Without question Paul’s teaching was filled with expressions of thankfulness, but so was his Christian conduct. As one who knew that the will of God was to give thanks in everything (I Thessalonians 5:18), Paul encouraged the Philippians to proclaim their thankfulness first through prayer:
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
We can easily see that life is about relationships. As Paul encouraged the church members to live in harmony and helpfulness with one another (Philippians 4:1-3), he expressed that they could always find joy in the Lord if not in their circumstances (4:4). When peace is fleeting in life and chaos culminates in catastrophe, prayer with thanksgiving can secure the peace of God (4:6). Praying like that provides unparalleled comfort which calms the aching heart and eases the confused mind of God’s children (4:7).
Rejoicing in the Lord enables thankful prayer. Interactions with others – whether in conflict or companionship – can be experienced without the ills of anxiety. The three areas of the family, church, and work can be areas of stress, especially around the holidays, yet are also areas of great blessing. Prayerfully we must remember to be thankful for these daily blessings in our various relationships. One of Paul’s opening statements to his Roman readers showed his thanks for them personally:
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” Romans 1:8
We must take time to give thanks. People held great meaning to Paul, and he ensured that those he knew in life understood and felt the adoration he had for them. A top priority to Paul, as seen in this letter, was for him to express his thanks to others. He wanted those in his life to know that he appreciated and valued them.
I cannot stress enough the importance of expressing words that affirm your love and care for those in your life. With that in mind, allow me to take a moment to publicly express my thanks for my family, church family, and job.
I am grateful for my family. I am thankful for Lisa’s character. She is a lady who loves the Lord and lives uprightly. She is a person of immense cheer, and her positivity reflects the joy she derives from the Lord. She is my ray of sunshine, and she shines more radiantly the darker the skies of life become. I am thankful for how she loves the Lord and pours that love into our family. I’m thankful to have a wife who daily inspires me to be a better Christian. I am thankful for the children the Lord has given to us. Four beautiful girls brighten our lives. I am thankful for Sophia’s sweetness. She has grown to reflect tenderness for God and people even in her young age. I am thankful for Amelia’s laugh. Her carefree exuberance flows from her loving and sensitive spirit. I am thankful for Elesia’s excitement. Her thrill for every activity overflows and is contagious. I am thankful that she has begun asking questions about knowing the Lord. I’m thankful for Anastasia’s hugs. Her desire to be close to her loved ones is always an encouragement. I am thankful for the relationship I have with each one in my family!
I am thankful for my church family. Over the years they have sacrificially served us in ways innumerable. Throughout many tough situations which included trips to hospitals and major life events, our church family has prayed faithfully, given lovingly, and encouraged graciously. They have given us so much from food to fellowship, but most of us they have given us their heart. I am thankful that I can rely on our church to be with us through times both good and bad. In a day when good churches are hard to find, the Lord surely directed us to a church home where we can feel at home.
I am thankful for the many jobs that I have gained. First, I am thankful for my “jobs” in ministry. I haven’t earned any rights to fulfill any office or opportunity, but I thank God that he has chosen to equip and to enable me to be used to encourage His people. I am thankful to see growth in the lives of others as they draw closer to God through worship and discipleship. I am thankful to preach, to teach, and to counsel with those in need. I am thankful that I can pray with others who are looking for the right path. It is a blessing to be in ministry. Additionally, I am thankful for my secular employment. The Lord has used my job to provide for my family as well as to facilitate opportunities to reach others with the Gospel. Over the years many have come to know Christ, and the Lord has opened doors to help Christians who are in need of counseling. The fact that any of this happened in my life is a result of God’s grace. I am thankful that my career has been guided by the Lord’s wisdom. In His gracious way, the Lord has led me to the right places at the right times. I’m thankful to have the Lord lovingly direct my steps.
As we take time to give thanks today, let’s pause to remember that every good gift comes from above. But let’s not stop there! Make your thankfulness “touchable.” Take time to write a short list of why you are thankful for your family, your church, and your job.
Don’t let this Thanksgiving pass without taking the time to express true thankfulness to God and others for the gifts of love and blessing in your life!