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Living Thankful: Thanksgiving in Colossae

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Introduction

Death Was Arrested Video
One of the things I love about this video is the thanksgiving that I can see on the faces of the people singing. They don’t look like they are in some trance. Instead, they look like they are truly just stoked that God saved them.
This life characterized by thanksgiving is what we are talking about tonight. We are going to look at all of the occurences of “thanksgiving” or “gratitude” in the book and see how their different uses teach us about being thankful and living thankful

Text

Colossians 1:3–4 CSB
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints
Colossians 1:11–12 CSB
being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.
Colossians 2:6–7 CSB
So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.
Colossians 3:15–17 CSB
And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 4:2 CSB
Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.

Body

Thankful for people (1:3-4)

Explanation
Paul is telling the believers that he is thankful for them because of the stories of their faith which he has heard.
Paul said, “we always pray for you.” - Continual
Illustration
Application
When is the last time you have thanked God for people of faith in your life?

Thankful for salvation (1:11-12)

Explanation
In praying for the Colossians, Paul prays for strength for the them so they can live thankfully towards God with endurance and patience.
The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon The Purpose of Paul’s Prayer (1:10–14)

The text describes this as heartfelt, genuine thankfulness that grows out of the experience of salvation. Christians should never forget what God has done for them, and they should allow that life-changing experience to bring them daily joy. Here the thanksgiving is directed to God himself, rather than Jesus Christ. Paul wanted believers to realize that the plan of salvation was initiated by God the Father. It was accomplished by God the Son. Often Christians direct their thanks to Christ. It is a proper form of praise. In this context, however, Paul pointed first to the Father’s role. The role of the Son is described later (1:15–20). God is to be thanked because he qualified believers for an inheritance (1:12); he rescued believers from darkness (1:13a); and he brought believers into the Son’s kingdom (1:13b). Thus, those who walk in the will of God are conscious of their salvation. They continually thank God for it.

Illustration
Application
Have you thanked God for your salvation, recently?

Thankful in life (2:6-7)

Explanation
Paul encourages the Colossians to live in Christ overflowing with thanksgiving.
The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon The Application to the Colossians (2:6–7)

Paul frequently employed thankfulness as one of the litmus tests of Christian health. He assumed that Christians would live in an attitude of thankfulness for the many blessings bestowed upon them. By contrast, one of the first indicators of departure from God is a lack of thanksgiving (e.g., Rom 1:21ff.). The deep roots of the faith evidence themselves in an attitude of gratitude for both the initial experience of salvation and the continued sustaining of life. Faith and the nature of a Christian foundation are often invisible, but thanksgiving is a visible response to the grace of God in their lives.

This section ends with a return to the idea of thanksgiving. “Giving thanks to the Father” occurs in 1:12, which introduced the many reasons thanksgiving is appropriate. They relate to salvation. Now, after the lengthy theological and practical discussion since that passage, Paul characterized a Christian’s thanksgiving as going through Jesus to the Father. Thus God is to be thanked for delivering believers from darkness and placing them in the kingdom of his Son through the work of the Son. Paul made explicit in this epistle the fact that God comes to the world through Jesus and the world comes to God through him as well. The believers had access to God because of the work of the Son of God. Their thanks was to rise to the ears of God through his Son.

Illustration
Application
Is your entire life characterized by thanksgiving and gratitude?

Thankful in worship (3:15-17)

Explanation
Paul calls on the Colossian believers to sing, worship, and live IN thanksgiving.

Paul ended this exhortation with the command to become thankful. Colossians contains many references to thankfulness. This particular word, however, does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The Colossians were to become thankful persons. The combination of thankfulness and peace is a logical one. Generally a lack of peace results from self-seeking or dissatisfaction with things as they are. Thankfulness points one to the realization that all things are provided in Christ. There is no room for ill will or bitterness if thankfulness prevails. The epistle provides ample reasons for thankfulness.

This section ends with a return to the idea of thanksgiving. “Giving thanks to the Father” occurs in 1:12, which introduced the many reasons thanksgiving is appropriate. They relate to salvation. Now, after the lengthy theological and practical discussion since that passage, Paul characterized a Christian’s thanksgiving as going through Jesus to the Father. Thus God is to be thanked for delivering believers from darkness and placing them in the kingdom of his Son through the work of the Son. Paul made explicit in this epistle the fact that God comes to the world through Jesus and the world comes to God through him as well. The believers had access to God because of the work of the Son of God. Their thanks was to rise to the ears of God through his Son.

Illustration
Application
Do you sing to be taught the Word of God? Do you worship sing to teach others? Do you sing with gratitude in your heart?

Thankful in prayer (4:2)

Explanation
Paul tells the believers at Colossae to be alert in their prayers by being thankful.

Thankfulness is the environment for good praying, and it provides a safeguard for informed praying. Paul’s circumstances could have been discouraging as he awaited trial for the gospel. To ensure a proper perspective, Paul urged that their prayer be offered in an attitude of thanks. This kind of prayer sees clearly the obstacles and difficulties but recognizes that God is able to work. The circumstances need not affect one’s joy.

Illustration
Application
Do you get off track in your prayer life? Have you thought about just retreating to thanking God for all He gives you?

Conclusion

Main Idea: Christians live thankfully.

Response

What did you learn tonight?
What did you learn tonight?
Where do we begin when we want to start living our lives with gratitude? (gratitude for Jesus, realizing we have nothing without God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit)
How can living with gratitude affect your prayer life and worship?
How can living with gratitude affect other people around you?
Do you think that maybe you haven’t been able to live with gratitude because you haven’t started your relationship with Jesus? Would you like to leave tonight with a relationship with Jesus?
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