Category: Thanksgiving (Page 1 of 3)

A Thanksgiving Prayer

At the end of Matthew 11, there’s a short little prayer of praise and thanksgiving from Jesus. Two short little sentences. It seems very spontaneous, like it just comes out of nowhere. It’s almost buried in the middle of a whole page of red letters, so it’s easy to miss. When people do studies on the prayers of Jesus, this one never gets mentioned.

But this prayer really doesn’t come out of nowhere. This is a specific setting, a particular time and place for Jesus. There is a reason this prayer is where it is. And it has a lot to teach us.

At the beginning of Matthew 11, John the Baptist has been thrown into prison and he questions the Messiahship of Jesus. Through his own followers, he asks Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” For John, things were worse for him now than before Jesus arrived. John is suffering and King Herod has even more power and control. You’re not getting the job done, Jesus. I’m in trouble for preaching truth and the political powers are getting away with murder. Jesus is misunderstood by John. Everything Jesus is working toward, the whole reason he came, who he is – John doesn’t see it yet.

At the same time, the fishing villages around Galilee where Jesus was raised and where he was now living and teaching, were ignoring him. The synagogue in Capernaum was Jesus’ home church. The text tells us that Jesus did more miracles in Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum than in any other towns. But they were indifferent in their response. Jesus did not matter to them. So our Lord blisters the citizens of those villages, comparing them to Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom.

Verse 25 says, “At that time…” In the middle of all this. While Jesus was dealing with this. When Jesus was going through this. In this setting. In this time and place in his life. Jesus prayed praise and thanksgiving to God.

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” ~Matthew 11:25-26

Jesus says the wise and the learned don’t get it. He’s using irony in his prayer. I praise you, Father, because you have hidden these things from the smarty-pants and the know-it-alls. What God is doing through Jesus has nothing to do with worldly wisdom or worldly values or worldly knowledge – it comes from above. So those who are entrenched in the pursuits and goals of the world, those who identify with the ways and means of the world – they miss it. Jesus knows that. And he gives thanks to God. Jesus knows that misunderstandings and indifference are not reliable indicators of the presence of the Kingdom of God. And he praises the Lord.

The powerful and unstoppable energies of the Kingdom of God are always moving. Always growing. Always surging. Just beneath the surface. All around us. Huge rivers of prayer and faith and hope and praise and forgiveness and salvation and holiness flow right by us every day. In every single nook and cranny, hidden in the shadows, overlooked in the crowds, drowned out by the noise, it’s there. It’s always there. We just don’t always see it. Or experience it.

So, when Lazarus is in the tomb. When Paul is on a sinking ship. When Peter is confronted near the enemy’s fire. When the Samaritan woman is by herself at the well. When the broken man is living among the dead outside his community. When nobody will help the crippled guy into the healing waters. When Silas is arrested. When the apostle is sent to exile on a prison island. When the crowds are shouting “Crucify him.” When Jesus is hanging on a government cross. Our God gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17).

When the doctor gives his diagnosis. When the marriage counselor says, “I’m sorry, but I’ve done all I know how to do.” When the pink slip shows up in your box. When your children have gone off the rails. When your best friends leave your church. When you have been completely misunderstood. When you’ve been hurt by that same person, again. I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.



Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a central part of Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

1:3 – We’re thankful for the faith and the hope of all the good people around us.

1:12 – You should be thankful for the salvation you share with all our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God.

2:7 – You should overflow with thankfulness because you have received the fullness of God in Christ.

3:15 – Be thankful for the peace of Christ inside you, the Word of Christ inside you.

3:17 – Be thankful for the name of Christ we all wear by the grace of God.

4:2 – Be thankful for the many redemptive ways God is breaking into our world.

Be thankful for the goodness of our God. Be thankful for the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has come to you and changed your whole life. Be thankful for the mercies of God and the mighty acts of God that belong to you. Be thankful that God has begun a good work in you and he is going to see it all the way to completion on that day when Christ appears and you appear with him in his eternal glory.

It’s good to be thankful around all the family, food, and football in late November. But be thankful every day – every waking moment – that, through Christ, you belong to God forever.



In All Circumstances

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:18

There’s a difference between giving thanks FOR all circumstances and giving thanks IN all circumstances. You don’t give thanks for all the dirty dishes in the sink at the end of the day — unless you’re some kind of sicko; you do thank God for the food he gives you to dirty all those dishes. You don’t give thanks for the car accident; you do thank God that nobody was seriously injured. You don’t give thanks that Molly White is in the hospital; you do thank God for the opportunity to minister to Molly and her husband Pete and for deeming you somehow worthy to minister in the name of Jesus. You don’t give thanks that Vernon died; you do thank God that death is not the bottom line, death is not the last chapter. Thank you, Lord, that God in Christ is the ultimate power with the ultimate authority and he always writes the final word! Thank the Lord that resurrection and life belong to us in Jesus!

I always get a kick out of listening to little kids pray — I’m talking about little kids: three, four, five years old. They give thanks to God for everybody and every thing. If we’re at the table, they thank God for everybody around the table and every food item, the plates, the napkins, the silverware, the Kool-Aid, and what they hope is for dessert.

If we’re praying in the living room, they thank God for the couch and the fireplace and the TV and the remote. If we’re in the bedroom, they thank God for the bed, their pillow, their blanket, their clothes, their shoes, and they name every single stuffed animal and every doll and lift them each to God in praise. It’s everything.

Everything they see is a gift from God. Everything in the world, everything going on around them right now, at this moment, all of it is a blessing from God and he is to be thanked profusely.

Why do we lose that?

Joyful souls and prayerful spirits and grateful hearts — that is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.



Short Week

It’s Tuesday. Feels like Monday. Tomorrow’s Wednesday. And I’m running behind. We concluded our “Marriage Matters” sermon series on Sunday with “Sex and Marriage.” I’d like to reproduce a lot of that sermon in a series of three or four posts here in this space, but it’s probably not going to happen this week. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, let me share a couple of links with you.

Erica Grieder has written a column in the current Texas Monthly about the San Antonio Spurs, claiming that they are not only the best franchise in the NBA, but the best professional sports team in the history of the state of Texas. She makes a pretty good case and she taunts Cowboys fans with a parenthetical “Prove me wrong!” You can read her column by clicking here.

Jim Martin has written an excellent post about being grateful on his blog “God Hungry.” As always, he makes a point that hurts: sometimes we say “Thank you” to everybody in our lives except the people we love the most. You can click here to read his post.


We took our annual Central Boys Night Out trip to the Ballpark in Arlington last Friday to see the home team get clobbered by the Pirates. Didn’t much matter; we had an absolute blast. Dale won the homerun pool, I took home the double-play pot, and Speck lucked into the final-out bucks. Lou went to his first big league game, Andy wore an orange bandana around his neck, and we made Greg wear an Adrian Beltre shirt. We also learned that if you’re a cop, like Doug, you don’t have to go through the security line like everybody else. On the way we saw where Bruce grew up in Quanah, and on the way back we quietly lamented the idiocy that would destroy the baseball temple in Arlington and rebuild it next door with a retractable roof. And we all ate for the cycle.



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