Monday, December 13, 2021

Overheard at Booth 1: Thankfulness in Thessalonia

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus
Note how the passage says to give thanks IN all circumstances, not FOR all circumstances.
This challenges us to find the good in the difficult times.
From Howard Vanderwell (2005)
The Heidelberg Catechism says that belief in the providence of God makes it possible for us to be "thankful when things go well" and "patient when things go against us" (Q&A 28). So sometimes we are thankful, and sometimes we are patient. Paul sums things up this way. He says it is God's will for us to be thankful "in all circumstances." Really? Well, it may help to note that Paul is not saying we should be thankful for all circumstances but in them. When things seem to go against us, I think God expects us to be grateful that his hand holds us and helps us to endure under the strain. That's a big challenge--to look for reasons to be thankful when the going is tough. Sometimes it can be equally difficult for us to be thankful when things are going well. We might not think it would be that way. After all, when things go well, we have so much to be grateful for. But the very nature of human beings, even if we are Christian, is to overlook the crowd of God's good gifts to us every day. Let me suggest that today you sit still where you are and exercise the gift of noticing. Notice what you see, what you have, and who is with you. Notice the color, beauty, and variety around you. Keep noticing, and make a list of the gifts you notice. Then give thanks to God, the great giver!
O great Creator and Giver of all gifts, give us today the great gift of being able to notice all your gifts. Open our hearts to a spirit of thanksgiving, we pray. For Jesus' sake, Amen.

Matthew15:35-37, Luke 10:21-24, John 11:39-44, Luke 22:14-20
Russ Ramsey (2018) When Jesus gave thanks
In Matthew 15, Jesus gives thanks for the bread He is about to multiply to feed the hungry crowds. In Luke 10, He thanks God that the mysteries of the kingdom of God are hidden from the learned, and are revealed instead to His disciples. In John 11, just before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus thanks God for hearing Him, and says He is praying aloud so that those gathered will believe that He and the Father are one. Finally, in Luke 22, we come to the institution of the Lord’s Supper, where Jesus thanks God for the bread and the cup, which represent His body and blood.
What do these passages have in common? What is Jesus thanking God for in each of them? In a word, communion. Jesus gives thanks for communion between God and man. When Jesus gives thanks, He thanks God for being near to His people—for being not only present, but active in a saving, nourishing, and illuminating way. Food for the hungry. Truth for the disciple. Healing for the dead and dying. The body and blood of Christ for sinners. Jesus thanks God for being near.
The beautiful irony here is that, ultimately, Jesus is thanking the Father for His own incarnation. He would feed the hungry, draw His children near, raise the dead, and deliver us from our sin. He would be with us. He would make Himself known. For this, Jesus thanked His Father. If this is what Jesus gives thanks for, why would we imagine He is distant?
Ponder that, you who feel alone in the world. You who feel overlooked, forgotten, and cast aside—consider that when the Son of God gave thanks to the Father, it was for the opportunity to draw near to us and to respond to our deepest needs. The Son of God incarnate is the greatest gift we’ve ever been given, and Jesus Himself thanks God for this gift. “He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you’” (Lk 22:19).

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 2:6-7
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

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