Thanksgiving is an integral part of worship! Without thanksgiving in our praise and worship it is nothing more than just a collection of songs and worship leaders would be nothing more than just entertainers. It is also the spiritual empowerment to pray and move obstacles in our own lives and the lives of loved ones.
Colossians 1:3, “3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;”
With the exception of Galatians and Titus, the remaining letters from Paul begin with thanksgiving. In the early church thanksgiving was an integral part of worship. In fact without true thankfulness and understanding of what God has done for us, “praise and worship” is no different than singing along with the songs you know at a live concert. I am not down grading Praise and Worship, but pointing out that there is so much more to worship than just the time of action itself. Worship is actually being thankful to God for His grace and peace and should be a daily state of being, not a specified time period on Sundays. When Jesus spoke to the woman of Samaria at the well in John 4:23-24 about worship in “spirit” and truth, He was stating that there is no longer a specific time or place to physically go in order to worship God. Philippians 3:3 confirms that our worship is in “spirit” and truth. There is not any work or effort involved in the acquisition of grace and peace, but rather the full understanding of what Jesus did on the cross and staying mindful of it. That understanding brings you into the thanksgiving state of mind. Read Philippians 4:8 for the how to stir up thankfulness.
4 “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus” tells us the Colossians were not personal converts of Paul and in verse 7 we read that Epaphras was the one who converted this Pagan people to Christ. Bible scholars believe that Epaphras was possibly a convert of Paul’s from Ephesus who traveled to Colosse and was from the church in Philemon’s home as mentioned in Philemon verse 2. The weight of this speculation does not add nor take away from the truth that Paul heard of the faith of Colosse. We know from Galatians 5:6 that faith works by love. If you do not have genuine love you cannot move in genuine faith. 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us that now abide faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love. Faith is past tense- it is the wavering belief in what has happened through Christ Jesus. Hope is that your faith will carry through into your future, but love takes your faith and brings it into the very present time and prepares you for the future. Without love you cannot walk in faith in the present; at best you can only walk in hope by claiming what has happened in the past. Paul was not a frivolous man and would have never made the statement of hearing of their faith without first recognizing proof. Their acts of love coupled by their words of faith would have been the proof needed by Paul to make this statement. What kind of statement could Paul make about many Christians today? Paul clarifies his observation of their faith by mentioning their love for the saints in the same thoughtful expression. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 1&2 as well in Philippians 1 that we are to have the same mind as Christ. To have the mind of Christ is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. See John 13:34.
Paul uses verse 5 to justify why the Colossians and true believers today, have faith witnessed through their actions of love. It is the faith of true reconciliation between God and man which was established for man in heaven that creates in believers the faith needed to live in this world. Since faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17), it can only be the preached gospel received by someone that their faith is hung on. Still today it is the preached “gospel” that delivers people out of bondage into faith. The preached “gospel of Jesus Christ” will break the bondage of legalism and paganism and is the one thing that will bring forth fruit in believers as spoken of by Paul in verse 4. Paul finishes out his foundational opening in verse 6 as he sums up that it is only the preached “gospel of Christ Jesus”, that when heard and received will bring forth fruit in a believers life of an outpouring of selfless love. The “gospel of Jesus Christ” is the word of God, but not all of God’s word is the “gospel of Jesus Christ”. The Law of Moses is not the “gospel of Jesus Christ” it can only point someone toward the “gospel of Jesus Christ”. Preaching a mixture of Old Testament Law and ways of living, along with the New Testament “gospel of Jesus Christ” is not preaching the gospel. The Old Testament should be used to point people toward just how wonderful and complete the “gospel of Jesus Christ” truly is.
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