Let's have some real talk about Thanksgiving.
The Apostle Paul, the man formerly known as Saul, can teach us something about giving thanks.
Because that's what this season is really about, right? Giving thanks? Thanksgiving?
Saul's vocation was to stop the spread of the Christian Church. He would go door to door and drag Christian men and women to prison. He would beat them. He even put believers to death. Saul was an eye witness to the stoning of Stephen (one of the disciples of Jesus) and even held the coats of some of those who did the casting of the stones.
Then, the Bible tells us, Saul had a conversion. An "a-ha!" moment if there ever was one (read more in Acts here). Saul had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Jesus told him to stop hating and recruited him to do his Kingdom work. (that alone is a powerful story of WHO God uses)
Saul and his name had a conversion. Saul became Paul.
Now Saul, er, Paul's new vocation was to spread the Gospel. The Good News.
He was very successful, and has written most of the New Testament that we read today.
What you need to understand about Paul is that he suffered greatly for the advancement of the Good News.
The Good News wasn't very Good News for Paul's well being!
Here's some of what Paul experienced:
Paul was imprisoned over and over
Flogged numerous times
Lashed 39 times on 5 occasions
Faced death again and again
Beaten with rods
Stoned (not that kind, the kind where people threw stones at you)
Shipwrecked 3 times
Spent one day and night IN the sea (and not IN a boat)
What I'm trying to say is that if anyone had a right to be ungrateful, it was Paul. He was SUFFERING.
But Paul chose, over and over, to GIVE THANKS.
Almost every letter he wrote in the New Testament starts with GIVING THANKS!
Check it out.
Romans: First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you
1 Corinthians: I give thanks to my God always for you
Ephesians: I do not cease to give thanks for you
Philippians: I thank God in all my remembrance of you
Colossians: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you
1 Thessalonians: We give thanks to God always for all of you
2 Thessalonians: We ought always to give thanks to God for you
1 Timothy: I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord
2 Timothy: I thank God whom I serve...as I remember you constantly in my prayers
Philemon: I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers
Get the picture?
Paul was thankful. He GAVE THANKS. A lot. Despite his situation.
In his letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul scribes this often regurgitated verse:
"Give thanks in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
He doesn't say give thanks FOR all circumstances.
He says give thanks IN all circumstances.
If you wonder how it can be done, read these letters in the New Testament. Look above at what Paul endured and how he suffered. Look above at how he responded.
Oh, and it seemed like Paul was praying often when he was giving thanks. Seems like they might go well together? (if you only pray and ask for stuff this might be a sentence for you to read again!)
So, happy Givethanksing!
I'm incredibly thankful for each one of you who will read this. I've prayed now for myself and for all of you to receive this well and that you can choose gratitude in all circumstances.
Wherever you are, whatever you're going through, you can give thanks.
You get to choose.
Jesus chose. (see Hebrews 12:2 here)
He chose to die for you and me with JOY.
He conquered death for you and me.
Let's be a people of thanksgiving.
Upcoming (click on images below for more info!):
Shoot Christians Say | BASIC on 12/4
Christmas BASIC & FREE MEAL at Nazareth Lutheran Church on 12/11
Christmas in Walnut on 12/13
Paid Childcare Opportunity:
Fitness at Orchard Hill Church needs childcare help starting in January through the end of the school year. The time commitment would be 8:50 AM to 10:15 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Payment is $12 per class. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.