Summary: A good seasonal spiritual wish-list should include a desire for a joyful and grateful spirit.
Title: Christmas Is Coming but First: Thanksgiving
Text: Colossians 1:10-14
Thesis: A good seasonal wish-list should include a desire for a joyful and grateful spirit..
This morning you may be expecting that my thoughts are going to reflect a concern that retailers are so bent on getting a head start on the Christmas season that they are usurping the season of Thanksgiving. Not only is the focus of Christmas shifted from the Christ in the manger to the merchandise in the market… we haven’t time to pause for a season of Thanksgiving because we are in a rush to get to Christmas.
But I am not going to do anything more that allude to those things and am rather going to hitchhike off of the idea of wishing for materials gifts to wishing for spiritual gifts which lead us to have joyful and grateful hearts for the season of Thanksgiving and beyond.
Colossians is a letter sent by the Apostle Paul to the Christians who lived in the city of Colossae. He describes them in verse one as holy and faithful people and in verse 3 tells them how much he appreciates them for the way they live out their faith. He specifically speaks of their devotion to Christ and their love for others. In verse 9 he tells them that from the day he first heard about them he has not stopped praying for them. So this morning I want to unpack the things Paul wished for them.
In that we believe “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives and straightens us out and instructs us in doing what is right,” we assume the things God’s Word wishes for the Christians at Colossae are things God wishes to be true for us as well.
The first thing God wishes for us is the knowledge of His will.
I. The Gift of Knowledge
We pray that God will fill you with the knowledge of his will… Colossians 1:9
Knowledge, as it is used in this context, is not a knowledge of all things but rather knowledge of a particular object or subject.
Paul is not wishing that the Christians at Colossae be granted knowledge of aerospace engineering, applied economics and management, physics, philosophy, animal science, comparative religions, history, mathematics, English literature, medical science or chemical engineering. Paul was wishing that they would have “full” knowledge of the will of God through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
The prayer is that we fully grasp and understand the ways and will of God. The prayer is that we learn to allow the will of God to pervade every nook and cranny of our lives… our thoughts, our desires of affections, our attitudes, our aims, goals and purposes and plans.
What Paul wishes for us is woven into the text of Romans 12:1-2 where he wrote, “I urge you in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is… his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
The second thing God wishes for us is that we live our lives in a worthy way.
II. The Gift of a Worthy Life
We pray that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way. Colossians 1:10
The text says we pray this, i.e., we pray that you will be filled with all knowledge of God’s will, in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord. In other words, being able to live a life worthy of the Lord is contingent upon discerning and doing the will of God. One thing builds on another… first you learn to discern God’s will and then you do it which results in living a life worthy of the Lord.
Knowledge is not just for the sake of knowing. Knowledge is for then doing. It is in knowing what God wishes that we can then anticipate and do what pleases God.
This is not a perfect analogy but to illustrate the idea, the servers at George’s Café know me and they know what I like. They know where I like to sit. They know I want coffee and a glass of water. And they also know what I am likely to order. So if they see me coming they put a cup of coffee and a glass of water on my table. Then they ask, “The usual?” And I say, “The usual.” And when they bring “the usual” they also bring an extra napkin. They know me and anticipate that I will want another napkin, so they bring an extra napkin or two. In getting to know me and my quirks they almost instinctively anticipate my will and do it.