Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Therefore, I call (you) alongside (me), first of all, to make entreaties, prayers, requests, thanksgivings on behalf of all mankind, on behalf of kings and all of the ones being in high positions, so that quiet and restful lives we be led through in all godliness and seriousness. This–good and pleasing in the face of our Savior, God, Who wills all men to be saved, and into knowledge of truth to come. For One God, and One Mediator of God and mankind–a man, Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a substitute-ransom on behalf of all, the Witness in a proper season. Into which I myself was placed an herald and an apostle. Truth I speak, not falsehood, a teacher of the nations in faith and truth. I desire, then the men in all places to pray, raising up devout hands without anger and arguments.   

A blessed Thanksgiving to each of you! This is an occasion for us to especially remember what we ought to be doing throughout the whole year–giving thanks to God for all of His blessings. In our text for today, St. Paul reminds young Pastor Timothy that he should be thankful for not just the eternal, glorious blessings of heaven which God has given, but also for those earthly, temporary, and sometimes imperfect gifts which God bestows to all the people of the world out of His divine love. 

Paul is inspired to remind us all that our very prayers should include the giving of thanks. Now most times, we find this to be very easy, since our focus is first & foremost on those completely good, perfect gifts which God gives from above. Of course we are grateful for these blessings. But what about the not-so-perfect gifts from God? What about the ones that are tainted with obvious flaws? What about the blessings that are stained also by sin? Are you just as thankful for those, as well?

Paul instructs us to be thankful for those in high positions. We just had another election. Are all the candidates voted into office "perfect"? Not at all. Did some of the nominees get elected whom you *didn't* vote for? No doubt. Is there much distrust in general toward politicians and government? You bet! So how does this effect your prayer-life? Do you say, "I'm not praying for that so-and-so!" or "OK, I'll pray–that he gets abducted by aliens." Shame on you. This is not given to you as a Christian! 

Instead, you should be thankful for each and every office holder. You should pray for those who were just elected, regardless of whether or not they agree with your positions, and even if you don't find them to be all that "trust-worthy" in and of themselves. Why? First, because God saw fit to allow them to be in office over you, and you are given to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's". God, throughout history has used believing and non-believing rulers and leaders for His Own ultimate purposes.

Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, you pray for all people because Jesus died for all people! Jesus gave Himself as a substitute for all mankind, to pay the ransom price to redeem everyone! So as you raise up your devout hands in prayer, give thanks for everyone, not because all people are perfect, but that all people have the same Mediator that you do to reconcile you to God! You aren't perfect, but Jesus saved you, dying on your behalf at the cross, as He did for everyone.

So when you pray for fellow sinners who need God's grace as you do, make your requests for them with thanksgiving. As you pray for your sometimes rebellious children, thank God for them. When you pray for your sometimes-stubborn spouse, look at him/her as a blessing from the Lord for which you are grateful. When you pray for that church member who sometimes disagrees with you at meetings, be ever thankful that God has redeemed that person to be incorporated into the body of Christ!

Then, and only then, after you pray with an attitude of gratitude first, you make your requests for them known to God. Not just so that your life might be easier, but so that peace can remain between you and all people, so that your life may stay quiet, restful, godly and be lived with dignity. For the same Savior Who reconciled you to your heavenly Father by receiving all His anger & punishment in His Own body nailed to the tree, can likewise reconcile you to those who give you cause for arguments.

This is what it means that Jesus is a Witness in the proper season. The season is now to proclaim Jesus as the God of all reconciliation. Since He has already made the greater peace with the vertical reconciliation between God the Father and all mankind, how do we not have ultimate confidence that Jesus and His love can make peace between us and other people? As we pray for those who sometimes drive us nuts, be thankful at all times for the horizontal reconciliation God works. 

In word & sacrament, remain reconciled to God in Jesus, praying thankful prayers for all people.

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