Jump Start # 2475
Ephesians 1:16 “Do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers.”
We are heading toward Thanksgiving Day and with our Jump Starts this week we are looking at the topic of thankfulness. In our post yesterday, we mentioned that there are four steps of thankfulness. The first is to say it. I suppose we ought to mention that before you can say it, one must think it and feel it. Otherwise, we are like the child who opens a present and runs off to play with it. The mom says, “Tell grandma, ‘thank you.’” The child, while running the other way, shouts, “thanks.” Was the child really thankful or merely doing what mom said to do?
The second aspect of thankfulness is to pray. It is amazing how many times Paul prayed to God about brethren and in most of those prayers he was thankful. Our verse today is one example. Paul named the Ephesians in his prayer to God. He was thankful for the Ephesians and he took that thankfulness to Heaven.
Just as it is important to tell each other ‘thank you’ and to express it to each other, we need to pray that thankfulness to God. Now, one might ask, ‘If Paul was thankful for the Ephesians, why would he thank God? Shouldn’t he just thank the Ephesians?’ Who was it that brought Paul and the Ephesians together? It was God. What was Paul thankful for? Their faith. That’s God. Their walk with Jesus. That’s God. Their love for the truth. That’s God. Without God, there wouldn’t be much to be thankful here.
Now, this passage makes us wonder how often do we pray to God for the congregation that we belong to? We often fuss about each other. There are problems that we see. Sometimes that’s all we see. Things could be better. The attendance could be better. The giving could be better. Need some fixing up here and there. The elders could do a better job. We could have better material for our classes. It’s like looking at our home. We see things that needs to be done. We see updating, painting, fixing up everywhere we look. We look at a wall and we see a mark on it. No one else sees it, but we do. We look at the floor and we see a scratch. No one else sees it but we do. We had someone over a while back. Before he left, he was taking pictures of some of our decorations and shelves. It’s nice, but I’m not sure I’d be taking a picture of it. He saw something that I failed to see or had taken for granted.
The same can happen with us towards our congregation. Be thankful? For those people? Well, they need to do better. They need to step it up. And, I’d expect if Paul was around, he’d be taking pictures of us. More than that, he’d likely drop to his knees and thank the Lord for us.
It’s one thing to pat each other on the back and to compliment one another. That’s important and that needs to be done. But we also must remember to express our thankfulness to God in a prayer.
Here’s some simple reminders:
Thank God for the whole congregation. Everyone. The big ones and the little ones. Can you imagine worshipping in your house with just your family and no one else. That’s hard. That gets old pretty quickly. Smiling faces. Hugs. Handshakes. Voices. Singing. Praying. Visits to the hospital. Cards received in the mail. Our spiritual family. All families, spiritual and physical, tend to bump each other from time to time. There are days when no house seems large enough, because of noise and so forth. But, in the end, we sure love our family. And, we sure love our church family. Have you told God that? Most importantly, they accept you and allow you to be a part of them.
2. Thank God for godly shepherds who lead you. Most elders I know do the work out of love. It’s a volunteer service and they often take a lot of heat from us, but what a wonderful job that they do. There are so many things going on behind the scenes that we never know about. They put out fires, and deal with skirmishes and keep things together. Everyone has opinions and much too often we each want our opinion to be the way things are. From arranging classes, topics, guest speakers, chasing after us when we wander off, these great heroes among us help us be who we are. Have you thanked the Lord for them?
3. Thank God for your preacher. What your preacher does on Sunday morning looks so easy. He’s good at what he does. What a wonderful gift God has given him to teach, write, instruct and encourage us. The hours your preacher pours into his work is unbelievable. He’s like a machine. He never turns off what he is doing. He is always thinking, planning, helping, sharing. It’s in his blood. We know so much because of what he has taught us. Have you thanked the Lord for your preacher?
4. Thank God for the many faithful men and women who serve the Lord. Many have been Christians for decades. Some are old and feeble now, but they love the Lord. Others, are young and it seems the whole world is in front of them. Happy. Busy. Serving. They teach Bible classes. They help us in our worship on Sunday. They lead singing. They pass the communion. They make sure the lights are on and the building is clean and comfortable. So many people behind the scenes. They put lessons on Facebook so we can listen to them again and again. They make sure the snow is plowed in the winter and the grass is cut in the summer. They pay the bills and send checks to preachers in foreign lands. There are so many hands involved in making a congregation run efficiently and smoothly. Little is ever said about them, but we notice the work of their hands. We benefit from what they do. Things would be so different if it wasn’t for them. Have you thanked God for them?
Thanking God for you. That’s what Paul did. That’s an important step in our thankfulness. And, who knows whether God has allowed our lives to intersect on purpose. Maybe the Lord knew that I needed you or you needed me—and here we are.
Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful brethren in my life. They have made a difference and they have made me better. Thank you!