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Thanksgiving Encouragement

By Debbie Christopher ~~Have you ever considered using the words thanksgiving and encouragement in the same context? We usually look at Thanksgiving as a day when we do something thankful. A day when we consider what we should be thankful for, and, even though we may intend for our list to be meaningful, it is often an activity to check off the day's to-do list before we dig into our meal. But what if our thankfulness took on a purpose? What if it encouraged others? What if it became an intentional act of encouragement and not just words to mark this one day of the year?

This thought came to mind recently as my husband was teaching from 1Thessalonians. On this particular Sunday, he was presenting the Thanksgiving section of this letter, written by the Apostle Paul, to the first generation believers in Thessalonica. My husband shared that, because of Paul's special love and appreciation to this church, this section of his letter was much longer than normal as he expressed his thankfulness for them very specific ways.

As Greg began his explanation (and exhortation) to the class, he also hinted that at the end he would ask how Paul's purpose for an extended thanksgiving section might apply to our ministry to others. This week's blog is centered on my 'answer' to this question. My goal is for us to become intentional and specific as we express our thankfulness to others.

Consider what Paul is saying in the two verses listed below:

"We always thank God for all of you, remembering you constantly in our prayers. We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭1‬:‭2‬-‭3‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

This is why we constantly thank God, because when you received the message about God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is, the message of God, which also works effectively in you believers.”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭2‬:‭13‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

The first thing we notice is that in both passages, Paul thanks God for them. In application, this goes beyond just telling someone thank you...but specifically lets them know that you thank God for them. Keep in mind that thanking God for a person indicates that, basically, you are mentioning them in your are praying for them! Secondly, along this same line, Paul shares that he constantly---regularly---thanks God for them. This will be important when we put it all together.

The next thing to notice is that Paul then specifically states why he is thankful for them. In the first thanksgiving passage, Paul thanks them for their work of faith, their labor of love, and their steadfast of hope. In the second passage, he thanks God that they've accepted God's message and have allowed His Word to work in their lives.

Putting this altogether, imagine the encouragement that comes from expressing your thankfulness for others by simply saying:

  • I regularly thank God for the many ways you love on me/our family.

  • I regularly thank God for your faithfulness and service to our our your ministry...etc.

  • I regularly thank God for your steadfastness as you remain faithful during your current trial...

  • I regularly thank God for your salvation and how you continue to grow, learn, and mature in your Christian life ...

May I also suggest that you intentionally add specific examples.

Imagine the encouragement you give as you share these statements with others to whom you minister to and interact with...

Let's consider ways to be encouraging and specific when we say, "Thank you".

Thanksgiving Challenge...

How can you use Paul's pattern of thanksgiving to encourage those sitting around your Thanksgiving table this year? Who else can you encourage with this specific and intentional thanksgiving pattern?

I thank God for you and for your encouragement and prayers as our faithful readers.

~Debbie (and Sharon)

*Special credit to:

Greg Christopher, PhD...FaithKeepers Grow Group, Park Crest Baptist Church, Springfield, MO. October 2023.

1 comment

1 Comment

Sharon Czerwien
Sharon Czerwien
Nov 22, 2023

NEAT concept!

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