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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Give Thanks

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

One Sunday, now more than twenty years ago, I learned a valuable lesson. It was my time to sing a special. The accompaniment tape started in the wrong key. Instead of immediately requesting the sound man to find the correct track, I struggled through the whole song. While singing about cherishing the Lord’s name, I actually fumed in anger.

The scripture for the sermon that morning floored me! It stated that in all circumstances I had to give thanks for this was God’s will in Christ Jesus for me (I Thessalonians 5:18). God clearly explained that I was more concerned about how I “sounded” than where my heart was focused. I had to learn a lesson of humility from that wrong key! And for the lesson, I had to praise Him!

How do we deal when a different key dispels our lives? How do we deal with the unpracticed or the sudden change from the norm? When suddenly faced with a difficult circumstance that pulls out all the stops, what do we do? Do we get angry that the problem happened? Do we let our emotions take over, or do we give praise in the midst of the suffering, and realize that we can learn something from it having occurred?

“Through Jesus,” the writer to the Hebrews declares, “therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15, NIV). That Sunday morning I discovered that singing in the wrong key had been a real sacrifice of praise. Singing was a privilege that He had extended, and one that I had not regarded as a gift. I had returned His gift not as a gift of my heart, but as an offering of a bad attitude. My offering of praise that morning had been horribly amiss, but He had gratefully taught me what it was meant to be.

The hardships of our lives shall always be sung in an unsure key. When on the mountaintops, God allows us to sing beautifully in the right key! In the uncertain valleys He provides His melody for our discordant days. When we praise Him in the midst of pain or discouragement or embarrassment or loneliness or sadness or illness, the heart has become right through its growth in faith. After the service that Sunday, I opened my Bible to I Thessalonians 5. There within the morning’s lesson, I found other words that supported the truth in Hebrews 13:15! “Pray continually” (I Thessalonians 5:17). I flipped over to Hebrews. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15).

Continual prayer. Continual praise. Continual sacrifice. The Lord took my stubborn heart that Sunday, squeezed out the last drop of self-pity, told me to get up and continually praise Him no matter what the circumstances of life might offer. And no matter in what key they just might happen to be.

Do you give praise in all circumstances? If not, the direction in Hebrews 13:15 is obvious. All it takes is your recognition of His gift to you, and a willing heart to offer a sacrifice of praise. Faith is your reward, and your promise of things not seen.

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