PRAISE AND THANK GOD ALWAYS
A. Introduction: The New Testament instructs followers of Jesus to praise God always and to be thankful in
every situation. Paul the apostle wrote: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all
circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (I Thess 5:16-18, ESV).
1. This can be difficult to do because many things in life make us feel less than joyful and thankful. We’re
taking some time to consider how we can obey this direct command from God to praise and thank Him,
no matter how we feel or what our circumstances.
a. We have made the point that praise, in its most basic form, has nothing to do with emotions or
circumstances. Praise is a verbal acknowledgement of someone’s virtues and works.
b. We all understand that it is right to praise people at certain times, not because of our circumstances
or how we feel, but because it is the appropriate response to that person. It’s always appropriate to
praise the Lord for who He is and what He does. Ps 107:8; 15; 21; 31
c. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek word that is translated rejoice (or
praise) in the verse cited above means to be “cheer”ful, as opposed to feel cheerful.
1. Praise is an action as opposed to an emotional response. Paul, in the context of the many
troubles and trials he faced in his life, wrote about being sorrowful yet rejoicing. II Cor 6:10
2. In other words, his troubles made him feel sorrowful, but he chose to rejoice or praise God in
spite of his feelings. Rejoice is the same Greek word Paul used in I Thess 5:16—be “cheer”ful.
2. James 1:2-3—James, an apostle and leader in the church at Jerusalem, wrote that we should consider
life’s hardships as occasions to joy, or be cheerful, because we know some things.
a. It’s easier to respond with praise when you don’t feel like it, and the circumstances aren’t good, if
you know that God is able to use life’s hardships and cause them to serve His purposes.
1. Last week we pointed out that trials often expose unChrist-like character traits in us and give us
an opportunity to deal with them. Trials also present us with an opportunity to exercise
patience (or endurance) and stay faithful to God.
2. As we exercise our will—choose to stay faithful to God, obey Him, and treat people right—
God, by His Spirit in us, strengthens us to follow through on our choice.
3. Once we’ve made it through the trial, we have proven faith (faith that has withstood the storm),
which gives us confidence that we can make it through the next hardship that comes our way.
b. Knowing that God can bring good out of life’s trials helps us rejoice and be thankful in the face of
trouble. Tonight, we’re going to talk more about how God works all things together for good and
causes everything to serve His ultimate purposes.
B. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you’ve no doubt heard someone refer to Rom 8:28—All
things work together for good. We need a clear understanding of what the writer (Paul) was saying.
1. This statement doesn’t necessarily mean good for the sake of good. It is a specific, purposeful good.
Let’s state this verse as it is written and get the context.
a. Rom 8:28-29—And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those
who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in
advance, and He chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn with
many brothers and sisters (NLT).
1. Note that God works all things together for good for those who love Him. This love is not an
emotion. It is an action that is expressed through our obedience to God’s moral will (His
standard of right and wrong) and our treatment of others. Matt 22:37-40
2. Note that God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His
purpose. God’s purpose is to have a family of sons and daughters who are like Jesus in
character, holiness, and love. This purpose is bigger than ending our troubles immediately. b.
As we noted last week, trials often expose unChrist-like character traits so that we can deal with
them and grow in Christ-likeness. This is an example of how God brings good out of bad and
causes troubles to serve His ultimate purpose for a family of holy, righteous sons and daughters. 2.
The Bible also gives examples of temporal good coming out of life’s difficult circumstances. Temporal
means of or relating to time as opposed to eternity (Webster’s Dictionary), or help in this life for this life.
a. The Bible records many examples where God provided help for His people, brought good out of bad
in difficult circumstances, and actually used the circumstance as a means of temporal deliverance.
1. Ex 14:1-31—When Israel left captivity in Egypt, their route back to their homeland was quickly
blocked by the Red Sea and they were trapped, with the Egyptian army in hot pursuit.
A. But God parted the waters of the sea, and Israel walked through on dry ground. When the
Egyptians army attempted to follow, the sea closed on them and the Israelites escaped.
B. This great obstacle (the Red Sea) became not only Israel’s way of escape, in the hands of
God, it became the destroyer of their greatest enemy’s army.
2. I Sam 17:1-50—When David fought Goliath the giant, David knocked him down with a sling
and a stone. Then David cut off Goliath’s head with the giant’s own sword. Not only was
David delivered, in the hands of God, the sword brought into the battle field to kill David
became the weapon of his triumph.
b. These examples show us that, in every circumstance and situation, there is always something to be
thankful for—the good that God has done, the good that He is doing, and the good that He will do.
1. But there is more to it. Paul not only instructed Christians to give thanks in everything (I Thess
5:18), he instructed Christians to be thankful for everything: Giving thanks always and for
everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 5:20, ESV).
2. Israel could have thanked God for the Red Sea before it parted, and David could have thanked
God for Goliath’s sword before the giant was knocked down—not for the bad in and of itself,
but for what the bad could become in the hands of God.
3. Jesus is our example of how sons and daughters of God are supposed to live. The Bible instructs us to
walk even as Jesus walked. I John2:6
a. John 6:11—When we read the account of Jesus multiplying five barley loaves and two fish to feed
thousands of people, we find that He gave thanks for that lack. Jesus gave thanks for lack.
b. Jesus knew that in the hands of God, lack can become more than enough. We too can be thankful
and praise God in everything for everything—the good we see and the good we will see—because
we know that God can bring good out of bad.
C. To respond to life’s trials with praise and thanksgiving you must know that God can and does bring temporal
good out of bad (help in this life for this life). But to respond to life’s troubles with praise and thanksgiving,
you must have an eternal perspective.
1. Your perspective is the way you view life. An eternal perspective sees things from the standpoint of
eternity and lives with the awareness that there is more to life than just this life.
a. We’re only passing through this world in its present form, and the greater and better part of our life
is ahead, after this life—first in the present Heaven and then on this earth once it has been renewed
and restored (the new heavens and new earth). Rev 21-22
b. An eternal perspective helps you realize and accept the fact that God often puts off temporal help
(ending troubles now) for long term eternal results that accomplish His ultimate purpose. (For a
more detailed discussion of this point read my book, Why Did This Happen? What Is God Doing?)
1. Remember what God’s ultimate purpose is. He wants a family of sons and daughters with
whom He will live forever—men and women who are like Jesus in character, holiness, and
love, fully glorifying to God in every thought, word, and action.
2. Paul wrote: For God has allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposed
long ago in his sovereign will that all human history should be consummated in Christ, that
everything that exists in Heaven or earth should find its perfection and fulfillment in him. In
Christ we have been given an inheritance, since we are destined for this, by the One who works
out all his purposes according to the design of his own will (Eph 1:9-11, J. B. Phillips).
2. The first Christians had an eternal perspective that enabled them to deal with life’s hardships in a godly
and hopeful way. In the context of the many trials he faced, Paul wrote these words:
a. II Cor 4:17-18—For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they
produce for us and immeasurable great glory that will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles
we can see right now; rather we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see
will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever (NLT).
1. Note that even though Paul’s troubles lasted his entire life (until he was finally executed for his
faith in Jesus), Paul was able to call his troubles momentary and light,
2. Paul recognized that in comparison to eternity, even a lifetime of suffering is tiny. Because he
knew his trials were temporary, he called them light, meaning that didn’t weigh him down. He
was able to see life’s hardships in their true relationship to the rest of his existence.
b. This eternal perspective didn’t mean that Paul liked or enjoyed life’s difficulties. Note how Paul
described his many troubles a little farther on in this same letter (epistle).
1. II Cor 11:27-28—I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have often
been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without
enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all of this, I have the daily burden of how the
churches are getting along (NLT).
2. This is also the same epistle where, in the context of his many trials, Paul wrote about being
sorrowful yet rejoicing. II Cor 6:10
3. How could Paul have this perspective? Paul answered that question in his statement: He said not only
do I know these troubles are temporary, I know they produce a much greater glory that will last forever.
a. Paul realized that the events in his life were being worked into God’s ultimate plan for a family.
And, he knew that God is able to bring genuine good out of genuine bad. Some of the good is
temporal, but some of it is eternal, and won’t be revealed or experienced until in the life to come.
1. You may be thinking that the only trials Paul had in mind are those that directly related to his
experiences as he preached the gospel. And, of course his life brought eternal results—after
all, he’s Paul, and he preached the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. But my life doesn’t
bring eternal results. I work a 9 to5 job. I take care of kids, cook, and keep the house clean.
2. Although Paul was referring to the trials he encountered as he preached the gospel, they weren’t
the only trials he experienced. He would have encountered all the “ordinary” trials that we all
face because he lived in the same fallen world as us. His ministry related trials were on top of
everything else. He knew that those also work for good and can produce eternal results.
b. Paul wrote a similar powerful statement about the good that is ahead for those who know the Lord:
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later (Rom 8:18, NLT).
1. Then Paul wrote a lengthy passage about what is ahead when Jesus returns—resurrection of the
dead and restoration of the material creation (Rom 8:19-25). At that time all who are in
Heaven will be reunited with their bodies raised from the grave and made immortal and
incorruptible, so we can live on earth again, once it is renewed and restored.
2. Note that this is in the same chapter where Paul wrote that all things work for good for those
who are called to God’s purpose for a family (Rom 8:28). In this chapter Paul didn’t single out
a specific category of troubles that work for good (i,e., ministry related troubles). Paul stated
that God works all things toward the accomplishing of His ultimate purpose—complete
restoration of His creation (the family and the family home) through Jesus.
4. Consider one more point Paul made when he described the perspective that enabled him to view his trials
as momentary and light. He wrote: So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather we
look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to
come will last forever (II Cor 4:18, NLT).
a. Paul developed and maintained his eternal perspective by looking at things he couldn’t see, or
keeping his focus on unseen realities. The Greek word translated to look means to take aim at, to
regard and implies mental consideration.
b. There are two kinds of things we can’t see: things that are invisible—God who is with us, a very
present help in time of trouble (Ps 46:1) and the things that are still to come—the temporal good we
don’t yet see in this life and the ultimate eternal good that we will not see until the life ahead.
1. We don’t deny what we see or feel in our circumstances. We learn to look past it to our future
and our hope—God’s help and provision, some in this life, but the greater part in the life to
come. We develop the right perspective on life.
2. We learn to view troubles in terms of eternity. Compared to the good that is ahead, all trials
are miniscule. And we live with the awareness that God is at work behind the scenes, causing
everything to serve His ultimate purpose for a family, as He brings genuine good out of genuine
bad—some in this life and some in the life to come.
D. Conclusion: The Bible instructs us to thank and praise God in everything for everything—for the good that
He brings in the midst of this life and the good that will bring out of the bad, some in this life and some in the
life to come.
1. When you’re the one experiencing the trouble, the thought of praising and thanking God in the midst of
a trial for the trial seems counter-intuitive at best and repugnant at worst. However, the time you
feel least like doing it is the time you most need to do it.
a. You can’t do it without understanding how God uses with the circumstances of life in a fallen world.
The Bible gives us numerous examples of people who were in very difficult circumstances, but in
the end, they saw God’s help and provision—some in this life and some in the life to come (more on
this in another lesson).
b. Because we know the end of their story (Israel at the Red Sea) we can see the sense of praising and
thanking God before the waters parted, but it’s much harder in our own situation because we can’t
see the end result. Praise to God before you see His help is an expression of faith. II Cor 5:7
1. Have you ever thanked and praised God that Jesus died on the Cross? Of course you have.
Do you realize that wicked men inspired by Satan crucified the innocent Son of God? Luke
22:3; Acts 2:23; I Cor 2:7-8
2. Yet we thank and praise God for it. Why? Because we know the end result—God caused
this great evil to serve His purpose for a family. He brought the greatest good ever
accomplished—salvation for all who believe on Jesus and His sacrifice.
2. When you acknowledge or praise God in the face of trouble when you don’t feel like it, you don’t deny
your situation or your dislike for what is happening. You respond to God appropriately and get control
of the unChrist-like parts of your being.
a. By thanking God in the trial for the trial, you are acknowledging the fact that your circumstances did
not take Him by surprise, and that He already has a plan in mind to cause them to serve His ultimate
purpose and bring genuine good out of genuine bad—some in this life and some in the life to come.
b. Ps 50:23—Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me (KJV), and he prepares the way so that I may show
him the salvation of God (NIV). Much more next week!!