Category: Thanksgiving (Page 2 of 3)

Thanksgiving in Christ

In good times and bad, we have much for which to be thankful. Much. Odds are that you personally rank in the top ten percent of the wealthiest people in the world. And, yes, we are thankful. We are thankful for all the wonderful blessings of our lives: our families, our children, our friends, our jobs and houses, our cars and money. And that’s good. It’s very good to acknowledge God as the giver of all good gifts. Everything you have is a gift from God. We thank him for every good thing we see.

But beyond that — way, way, way beyond that — we enjoy the blessings of a righteous relationship with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everything we’ve been given, all our possessions, every blessing you could possibly count this week finds more significance because of Christ. Every blessing is richer, it’s better, it’s deeper, it’s more significant, it’s more meaningful because of Christ. In fact, all thanksgiving is because of, related to, and in the name of Jesus.

The things the Scriptures long for, the blessings the psalms yearn for, the promises the Bible begs to be delivered are all fulfilled for us in Christ Jesus. He is our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption.

So, you’re thankful today? “Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)

You’re thankful for a particular person today? “I always thank God for you, because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus!” (1 Corinthians 1:4)

You’re thankful today even in tough times? “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus!” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

You’re thankful for salvation? “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

In Ephesians 5:20, Paul tells us to give thanks to God “for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We have a whole lot for which to be thankful today. Let’s be reminded that all thanksgiving — all of it — finds its source and its meaning in our Savior and Lord.



Prayer and Peace: Part 1

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7

Prayer is not a technique. It’s not a formula. Prayer is not a technology which we use to get a force or a “higher power” to do what we want. When Paul talks about prayer, he’s talking about a prayerful understanding, a prayer attitude, a particular way of looking at life. Paul wants the Christians in Philippi to have a prayerful relationship with God based on everything he’s written in the letter up to this point.

In order for prayer to result in peace, Paul expects Christians to be still blown away by their salvation.

I think the fact that we are saved by the amazing grace of a merciful God should startle us every single day. The fact that a holy and righteous Creator sacrificed everything in order to save a wretched sinner like me — it should overwhelm me every couple of hours or so. Several times a day, I think, I should be shocked by it all over again. My salvation is impossible; yet it’s real! My salvation is beyond comprehension; it’s a miracle!

And Paul is careful to remind the disciples in Philippi they can’t ever forget it.

He starts the letter by reminding us that God is bringing this wonderful miracle of salvation to completion (1:6). We are pure and blameless, he says, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus (1:10-11). In chapter two, Paul points out again just what Jesus did for us. He gave up everything! All this grand, sweeping poetry about the sacrifice of our Lord who, he says, is right now working inside us according to his wonderful purposes (2:13). Then we’re told that our righteousness is not our own — we don’t have any righteousness — all of it comes from God (3:9). It’s an outrageous gift from our God!

We are beloved children of that merciful God. We are chosen subjects of that glorious Lord. And we are privileged citizens of that heavenly Kingdom…

“And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” ~Philippians 3:20-21

You are in the Lord, Paul says. You are in Christ. And don’t you ever forget that you never did one crying thing to deserve it.

Every now and then, we might think that we’re better than other people. Sometimes, we might even think we don’t need nearly as much of God’s mercy as somebody else. Prayer will not result in peace unless we are still shocked by our salvation and driven daily to new levels of humility and gratitude to God because of it.



How Much Do I Owe?

How much do I owe you, Lord, for all you’ve done for me?
For seeing me through the hard times and messes I’ve made.
For picking me up again and again and cleaning me up.
For unspeakable comfort during times when I hurt.
And courage to carry on when I couldn’t see the path.
For a second chance. A fresh start. A clean slate. A new heart.
Dare I ask the price for all this?

And how much do I owe you, Lord, for cool breezes,
snowy mountains, flowers, seas, and majestic storms?
For friendships. And books. For healing and security.
For family. Income. Insights. Peace.
For music and art. Delicious food. Fun excursions.
Challenging conversations. Good wine and funny songs.
For poetry and films.
Oh, how you have poured it out on me, Lord.
Do I really want to see a final bill?

Oh, how much do I owe you, Lord, for the hope of heaven?
For assurance of reunion with friends and family.
For salvation and redemption. For being your precious, special child.
For knowing you love me enough to give your son,
your self, to make me whole and clean and pure.
Just tell me, Lord, and I’ll pay whatever price you demand.
Oh, thank you, Lord.
I hear you say I won’t take less than your love.

~Ray Hardin


“I am a poor wretch whom God took charge of, and for whom he has done so indescribably much more than I ever expected… that I only long for the peace of eternity in order to do nothing but thank him.”

~Soren Kierkegaard

Thanksgiving Wish

“I am a poor wretch whom God took charge of, and for whom he has done so indescribably much more than I ever expected… that I only long for the peace of eternity in order to do nothing but thank him.”

~Soren Kierkegaard

At That Time…

“At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” ~Matthew 11:25

The words at the beginning of this passage in Matthew that lead directly to our Lord’s little prayer of thanksgiving refer to that time in Jesus’ life when he’s having to answer questions about his mission and denounce unrepentant cities. John the Baptist is openly questioning the Messiahship of Jesus. His closest family and friends in the fishing villages around Galilee are ignoring his message.

How do you think all this rejection made Jesus feel? How do you think Jesus was doing at that time?

With one word, how would you describe your current situation? Where are you right now? In one word, what’s going on with you at this time?

Content? Frustrated? Happy? Angry? Confused? Overwhelmed? Hectic? Depressed? Worried? Confident? Scared?

Jesus seems pretty confident that his heavenly Father is behind these perceived setbacks and that these disappointments are actually a part of God’s holy will. And he gives thanks. Jesus gives thanks for the problems he’s encountering and praises God for working in them to spread the Word and advance the Kingdom.

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 rescue and holiness flow right by us every day. In every single nook and cranny, hidden in the shadows, overlooked in the crowds, drowned out sometimes by the noise, are the eternal works of our gracious Redeemer.

So, like our Lord, we give thanks. At that time. At this time. We give thanks.


Two Sundays ago Kevin Schaffer, our marvelously talented worship minister, stopped us down right in the middle of song to correct our clapping. We were singing “King of Kings.” You know how it goes: King of kings and Lord of lords, glory (CLAP!) Hallelujah. And our congregation was butchering the clapping. We were clapping before the word, during the word, after the word; it was a mess. Near the end of the first stanza, Kevin had had enough and he stopped us.

“We are going to learn how to clap. And we’re going to start with just one. Just one clap. Do it with me…”

And he proceeded to teach us and show us how to clap. It worked really well. Kevin was very patient with us and we all had a good laugh. After we had practiced together for a few minutes, it actually sounded pretty good the second time around. There’s hope here at Central.

I was reminded of that episode by a blog post written by Jon Acuff. It’s called “Clapping Our Hands: A Step-By-Step Guide to the Death of Rhythm.” A dear friend of mine forwarded it to me this morning. Jon hilariously nails the reasons our churches have a hard time clapping during congregational singing and gets inside the minds of the congregants to show us what everybody’s really thinking as the song begins, why the clapping is all over the place, and why it dies out completely before the song’s even over. It’s a quick, light, funny read about why our church clapping sounds like “somebody lit a box of hand firecrackers.” Click here to read it. And try to click on the downbeat, not the upbeat.



« Older posts Newer posts »