On Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks, for our families, our health, our multiple possessions, and the freedoms we enjoy in this country. Most Americans will be thankful for those things, although we are deeply conscious that many in our society have far fewer of those things to be thankful for than we do. As Christians we know that every good and perfect gift comes from God so we will not only approach Thanksgiving with thankful hearts, but we will do so knowing the One to whom all thanks belongs. This Thanksgiving we should be sure add to our thank-you list some of the spiritual blessings that are ours because we are Christians. We should certainly add the blessings that are ours because of our relationship with God. We are richly blessed and therefore should give thanks because God has promised never to leave us but to walk with us each day. We are richly blessed and therefore should give thanks because He has promised us His strength and peace in all situations. We are richly blessed and therefore should give thanks for God’s promise to supply our every need.
Ephesians 1:18-22 lists four things in relationship to the resurrection of Jesus that we should give thanks for. Read verses.
Paul detailed 4 things God’s power did, each of which gives us something to add to our thanksgiving list. First, God’s power raised Jesus from the dead (verse 20a). Second, it enables Jesus to sit at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, far above all competitors (verses 20b, 21). Third, it will enable Jesus to put all things under His feet (verse 22a). And fourth, it made Jesus the head over all things for the church, which is His body (verses 22b, 23). Because each of them has tremendous implications for us today, each is worthy of being added to our thanksgiving list.
First, God’s power raised Jesus from the dead (verse 20a). We should be thankful that Jesus was raised from the dead since a dead God is no real God and a dead God cannot fulfill any of the promises He has made to us.
As Christians because the power of God raised Jesus from the dead we have so much more to thank God for than the fact that He is alive. Paul expanded on the implications of the resurrection of Jesus for believers in I Corinthians 15 where he wrote about the resurrection and how it assured believers of so much. Paul wrote that the resurrection of Jesus is God’s assurance that our sins can be forgiven, and we can spend eternity with Him. Read I Corinthians 15:13 and then verse 17-19. This Thanksgiving we can give thanks for the reality that our faith is not in vain, that what we believe is true and, therefore, can be trusted.
There is more. Not only does the resurrection give us an assurance that our faith is not in vain, the resurrection of Jesus also means that you and I can give thanks for the reality that those who knew Jesus as Savior and are not with us this year because they have passed on, are alive with Jesus. Read I Corinthians 15:20-22.
We live in scary times when over a quarter of a million people have died of a virus that has taken a year to begin to get under control. People are dying but as Christians we can give thanks that we do not need to fear death because we have a God who is powerful enough to raise the dead to everlasting life.
Second, Paul said that the power of God enabled Jesus to sit at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, far above all competitors (verses 20b, 21). The imagery Paul used here can too easily be missed by us because we are not steeped in the culture of the early church, but it is a marvelous picture of the present position of Jesus. In ancient times a king reserved the seating around his throne for special individuals and the most treasured spot was at the king’s right hand. That individual occupied a position that was probably comparable to our Vice President, Chief of Staff and Secretary of State all wrapped up together.
The early church emphasized that Jesus was our High Priest and that He was seated at God’s right hand. No Levitical priest ever sat because his work was never done but on the Cross Jesus declared “It is finished” meaning that everything He came to do was complete. Redemption was fully provided for and available to all who would accept it. With His work completed He can now sit.
Knowing that salvation is fully provided for and freely available to all who believe is reason to give thanks.
By itself that is cause for praise but that is only a part of the blessing seen in the picture of Jesus at God’s right hand. The fuller reason to give thanks is seen in what He is doing there for us. Hebrews 7:25 declares that Jesus is at the right hand of God so He can intercede for us. That means that Jesus is representing us to the Father. Jesus is there as our representative to declare that our sin has been covered by His sacrifice on the Cross.
As Christians we should continually thank God that we have an advocate at the throne interceding for us so that God’s blessings can continue to flow to us. Because Jesus is continually interceding for us, we can know with certainty that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
Athird thing to thank God for this Thanksgiving is that the power of God will enable Jesus to put all things under His feet (verse 22a). People are constantly bemoaning the fact that everything seems to be falling apart. People wonder if crime and terrorism will ever stop. The world wants to know if we will ever have any real peace. Paul reminded us that history is going somewhere and that somewhere is the return of Jesus and the everlasting peace He will ultimately bring. We should be thankful because we know we are on the winning side.
Read Romans 14:11 on a promised day that is coming. Read Philippians 2:9-11. Where the implications of everyone bowing before a victorious Jesus is explained further.
This Thanksgiving we can rejoice in the knowledge that history is going somewhere, evil will be judged, and that righteousness will be rewarded. As Christians we can be thankful that ultimately God holds the scales of justice. We win.
Finally, Paul told the Christians in Ephesus that God’s power was such that He made Jesus the head over all things for the church, which is his body (verses 22b, 23). What makes the church special? Obviously, the people who gather are an important part of it but in the end, what is special about a church is the presence of our Lord in it. We are His church, and His presence brings the peace and joy that are a part of who we are and what makes our fellowship so important.
Thanksgiving ought not to be a once a year event, although setting aside a special day serves as a reminder to think through all we have for which to give thanks to God is important. We have so much to thank God for in our families, our health, our possessions, and freedoms. But we also have multiple spiritual blessings to thank God for. We have the awareness that our God lives so not only is the fulfillment of every promise possible, but we too shall live forever with Him. We have the awareness that Jesus sits at the right hand of our Father interceding for us to assure that God can continually bless us with the things we really need. We have the awareness that we truly are on the winning side and that the day will come when our Savior will return to set up His righteous kingdom. And we have the awareness that we are His church and when we gather in His name, He is with us and that makes our worship so special.
This Thanksgiving we need to add our many spiritual blessings to the list of things for which we give thanks.