Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where Thanksgiving Fits In

Day of Thanksgiving [Observed]
November 25, 2009
1 Timothy 2:1-4

Where does thanksgiving fit into your life?

Every year we celebrate national holidays. On the Fourth of July we commemorate the freedom we have in this country. That doesn’t mean it’s the only time we recognize or are grateful for our freedom. The other holidays we celebrate also are not the only time we recognize what we’re celebrating. That should certainly be the case with Thanksgiving. If that’s the only day we actually gave thanks, we would be truly ungrateful people.

As a church we have more to celebrate than a national holiday of Thanksgiving. Having been inspired by the Holy Spirit Paul spells out where thanksgiving fits into our lives as Christians. It fits in in everything. Our prayers are to consist of “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings.” These supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings are to be made for all people. We are to pray on behalf of others, for their needs.

The first three words Paul uses are along the lines of what we usually think of when we think of prayer: asking God to help us and others in their needs. We have a lot of them, maybe that’s why Paul is emphasizing the point. We have a lot of needs, so Paul uses three different words for this kind of praying.

But there’s another kind, and that’s what he gets at in his fourth word: thanksgivings. Thanking God is to go right along with praying for the needs of others. We are to pray for all people, including our leaders, and we are to give thanks in all things for others, including our leaders.

Why? So “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” There is a method to the madness, so to speak. In other words, there’s a reason we pray. God knows what we need. He knows what we need better than we know what we need. And God blesses us and all people abundantly even without our prayers. But we pray for others so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

I don’t know about you, but if I don’t pray, I tend to get pretty ungrateful. It’s amazing how saying a simple “Thank you” to someone can help you recognize how grateful you are that others help you out. When you don’t say “Thank you” to others you easily take others and their help for granted. It’s the same with God. When we give thanks to Him we realize more and more what a blessing it is that He helps us in our needs and that without His provisions through our leaders there is a far greater chance of us not having a peaceful and quiet life.

I love the way Paul goes on to speak about this: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” Paul can’t help but speak of the salvation of God. It is always in light of God saving us that Paul exhorts his brothers and sisters in Christ to live in the way God desires them to live. This goes for prayer, too. When we pray, it is in the light of the salvation of God in His Son Jesus Christ that we pray—that we offer up supplications on behalf of others, that we offer our thanks to God for, well, everything.

This is indeed good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. And if we’re still not convinced of why we ought to be thankful, Paul has an answer for that: our God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Why do we pray for all people? Why do we give thanks in all things? Because God desires that all people be saved. Because He desires that all come to the knowledge of truth. We give thanks in all things because our minds and hearts and desires begin to reflect the heart of God. His salvation. His love. His grace. His mercy. His passion for the people He created. The people His Son Jesus Christ died for. The people He offers His full and free salvation to. The salvation we have received in Baptism. That we partake of often in the Holy Supper of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This is where thanksgiving fits in. In the love of Christ for the world. In Him giving to us in a personal real tangible way in His Supper where He breaks bread and gives thanks, where He pours out for us His lifeblood, given for us to drink, His body for us to eat.

We know what our needs are, do we see that we need to give thanks in all things? There is so much to be thankful for! We can’t quite see it all now, but in heaven we will see in the fullness of glory all God has given to us. Then there will be no question of thanksgiving. It will be as natural as it is now for us to pray for our needs. We give thanks that He helps us in our needs until that day He brings us to heaven where we will have none. Amen.


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