Happy Thanksgiving. There are four main seasons that we celebrate in Canada, and fall is one of them. It is during this season that we enjoy Thanksgiving. Historically Martin Frobisher from England was looking for the Northwest Passage in 1578 and was believed to celebrate thanksgiving that year. During his third voyage, he had the intention of setting us a small settlement in what is now known as the Frobisher Bay area of the Baffin Island. He brought with him 15 ships that were outfitted with men and supplies but one of the ships was sunk after it was crushed by ice. Mayster Wolfall joined in this expedition with Her Majesty’s blessings to be their minister. In one of these difficult times gave preached a godly message about God’s deliverance to those struggling for life. They celebrated Communion and “The celebration of divine mystery was the first sign, scale, and confirmation of Christ's name, death and passion ever known in all these quarters.”
Thanksgiving is also a theme of harvest celebrations. Our American neighbours celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November. Indigenous cultures celebrate their version of thanksgiving in the fall as well. The Feast of Tabernacles (Booths, Ingathering, Sukkot) was the Jewish expression of thanksgiving and is celebrated from late September to late October. It has a double meaning, one being the celebration of the harvest and the other being the celebration of the exodus and the dependence of the people of Israel on God.
Thanksgiving is one the best expressions of a truly passionate and born-again person. Thanksgiving brings life into perspective because it focuses on God first and the challenges second. The practice of thanksgiving puts our minds at ease by strengthens our trust in God. An attitude of thanksgiving releases faith to overcome the schemes and strategies of the enemy.
The Apostle of Thanksgiving
The Apostle Paul is one of the most prolific and thankful writers of the New Testament. I believer that because of Saul’s – now Paul – salvation experience, from the worst of sinners to saint, he was an utterly thankful person.
· Many of Paul’s letters open with thanks directed towards God (Col 1:12; 2 Tim 1:3; Philemon vs:4).
· He gave thanks for the saints - Rom 1:8; Eph 1:16; 1 Thess 1:2 and so on…
· He tells us “thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:57).
· In fact, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thess 5:18).
· Paul taught us to give thinks for all things: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:20).
1 Cor 1:4-9
Paul thanks God for the Corinthian believers despite their divisions, immorality and selfish actions. He is thankful that they’ve come to Christ and are at least staying engaged with the Christian community; this provides the opportunity for God to work in them and through them.
Today I want us to look at 1 Cor 1:4-9 and discover six reasons we can be thankful to God.
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
1. God is gracious
We can be thankful because of the grace that has been given to us in Jesus. We are fully forgiven and have free and open access to God our Father. We can boldly come into God’s presence, not foolishly or unrepentantly, and discover his forgiving mercy and empowering grace. Let’s be thankful for grace…
2. God is enriching
We can be thankful because God has made us to enjoy rich and abundant lives. Riches and wealth have gotten a lot of spiritual publicity over the past years but the enriching here is more than money; riches is more about generosity than acquiring. There was a large gap in the city of Corinth. Paul is saying, being enriched mentally, emotionally, spiritually is of equal important for the believer. Life is full and you are content whatever your circumstances.
3. God is generous
When God’s grace and enriching fill our lives, there is no lack, as Paul tells the Corinthians. The generosity of God overflows into the lives of the believers “spiritually”, in the sense of spiritual things, especially the Gifts of the Spirit found in Chapters 12-14. The Body of Christ is full of God’s big-heartedness. In other words, we too, are meant to be big-hearted in generosity through the spiritual gifts and talents he has given to us.
4. God is revealing
We can be thankful that God chooses to reveal himself in Jesus Christ at the Second Coming of our Saviour as well as through our daily living as a believer. God is always communicating to us through the Holy Spirit, whether in creation, his still small voice (sometimes loud and clear) and especially through his Word – the Holy Bible.
5. God is strong
Paul tells the Corinthian believers that God will keep them strong; this strength makes someone settled securely, to cause them to believe without doubting, and to establish an unshakeable inner strength. This strength leads to being blameless, above the criticism of people and beyond the accusation of the enemy. I am thankful for this kind of strength that helps me to live in righteousness and honour before God and mankind.
6. God is faithful
Paul ends his thanksgiving with this thought – “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” Before the Apostle Paul begins to give any instruction or correction, he confesses that God is faithful. In other words, amid the challenges of life, God is trustworthy, dependable, reliable, steadfast, loyal, unfailing, truthful… There is a faithfulness of God that completes what he starts (Phil 1:6). This wonderful spiritual adventure called “faith in Jesus Christ” is surrounded by God’s faithfulness. He will never give up on us.
Happy are those who are thankful… Happy Thanksgiving. May we discover more and more each day how we can be thankful for who God is and all that he has done for us. The main lesson Paul is trying to teach us is this - Look to God first and be thankful because he is Gracious, Enriching, Generous, Revealing, Strong and Faithful... There is nothing too difficult for God, so let’s practice thanksgiving…
Sometimes life can be challenging just like the church in Corinth. But the Apostle Paul makes sure he begins by being thankful as an example to the believers there. The same is true for us today. We must learn to be grateful and appreciative for all that God does for us. Occasionally we can find ourselves in difficult circumstances, maybe our health is failing, maybe we are struggling with loneliness, temptations that seem so overpowering, or frustration in some relationship. One of the biggest strategies of Satan is to take our eyes off God and put them onto our circumstances, weaknesses, insecurities and sinfulness.
Here are a few practical tips to encourage us in thanksgiving…
Keep our eyes focused on Jesus who is the author and perfector of our faith.
We must put thanksgiving into practice daily…
Hang around thankful people…