by David Jones
TRENTON, MI – In the classic Thanksgiving TV special, from 1973, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown remarks to Snoopy, "We've got another holiday to worry about. It seems Thanksgiving Day is upon us."
Although I don’t share Charlie Brown’s sentiment with regard to worrying about the holiday, we are quickly approaching that wonderful time of year when we gather with family and loved ones to share food and fellowship, and consider the many ways the Lord has blessed our lives.
Sadly though, meal preparations, sports, and getting the family from point A to point B in a happy and unwrinkled state tends to dominate our thinking when the day arrives. Too often the day is almost spent before we stop to count our blessings, and give thanks to God for His kindness, care and provisions.
On October 31st in the year 1517, Martin Luther nailed his list of ninety-five grievances he had with the Roman Catholic Church on the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany, igniting what was to become the Protestant Reformation.
At our church, we have dubbed October as Reformation month. We have spent the month celebrating the Reformation, highlighting its significance with regard to the Gospel, and the doctrines that were rediscovered as a result of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of these great men.
In our worship services we have used the “Five Solas” or “Alone” statements of the Reformation to guide our focus. These five doctrinal statements have guided evangelicalism ever since, and are the basis of what we understand the Gospel to be. Namely, that our salvation/justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone. The study of these doctrines is yielding a greater understanding of what God has done for us through His eternal Son, Jesus Christ in providing salvation and placing us in a right standing with Himself.
It is easy to recognize the many ways God has blessed us. Family, possessions and jobs immediately come to mind. We are all certainly grateful for our salvation, but a deeper study of the Atonement will increase our gratitude immensely. Over the past several months, I have had the privilege of filling our pulpit many times while my father recovers from his automobile accident. My focus has been an in depth study of the first chapter of Ephesians. During this time my understanding of the work of God in the Atonement has greatly increased, and through this the Lord has impacted me in such a powerful way.
Here, the Apostle Paul explains (1) the work of the Father in planning our justification and adopting us into His family, (2) the work of the Son as He provided for our redemption through His blood, and (3) the work of the Holy Spirit in sealing us and guaranteeing our inheritance. I know we will never fully comprehend the Atonement in this life, but the more we take time to consider it, the more deeply we will fall in love with the Lord.
Many times we have gone around the table during our Thanksgiving feast, sharing the things for which we are grateful. We often express our gratitude for our parents, our children, our jobs, and a plethora of temporal blessings, but beyond all of these tangibles, we find our greatest blessings in what we read in Ephesians 1:3 where Paul exults, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Thanks be to God!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David and his wife of 37 years, Pamela (church pianist) have been blessed with six children and eight grandchildren, with three more expected by January. In addition to teaching college level courses in music theory and conducting for the International Academy of Music, Indianapolis, IN (1996-2012), David Jones has ministered on the staff of churches in Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Georgia since 1980. Currently, David serves as Minister of Music/Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church, Trenton, MI and has built a business performing Highland Bagpipes for all types of events.