I just looked at the calendar. Thanksgiving is upon us.. Where did this year go? Everyone knows from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day is simply called "the holidays," and life is filled with demands and schedules and relatives and big meals and.....and.....and!
But there is an answer to this dilemma. It's found in the book of Philippians in the New Testament. Those who have read Philippians know and understand it is a letter about finding joy and happiness in Jesus Christ. While our busy lives often do not allow time for Bible reading or time for prayer, the apostle Paul tells the Philippian Christians and us, "it doesn't have to be this way."
One of the aspects of the Christian life is the concept of thanksgiving. It is to become a primary point of the Christian's existence, not just one Thursday in November, but every day and in all things. That makes me happy that our celebration of Thanksgiving comes at this time of the year. It is a time when we are reflecting on things that are important. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a time for families to get together and share a meal, watch some football, and have an overall good visit. It is also a time for us to really focus on thanking God for his goodness, his forgiveness, his provision, and above all, his love.
Paul brings us to see some of these very things in Philippians 4: 4-7:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Let's dissect this briefly. 1. Do not be anxious about anything. We need to be reminded that God is in control and he continues to love us and provide for us. While we live in a world of troubles, the Christian can find remedy and relief from those things when his trust is in the Lord. 2. In everything, by prayer and petition... God loves to hear from us. Not just in those moments when we pray as a last resort, but in every aspect of our lives. Prayer is one of the most powerful "tools" available to the child of God. He is always ready and willing to hear when we pray, and according to his will, answers will come. 3. With thanksgiving..... Never, never fail in thanking God for all he has done. Every prayer we pray should include words of thanksgiving. Even when we pray in despair we can thank God for hearing our prayer. 4. Present your requests to God. Not only is our prayer time based on thanksgiving, God is expecting us to ask him for the things we need. It is not a "blank check" for us to get everything we want, it is a petition to God for actual needs. This includes needs for our home life, our church life, our work, our school, our neighbor......the list is endless. I repeat, God loves to hear from us.
Read the last verse in the printed scripture above. Read it again. That is God's promise to you. Claim it and live in it. You see, he offers his peace to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Life may still close in on us, but God keeps us close to him. This year, I am thankful that God is guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.