I love these Christian holidays, don’t you? You know – the big 3:
- Birth of Jesus
- Resurrection of Jesus
- Response to Jesus aka Thanksgiving
Let’s remind ourselves of that famous Thanksgiving passage:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 NASB
Okay, okay, maybe Philippians 4:8 doesn’t have much to do with the American tradition of Thanksgiving…. and maybe Thanksgiving doesn’t belong on a list of traditional Christian holidays. However, “Thanksgiving” IS how God wants us to respond to Him. Philippians 4:8 is more than practical advice or self help, it is a weapon God wants us to use in the spiritual battle for how you think. Don’t undersell this concept, the Christian life is a battle for your mind! You see we can’t always control our circumstances – and this life can be hard. But we CAN control what we dwell on in our minds. God is telling His children to dwell on these things – whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise. You can do this! This focus is God’s will for you. If you don’t think it is possible, remember that the Apostle Paul wrote Philippians while he was under arrest in Rome. He was likely chained to a Roman soldier waiting to hear whether or not he would be executed for preaching about the Resurrected Christ. Here are some other nuggets Paul wrote to the church in Philippi under these circumstances:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, verses 1:3-4
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. verse 1:18
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. verse 1:21
But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me. verses 2:17-18
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! verse 4:4
You see Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is practicing what he preaches. He is not having a pity-party but focusing on Thanksgiving… things he rejoices over!
God wants us to dwell on blessings because He loves us and it is for our own Good. After we are encouraged to dwell on blessings in Philippians 4:8, we are told why in verse 9:
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
You see God offers us peace and joy. Not all Christians experience peace and joy but not all Christians choose to dwell on blessings. Let’s practice! I recently gave a challenge to the good people at Floyd Baptist Church. I challenged each of them to make a personal list of 100 blessings! To look for blessings from God in creation. Blessings could be sounds, smells, sights…. anything in creation that blesses you! Remember that human beings are God’s creation so it isn’t out of bounds to add things created by people. Here are a few items currently on my list:
- Frost on rooftops
- The crackling of a bonfire
- Watching ducks walk
- Small town – town squares
- The smell of rain
- The smell of fresh cut grass
- The first chilly morning in the Fall
- A sunrise
The point…. this is training to seek blessings to dwell upon these things. Train yourself to rejoice in the Lord, always! When I gave the challenge at Floyd Baptist Church my list was in the 40s. Now it sits at 51. One of the members there has a list of 75 already! He is either super blessed or gifted in the godly art of rejoicing.
So get to work brothers and sisters. And feel free to leave a comment with a few items from your list. Copying your neighbor is allowed in this assignment.
PS – I just added “The smell of the house on Thanksgiving.” Now I am at 52!