Colossians 3:15-17 “The way to contentment!” Thanksgiving Nov. 27, 28, 2019
By Pastor Ken Mellon, Trinity Lutheran Church and School, Pleasant Valley Rd., West Bend, WI
Peace and contentment are yours from our gracious God and Father through Jesus our Lord and Savior.
God’s Word to help us be thankful is written in Colossians 3:15-17
These are your words heavenly Father to turn our hearts to give you thanks. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Dear People of God, in Christ,
Wouldn’t it be nice if we would always be thankful? We should be, as we consider all the good blessings that God have given and good people He has put in our lives. But, even as Christians, we’re not. We have a sinful nature that is never satisfied and always wants more. Also, we’re constantly tempted to covet and be selfish in our lives. It shows itself by our complaints, jealousy, or feeling slighted by other people or by God! Even children don’t need to be taught to be selfish. When they get gifts, they naturally don’t want to share. Parents must teach them to share and to say, “Thank You!” Today, our heavenly Father through His Word will teach us to grow in learning to give thanks. Today we’ll consider
The way to contentment!
First, we’re content when we have peace. Paul wrote, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (v.15). God’s original creation was a place of peace – no violence, no hunger, perfect harmony. But, sin caused people to live in rebellion with Cain killing Abel and everyone becoming enemies of God by nature. God said, “There is no peace for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22). So, where can we find the illusive peace which Paul described? Last Sunday the vicar asked where we can find a perfectly safe place. His answer was: “Lord is our Refuge.” We have the same source in finding peace. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, there seems to be more of a spirit of peace among people. They are more generous with collecting food, giving gifts, and sending well-wishes and being thankful. But it is only on the surface. Put the same people in a long line on Black Friday or into a traffic jam in a store parking lot and people’s lack of peace will quickly reappear!
We must get to the root of the problem. Even Paul as a Christian wrote in Romans 7: “What I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing…. It is sin living in me that does it” (7:19-20). We’ll never perfectly be rid of our sinful nature in life. We won’t have perfect peace or find full contentment. Yet, in Christ we can have peace!
Jesus won that peace for us. He paid the full punishment for our sins by His death. He has taken away our guilt, even our guilt of not being as thankful as we should. He was perfectly thankful toward God and others, and in His words and prayers constantly showed thankfulness. When we by faith confess our sins and seek His forgiveness, God responds by promising to remember our sins no more and to replace them with the complete works of Christ. Jesus, our Savior, is the perfect place of peace. When we have God’s peace, we will be content and thankful. But how can we focus on the peace in Christ with all the distractions?
Second, God gives us His Word to remind us who He is. Paul wrote, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…” (v. 16). When Paul wrote about God’s Word, he wasn’t referring to the New Testament, but the Old. The O.T. has many examples of God graciously blessing people: from Noah and his family, to David shepherd to king, to Ruth and Naomi, and to Esther. All of these people were sinners, yet saved and blessed by God’s grace. Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy (the 2nd giving of the law). He reminded the Israelites how God had punished sinners when they rebelled against him and worshipped other gods. Yet, because of His promise when the people repented and turned to Him, He forgave them and blessed them again as His people.
When we’re tempted to complain instead of giving thanks in all situations, when we forget how good the Lord has been to us by giving us this great country where we worship freely and speak openly about our Savior without fear, and when we forget how God has provided our work, family, friends, and other Christians, we need to turn to the Lord and His Word. Getting back to Moses in Deuteronomy, we find that Moses gave them four reminders. 1. God is always good. He has no evil intent for us. Even when He allows what seems to be bad things, in the end He works these for the eternal good of His people. 2. God will do what He promised. He will never lie. When He makes a promise, He will keep it. We need to remember that His plans and promises cannot fail. This is a source of thankfulness.
- God is in control to help us as needed! There were many believers in the O. T. that were challenged with tests of faith, like David with Goliath or Daniel with the lions. It did not seem to them that God was in control. But God saved them and all knew that God gave them the victory. God controls everything for good. Sometimes we see our limits. But we remember God has no limits to His goodness.
- No matter what is happening in our lives, we can be sure that God cares for us! God knows who we are. He knows our needs better than we know them. He demonstrated His love when He gave His Son to live and die and rise from death to win our full salvation. And He cares enough to help us always.
Third, thankfulness in Him breeds more thankfulness. There are many ways to show our thanks. One is with singing. Paul wrote, “… sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (v.16). Music is a gift from God. It lets us express praise and thanks to Him. I’ve sung to people who have had chronic problems in nursing homes. Many people think they were put in a home to die. But through music, God gives people in nursing homes a reason to live. Hymns remind people that heaven is their permanent home. I would sing to someone in a room and there could 5 or 6 other people in the hallway listening. Paul and Silas sang hymns when in prison and it affected all people there! Think of the hymns we sang today: “We praise Thee, O God, our Redeemer”; “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow”; “Now Thank we all our God”; “Come, Ye thankful people, Come.” Our hymn book is full of hymns about God’s goodness. Songs teach us to be joyful and content when Jesus is our Savior!
Another way to express our thanks is in words or actions. Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (v.17). You might meet a group of people talking negatively, and just a few words can change the whole conversation. We all can give encouragement. An added way to express our contentment is to pray. Paul wrote, “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests before God” (Philip. 4:6). God is powerful and He will hear us and answer. So, thank God for Christians who pray!
Paul was grounded in Christ. He wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (v.11). We are blessed to live in a land of plenty. God’s blessings abound! But, our contentment is not fully determined by possessions, since they will come or go. Only Christ offers eternal blessings. So, what do we know? We have a loving God who gives us peace in Christ’s forgiveness. God’s Word promises that He will help and bless us in Christ and that will not fail. And God has given us ways to express our thanks! All this helps us be content. This coming holiday season, we won’t see everyone we’d like to see or do everything we like to do. Yet, no matter what the situation, we rejoice in the Lord! God has provided and He always will. Amen.