In this series, you and I will be discussing the Biblical benefits of gratitude. This study will be taken from the book, "Militant Thankfulness: An Essential Practice to Experiencing a Full Spiritual Life."
Throughout this series, together, you and I will look at the immense blessings and benefits of thankfulness as presented by Scripture. And, by the end of this series, you and I will be able to identify some profound benefits of gratitude, as well as come to the conclusion that the intentional and ongoing practice of thanksgiving is an essential spiritual disciple for the Christian life.
We will be exploring the benefits of gratitude according to Philippians 4:6-7. What we will discover is the promise of peace accompanies the practice of thankfulness.
Our inspired text for today states this: "do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7). In this verse, the command against anxiety is immediately followed by the instruction for practicing "thanksgiving." What's more, in verse 7, the promise peace is given to all those who would include the practice of thankfulness as a spiritual discipline.
This is an incredible little promise. When we practice "thanksgiving... the peace of God... will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." When practicing thanks as a normal part of our relationship with God (in our prayers and supplications), God promises peace.
When you look for opportunity to give thanks, you find occasion to place your attention and your mind back upon God. As is offered in a lot more detail in Dustin's book, the practice of gratitude is the art shifting your focus and your mind off yourself (and your circumstances) and onto the goodness of the Lord. This concept is reinforced by Romans 8:6. It says, "For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace."
And, again in Isaiah 26:3, it promises, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You..." The diligence to practice thankfulness is truly an essential practice to experiencing a full spiritual life. The art of gratitude is to force the mind off self and back onto our Savior.
For more information on the Biblical benefits of gratitude, I highly recommend Dustin Dahlin's book, Militant Thankfulness: An Essential Practice to Experiencing a Full Spiritual Life.
In this article, I will be discussing the Biblical benefits of gratitude. This study will be taken from the book, Militant Thankfulness: An Essential Practice to Experiencing a Full Spiritual Life.
Throughout this series, I will present the immense blessings and benefits of thankfulness as presented by Scripture. And, by the end of this series, you and I will be able to identify some profound benefits of gratitude, as well as come to the conclusion that the intentional and ongoing practice of thanksgiving is an essential spiritual disciple for the Christian life.
Let us explore 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19. From this Passage, we will identity how the practice of thankfulness places one in the will of God, and how it is a practice that enable to the believer to better "walk in the Spirit." Let us take a look at 1 Thess. 5:18-19...
"give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:18-19). This little string of verses in 1 Thessalonians is incredibly deep. In the first session in this series, we discovered that the practice of gratitude directly combats the flesh. It is diametrically opposed to our sinful and fallen nature. You and I learned that being intentional and active to give thanks helps to defeat the inherent torments of the flesh so that we can better experience the heights of the spiritual life in Christ.
In this Passage, we discover something equally fascinating. Check this out:
"this passage illustrates how thankfulness not only stifles the lusts of the flesh, but it is one of the ways believers walk in the Spirit. This passage (1Thess. 5:12-28) was inspired to follow a pattern similar to an ancient Hebrew Chiasm. They are similar in that repetitious imperatives are communicated with a central point being the main emphasis of the whole section. In short, we are to understand that verse nineteen ('Do not quench the Holy Spirit') is the glue that holds this passage together, and it is the prominent motif of these sixteen verses. This means that verse nineteen is the premise through which all other verses in that section are to be understood and interpreted" (excerpt from Militant Thankfulness).
So what does that mean to you and me?! This means that practicing thankfulness better enables the believer to "walk in the Spirit." According to this Passage, "giving thanks in all circumstances" helps to keep from quenching the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us (and through us). You see... the practice of thanksgiving can be understood as the action of seeking opportunity to thank God. This is important because it helps to move the mind off ourselves and our situations and onto our Savior. As we seek opportunities to thank and praise God, we find ourselves more and more sensitive to His presence and His counsel.
For more information on this topic, you can check out the other articles in this series. You can, also, consider purchasing Dusty's book, Militant Thankfulness: An Essential Practice to Experiencing a Full Spiritual Life. I highly recommend it!
In this article, I will be discussing the Biblical benefits of gratitude. This study will be taken from the book, "Militant Thankfulness: An Essential Practice to Experiencing a Full Spiritual Life."
Throughout this series, I will be presenting the immense blessings and benefits of thankfulness as presented by Scripture. And, by the end of this series, you and I will be able to identify some profound benefits of gratitude, as well as come to the conclusion that the intentional and ongoing practice of thanksgiving is an essential spiritual disciple for the Christian life.
We will be starting with Ephesians 5:3-4 for an inspired look at the first benefit to the practice of thankfulness; we will discover that thankfulness is diametrically opposed to the flesh. Let's take a look…
Ephesians 5:3-4 says, "But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead…"
This little verse is fascinating! I would have thought that this verse would conclude by listing the antithetical behaviors to the sinful ones listed. In other words (rather than sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking), I would have imagined that this would give the opposite behaviors of abstinence, purity, contentment, spiritual cleanliness, and wholesome speech. Or at least something along those lines… some behaviors that would directly combat the sinful, flesh-driven ones. But I would have been wrong! Take a look at this Passage with me, again.
"But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving!"
Whoah! What a cool little verse. This is saying that "thanksgiving" directly combats the inherent, sinful tug of the flesh. This means that our fallen nature, our inherent depravity, the human condition that regularly attempts to draw us away from God is thwarted by the practice of gratitude. It should become obvious from this Passage that the practice of thankfulness is a spiritual discipline. It is a means of grace by which we can partner with the Holy Spirit in placing our flesh in submission to the Lordship of Christ.
Wow... What a concept! How incredible to know that something as simple as the regular and intentional practice of gratitude will help the Believer combat the tug of the flesh and traverse the heights of the spiritual life.
Being diligent to practice a fiercely active thankfulness is one of the ways by which we can begin to live a full spiritual life. A Militant thankfulness is diametrically opposed to the flesh. It is a means by which we can begin to experience the full joys of the Christian life.
For more on this topic, I recommend reading my other articles in this Militant Thankfulness series. Also, I would encourage you to consider buying Dusty's Book, "Militant Thankfulness: An Essential Practice to Experiencing a Full Spiritual Life."
Your Identity as Worshiper!
This has been a fun, frustrating, exhilarating, and exhausting study. The struggle of this study has been trying to mine the depths of an endless excavation site. To present a study on one’s identity as a worshiper, it requires studying worship. To study worship, it demands a look into the nature, aseity, and character of God. This, as you can imagine, leads one to look into the concept of mankind being created in the image of God. After the anthropological study is complete, one may then proceed to dive into the cultural and historical practices of worship by the Jews. It is only appropriate, after that, to look into the New Testament Scriptures on worship. Identifying the New Testament Scriptures of worship will demand that you compile a list of ways that worship (under the New Covenant) has changed, shifted, or been divinely redirected. This list will force you back to the Old Testament where you will get distracted with all the shadows and types of worship that were prophetically intended to lead us to the New Testament where we see the fullness of worship being satisfied by the work of Jesus. And then, if you give a mouse a cookie, you will eventually end up with a study on worship and our identity as worshipers.
But in all seriousness, this has been a challenging study because our Inspired Text proves worship to be no simple, unimportant, or insignificant thing. Worship is deep. Worship is profound. Worship is inextricably tied to the very fabric of our humanness. Our Identity as worshipers is equally deep.
So before we jump into this teaching on our new identity, let me briefly offer some Biblical examples of worship in an attempt to define worship. In both the Old and New Testaments worship has been conveyed as the heartfelt expressions of song, praise, thanksgiving, and musical accompaniment. In both halves of the Bible, Scripture clearly presents worship as being sincere expressions (and inspired outbursts) of praise. From the Psalmists to the Apostles, worship is something that is corporately and individually expressed in song. In Psalm 66:4 it says, “All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.’ Selah.” Also, Psalm 96:1-4 declares,
“Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day today.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.”
Worship is also conveyed as being the reading of the Word (Deut. 31:11-13; Joshua 8:33-35; Neh. 8:1-8; etc.)
Worship is described as being silent before the Lord (Deut. 27:9-10; Hab. 2:20; Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7)
Worship includes prayer (Acts 16:25; Psalm 51:1-17; Luke 2:37; 2 Sam. 7:18; Isaiah 56:7; etc.)
Worship is described as expressed through bowing and prostration (Exodus 34:8; 2 Chron. 20:18; Gen. 17:3; Mar. 3:11; etc.)
Worship is communicated as being devotion (often even to false gods) (Deut. 8:19; 1 Chron. 29:2-4; Exodus 22:20; Matt. 6:24; etc)
Worship is seen a heartfelt response to the Presence of God (Psalm 22:23; Psalm 102:15-16; Hosea 3:5; etc)
So many inspired descriptions of worship lead us to question why we would limit our understanding of worship to only being the song and music. And furthermore, it causes us to ask the question of how does one define worship? What is it?! Perhaps the best definition of worship I have heard is this: “Worship is an outward expression of an inward reality" (unknown). In other words, worship is any (and all) outward expressions that demonstrate the object of your affection. What does this mean? This means prayer is an act of worship. Fasting is an act of worship. Singing praises. Serving the Lord at church. Restraining from profanity. Mopping the floors. Raising your kids. Driving your car. Acts of obedience (large or small). Reading Scripture. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord...” This is worship. It is expressing our affections for the Lord in everything we do! In both the scholastic theological and spiritual formation realms, worship is understood as being intended to encompass the entire scope of Christian living. Everything!
Charles Spurgeon says, “All places are places of worship to a Christian.” There is not a place we can go where we cannot, nor should not, serve the Lord. He is the object of our affections. He is the One we esteem the most. We are to practice, regularly, expressing our gratitude and our adoration and our appreciation for our Savior. This is something we can do anywhere. On a very practical level, we can start by practicing a militant thankfulness. 1 Thess. 5:16-19 tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”
Now that we have briefly covered what worship is, let us look at who is identified as a “worshiper” in the Bible. This might surprise you! From the front of the Book to the end of the Book, the Bible clearly describes humankind as worshipers. Man and woman. Jew and gentile. Slave and free. Christian and non-christian. From Cain to the Philistines. From the pagans to the Jews. From the Canaanites to the Babylonians. From the worship of God to the worship of idols. Mankind has been inherently created to worship! It is obvious that within the intricacies of our DNA we are worshipers. There will always be some object upon which mankind places their affections. We serve and devote our time and our money to the things we value most. If you turn to social media, you will see the worship of philosophies and ideologies. You will see the veneration of political agendas. You will see people expressing the affections of their hearts for something. From worshiping and serving their sexual appetites to expressing their love and devotion to the object of addiction.
God crafted this in us that we might be drawn to worship Him. The problem was the fall. In the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve introduced sin and death into the world, the world was launched into a tailspin. The Bible states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Our identity as worshipers was corrupted by sin, and now we worship things that do not deserve our affections. In our fallenness, we worship our careers, our wives, our theological frameworks, our preferences, our sport, our ideas of marriage, our code of ethics, our cars, our homes, our scientific presuppositions, etc. We are worshipers, and we will worship something.
The difference between our worship and the worship of the world is that we worship something eternal – Someone that is worthy. The Object of our worship is the invisible, personal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable God. We express our affections for a God that would give Himself for His people. We serve and obey a God that created the heavens and the earth. The God Who created an escape plan from a temporary world that is scheduled to go up in flame like a match-stick. We serve Jesus Christ. He alone can save us. He alone can help us. He alone can heal us. He alone can deliver us. He alone can comfort. He alone can bring fulfillment and lasting satisfaction. He alone can work the impossible! This is the difference between our worship and the worship of the world.
Now staying true to our goal for this series, before I attempt to answer the question of “what does this say about God and what does this say about us?"
What does this Say about God?
“And they sang a new song, saying,
‘Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation...’
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!’
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’
And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
There is only one God – one thing – that was able to accomplish the impossible work of salvation. And there is only one God who can perfectly accomplish the ultimate and final movement of redemption on earth.
This reveals a God who is of insurmountable worth. He is the Object to be obtained at any cost. He is the most valuable and treasured Possession to be had. He is greater than any amount of silver or gold. God is precious and to be treasured above all else.
Psalm 36:7, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
1 Peter 1:18-19, “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Lastly, being designated a worshiper of Yahweh also reveals something of relationship. There are a vast number of passages that connect a personal relationship with God to the worship of God. Look at the contrast here in Deut. 4: 28-29. It says, “And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Compared to the worship of inanimate objects, God makes himself available. He is a personal God. He is living and active. He is able to respond to the cries and prayers of His people.
Also, it shows a relational partnership. We get to work with God in this world to accomplish His will. Our worship includes serving God. This reveals a God who is personally involved in the lives of his people and the world. This emphasizes a relationship and partnership with God in administering His love, grace, and mercy to others. We do not just sing songs of worship to our God; we serve God and serve with God in accomplishing his plans.
1 Peter 2:9,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Col. 3: 15-17,
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
John 8:31, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.’”
This reveals God as Rabbi – a teacher of people. When we bring the historical and cultural understanding of a disciple into view, this highlights a God that is personally involved in the holistic development of His people! This reveals relationship – a Rabbi with His talmidim relationship. Of our God, it illustrates His commitment to train, equip, help, instruct, and walk with His disciples...
It reveals a God who is present and personal! This is much deeper than a relationship between a teacher and his pupil. This is a relationship where our Holy Instructor lives every moment of the day with us!
A disciple would almost never be separated from his Rabbi. In fact, it may even be said that a Rabbi was the ever-present help to the disciple. The Rabbi would live with their disciples. He would do life with his disciples. He would dine with, walk with, talk with, and exist with His disciples. Jesus modeled this with His talmidim. For about 3 years, Jesus rarely separated Himself from His disciples...
And this is how it is even today. John 16:7 states, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.”
John 14: 25-26, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Behind every Disciple of Christ, there is a gracious and merciful Teacher that is ever-present!
Unlike popular belief in the Western World, we are not self-sufficient. We are not independent. We are not Islands to ourselves! Just because we live in an age of information - where we have access to libraries of good theology, incredible Pastors and Bible Teachers, a plethora of wonderful role models, and heads full of information – we are still disciples. We are still to consider ourselves in desperately reliant upon God. We are to position ourselves, regularly, before God so that we may hear and obey His Instruction.
Matt. 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
John 14:25-26, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
I stated above that being a disciple reveals an Ever-present Teacher. It also means we need to make every effort to be present for our Counselor. We are living life in the presence of our Rabbi. Are we aware of it? Do we regularly stop and reflect upon the Word of God? Do we pray answer-conscience prayers? Have we trained ourselves to attentively listen and expect help from our God?
(Reference the Spiritual Disciplines...)
Finally, this identity statement requires us to “follow in the dust” of our Rabbi. Historically, being a talmidim requires much more than just knowledge. It demands the disciple to follow and imitate our Rabbi – Jesus. We are to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. We are to emulate the life, actions, and mission of Messiah! We are to eat the way He ate. We are to walk the way He walked. We are love to the way he Loved.
Eph. 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus, here, is saying that if a disciple is known for imitating the life of his Rabbi, then we will be known as Christ’s disciples by emulating the radicle love of our Teacher. Jesus’ life and mission is radically characterized by love. We CANNOT claim to be His disciples if we do not follow His example.
Married with two boys, Dusty is dedicated to his family, the Church were he pastors, and the life-long pursuit of knowing God more fully. There is nothing Dusty loves more than serving God by helping others understand the treasures of Scripture.