I admire the apostle Paul for a number of reasons. One of them being his persistent prayer for the churches to whom he ministers. He makes it clear in his letters how thankful he is for the churches and how he prays for them often.
One of those churches is the church in Thessalonica. Allow me to share some verses with you from his two letters to this church.
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers” (1 Thess. 1:2 ESV).
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thess. 2:13 ESV).
“For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?” (1 Thess. 3:9-10 ESV).
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18 ESV).
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2 Thess. 1:3 ESV).
“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13 ESV).
At this time in history, the church in Thessalonica faces persecution. Being a follower of Christ is not easy. But the apostle Paul makes it clear that he is very thankful to God for their salvation. He is thankful for their devotion to Christ amidst persecution.
I pray that we, too, express our thanksgiving to God for the salvation of those we love. As you gather with friends and family today, thank God for those who have given their hearts to Him. Like the apostle Paul, pray for them to grow more and more into the likeness of Christ. Pray also for those among you who have yet to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. May they see Christ in you.
But there’s something Paul says at the end of his second letter to the Thessalonians that really encourages me on this Thanksgiving. It’s another prayer that Paul prays for the church in Thessalonica. And I believe it’s a prayer that all of God’s people should pray.
“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5 ESV).
On this Thanksgiving, may God direct our hearts to His love and the steadfastness of Christ. May we overflow with thankfulness for the immeasurable amount of grace given to us through the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. May we overflow with thankfulness as we remember His perfect love. Few things are more beautiful than a heart directed towards God.
So, let’s follow in the footsteps of Paul. Let’s thank God for those among us who have found salvation through Christ. Let’s pray earnestly for those who have not. And let’s pray that God directs our hearts to cherish Jesus Christ like never before. After all, He is the One to whom we owe the biggest “Thank You.”