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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Five Keys to a Grateful Heart

In our messages and devotionals for the last few weeks we have been working our way through Ephesians 5 learning what it means to Be Imitators of God. In the devotionals we have looked at Eph 5:4 but we did not examine all of that verse. We are given in that verse the remainder of the list of things Paul tells us that we must avoid - filthiness, foolish talking, and coarse jesting. However we did not study the last phrase in the verse, "but rather giving of thanks."

It is astounding to me that while Paul lists all these sinful motives and actions he does not also give a long list of alternatives on the "righteous" side of things. In fact, for all that he tells us not to do, when it comes time to instruct us and tell us what to do in a positive fashion he only lists one thing. On one hand we are told to avoid fornication, uncleanness, covetouesness, filthiness, foolish talking, and coarse jesting. On the other hand we are told to give thanks.

We must misunderstand gratitude often if thankfulness is enough of an attitude (and action) to stand alone against this list of immoral thoughts, words, and behavior. It is our task then today to learn what it means to give thanks. In order to do that our message today is taken from 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 and is titled Five Keys to a Grateful Heart.

I believe that this is an important enough study that we will take one key for each day of the week this week in our devotionals and build upon the sermon by adding to it more material and more application so that we can be hearers and doers of the Word, especially in the area of giving thanks.

Today, I do want to give you the outline for the message. And I trust you will come back throughout the week to read the devotionals and find out what God expects of us and equips us to do when it comes to being grateful people.

Five Keys to a Grateful Heart - Eph 5:4; 1 Thess. 5:14-22

Introduction:

We learned from Ephesians 5:4 in last week’s message that the one quality that Paul lists as being able to counter and prevent sexual sin, impurity, greed, obscene speech, moronic talk, and crude joking is the “giving of thanks.” That’s right. There is such power in a grateful heart that by it we can prevent immorality in our thoughts, conversation, and actions! Why and how is gratitude so powerful a tool? Gratitude is the opposite of greed. Greed is the quality of putting yourself first. Indeed, it is making an idol out of your own will. Doing what you want when you want regardless of what God wants. At that moment in time you become guilty of idolatry – replacing God with self! But to be grateful you have to have the right perspective and focus. You can’t be focused on yourself all the time and be thankful. Gratitude is an admission that you have someone to depend on – because you need to depend on Him and because He is dependable!

I. An Exhortation - vs. 14
A. Warn the unruly – Admonish those “out of ranks”
B. Comfort the fainthearted – Assure those plagued with fear and doubt
C. Uphold the weak – Hold in place those without spiritual and moral strength
D. Be patient with all – Be longsuffering with ALL
II. The First Key: Pursue What is Good – vs. 15
A. Romans 12:9-21
B. Overcome evil with good
III. The Second Key: Always Rejoice – vs. 16
A. Galatians 5:22-23 – from the Spirit
B. James 1:2-8 – joy in the “worst” circumstances
1. Joy – in every trial
2. Faith – the trial of faith
3. Patience – the fruit of trials
4. Wisdom – the “perfect” man lacks nothing
5. Faith – ask, believing
IV. The Third Key: Unceasing Prayer – vs. 17
A. Psalm 22 – an answered prayer
B. Psalm 24:3-5 – (Who dwells in God’s presence?)
1. Clean Hands
2. A Pure Heart
3. No Idolatry
4. A Truthful Tongue
V. God’s Will – The Giving of Thanks in All Things – vs. 18
VI. The Fourth Key: Quench not the Spirit – vs. 19
A. Walk in the Spirit – Galatians 5:16-26
B. Be Controlled by the Sprit – Eph. 5:18
C. Do not Grieve the Spirit – Eph. 4:30
VII. The Fifth Key: Receive the Word with Discernment – vs. 19-22
A. Do not Despise Prophecies (The Revelation of God – His Word)
B. Test All Things (Teaching and Preaching, Doctrine)
C. Hold to What is Good (Biblical, Sound)
D. Abstain from Every Appearance of Evil (False Teaching, Doctrine and Practice)

Conclusion:

In order for our hearts and minds to be focused appropriately on God instead of ourselves, and for our attitude to be one of gratitude and dependence on Him, we must not only hear faithful Bible teaching and preaching but we must obey the Word we hear! The foundation for gratitude is found in sound doctrine and application from the Word for every day life. When we learn all we have been given in Christ we have to be grateful. It gives us an outline of how and what to pursue (pursue what is good). It gives us reason to always rejoice. It motivates unceasing prayer. It illuminates the straight and narrow way. It helps us maintain an attitude of gratitude! We have nothing and are nothing without Him. He is our everything. We must thank Him for all He is and has done for us. James 1:22-25 (Be doers of the Word and not hearers only).

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