Thanksgiving – The Will of the Father

While listening to a self-proclaimed atheist pontificating about his abhorrence to celebrating Christmas, I threw the man a question that became a curve ball that he could not begin to hit.  I asked him: “Do you celebrate Thanksgiving?”, to which he replied: “YES WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT NOW?”  I said: “Everything… if you are so opposed to Christmas not simply because you are not a Christian but because you deny the very existence of any god, why do you celebrate Thanksgiving”. 

He said: “I’m not following you”.  I said” “well… if you celebrate Thanksgiving, to whom are you giving thanks? The core essence of Thanksgiving is one entity giving thanks to another entity.  So I guess my question to you could be better be asked: ‘who are thanking on Thanksgiving’”? “If you are a true atheist, then the fourth Thursday of November should be just another day. You should go to work, face the daily minutia, make the routine phone calls and not celebrate… because you have no one to whom you can be thankful”.  With that he waved his hand in exasperation and walked away.

Lest you think that I totally alienated this individual, may I reassure you that we continue to speak and still consider each other to be friends!  But may I say that while I am “concerned” over the attitude of the atheist at Thanksgiving, the Christian believer’s demeanor concerns me even more.

In 1 Thessalonians 5 nestled between “pray without ceasing” and “Do not quench the Spirit” is a verse so often overlooked. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Many times, folks in the congregation come to the Pastor seeking direction for certain aspects of “big decisions” in their lives.  They ask: “how do I know the Lord’s will for my life.” What they really seek is a very short answer to: “who should I marry or what house should I buy or what occupation should I pursue”.  While I do believe they should implore the Lord for direction to make big decisions in life, I do not think they should come expecting an answer from God by “thunderbolt” or a sign in the skies.  What they should do is follow the admonition from the Apostle James. He says in 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Our asking of God is for “wisdom” in decision making, not a “sign” or a vision.   We ask God in humble adoration to give us wisdom as we make decisions that have mammoth impact on us and our family.

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The “will of the Father” is described in clear terms in the New Testament:

Read these passages carefully with the underlined emphasis in view:

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Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Peter 2:13-15  Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

1 Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

John 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

All five of these passages are “obedience” passages.  First and foremost, God wants our obedience.  So rather than merely seeking the “Lord’s will” in matters of life’s decisions, understand the broader scope of “God’s will” deals with our obedience and as we are obedient to Him, we then seek His face for wisdom in making “tough” decisions.

So at this time of the year, like All OTHER times of the year, may we understand God’s will for us is to “give thanks in all circumstances”… even regarding Covid and even regarding elections!

Ray

The Gospel PostScript