Redeeming Life Church,
On November 23rd, we'll be taking a short break from our series in Romans to give thanks and share a meal together. We'll still have a time of prayer and worship. I'll offer some thoughts from the Word on being thankful and we'll celebrate the Lord's Supper together. And thanks to all of you who will bring good food, we'll feast! I'd like to encourage you to invite friends, family, and co-workers.
This week in your House Fellowships I hope you'll take some time to share something for which you are thankful. In the opening of his letter to the Romans, Paul shared that he was thankful for the believers in Rome. Can you imagine what it might have looked like if that little Roman church were sitting around a giant turkey and sharing what they were thankful for?
Many families practice the tradition of going around the table and sharing something each person is thankful for. I tend to dislike this time at the dinner because inevitably it turns into some kind of bragging contest. If we're honest, most of us should probably just says something like, "I'm thankful for how awesome I have been this year." The Bible, however, calls us to something rather different.
Many times we are told to rejoice and give thanks. These things seem to go hand in glove.
When the disciples came back to Jesus after a missionary journey they were celebrating that even the demons were subject to the name of Jesus. Jesus responded, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, or that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:18-20, ESV). That power is awesome, yet Jesus says it pales in comparison next to our salvation.
We should be compelled to rejoice in our salvation. Gratitude must be our posture. Rejoicing and thanksgiving. And there's more. God wants to join us in our celebration and gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. This is God's will for you. And the qualifiers too are amazing. Always. Without ceasing. In all circumstances.
The conversation around the Thanksgiving table might look a little different in this light. The believers might all thank God for their salvation, in unison. At this dinner it's not the believer that needs to look awesome, but Jesus. This is why we can and must give thanks in all circumstances. "Even the bad stuff that hit me this year, Pastor Bryan?" Yes. Even the bad stuff.
Paul says (in Romans 5:2-4) that we "rejoice in the hope of the glory of God" and he doesn't shy away from the bad stuff. The very next line in Romans says, "More than that, we rejoice in our suffering." Why?" Because we know that "suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." It seems that those of us who may have had a tough year have even more to rejoice and be thankful for because our suffering had ignited a chain reaction that brings us to a place even more filled with hope in God. Our suffering draws us nearer to the Lord and in that we have much for which to be thankful.
How have us suffered this year? How has that brought you closer to Jesus? Suffered or not, are you rejoicing in your salvation (if you indeed have faith in Jesus Christ for your salvation)? Are you giving thanks in all circumstances? And are you in communion with God through prayer?
I'm thankful for all of you!