are we supposed to do that? Maybe you didn’t hear what we just said. This is a remote place. There’s no McDonald’s here. No Wendy’s, no Burger King, and there sure isn’t any catering service we can reach out to for help. So how are we going to feed thousands of people? Verse 17 says, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” That’s not even enough to feed the twelve of us!

The situation was dire. The circumstances were grave. The problem seemed insurmountable. But God. But God had a plan. But God had a plan, and He was working all things together for good. Jesus says in verse 18, “Bring them here.” Bring the fish and bread to me. Let me take care of the situation. Let me work in the midst of these circumstances. Let me deal with the problem. Why? Because WE KNOW that God works all things together for good.

So, the disciples bring the fish and bread to Jesus. Jesus “told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven” and he gave thanks. Did you catch that? He gave thanks. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you. He gave thanks! Now why on earth would you give thanks for two sardines and five crackers when you have well over 5,000 mouths to feed?

Watch this now: even though you may not have what you think you need; you need to be thankful for that which you have. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you. So Jesus gave thanks for what he had, and God’s Word says that when the crowd opened their eyes after the prayer – Moby Dick was lying there on the beach. Verse 19-21 tells us that “breaking the loves into pieces, Jesus gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. The all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!” (NLT)

Jesus taught his disciples (then) and his disciples (now) a valuable lesson here. Give thanks for what you have, and then step back and watch God take a little and give a lot!

All-purpose flour. Eggs. Sugar. Unsweetened cocoa powder. Baking powder. Baking soda. Salt. Milk. Vegetable oil. Eggs. And vanilla extract. These are the ingredients used in baking a mouth-watering chocolate cake. Mmmmm. I am salivating right now just thinking about sinking my teeth into a nice chocolate cake.

But I must confess, it has never crossed my mind, I have never salivated over the thought of sticking a tablespoon of baking powder in my mouth and swallowing it. I’ve never gone giddy over the idea of chugging down a ¼ cup of vegetable oil. Never. Why? Because every one of those ingredients that make a chocolate cake – those individual elements have no appeal to me. If you were to invite me over to your home, set me at your table, and place a bowl of unsweetened cocoa powder in front of me, I wouldn’t be interested. If you were to mix in two cups of flour, I’d still refuse. Add a couple of raw eggs and I guarantee you I’ll have nothing to do with it. It has no appeal to me.

Now take all of those individual ingredients and put them in a large bowl and insert a mixer – turn the mixer on and blend all of those elements together. Now all of those ingredients are blended. They are mixed, they are mingled, they are merged, they are amalgamated together. Then they are placed in the oven. Exposed to the heat. That blending and that heat is activating those ingredients. That blending of those ingredients and that heat being applied is now working together to produce something wonderful.

Now what is needed is time. Putting the ingredients into the bowl is only part of the process. Mixing those ingredients together in that bowl is only part of the process. Placing that batter in the oven is only part of the process. We now need to add time. Time in the fire. Time to let those elements do their intended work. And given that time, an amazing aroma begins to fill the room. It permeates the house.

And as that fragrance reaches my nostrils, I begin to understand that each of those individual ingredients worked together toward a bigger purpose – a much grander goal. I was not supposed to understand and appreciate each one individually, in fact I could not; but when put together, when placed in the oven, and when given the appropriate amount of time, the result, the outcome, the end product was wonderful!

God may have you in a baking powder situation right now. God may be allowing unsweetened cocoa powder to be in your life right now. God may be bringing some raw eggs into your personal space right now. But WE KNOW, WE KNOW, that He is working each of these things into your life, blending them all together, turning up the heat, giving it some time to bring about His good, His grace, His strength, His power, His perfect will in your life!

So, as we see in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB) As Philippians 4:6 commands, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (NLT) “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20 NLT)

In Conclusion

Thank you so much for listening to today’s podcast. If this has ministered to you, if this has blessed you, challenged you, or encouraged you I ask you to do two things. First of all – would you please let your friends know about The Point of Purity Podcast. Help us help men and women across the globe win their war for sexual purity and live in freedom.

Then second, and this is so important, please take a few seconds right now to go over to your favorite Podcast Player and rate our program and this episode – why? because every time you do, your rating lets them know this podcast is important, it is valuable, and your ratings helps us get this program and this ministry into the ears and hearts of people just like you. So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.

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