by Shawn Brasseaux
Psalm 50:14 KJV declares: “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:”
This Thanksgiving season, for what do you have to be thankful? In last year’s Thanksgiving Bible study, we looked at the 120 blessings that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord (that Bible study can be read here). Though we lack many of the world’s material possessions, the Bible declares: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3 KJV). In Christ Jesus, we have “ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places.”
One of the “becoming” (proper) attributes of a saint of God is the “giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:3,4). We are taught in Colossians 2:7,8 to be “rooted and built up in him [Christ], and stablished in the faith, as [we] have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Colossians 3:15 says “be ye thankful.” Christian masters (employers) were instructed to “continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:1,2).
In this year’s Thanksgiving Bible study, we want to take notice of why our Apostle Paul thanked God and for what he thanked God. By studying the following verses, we should gain understanding as why we should be thankful and for what we should be thankful… year-round!
THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR THE CHRISTIAN BRETHREN, WHO BELIEVE GOD’S WORD AND ARE WILLING TO BE TESTIMONIES OF GOD’S GRACE
The Christians in Rome were living testimonies of God’s wonderful grace. Thus, the Apostle Paul wrote to them in Romans 1:8 KJV: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” Lost people noticed their lifestyles and the whole then-known world spoke of the believers in Rome. Paul later wrote in the letter (6:17): “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” These Romans, formerly devil-worshipping pagans, were now members of the Church the Body of Christ. They had believed the Gospel of Grace that was preached unto them, and they went from serving Satan and sin to serving the Lord Jesus Christ!
Once Paul received word of believers in Thessalonica, he wrote (1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV): “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” These former pagans had also trusted in Jesus Christ and abandoned their worthless idols to “serve the living and true God” (1:9). They had believed God’s Word, and Paul thanked God they did!
When Paul heard of the salvation of the Colossians, he wrote to them (Colossians 1:3,4 KJV): “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,” Paul thanked God that the Colossians had trusted in Jesus Christ and their lives exhibited Christian love (the love of Christ) for their brethren.
Paul also addressed the love of the Thessalonian believers by informing them that he thanked God for their faith and hope, and for their love for the brethren: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;” (1 Thessalonians 1:2,3 KJV). In 2 Thessalonians 1:3 KJV, he wrote: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;”
To Philemon, Paul confessed that he “thanked God, making mention of [Philemon] always in [his] prayers, hearing of [his] love and faith, which [he had] toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints” (verses 4,5). Paul wrote to Timothy: “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;… when I call to remembrance of the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded in thee also” (2 Timothy 1:3,5 KJV). Paul thanked God for the faith that was in Timothy and Philemon.
The Bible also says that Paul wrote the Ephesians (1:16): “[I] cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;” In Ephesians 5:20, Paul instructed the Ephesians: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”
In Philippians 1:3-7 KJV, we read Paul’s gratefulness for the believers in Philippi:
“3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”
Paul, in Colossians 1:12 KJV, thanked God the Father “which hath made us [all Christians] meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:”
In 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14 KJV, we read: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR OUR DELIVERANCE FROM MOSAIC LAW BONDAGE AND OUR FREEDOM TO EAT “NON-KOSHER” FOODS
We can thank God that we are not under the demands of the Mosaic Law today. Thus, we are not limited to the kosher food laws of the Old Testament (the Judaistic diet of Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14). In 1 Timothy 4:3-5 KJV, we read: “…meats [foods], which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” As long as we give God thanks, we can eat all the “non-kosher” foods that we want (cf. Romans 14:6)!
THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR OUR VICTORY THROUGH CHRIST JESUS
In Romans chapter 7, the Apostle Paul discusses how he suffers defeat in the Christian life. He tries so hard to live the Christian life, but he fails miserably in sin (verses 14-22). In defeat, Paul admits, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then, Paul writes in the next verse, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (verse 25).
Paul thanked God that, while he could not live the Christian life, Christ could live His life in and through Paul, thus saving Paul from defeat and discouragement (Romans 8:1-9; cf. Galatians 2:20). We too can thank God that our Christian lives are lived, not by us living them, but by letting Christ Jesus live His life in and through us. Christ will only be able to live His life in and through us if we allow Him to renew our minds by daily Bible study (Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:23): this is the “mind” of which Paul spoke in Romans 7:25.
After discussing the resurrection of Christ and Christians (the rapture), Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 15 by writing, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (verses 57-58). We have the hope that physical and spiritual death will not bind us Christians. Although we have already been delivered from spiritual death (the lake of fire), we await the day (rapture) when our physical bodies are delivered from sickness, decay, and death (Romans 8:18-25; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Ephesians 4:30).
In addition to our victory over death, we have victory over sin, hell and the lake of fire, and Satan. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 2:14 KJV: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”
THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR GOVERNMENTAL AND CHURCH LEADERS
While many governmental and ecclesiastical leaders are corrupt, the power that God established for them to exercise does provide order, to some extent. Contrary to popular belief, God does not choose our politicians and church leaders (we do). However, the power that they exercise is ordained of God (see Romans 13:1). Government does bring order, thus the Apostle Paul wrote: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1,2 KJV).
THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR HIS GRACE GIVEN TO US BY JESUS CHRIST AND OUR SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT
Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:4-7 KJV):
“4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:”
The grace of God which is given unto us by Jesus Christ is our enablement to understand the things that God wants us to know (the “all utterance” and “all knowledge”). We understand, via the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Bible, the mystery of God’s will (1 Corinthians 2:9-16; Ephesians 1:8-10).
THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR SAINTS WHO OFFER FINANCIAL AND SPIRITUAL SUPPORT FOR THOSE (ESPECIALLY CHRISTIANS) IN NEED
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:11-15 KJV:
“11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;
14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
Paul and Timothy thanked God for the “liberal” (sincere, selfless) giving of the Corinthians. These believers were eager to give to their Christian brethren in need. We should be thankful that God has given believer this capacity to give as He moves them to give.
THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT THAT WE RECEIVE WHEN THE CHRISTIAN BRETHREN STAND FIRM IN THE LORD, EVEN IN THE MIDST OF DIFFICULTIES
Paul, Silas, and Timothy were experiencing difficulties in the ministry, but the Thessalonians were bringing them joy because the Thessalonians had “faith and charity,” and they had “good remembrance” of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, desiring to see them (1 Thessalonians 3:3-7). “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;” (verses 8,9).
THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR OUR APOSTLE PAUL AND HIS MINISTRY AS GOD’S APOSTLE TO US GENTILES
Paul thanked God that He appointed him to be “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 1:11). We read in 1 Timothy 1:12,13 KJV: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”
God, in His grace, saved the very man (Saul of Tarsus) who was persecuting and murdering Jews who had trusted in Jesus as their Messiah-King. Had God in His grace not selected Saul and made him Paul the Apostle, we would not be enjoying the riches of God’s grace in this the Dispensation of Grace! It was because of Paul’s apostleship and ministry that God had to open our dispensation. Through the fall of Israel and the rise of Paul’s ministry, salvation goes to us Gentiles (Romans 11:11-13).
While there are many unthankful Christians and lost people (Romans 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:2), let us not be guilty of being unthankful. Our circumstances are not always conducive to thankfulness, but in (during) the good times and the bad, the Bible says that we need to give thanks. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).
Whenever you pray, always give God thanks for what you do have. Thank God that you can come to Him day or night, in good times and bad, with your prayer and supplication (intense, tearful praying). Thank God that you have His peace “which passeth all understanding,” the peace that will “keep [guard] your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.” The Bible explains in Philippians chapter 4 KJV: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Revelation 7:12 says it best: “Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and THANKSGIVING, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”
HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM arC MINISTRIES!