Visions from the Vincents

November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 6:31 pm

Thanksgiving historically focuses on taking time to gratefully lifting up people, places, and circumstances we deem praise worthy.  If the news stories associated with Thanksgiving this year indicate with any clarity the current prevailing attitude, we might need to rename our historic holiday.  I challenge you to google news stories anticipating Thanksgiving this year.  You will find them to be saturated with more gloom and doom than thanks.  Headlines complain that despite lower gas prices, fewer people will travel.  Black Friday has been prophesied to fail to meet the sales successes of recent history, and food pantries are struggling to find enough food.  It seems desperate times have swallowed up our thanks.  This is the time for Chrisitans counter-cultural joy and thanks to shine most clearly.

Is anything keeping you from a thankful heart?: Paul Erupted with Gratitude

Paul emits some of the sweetest words of encouragement and thanks in all of Scripture in Philippians 1. Notice that in verse 3, Paul says, “I thank God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine.”  Paul is thankful for God’s work in his fellow Christians on the behalf of the work of the gospel.  What is amazing in this story is his situation.  Paul sat imprisoned in a Roman cell, where the Roman church had been ignoring him.  In the middle of some of the darkest times in his life, he pens a note of thanksgiving to God for Philippian Christians.  Friend, is anything keeping you from a thankful heart?  Is it sin?  Is there some sin that you struggle with that has surrounded your heart and gripped it so tight that you feel like you can barely breath.  Are particular situations causing you to sin?  Is it trouble at work, trouble in your marriage, trouble with your kids or grandkids, trouble with your boyfriend or girlfriend, trouble with addictions, or trouble with debt?  What is chaining you up from a thankful heart?  Know this, Scripture never says that being a Christian causes all of our suffering to leave immediately.  Instead, we are told to be patient amidst suffering because in creates hope in us.  Paul was thankful amidst really difficult times because he was hopeful.

Paul focused on the right things:
1.    He focused on God.  He looked to a full orbed trinitarian vision of God the Father, God the Son, and in verse 19, God the Holy Spirit.   In verse 3 Paul says, “He thanked God continuously in prayer” as he was in his cell (1:3).
2.    He focused on others—He thanked God particularly for faithful Christians in a church in Philippi for specific works in the gospel, who were faithful daily. 3
3.    He focused on the thing that knit them together, the work of the gospel.
Christians constantly battle the corruption of our hearts that seek to steal our focus away from thanksgiving to God.  One way to fight this is to turn your focus from yourself to God, his people, and the gospel.  Paul focused on these three things as he sat in a dark cell bound by chains.

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