“Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Quench not the Spirit.” 1TH 5:17-19.
Praying without ceasing and giving thanks in everything cannot be separated. 
The Lord ties them together in His Holy Word.  We must “by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” PHI
As we see sin abounding in the nation and world, we have all the more reason to
exclaim, “Pray without ceasing,” because it is only by God’s mercy that we are
what we are.  Mercy is one-sided love.  God shows us love in exchange for our
hardness, ingratitude, obstinacy, and rebellion.  To “pray without ceasing”
means we must pray for mercy, or undeserved favor.  If we realize that we are
what we are only by God’s mercy and one-sided love, then we will be truly

If I give someone a paycheck after they’ve worked all week, they might say,
“Thank you,” as a courtesy, but they will not feel the same degree of gratitude
as someone who receives a check who has not earned it.  In the same way, we have
sinned against God from Paradise to this very moment.  We deserve eternal
destruction, but the Lord condescends to us with such love and mercy and
abundantly bestows upon us health, strength, and the comforts of life.  We also
have His Holy Word, which proclaims the way of salvation: “Turn ye; turn ye. 
Why will you die and not live?  Why will you not turn from your evil ways?”  Why
do we trample upon all His blessings?  Why do we still turn away from the Lord? 
By nature, we have no place for Him in our hearts.  We see His one-sided love
and feel true gratitude when we realize what we deserve.
“Quench not the Spirit.”  If the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (that which is
displeasing to the Lord), we must not quench it.  We are to fall on our faces
before the Lord and confess that sin and ask the Lord to forgive us.
God’s ways are so much higher than our ways.  He sends the warmth of the sun to
cause nature to flourish, but He also uses the sun to scorch the land in
judgment.  Out of the same cup, the Lord pours forth His judgment and His
blessing.  The Lord remembers us and we must not forget the admonition of sons:
that those “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,” ROM 12:6.  The Lord puts His
finger upon us and draws us to Him as a token of His love.  In AMO 4:7 it says,
“And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months
to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain
upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained
not withered.”   

In JER 3:1-3 we read, “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from
him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that
land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet
return again to me, saith the LORD.  Lift up thine eyes unto the high places,
and see where thou hast not been lien with.  In the ways hast thou sat for them,
as the Arabian in the wilderness; and thou hast polluted the land with thy
whoredoms and with thy wickedness.  Therefore the showers have been withholden,
and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou
refusedst to be ashamed.” 

When we were living on a farm, the Lord laid that Scripture on my heart when the
rain had been withheld and the crops were drying up.  I read that carefully and
thought, “I have not been unfaithful to my wife or done any of these other
things,” but I could see great sin in the community and nation.  I could
certainly say that the Lord was just in withholding the rain, but I struggled
with it for a couple of weeks.  Then I read again in verses 13-14, “Only
acknowledgethine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God,
and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have
not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.”  Sometimes we can see the sin of the
nation and community, but the Lord wants us to acknowledge our own iniquity. 
Where had I transgressed?  The Lord showed me in verse 14: “Turn, O backsliding
children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of
a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.”  The Lord was
charging me with spiritual adultery: my heart had become so set on a big crop,
on the things of the world, that it was because of my sin that the Lord had
withheld the rain.  It becomes personal.  The Lord reproved me and showed me how
He loved me in Christ: “I am married unto you.”  We do not have to look far to
find out why the Lord withholds His blessings.  We can look closer to home. 

God blesses the springing grain with gentle showers; He sends “the former and
the latter” rain.  We read in JER 5:23-25, “But this people hath a revolting and
a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone.  Neither say they in their
heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and
the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the
harvest.  Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have
withholden good things from you.”  The Lord bestows upon us the richness of His
blessings, heaping coals of love upon our heads.  To refine metal, you put coals
underneath and above to melt the metal.  When the Lord comes with His love and
says that He is married to us, it melts our hearts.  He showed me that He loves
me, but I had spotted my wedding garments.  In His love, He put His finger upon
me.  Does His bounty and love melt our hearts?  Does it take away the rubbish
and the dross and cause our hearts to be melted before the Lord?  Does the Lord
have first place in our hearts?  “Your iniquities have turned away these things,
and your sins have withholden good things from you.”  The Lord withholds His
blessings because of our iniquities.
God also uses rain as a judgment by sending it in the time of harvest to show
His displeasure.  We read in 1-SA 12:17-18, “Is it not wheat harvest to day? I
will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain [which at harvest
time destroys crops]; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is
great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.  So
Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and
all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.”  This year has been a
bountiful year.  The Lord has not sent rain at harvest time.  He has granted a
good crop and so many blessings, but may it please the Lord now to use these
blessings to melt our hearts and show us that we have forfeited all.  Then we
will feel pure gratitude for undeserved mercies.

It is so sad that we, by nature, overlook God’s hand of providence in the things
that pertain to our daily lives.  There are so many ways that the Lord, in His
providence, spares, blesses and provides for us.  By nature, our hearts only
grow proud and we turn away from the Lord’s blessings.  Many times His blessings
become a judgment on us. 

Our text does not teach a legalistic gratitude, but prayerful humility before a
merciful God.  Our hearts must come before the Lord in true submission.  Our
text says, “Pray without ceasing.”  We should come to the Lord and confess our
guilt.  We should confess that we deserve nothing.  “In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  Not only do we
return to the Lord with gratitude for His benefits, but we also return unto the
Lord in Christ Jesus, in thankfulness to the Lord for what Christ has
performed.  1PE 2 says that if you suffer for doing wrong, it is no glory, but
if you suffer wrongfully and take it patiently, it is well pleasing to God.  If
we realize that it is only in the precious blood of Christ, shed for our sins,
that God can have mercy on us, then we will be truly thankful in Christ.
Verse 19 says, “Quench not the Spirit.”  When the Holy Spirit convicts us of our
foolishness, pride, and sin, then we should not push Him away, but thank the
Lord for being such a loving Father that He sends His Spirit to show us our sin.
There can be a natural gratitude for benefits, which ends in the gift itself,
for such things as prosperity or deliverance from trials, sickness, and other
circumstances of life.  Such gratitude still ends where it should begin. It
never leads the soul unto Christ as Benefactor or Saviour.  Salvation includes
much more than just saving the soul for eternity.  Salvation is a state in which
we must live.  Salvation is seen in the necessities of life as well as in the
salvation of the soul.  Our text says, “Pray without ceasing. In every thing
give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  We
give thanks for the benefits that God has bestowed on us because it is only in
Christ Jesus that these benefits are given.
True gratitude flows from a humble sense of God’s salvation in Christ.  Christ
must be the center of our gratitude if it is to be pleasing to the Lord.  Pure
gratitude flows from a fountain of unworthiness and humility and acknowledges
Christ as the Benefactor.  We receive every blessing in Christ.  He is the King
of providence and the King of kings.  Only in Christ is there any benefit for
hell-deserving sinners.
Pure gratitude flows from a broken and a contrite heart in submission and unity
with God’s will.  PSA 34:15 tells us, “The eyes of the LORD are upon the
righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.”  What does righteous mean? 
Many Scriptures talk about the wicked and the righteous, of the godly and the
ungodly.  The godly are those who practice the first table of the law: to love
God with our heart, soul, and mind.  The righteous are those who practice the
second table of the law: a right attitude towards our fellow man.  It is time we
understood the golden rule.  We ask to be forgiven of our sins as we forgive
those who sin against us.  We are asking for no more forgiveness than what we
offer.  So if you come before the Lord and ask for mercy, remember that those
who show no mercy will receive no mercy and “mercy rejoiceth against judgment,”
JAM 2:13.  The Lord looks upon those who have a right attitude toward their
fellow man “and his ears are open unto their cry.  The face of the LORD is
against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth,”
PSA 43:15-16.  Do you see the contrast? 

The righteous have a right attitude towards their neighbor; they do unto others
as they would that others do unto them.  The Lord has His face against those who
do evil.  In Verse 17 we read, “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and
delivereth them out of all their troubles.”  If you show mercy, you will obtain
mercy.  If you are generous and loving in your judgment of your fellow man, the
Lord will be generous in His judgment of you.  This is thankworthy.  If you
suffer wrongfully and take it patiently, it is well pleasing to the Lord.  Verse
18 says, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such
as be of a contrite spirit.”  To be contrite is to be totally, unconditionally
surrendered to the will of God.
Pure gratitude ends in Christ as the benefactor for all our blessings both
temporal and spiritual.  We must be grateful for our everyday, providential
blessings with the same gratitude we have for the salvation of our souls.  Fifty
different denominations might have fifty different formulas of what constitutes
salvation, but the Scriptures tell us what constitutes salvation.  Being saved
is a process of having our wills dissolved in the will of God and being
reconciled to God.   .

Salvation constitutes deliverance from spiritual and temporal trials.  David
rejoiced with pure gratitude over deliverance from spiritual trials in PSA
116:7-12; “Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully
with thee.  For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears,
and my feet from falling.  I will walk before the LORD in the land of the
living.  I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in
my haste, All men are liars.  What shall I render unto the LORD for all his
benefits toward me?” 

David praised the Lord for his spiritual benefits, but he also cried out unto
God to be saved from natural enemies.  That was his salvation also, because the
Lord looked after his natural needs as well as his spiritual needs.  In PSA
69:2-4, he said, “I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come
into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.  I am weary of my crying: my
throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.  They that hate me
without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy
me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took
not away.”  David cried out to the Lord for salvation in natural things, for the
Lord to save him from his enemies.  David proclaimed his gratitude for God’s
salvation in temporal trials, as we read in PSA 69:28-30; “Let them be blotted
out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.  But I am
poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.  I will praise
the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.”  He
attributes deliverance from temporal calamities to the salvation of God. 

Christ is the King of providence, and every benefit we receive is from the hand
of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Anything we receive on this side of hell is a benefit
in Christ.  In order to observe the intent of our text, “In every thing give
thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” we must see
how Christ is the Ruler of all providence.  Every little incident in our lives
is under the control of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He rules and directs these
things.  EPH 1:19-22 says, “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to
us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he
wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own
right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and
might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but
also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave
him to be the head over all things to the church.”  Salvation is from Christ, in
His position of greatness and power, to us who believe.  The Lord Jesus Christ
is the Supreme Ruler of all things, which includes providence.  .
To understand what our text means in Verse 19, “Quench not the Spirit,” we must
understand how God the Father is glorified by obedience.  When the Holy Spirit
convinces us of sin, righteousness, and judgment and we resist and ignore His
call and force our way forward in our sinful ways, then we are quenching the
Spirit and the Lord will remove His blessing.  The Lord is so pleased with
obedience.  Obedience is salvation.  When we are delivered from rebellion and
sin, we are saved.  We read in PHI 2:8-12, “And being found in fashion as a man,
he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the
cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which
is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things
in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father.  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence
only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and
We have heard that we are saved by the blood of Christ, but it goes far beyond
that.  The blood of Christ was shed as an act of obedience.  The blood of Christ
appeased the wrath of the Father.  The Lord Jesus Christ humbled Himself and
became obedient unto death: “I lay down my life…No man taketh it from me…This
commandment have I received of my Father,” JOH 10:17-18.  Because of that
obedience, God exalted Him and gave “him a name which is above every name: That
at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in
earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and
trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his
good pleasure.” PHI 2:12-13. Fear is a holy reverence for God, not a slavish
fear.  As we look to Christ as the Author of our salvation, and we see how
pleased the Father is by obedience, we will work out our salvation with holy
reverence for the will of God, trembling at His Word.
Pure gratitude flows from a fountain of love.  In JOH 15:10 we read, “If ye keep
my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s
commandments, and abide in his love.”  The Lord Jesus Christ draws a parallel
between our salvation and our obeying Him out of love, even as He obeyed the
Father out of love.  He wants us to keep His commandments.  What does it mean to
keep His commandments?  He is speaking of the law of love, that we love God
above all with our hearts, souls, and minds, and that we love our neighbor as
ourselves because in this is the whole law.  We shall abide in His love if we
keep His commandments.
We need to see how great Christ’s salvation is in the way of providence. 
Salvation is not something that we receive after death.  Salvation begins in
this life.  Salvation is day to day and is seen in the providence of God.  In
EXO 33:19 we read, “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee,
and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to
whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.”  When
He causes all His goodness to pass before us, we will see His salvation in
day-to-day things and that therein He has ruled all things according to His

I experienced His providence when we were moving.  We had taken our ping-pong
table apart and I started to carry the big 4x8 foot panel downstairs.  I had the
stair door open and saw one of my grandchildren sitting at the very bottom of
the stairs, playing with a toy.  I thought I could slide the board past her on
the side, so it never entered my mind to ask her to move, but as I set the board
on the steps for a moment, it slipped out of my hands.  That heavy board with
sharp metal corners was headed for the very spot where she had been sitting at
the foot of the steps, but in God’s providence, she had dropped her toy and had
stood up just then to retrieve it.  The board ripped a hole in the carpet in the
exact spot where she had been sitting.  You and I may not realize to what extent
God directs and controls everything, but He spared my granddaughter’s life by
causing a little toy to fall out of her hand so she would get up just at the
right moment.  How often we might be on the verge of eternity, but in a
split-second, as the Lord directs, He spares our lives!

Let us pause a moment and ponder how, in a split-second, the Lord could have
taken our lives, but in His providence He made a provision to keep us here.  How
thankful we should be to the Lord for the ways He has spared us by the
providence of His hands. .

The Lord told Moses in EXO 33:20-23, “Thou canst not see my face: for there
shall no man see me, and live.  And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by
me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory
passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee
with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see
my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.”  The place of safety is upon the
rock.  Gratitude must begin and end in Christ.  The “clift of the rock” is the
crucified side of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Outside of Christ we have no place of
refuge.  How many times has the Lord helped us, spared us, and blessed us?  Our
text says, “Quench not the Spirit.”  The Lord is longsuffering, but He will not
be mocked; we must not turn our backs upon the Lord because it is only by His
mercy that we are yet what we are.
As we learn to see the love of Christ in His hand of providence, we shall
understand the meaning of ROM 2:4; “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness
and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth
thee to repentance?”  God sent His own Son, who sweat blood in the Garden of
Gethsemane, struggling under the wrath of God upon our sin, and hung upon the
cross, writing our names on His wounded hands.  If that does not melt our hearts
in subjection to Christ, then certainly no thundering of the law, hell, or
damnation will ever shake us.  If the burning coals of His love, heaped upon our
heads, do not melt our hearts and draw us unto Him, then nothing will bring us
in, and we will be hardened infidels before the Lord.
Pure gratitude cannot be separated from true repentance.  We cannot say, “Thank
you,” in an acceptable way to the Lord if our hearts continue in sin, and we
continue to walk against the way of the Lord.  We cannot separate the two.
The Psalmist recounted all God’s blessings in providence as he exclaimed his
gratitude in PSA 105:1-5; “O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make
known his deeds among the people.  Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye
of all his wondrous works.  Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them
rejoice that seek the LORD.  Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face
evermore.  Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the
judgments of his mouth.”  What marvelous works?  He remembered how the Lord had
delivered him in his struggles, trials, and dangers.  We must remember His
wonderful works and all the goodness of God that He causes to pass before us. 
We must also remember His judgment, and how He withholds the rain out of love. 
We must remember that the Lord will put His finger upon us out of love because
He wants our attention.  He wants our hearts to bow under His love and turn unto
Our text says,  “Pray without ceasing.”  Our hearts must be right before the
Lord.  Prayer and thanksgiving cannot be separated.  The Lord is not pleased
with a natural gratitude that ends in the gift.  The Lord is only pleased with
gratitude that ends in Christ.  That gratitude must end in looking to Him as the
Benefactor and the One who purchased our benefits. 

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
concerning you.  Quench not the Spirit.”  How often we are all guilty of that. 
So often we allow our hearts to be filled with the things of this time and
place.  Our hearts are so filled with the achievements that we have in this
life, which results in quenching the Spirit.  That is why we must pray without
ceasing that the Lord will give us His Spirit in rich measure, preserve us from
quenching His Spirit, and give us a heart of contrition and true gratitude to
come unto Him with thanksgiving that is acceptable before Him.  We have so many
things today to be thankful for.  The Lord has blessed us beyond measure, but
the goodness of God should lead us to repentance.  It should lead us to a change
of attitude and a change of mind.  It should lead us back unto the Lord with the
gratitude that is due unto His name.
When Jesus undertook
To rescue ruined man,
The realms of bliss forsook
And to relieve us ran;
He spared no pains, declined no load,
Resolved to buy us with His blood.
No harsh commands He gave,
No hard conditions brought;
He came to seek and save,
And pardon every fault.
Poor trembling sinners hear His call;
They come, and He forgives them all.
When thus we’re reconciled,
He sets no rigorous tasks;
His yoke is soft and mild,
For love is all He asks,
E’en THAT from Him we first receive,
And well He knows we’ve none to give.
This pure and heavenly gift,
Within our hearts to move,
The dying Saviour left
These tokens of His love;
Which seem to say, “While this you do,
Remember Him that died for you.”
Gadsby selection, 1838

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