November 26, 2008: Thanksgiving Eve

Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we gather to recount our blessings and give You thanks for them, we’re filled with inner warmth and gratitude. Yes, a truly thankful heart comes from the warmth of Your love showered upon us in more ways than we can imagine. Tonight we’re even grateful for feeling grateful, since such a heart gives us so much joy! But, we do ask for one more blessing. We ask that our thanksgiving in all its aspects may also create true joy within Your heart, too. Amen


TEXT: Philippians 4: 18a-19: “I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Fellow Redeemed Thankful Christians:

Is Thanksgiving a one-day wonder, or is it an on-going reality? Or, is it both? Well, for believers in Christ, it really is both, isn’t it? For many people Thanksgiving Day is the 2nd most important day of their year, after Christmas. They plan out the logistics of it like a military campaign.—They want just the right china, just the right linens, just the right food, and just the right ambience. They savor time with loved ones. They cram everything they can into the moment. Then there are those who draw-out their Thanksgiving celebrations. Yes, it is a special day to honor God for His blessings, but the very fact of honoring God first and foremost is not a one-day wonder, but a continual lifestyle shown by their penchant for sit-down family meals, praying before they eat each day, and trying to put a little pizzaz into each evening menu throughout the year. So, where do you fall on that “Thanksgiving scale?” Are you an “either/or” or a “both/and?”

St. Paul, who didn’t live at a time when nations celebrated Thanksgiving, viewed it as a both/and. For him Thanksgiving was a lifestyle that naturally flowed from the recognition of God’s continual grace. And in this little section from his letter to the Philippians he shows that.


Tonight the members of our church are excited about tomorrow, busy with preparations, and also weighed down with personal problems, national problems, and world problems. For the moment they are attempting to shut those things aside so as not to take away from their celebration and their joy. But, it’s hard to do, isn’t it?

Considering Paul’s circumstances, it was hard for him to do, too. He was under house arrest in Rome. He, literally, was chained within that house and his movements were limited. He had a few fellow believers who came to visit him. But, he was getting older, emotionally he had been beat up by life, his body craved some extra warm blankets, and he longed to see and hear from his many spiritual children around the world. And then, one day, he does! The Philippian church sends one of their leaders, Ephaphroditus, to St. Paul. He arrives bearing gifts and most of all bearing love! Paul is overjoyed! For him it was a “thanksgiving day.” Did he get everything on his internal “wish list?” Of course not. But that doesn’t diminish his joy one bit. Note what he writes in thanking that church: “I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Ephaphroditus the gifts you sent.”


Then he goes on to enlarge the moment, as it were. He changes the focus from himself to God. “They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” That, my friends, is the true meaning of Thanksgiving Day! While it is about us recognizing God’s blessings and being grateful for them, the chief joy of the day is that our giving thanks gives God joy! Our thankful hearts and the prayers of those hearts rise heavenward like incense and God draws in that aroma and grins! Indeed, our many sacrifices for others and for Him, because they are done out of faith in Christ and appreciation of His love, make our thanksgiving acceptable and pleasing to the Giver of “every good and perfect gift.” What power we have on Thanksgiving day! What power we possess every day! We have the power, through faith in action, to gladden God’s heart!


And for the Christian, whose every true need has been met, bought, and paid for by the blood of Christ, such joy will live on even after the emotions of the moment fade. Yes, true Christian thanksgiving isn’t a one-day wonder, but a 365 day repetition. “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

None of us knows what will slam us on Friday, next week, next month, or next year. We don’t know what temptations will come calling, or what heartache will occur in our lives. Yet, tomorrow and every day thereafter we can remain thankful people because God is gracious and has proved His loving heart to us by giving us a Savior Who will meet “all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus!” Yes, thanksgiving isn’t merely about the past and blessings we’ve already experienced, no, it’s also about the future and blessings that we know are coming because Christ has guaranteed it! So, have a blessed thanksgiving tomorrow and every day thereafter! Amen