“I thank my God every time I remember you.”

Philippians 1:3, NIV

Trying to walk the line of political correctness, a fourth-grader gave this report on the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday: “The Pilgrims came here seeking freedom of you know what. When they landed, they gave thanks to you know who. Because of them, we can worship each Sunday, you know where.”

The apostle Paul cared nothing for political correctness. He said, “I thank my God.” We recognize this Thanksgiving season that our blessings are not happenstance but the gift of our gracious God.

One question that comes to mind as we reflect on Paul’s expression of thanksgiving in Philippians is, “From where do you give thanks?” Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter.

His crime was preaching salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

His possible sentence was death. Yet in such a difficult situation, his heart was filled with gratitude.

Give thanks in bad times

Where are you this Thanksgiving? I hope you are in a bright situation filled with happiness. But it is likely that some who read these words find themselves in a dark place.

Illness, loss, conflict or some other hardship has darkened your days.

Can you give thanks in such times? Remembering God’s blessings increases our faith and hope in present difficulties. Thanksgiving reminds us of God’s faithful love and sure provision in all times.

Another question that comes to mind from Paul’s expression of thanksgiving is, “For whom do you give thanks?”

The apostle expressed thankfulness for fellow Christians who lived in Philippi. This congregation of believers had been a great support throughout his ministry and continued to be as he endured imprisonment.

Give thanks for good friends

When we count our blessings, it is wonderful to have material things for which we are thankful but how much greater than things are the faithful people in our lives.

Things offer little encouragement and comfort when life’s road passes through the dark valley. Things are not able to celebrate with us when we walk on the mountaintops. A good friend is of far greater value than the richest treasure.

As you give thanks, I hope, like Paul, you can thank God for a church family that walks life’s journey alongside you. Although some feel no need for the church, God our Father feels we have great need for the church. So much so that Scripture says, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

God also exhorts us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

Be faithfully involved in the life of a local church so that you will have Christian brothers and sisters for whose encouragement you can thank God.

And in turn others will thank God for the encouragement you give.

May your life overflow with gratitude this Thanksgiving to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has so richly blessed us.

Dr. Mark Kemp is pastor of First Baptist Church in Copperas Cove.

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