I hope you enjoyed Missions Sunday last weekend. I’m thankful for John and the continued efforts of the IMB. It was great to hear how God is working through His people all around the world, and it was encouraging to hear that we can partner with God and His mission from right here at ABC. I encourage you to continue to pray for God’s guidance on how He wants to use you in 2022. There is much work to do here in Austin and around the world, and I know God has given each of us time, talent, and treasure to be used for His glory. I’m confident that God will do a mighty work in and through you as you answer His calling on your life.
Last Sunday was a great way to lead us into this Thanksgiving week. Our hearts can’t help but be filled with gratitude as we reflect on the Gospel’s impact on our own lives, as well as the lives of so many others around the world. The Gospel gives us reason to always give thanks. This is why Paul instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Our circumstances do change day to day and even hour to hour, and the truth is, it can be hard to give thanks as we navigate through the storms of this life. But we can always give thanks that we do not have to navigate through those storms alone. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore, and He stands ready to give us strength, comfort, and peace in all seasons of our lives.
In the book of James, the apostle opens his letter by talking about the challenges and trials in a believer’s life. He acknowledges that all of us will have to face valleys at different times, but he also gives us a great reminder that will help us maintain a proper perspective: “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:16-18). Anything good in your life is not there by accident. It is a good gift that came from a good Father who never changes. We change, culture changes, but He is a steadfast rock. For that reason, I encourage you to give thanks this week at the Thanksgiving table.
Every believer should rejoice that God has “brought us forth by the word of truth.” My salvation and your salvation is a miracle produced solely by the grace of God. That’s why James says it was “of his own will.” God saw the original sin in the garden, and He did not give up on humanity. Instead, of his own will, He sent His only son into this world on a rescue mission. Of his own will, Jesus Christ lived the perfect life we could not live, and He died the death that we deserved. Jesus explained that this was indeed of his own will, as he said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:18). For the joy set before Him, Jesus Christ willingly came into this world on a rescue mission, so He could set you and me free from the bondage of sin and death.
That truth alone should give each of us an attitude of gratitude this week. But my prayer is that we will carry that same spirit of thanksgiving throughout the entire holiday season. This weekend, we will begin advent at ABC as we anticipate the coming of our King. I’ll also be kicking off a new Christmas series this weekend titled, “The Perfect Christmas.” We all aim for perfection this time of year. We seek out the perfect gift, we put up the perfect decorations, we work hard to prepare a perfect meal, and we all want to make the perfect Christmas memories. However, when you look at the Christmas story itself, you’ll find that it is centered around a perfect Savior who came into this world amidst very imperfect circumstances. This was designed purposefully by our God to communicate that Jesus came to this world to rescue imperfect people like you and like me. I pray that you’ll be encouraged throughout this series, as we discover there is room for each of us to be a part of His perfect story.
Make plans to join us this Sunday. And may God continue to prepare your heart and my heart with a spirit of thanksgiving and wonder as we enter this special Christmas season. Bring a friend with you, come prayed up and expectant, and come ready to worship our perfect Savior together.