In 1883, it is said that in New England the sun didn’t rise! The people woke up to an eerie darkness. They went outside to do their chores in stony silence. No rooster crowed, no birds chirped, none of the usual sounds of a new day. At the very start, people began to gather in small groups to question what was happening, to wonder and discuss what was taking place. Slowly, people began to make their way to the churches. They say that by twelve noon every church in New England was filled to overflowing with people on their knees crying out to God. There were cries for mercy, people begging for forgiveness and others confessing their sins. They say that there were few people who didn’t pray the day the sun didn’t rise. The churches were full late into the night.
As the next morning neared, great crowds began to gather on the hilltops and the high places near their homes and churches. People were staring toward the eastern horizon. Every eye was fixed on that point where the sky touched the land. Every eye watching, hoping to catch a glimmer of the first rays of the sun. As the sun began to come up over the horizon, people began to shout and yell praise to God, they clapped, danced and rejoiced because the sun shined on the land again. As if in one voice, they began to praise the Lord for the sunlight, the warmth and the joy of God’s new day.
They had no idea that on the island nation of Indonesia, the sleeping giant of a volcano, Krakatoa, had come to life. They had no idea that this great mountain had exploded sending a huge cloud of dust and ash into the upper atmosphere. This black cloud would be carried around the world by the jet stream. It was said to cover whole regions, covering the sky from horizon to horizon. Few people had any idea that a volcano, half way around the world, could create such a cloud that could block out the sun. Yet for most of those people that was the very first time they ever thanked God for the warmth and wonder of the sun.
The Apostle Paul spent a significant amount of time in Ephesus, approximately three years, as he worked in the area to spread the gospel message and establish the church. Ephesus, whose name means “desirable”, was a center of activity located on the west coast of Asia Minor. It was a well-traveled stop on the trade routes.
Later, Paul writes Ephesians to the church at Ephesus from a Roman prison. A prison? Thankfulness? What did Paul have to be thankful for while sitting in a prison?
Ephesians 1:15-23 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Paul is giving thanks for the good news that he has heard of the church in Ephesus. Ephesus is a very diverse and multicultural church, quite like most of our churches today. Today, like at the time of the church in Ephesus, people come from all parts of the world and are brought together by the common thread of their belief in God, sharing a common bond as fellow believers in Christ. We see also that Paul is praying that the believers will receive wisdom that comes in a deeper knowledge of Christ. A growth that would get us out of the rut that we often find ourselves stuck in. Paul prays that the faithful may see more clearly with the eyes of their hearts. That we may more fully understand the riches that we will receive.
How do we see God working in our lives?
As we enter the Fall season we see the fields, Farmer’s Markets and grocery stores filling up with the harvest. Piles of pumpkins and winter squash are seen in road side stands. At this time of year, when we focus on the bounty, we are preparing to give thanks to God for his providing for us during the past year when we celebrate Thanksgiving.
What does Thanksgiving mean to you?
What should it mean?
Does it take a Wake Up call before we give thanks to God?
How do we learn to give thanks for all things?
“Be Thankful”: Author unknown.
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary, because it means you’ve made a difference.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.
In the sermon, next Sunday, I want to share with you a Wake Up call God blessed me with that changed me forever.