November 28, 2019
On this Thanksgiving Day morning, I am meditating on the words the apostle Paul wrote while in prison in Rome around the year A.D. 62. He writes to the church at Philippi,
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:3-8)
I imagine in my mind what is in the heart of such a man. Here Paul is chained in prison and yet he begins his letter with thanksgiving. He begins his letter with prayer. His focus is on others not on himself. He speaks of “making requests with joy” and possessing confidence and assurance. What an example to me! We see his heart and love for the believers at Philippi. He longs to see them. He is confident that the work that God began on the inside of them will come to completion. What can I learn from this passage today?
I am reminded that a life that is worth living is a life filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. I am reminded to not look at what is missing or not perfect in my life but to focus on the people God has placed in my circle. Those He has entrusted me to pray for, care for, love, honor and appreciate. Yes, maybe everything in my life hasn’t worked out the way I imagined. Maybe I didn’t get that job or promotion. Maybe that relationship ended. Maybe my health is being challenged. Maybe my children are struggling. Life is certainly filled with plenty of disappointments and opportunities to quit, but where is my focus? Is it on myself or others? When tough things come our way, it is easy for us to go inward into a dark spiral of fear, regret, doubt, murmuring and complaining. Paul reminds us that no matter the circumstances we face, we are to, “rejoice in the Lord always” and “in everything give thanks.”
What are you thankful for today? What puts a big smile on your face? What warms your heart? You may say, “I don’t have anything to be thankful for. I’m not smiling. I’ve lost hope. My life is a mess. I made my life a mess. It’s too late for me. I am a failure. I am a disappointment. I don’t keep my promises to myself or to others. You don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know what others have done to me. It isn’t right. It isn’t fair.”
God wants you to know that He believes in you. Even when we are faithless, He is faithful to keep His promises to you. Just look at Him. Make a quick turn and look into His eyes of love today. He says, “I love you. I made you. You are my child. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. I’ll help you. I won’t disappoint you. Look to Me. It is never too late.” It only takes a minor adjustment in our hearts for things to begin to turn around. Like Paul, I am confident that, “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” What God begins He finishes. He is the Master Builder. He is the Supreme Architect. He is the Creator of the universe. He is the Miracle Worker.
Paul teaches us that prayer brings confidence. An intimate relationship with the Lord brings a joy and peace that no man can offer. Draw near to the heart of your Father today and give thanks with a grateful heart.
A Thanksgiving Prayer
“Father, I ask that you would reveal your love to us today. Thank you for giving your only Son for us. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you that He is the light and hope for all mankind. Thank you that you said that a bright Light would shine in the darkness. For those who have lost their way, I ask that today… this Thanksgiving Day… that you would bring us back to the arms of our heavenly Father. That we would come home to you. That we would come home to Your love, acceptance and grace. Help us with our doubts, fears and unbelief. Help us to trust and believe once again. Help me to come to you as a child. Help me to believe and hope once again.”
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)
You are Loved by,