As I was thinking about New Year’s celebrations this morning, I kept finding myself going back to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 where the Apostle Paul is encouraging us by stating, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NKJV) While I was looking at that particular verse in a couple different translations, I suddenly understood that this scripture is a call to celebrate! And it is a type of celebrating that does not have to wait until New Year’s Eve, or any other prescribed holiday. It is a celebration that is to take place anytime and anywhere in the midst of any situation or circumstance in our lives!
When the clock strikes 12 midnight tonight there will be sounds of people shouting, car horns being honked, and fire crackers being shot off. Well, the seasoned Apostle is prodding us to do the same thing by thanking God in the midst of “all circumstances!” (English Standard Version) Whether the situation is good, bad or indifferent, we are being instructed: “Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.” (God’s Word ©) Sounds like “Party Time” to me!
“Whoa now… Hold on a moment here Pastor Jim! Is the Apostle telling us to be thankful to God for the terrible thing that is happening to me? For the bad economy, for sickness and disease, for lack, for difficult relationships and the like?” NO… Not at all! There is one little descriptive word that defines the purpose of our celebrations. Notice that the scripture in the NKJV says “IN everything,” not “FOR everything!” By thanking God in even the hardest situations in our lives, we are putting out trust implicitly in Him and in the power and ability that He alone has to remedy the problems and bring us out on top. We are not thanking Him for the adverse circumstances, we are thanking Him ahead of time for the solution!
A good example of this can be found in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 where three armies came to fight and destroy the kingdom of Israel. The story goes that when King Jehoshaphat received the news of the impending doom he “set himself to seek the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 20:3 KJV). As he counseled with the Lord he received his marching orders, gathered the people and went out to face the enemy as the Lord had instructed him. Jehoshaphat was told that “the battle is not yours, but God’s!” (Verse 15) So what did he do? He placed the Praise and Worship team in front of the army as they marched to the battle field. He had the people praise and thank God for the outcome of the battle before a sword was ever drawn! And that giving of thanks won them an overwhelming victory without having to physically fight the enemy armies.
So go and enjoy your New Year’s celebrations tonight. Give a shout, ring the bells, and shake the party favors! Then hold on to the thought that this is exactly what our loving heavenly Father wants us to do whenever things in our lives go south in the New Year ahead. Give a shout of thanksgiving to God, ring the bells of praise, and raise your hands in recognition and submission to the Father’s ability and desire to cause you to come out ahead as He fights and wins your battles for you! Have an exciting New Year's! Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What VICTORIES am I expecting THIS NEW YEAR?”