It’s that time of year. It’s time to be thankful. It reminds me of one of my favorite thanksgiving passages in the whole Bible, Philippians 1:3-6:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Paul loved the church in Philippi. They loved him, too. They participated in a “partnership in the Gospel” (1:5). They supported Paul financially, having “entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving” (4:15). This was not a wealthy church. They were from the region of Macedonia, where “their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (1 Cor. 8:2). They believed in the Gospel and sacrificed so much to support Paul, a minister of the Gospel, as well as others who were in need.
Paul and his friends at Philippi provide me with an ideal, biblical example of how to address my family at The River Church. Allow me to speak a few direct words of thanks:
I thank my God for The River Church. I thank my God for your generosity. You have given sacrificially to the work of planting seeds of the Gospel in a dry place. You have given so that my family can make our home in our community. You have given so that those who are far from God can witness us live out the implications of the Gospel in our lives. You have given in order to bless our community and our world!
I thank my God for your faithfulness to the Gospel. Week in and week out your presence is a testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit in your lives. You are committed to gathering for worship, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (Heb. 10:25). You are striving to connect with one another in community. You are growing as followers of Jesus as you study the Bible and pray together.
I thank my God for your concern for one another. You have identified needs within the community and are meeting them. You are seeing our community through the compassionate eyes of Jesus. You are loving “because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
I thank my God for your good work. You arrive early. You stay late. You give your attention to the details that no one else sees. You work hard to accomplish tasks that don’t get praised or recognized. “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:6). “So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden” (1 Tim. 5:25). God sees.
I thank my God for The River Church. I thank my God that he has given us the grace to work side-by-side with one another. I thank my God for his providence in joining our paths together. I thank my God that you obeyed him when he called you to plant a church. I thank my God that you are his humble servants. And I thank my God that he is not finished with us, that he will complete the work in the Yakima valley that he has begun in us.
May the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14).