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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

RLL 69.Thanksgiving Turkeys and the Failure of Socialism

The Thanksgiving bouncers” by Margaret Talev and Tina Reed, Axios, 11/23/2021

San Francisco’s Indigenous ‘Unthanksgiving’ returns full force to Alcatraz Island” by Ida Mojadad, San Francisco Examiner, 11/23/2021

That genocide and violence is still on the menu” Tweet from MSNBC, 11/20/2021

Lessons From A Capitalist Thanksgiving” by Jerry Bowyer, Forbes, 11/27/2008

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“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God concerning you.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I’ve always been thankful for the Thanksgiving holiday.  From its Christian origin in the early history of America to its central message of giving thanks to God for his providential blessings, to the food and family, it serves as an annual and much-needed reminder to God’s people to consider the many blessings he brings to our lives and express our gratitude for them.

In thinking about my own sinful tendency to see the worst in things, I would add that setting apart a day to give thanks to God for his many blessings is of no small importance. 

The verse from 1 Thessalonians quoted above is remarkable for the extent of its application.  Paul didn’t tell the Christians in Thessalonica to give thanks in some things, or to give thanks in many things, or to give thanks when things went well for them.  He told them, “In everything give thanks,” that is, Christians are to give thanks in all circumstances.

Does anyone else find that a bit challenging and convicting? 

Giving thanks can be hard, even when things turn out as we like.  Perhaps we get caught up in the moment and forget the Lord.  Or maybe we, as did Nebuchadnezzar when overlooking the glory of Babylon, want to attribute some great achievement to our own wisdom or goodness or skill rather than to God who is the giver of all good gifts.   

But if it can be a challenge to give thanks when things go well, much more is this the case when events are not to our liking.  Whether it’s illness, or economic loss, or the suffering of some injustice, it can be hard to see the good in any of those things, let alone give thanks. 

To the natural mind, the thought of giving thanks to God for life’s disappointments and tragedies likely seems not only foolish but even madness. 

Yet the plain language of this passage is a command by the Apostle Paul to give thanks in everything, leaving nothing for which we are not to give thanks.

But how is it that Christians can make the case for giving thanks in all things without sounding like madmen? 

The key is understanding God’s sovereign purposes, both for his own glory and for the good of his people.  In Romans 8, Paul provides an explanation of his broad statement “In everything give thanks.”  There, he writes, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Note here that while Paul speaks of “all things” working together for good, he qualifies “all things” by limiting the scope of this promise “to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The promise of all things working together for good is true, but it applies only to those who are the called in Christ Jesus.  Those who are outside of Christ have no basis to claim this promise.  Indeed, if all things work together for good – even those things we would call disasters – for those who love God, it follows that nothing ultimately works together for good to those whose minds are enmity against God – even those things we would commonly call blessings.

Whether the events in our lives are blessings or curses depends not on the events themselves but on God who works all things according to his own purpose, for his own glory, and for the good of his people.

Commenting on 1 Thessalonians 5:18, John Calvin noted,

For this is the will of God — that is, according to Chrysostom’s opinion — that we give thanks. As for myself, I am of opinion that a more ample meaning is included under these terms — that God has such a disposition towards us in Christ, that even in our afflictions we have large occasion of thanksgiving. For what is fitter or more suitable for pacifying us, than when we learn that God embraces us in Christ so tenderly, that he turns to our advantage and welfare everything that befalls us? Let us, therefore, bear in mind, that this is a special remedy for correcting our impatience — to turn away our eyes from beholding present evils that torment us, and to direct our views to a consideration of a different nature — how God stands affected towards us in Christ.

Did you catch that?  “For what is fitter or more suitable for pacifying us, than when we learn that God embraces us in Christ so tenderly, that he turns to our advantage and welfare everything that befalls us?”

Many in our own decadent time, some of whom claim to be Christian theologians, will argue that knowledge, if indeed we are able to have knowledge at all, is of little value.  But what could be a greater practical value for dealing with the difficulties that life throws at us than understanding God’s sovereignty and his goodness to his people is such that all things without exception work to their good and not to their harm?

To such a God and Savior how can we, his people, not give thanks? 

Wishing you and your family a happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day 2021,

Steve       

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