Last updated 11/22/2021 at 2:14pm
I Thessalonians 5:19 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
This is not meant to be a great piece of scholarship, but to rejoice in a great time of the year…Thanksgiving. It should not be a time to first give credence to the turkey and all the trimmings. It is supposed to be a time for a special look at life in and through Christ Jesus. The song "Count Your Blessings" has to come to mind. When we are sitting around the table, even while you are cooking and preparing the dining area, reminiscence of family and friends past and now is a sweet moment. Even without a "Thanksgiving Dinner", would there not be more than enough to thank God for?
Thanking God for family…some of my sweetest memories are family Thanksgivings. Seldom did we have Thanksgiving that didn't include the families of my uncles and aunts and grandparents. We loved on each other all day long, playing basketball, baseball, and some younger ones played cowboys and indians. There was more food than we could eat…and desserts?!! The assortments of desserts were amazing. Our cooks really showed out on them. It was one of those days each year we hated to come to an end, but it was clear we loved our family and thanked God for each and every one of them…even the strange one or two, like me. Lol. I was a rascal, no doubt. Family…one more thing. When at 7 years old my Dad left Mom and us boys, our family rallied together and took care of us and saw to our love and care. Look around you on Thanksgiving and be thankful for family remaining. Reminisce about those who have gone on to be with the Lord. Thank you Lord for my family.
Thanking God for His provisions of life daily…Some of my most memorable times in life have been when I saw God working in my care, the provisions of life. There have been times when things were really tight financially and thus materially. We looked to God (Phi. 4:6-7) and a peace of mind first came that God hears, loves and will provide for His children (believers). Among my most memorable of these was a time when I was out of work and we couldn't pay our utilities. We told no one except the Lord and went on about our way being faithful to Him, leaving it to Him to bring the need. The next Sunday as I was backing out of my garage and drive way I saw something on my front porch, a bag. I stopped and retrieved the bag. Keep in mind, we had not told a soul about our money problems…only God. In the bag was to the penny what we needed to pay our utility bill. Next on that occasion a check showed up for $1000. All of this was among a number of ways God sustained us through that time until we could get back on our feet. I searched the world over for a job with no success until one day the Lord showed me where to go next in my call to the ministry that He had given me. We moved forward. I can share so many times before that and after that where God did obvious things to sustain my family. We just remained faithful and trusted and waited. Oh, it got thin at times, but God was there meeting our provisions of life. Thank you Lord for blessing your children.
Thank you God for giving the health I need…From birth I can sight numerous times that God spared my life. He also has ministered to all of my "cuts" and "bruises." Some things He gave and gives me grace to cope with, while others He has healed. At birth I was not supposed to live more than 6 months. Here I am at 75 years old. Even now as I am dealing with two stage 4 cancers, my confidence in God, trusting Him, is well in tact. It's not because of what He has done in my past, but what He still does in my daily life, keeping me up and strong, continuing forward, enjoying life that He gives me. Each day is a new gift with many gifts inside. God is going to heal me, either here or in His presence. He has sustained my health unto this moment and will not quit on me all the way into His presence. Thank you God, for health and strength to live what you have given.
Thank you God for trials and tribulations…This duplicates a bit on what I said in the last two topics, but I want to share it. I learned that our trials and tribulations, and if necessary persecutions for our faith, are waves of adversity that push me closer to Him. My greatest learning experiences in and of God are in times of adversity. I am driven to run to Him for victory. Whether it is sickness, car accident, family trials, work issues, community issues, world issues, well, you can make your own list, but they cause me to go to the One who has the victory over it all. I can either gripe or pray to the Lord for sustaining strength or deliverance from it. In either case He answers and I move on in life. The world is not my home, nor can it ever be nor do anything but be adverse and cause adversity in my life. My body is the same. It only gets older and sicker until it dies, but in all adversities I am driven to the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5: 1-3; II Cor. 11:30; 12:5,9,10)
I remind you of our Scripture Text: I Thessalonians 5:19 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." It is easy to give God thanks for the holidays and family and so much more, but "In every thing…?" God lets nothing come to His believers before it passes through His hands first. He knows what I need and the capacity of faith He has given me to handle it. He loves me. He loves you.
Thank you God for your church…For 57 years I have had a local church to go to where I am fed the Word of God, and where I had someone to fellowship with and nurture a friendship for life. The church is an unperfected place right now because it is made up of imperfect people, but in it somewhere is always found love. Oh, you won't find a church that doesn't have those who are still struggling with their imperfections, but there are those who have matured in the truth and love of God whom you can worship and fellowship and grow with. Yup, in every church. The first church that Jesus built was clearly made up of imperfect people. I have been in membership of some and have pastored some. In all of them there are those who say they believe and love Jesus but are still crass in their demeanor. But there are those who have grown out of that in Jesus in whom I find love and understanding. Except for my wife, there is nowhere in the world that I find a more faithful person to pray with and study with and fellowship with…just have healthy fun with. (Heb. 10:19-25)
Finally, Thank you God for giving me your Son, Jesus…I John 4:10 "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." He saved me and has kept me in His saving grace. When I looked to Him, repenting from my sins and believing on Him as my Lord and Savior, He saved me from eternal condemnation in sin to giving me His gift of eternal life, eternally forgiven. Jesus and I became family. His Father became my Father. His Holy Spirit sealed me in Him and became my power to live in eternal victory starting here and now.
Need I say more? Thanksgiving is a time to rehearse the blessings of your life in all of these areas and you may find more in yours than this. So, whether it is bologna or turkey, "In everything give thanks."
Charles Empey is the Pastor of Cove Baptist Church.