As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: “It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians–and I am one of them.”
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
The Big Idea
Thanksgiving is an expression of joy.
Give Thanks Always (Phil. 1:3)
Paul expressed thanksgiving to God for the Philippians in every prayer. It was the joy of his heart to do so. The reason was because of their partnership in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel, in and of itself, is enough reason to be joyful. But, when you realize the importance of the Body of Christ, the fellowship that is present and the partnership to spread the Gospel, there is no greater joy.
It would be a good practice for you to select one person every day to either write a letter, an e-mail, a card or call them just to express your thankfulness for them after you have prayed for them. Paul understood the importance of this. This was not unique to just the Philippians. He often expressed his prayer and thankfulness for other believers in the other letters that he wrote.
Give Thanks Joyfully (Phil. 1:4)
Joy is not based on circumstances. It must not be confused with happiness. Happiness (or unhappiness) is based on circumstances. You can be happy one moment and the very next second the circumstances change and you are unhappy. It can happen quickly. Joy, however, is transcendent. Therefore, you can express thanksgiving with a joyful attitude even in the midst of the deepest and darkest circumstances of your life.
Give Thanks Because of God’s Evident Work (Phil. 1:5-6)
Paul was confident in the work that God was doing in the lives of the Philippians. He had no doubt concerning their faith. It was a consistent faith because he mentioned “from the first day until now.” He also looked into the future with expectation that what God was doing in them, He would continue to do until it was finished.
God is at work in your life and in the lives of others. It is important to take time on a regular basis and just thank Him for the work He is doing. It is through His work that lives are transformed.
Give Thanks Because You Love People (Phil. 1:7-8)
Paul loved the Philippians. He loved them because they were brothers and sisters in Christ. He also loved them because they supported him in his imprisonment, in defending, and in confirming the gospel.
If there is one group of people that you can truly love in this world it is your local church. God has brought you together for the purpose of living out, testifying to, and proclaiming the gospel. Therefore, give thanks everyday for the people in the fellowship of your local church!
The Gospel is life transforming and we should express our thankfulness for it’s work in the lives of fellow believers as we work together to minister the Gospel to others.
I am thankful for…
* The love, peace and unity that exists in this local church.
* The faithfulness of giving as an act of worship to the Lord.
* Pastor Mike who has given me much needed help, counsel and prayer.
* The deacons who regularly keep me in check and provide the
congregational care that all of us need.
* For the ladies who have taken it upon themselves to regularly visit the
elderly of our church.
* The trustees who we have entrusted with the care and oversight of this
* The finance committee who oversees our finances and brings
accountability to our financial stewardship.
* The Board of Christian Education who regularly evaluates and oversees
our teaching ministries to ensure theological and doctrinal integrity.
* The ministry leaders who dedicate vast amounts of time, energy and effort
to organizing and providing effective ministries.
* The teaching staff who pours themselves into the study and teaching of
God’s word so that we may grow spiritually.
* The janitorial staff and others who regularly clean this building and keep
the property looking nice (including the flower beds outside).
* Music team for dedicating time, energy and effort into preparing through
longs hours of practice to lead us to the heart of God in our times of worship.
* The audio/visual team who keeps things looking and sounding good during our times of worship to help enhance our worship.
* Our prayer warriors who regularly intercede for the needs of this congregation.
* Each of you who have chosen to be a part of the fellowship of this congregation.