As I was taking a brief glance at a calendar recently, I noticed in the month of November three particular dates that were highlighted. The first date, November 3rd, had written upon it “Election Day.” This particular date is a day we exercise our privilege to vote for those we desire to lead in government positions, and we vote on important issues in the laws over our society. It is a day we set aside for that purpose.
The next date I noticed was Veterans Day. It is a day we recognize those who have served in our Armed Forces with appreciation for the time and labors they have spent for freedom for not only America, but around the world. Many have spent many days and years serving, many have spent practically all their lives serving, and many have literally given their lives serving others to provide protection and freedom. No one knows the cost except for those that have paid the price and their family members. I am so thankful for all who have served others unselfishly.
The third day on the calendar month of November was Thanksgiving Day. It is a day that is now in the past for 2015, but it is one day that should be in the forefront of our lives every day of the year. It is a wonderful event each year as we remember those that celebrated the first harvest in 1621. Abraham Lincoln considered it important enough to proclaim in 1863 Thanksgiving as a holiday with these words, “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens.” So where was the ACLU in that day?
By now, you can surmise that my first point is Thanksgiving Day should be every day. It will make each day so much better if we approach it with a spirit of thankfulness. Scripture is very clear about thanksgiving being a priority in our lives.
Thankfulness and peace in a troubled world. Colossians 3:15,16 (KJV) - “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
It is no accident that the word “peace” and the word “thankful” are both included in the same Scripture. We will not have true peace unless we are first thankful. 2nd Timothy 3:1-5 lists these characteristics that surround unthankfulness: boastful, proud, scoffing at God, unloving, unforgiving, cruel, reckless. It is obvious that in all these characteristics, there is an absence of peace. Without thankfulness these characteristics, along with the absence of peace, will remain.
Thankfulness and praise and worship. Colossians 3:15,16 link thankfulness to psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. True praise and worship are always linked with thanksgiving. How can it be possible to praise the Lord Who is majestic and awesome without first being thankful for Who He is and what He has done? How can it be possible to worship and love Him without being thankful for His love for us?
Thankfulness and the Word of God. Colossians 3:16 says to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Let us be thankful for the Word of God. Can you imagine life without it? Think about that. Can you imagine life without it? How would we know we have a Savior? That fact alone should bring us to a thankfulness for the Word and to bring us to a desire that His Word would dwell in us. For the Word to dwell in us then, we must read it, meditate on it, and allow it to penetrate our heart.
Thankfulness and the body of Christ. In Colossians 3:1-3, Paul begins the letter with a thankfulness to those who are faithful in Christ. ”We give thanks, praying always for you.” Paul was always thankful for those true believers that surrounded Him everywhere he went. In this chapter, he was thanking those that supported him even when he was not with them. He knew the value of the fellowship of believers. And he was thankful for his comrades in the faith.
Thankfulness and prayer. Philippians 4:6 points to the value of thanksgiving in our prayers: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Without thanksgiving, our prayers for others will develop into “bless them with a brick” prayers. Without thanksgiving, our prayers on our own behalf will develop into selfishness. Surround all prayer with the focal point being thankfulness. Begin all prayer with thanksgiving to the Lord for His goodness and for the fact that He hears our prayers.
Thankfulness and our every day life.To this point, it may seem that thankfulness is only connected to spiritual issues of life. Let me draw your attention to Philippians 4:11 (KJV): “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Paul said, “I have learned.” This indicates that he did not completely know how to be content immediately after his salvation experience. He had to experience some lessons in life before he realized he could be content in every situation in life. I believe this not only included praise and worship, the Word, fellowship and prayer, but in his every day duties of life as well. Paul’s contentment was directly linked to his thankfulness. He knew his satisfaction in life was not based on material things, but on Christ and being thankful to the Lord. Two well-known Scriptures clearly indicate this truth in Philippians 4, Verse 13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me;” and in Verse 19: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” His satisfaction was based on Christ. The strength and supply Paul needed to be content was based through and by Christ, and he was continually thankful to Christ for it.
In conclusion, Paul knew the value of being thankful for Christ and the cross. Paul’s thankfulness for Christ and the cross kept him content. Show me someone who has drifted away from Christ and the cross, and I will show you someone who is not content. If we are continually thankful for Christ and the cross, our inner man will be satisfied. If Paul had to learn that, then we must learn it as well. Paul sums it up so well in Colossians 1:12,13: ”Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son”.
Let us take a moment now and be thankful we have been translated, changed, from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Let us be thankful for Christ and the cross. It is this foundation of thankfulness that we will be content in every aspect of our lives.
As Christmas approaches, focus on being thankful for its meaning. Do not allow the activities surrounding Christmas to distract you from Who Christmas is about. Be thankful every day that a Savior was born. Be thankful for His death and resurrection. Be thankful that you have been delivered from the power of darkness and you are redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Thankful for the Cross, Pastor Wes