Summary: #11 in series. Thanksgiving message. How being thankful and drawing strength from Jesus go hand in hand.
Colossians 3:15-17 – Thankful Living
Today we are continuing our journey through Colossians: Putting Christ First. We have been talking about living Christocentric lives, that is, putting Jesus at the centre of all we do, living for Him, working for Him, enjoying our family for Him, going cranberrying for Him, and so on.
And today being Thanksgiving, we find ourselves focused on Him again. Today’s passage mentions being thankful 3 times in 3 verses. Well, the whole book of Colossians only mentions it 6 or 7 times, so we can guess that Paul is trying to get something across here. Let’s read 3:15-17.
Maybe you heard about the large family was sitting around the breakfast table one morning. As the custom, the father returned thanks, blessing God for the food. Immediately after, however, as was his bad habit, he began to grumble about hard times, the poor quality of the food he was forced to eat, the way it was cooked, and much more.
His little daughter interrupted him, “Dad, do you suppose God heard what you said a little while ago when you were giving thanks?”
“Certainly,” the father replied with the confident air of an instructor.
“And did he hear what you said about the bacon and the coffee?”
“Of course,” replied the father with a note of caution in his voice.
Then his daughter asked, “Dad, which did God believe?”
It’s funny how we often speak from both sides of your mouths – we thank God and then we curse our situations. I think it’s often because we forget all the blessings we have. Some have more material things than others, to be sure. Some go through horrible circumstances and painful situations, yes. It is easy to forget all that God has done for us.
It’s too bad that Thanksgiving happens only once a year. It’s so nice that we set aside one day a year to be thankful. Like how we set aside one Sunday a year to remember how Jesus rose from the dead, or 1 day a year to remember that God came in human flesh and dwelt among us.
But we are here, today, to be thankful. Thankfulness really flows from a life lived for Jesus. I want you to notice 3 things today, 3 ways of living Christocentric lives, 3 ways of drawing strength from Jesus.
The 1st is this: Let the peace of Christ rule, and be thankful – v15. Peace is an elusive beast. When we have it, we feel great. But we lose it so often and so easily, many of us anyway. We understand that we have peace with God – Romans 5:1. But the peace of God, the peace of Christ, that sense that everything will be OK no matter how they look… that misses us too often.
Peace also wears another face, as seen in the context of this verse. It’s about how you get along with others, fellow believers, members of the same body.
So how do you have peace in your life? How do you let it rule? Well, you need to understand it’s there for the asking. It isn’t something to be worked up; it’s something to be prayed about.
“Lord, I know I have peace with You. Peace is Your plan. Peace among Your people is Your will. But I’m too selfish and insecure to do my part by myself. I need Your help to have peace. I need Your Spirit in my life to make me like You. I’m not good enough to have peace and be at peace without You.”
And what happens is that as we back away from trying to do it ourselves, the Spirit moves in our lives and brings about the change. We feel less like we need to be right, which is one of those major causes of un-peace. We feel more content to let God be in control of the situations around us. And the peace of Christ begins to rule in our hearts.
And a by-product of peace is thankfulness. Thank You that relationships have been restored. Thank you that forgiveness has happened. Thank You for growing my faith. Thank You that I can see You moving in my life. Thank You that Your love is ever-present for me.
As we trust the Lord to work in situations, His peace fills us, and we are thankful to Him.
The 2nd way of drawing strength from Jesus is this: Let the word of Christ dwell, and be thankful – v16. We draw strength as we allow His Word into our lives. I’m not saying that we should read the Bible because someone says we should. We shouldn’t read the Bible because that’s what so-called good Christians do. I’m saying, as we read the Bible, we realize the tremendous love story between a Creator and His creation gone astray. And we realize that love is for us too.