The first question I have is why is the family thankful for the church? After thinking it over for awhile I came up with several things. But the question basically boils down to this. What does the church do for families? In preparing this I decided to look up the word thankful. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary there are 3 definitions. 1. Conscious of benefit received, 2. Expressive of thanks, and 3. Well pleased. I like to put the first two definitions together. We express our thanks because of the benefits that we have observed and received. These benefits are the blessings that God provides for the families of his church.
The family can be thankful for the church because of what church is. It is not only a place to worship God, but a time, an experience where the like-minded, the joint laborers can come together and share their burdens "Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2). Church is a place where we learn who we are through the preaching of the word. And that word through the convictions of the Holy Spirit teaches us how to grow.
The church provides according to Ephesians 4, "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" (Eph 4:12-15)
The church provides through it programs, a curriculum to help compliment our children’s growth as emerging Christians and helps balance our responsibilities to train up a child in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6)
The church is a place where the family can come and find comfort, knowing that their experiences in the Christian walk are not unique to them but are shared by others. And by sharing in that walk we may find comfort. Romans 1 says "…that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me." (Ro 1:12)
It teaches us how to reach out to one another and be fellowhelpers "We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth." (3 Jn 8) that we might do the things which testify of him who lives inside us.
The church is a where the family can see the power of prayer. Not only can the family pray for others and their own needs, but they can be prayed for. "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (Jas 5:15-16)
I think though that for many the church is for the family a place to be comforted and a place of safety. When there is a disaster, we all gather at the church. It is where we feel safe. It is our understanding of who’s house it really is and in who’s presence we have come into. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Mt 18:20)
The other question I have to answer is “why would God be thankful for the family?” This one is a little more difficult. What has the family done that would make God take notice? I think that perhaps some of the goofy things that we have done have probably given God a chuckle or two. (Probably three or four chuckles for some of us). But seriously though, I think that in order to understand this type of thankfulness we need to remember the third definition of thankful. And that is well pleased. What has the family done that would make God well pleased? I think that one of the greatest things is when God can see a family that lives by his commands and in doing so plants the seeds of faith in tomorrow’s children. I think when a family tries to live according to scripture, that God is well pleased when he sees the family living a life that tries to glorify him and pass on that grace and knowledge so that not only will the family survive but Christ’s church as well. Children are the fruit of the family, some are a little sweeter than others, some are a little bitter. But all are part of the family. The family is an example of what church should be like and the two go hand in hand. You have parents which teach and siblings which support one another, and all edify each other.
But can we honestly say that we live as a family. Do we edify each other, do we bring hope and encouragement? Do we teach one another, and most importantly, do we obey? God is well pleased with the family, because the family bears fruit. And that fruit will one day start another family, which in turn will bear even more fruit. Have we borne all the fruit that we can bear? The family models our position with God. We are his adopted sons and daughters with all the rights and privileges of his only begotten son. We are joint-heirs with Christ. As a church we are part of the family of God. We are his children, we are his fruit. Some of us are sweet and some of us are bitter, some of us are disobedient. But God loves us just the same. Because we have the church to be thankful for in all that it does for us, we can in turn be pleasing to God. Thank you God for giving us this church family that we may draw closer to you.
Today is Turkey Day! For many, this is a calm day in the middle of the retail storm we call black Friday, for others it is a day of sadness, for others still it is a day where we get together and share our time and a huge feast with those with whom we are the most thankful for. Remember, if a loved one is missing this thanksgiving to still be thankful for what and who you do have. Sometimes, we think that we are all alone, but in reality there are people all around us who would love us if we just gave them the chance too. I think that Thanksgiving is a time when we need to take inventory of not neccessarily all the things we have, but all the needs that God has met; and all the people that God has put in our lives. Don't begrudge or brush off those blessings from God, but rather be thankful and embrace them. You're lives will be enriched beyond measure and then you yourself can be God's blessing to someone else. You need to let him though. Will you?