Attitude of Gratitude Part 4: “It’s the thought that counts”

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Attitude of Gratitude Part 4: “It’s the thought that counts”

Philippians 4:4-13


“Don’t forget your manners?”

“Something to sing about”

“All in favour? Say I!”

 Today we complete this four part series using the theme “It’s the thought that counts” and we seek to gain wisdom and understanding from the letter of Paul to the Philippians, the 4th chapter verses 4 – 13.

 How do we maintain our attitude of gratitude? By strengthen our capacity to control our emotions and this can be achieved by mastering our thoughts. There are some emotions that are critical to our attitude of gratitude and I wish to highlight some of them this morning.

Let us pray.

The first emotion is JOY. Paul says Rejoice[c] in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”

I thought it would be helpful here to make a distinction between joy and happiness, for we often confuse them. The Greek word for happiness is makarios and it refers to the freedom of the rich from normal cares and worries. It is the word used to describe a person who has received some form of good fortune--money, health, children and that sort of thing. The word happy has as its root "Hap" which means means chance and is the root of several words— happen, happening, haphazard  (dependent on mere chance), hapless, happenstance (a chance circumstance) and happy.

  If I am happy, it is because things are going well for me--my outward situation is good. There are no crises, I feel good, there's money in the checking account, nobody is out to get me, my job is going well, and so forth.  Happiness is experienced as long as things are going well, when this changes, happiness goes. It is temporary.

The Greek word for joy is chara best translated as a combination of appreciation and thanksgiving. Joy is largely composed of gratitude —gratitude for the wonderful things God has done for us and His "exceedingly great and precious promises" for our future (2 Peter 1:4)

Both happiness and joy have no fear. Happiness has no fear because nothing is wrong, and everything is on course. Joy has no fear because we have become willing to trust God that our suffering is serving a purpose -- a purpose that we have come to want more than anything else. Another way we might put it is that we have happiness BECAUSE of our situation, we have joy IN SPITE OF our situation.

SONG: “I have joy…joy, joy, I have joy, Oh yes my Lord, let me tell you there’s something bout the spirit of Jesus, that let’s me feel joy, joy, joy, joy. 

Joyful, joyful, Lord we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love; Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee, Op’ning to the sun above. Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away; Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day!

Paul does not neglect to highlight the enemy of Joy.

WORRY but he also gives us a way to confront worry - He says…  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Instead of worrying pray, ask God for what you need and thank God for what you have.

 If we can master the thoughts that lead to worry then we will experience another powerful emotion… PEACE. Paul says…  7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  What does he mean? With the peace of God one will be able to guard ones heart and mind against anxiety and keep them focused on Christ as Saviour.

Rev. Charles Henrickson says “Your heart is a battleground, the battle being fought between faith and fear, to see which will prevail. Your mind also--your state of mind is a battleground state between peace and anxiety”

Peace is sustained by DEFIANCE. Defiance is bold resistance to an opposing force. Paul in verses 8 and 9 promotes the idea of positive thinking against the odds, against the opposing forces around that try to find something wrong with everything and when they can’t find something wrong, they conclude that there is something wrong with nothing being wrong.

 Paul says focus your heart and direct your thoughts to embrace  whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about[f] these things. He says  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

 One of the emotions that spring out of peace is CONTENTMENT…(v11) Paul says ‘for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 

 When contentment is present we are likely to experience … CONFIDENCE... Paul puts it this way in verse 13 “13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” That confidence is not about our ability it is confidence in consistency of God to come through for us time and time again giving us the ability to fulfil the tasks that we have to fulfil.

 SONG (His Strength is Perfect by CeCe Winans): I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. But sometimes I wonder what he can do for me. No great success to show, no glory of my own yet in my weakness he is there to let me know….

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He'll carry us when we can't carry on
Raised in his power the weak becomes strong
His strength is perfect
His strenght is perfect

We can only know the power that he holds
When we truly see how deep our weakness goes
His strength it must begin
When ours comes to an end
He hears our humble cry and proves again

Our attitude of gratitude is driven by our thoughts and our capacity to manage our emotions and direct our emotions to a state of gratitude that trusts God and gives us confidence that whatever happens we are more than conquerors and nothing can separate us from the God’s love.