Issue #87

Holiday Gift Guide for Book Lovers, Pray Your Way into Thanksgiving, Esther and the Theology of Thanksgiving, and more...

Issue #87
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I’m thankful for each and every reader. I pray that you may grow in the peace and joy found in Christ this weekend as you give thanks to him who gives all good things.

Explore the Scriptures 📖

10 Key Bible Verses on Thankfulness | Crossway 📃 →

Ten verses for you to meditate on this Thanksgiving weekend. As you think about these, think about the difficulties of the lives of these writers and the challenges of their world. Our lives in the modern world have their difficulties, to be sure, and many lives are hard. My point is that these authors exhibit incredible faithfulness and thankfulness to God amidst incredible hardship.

2. Ephesians 5:4

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

ESV Study Bible Notes

Thanksgiving, in contrast to crude joking and foolish talk, is the positive way to speak, and it also counteracts covetousness (see Eph. 5:3). The way to avoid coveting others’ possessions is to concentrate with thanks upon the good things the Lord has given (see Eph 5:19–20).

Find Something Nice 🎁

Holiday Gift Guide for Book Lovers | Christianity Today 📃 →

If you’re looking for gifts, I like this list from Christianity Today. It includes numerous categories for kids, teens, and adults. There are advent devotionals, fiction, and study Bibles. In the variety, you might find something for your loved ones or friends!

If you've enjoyed reading this letter, please share it with others and help us grow. We exist to help Christians grow in their faith and to make the name of Jesus Messiah glorified in all the earth. We grow thanks to readers like you sharing what we do with others. Thank you!

Listen and Learn 🎧

Pray Your Way into Thanksgiving | John Piper 🎧 →

A short but sweet clip of Pastor John Piper preaching a sermon on how to reach thanksgiving when life is hard. He argues that prayer is the key to finding thanksgiving in our joyful Christian lives.

(Note: The podcast embed below may only work for a few weeks. If you're looking at this after then, clicking the link above should bring you to the podcast)

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

3 Principles for Settling Political Disagreements in the Church | Daniel K. Williams 📃 →

The holidays are a time that many of us spend with family. For many, that means participating in, or watching others participate in, political disagreements. While this article isn’t about political disagreements among family, its principles can certainly be applied to families as well.

Williams argues that both political parties (in the U.S.A.) “reflect some Christian principles but also mix those with heretical distortions of biblical truth.” Second, Williams argues that political disagreements (at least among Christians) “are often about strategy rather than moral principles.”

When we recognize that many disagreements are about policy rather than moral principles, we’ll be better positioned to listen to Christians who’ve chosen a different political strategy and better aware that they may be just as orthodox and just as concerned about the underlying moral issues.

While Christian theology can tell us the goals to strive for as we bring God’s kingdom into contemporary society, we may have to turn to history, economics, political science, sociology, and other related fields to find out how to get there. And even then, the answers we arrive at will probably depend more on our presuppositions than we want to admit.

Last, Williams argues that “any attempt to make society more moral through legislation will inevitably be selective and incomplete and may offer mixed results.”

Which major political party in the United States is committed to addressing the problems of divorce, gambling addictions, marital infidelity, and alcohol abuse? Which party will do the most to protect the poor from being exploited through payday loans? Which party will fight against the pornography industry?

If you haven’t seen any political ads this election season that address any of these issues, perhaps that’s a sign of the moral selectivity in our current partisan politics. It may also be a sign of the limits of politics altogether.

Seeking common ground and points of unity helps both clarify the actual points of disagreement and will also help us learn something from others.

Read and Reflect 📖

A Thanksgiving Liturgy for Feasting with Friends | Caitlin Coats and Douglas McKelvey 📃 →

I know that this is perhaps a day late for many, but many more may have the opportunity to use it over the weekend. It comes from one of my favorite books of the last two years, one that I have recommended repeatedly: Every Moment Holy.

For More:

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Musical Masterpiece 🎼

The Thanksgiving Song | Ben Rector 🎶📽 →

There aren’t many Thanksgiving songs around. Here’s a beautiful one for your Thanksgiving weekend.

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Esther and the Theology of Thanksgiving | John Carpenter 📃 →

Thanksgiving is our most Christian holiday. Just ask the Puritans. They did not give us Thanksgiving as an annual holiday after a great feast to celebrate a year of survival in America and then say, “This was fun, let’s do it again next year.” No. They had Thanksgivings because of their theology. Thanksgiving is a theological holiday when we celebrate providence, like the original Purim when the Jews spontaneously feasted at their deliverance (Esther 9:18) before scheduling it as an annual event (Esther 9:22). Providence deserves a holiday.

I really enjoyed this exploration of providence in Esther and how it produces thankfulness. As Christians, we are thankful because we truly believe that there is an intelligence behind the universe, that God is sovereign and providence is true.

Even though God is not mentioned once in this book, his sovereignty, his ruling over all things, is assumed. Mordecai tells Esther, you need to intervene for your people, to risk your life by barging in on the king, even though you might get killed for going to him without an invitation. But even if you don’t intervene, someone else will be raised up. Look what he leaves implied in 4:14. Who will raise up “relief and deliverance”? The unnamed master of providence. Then Mordecai says that you have been brought to your position for “such a time as this.” Think about what he leaves assumed: Who brought her to her position? Anonymous but in control.

That doctrine — providence — is something we need in order to be truly thankful. After all, if receiving good things depends on good fortune randomly striking us; if the forces that have brought us all food, family, housing and video games are impersonal and random, just lucky happenstance — we might be overflowing with good things, all that we could wish for, but there is no One behind them providing them — then there’s no one to be thankful to. We can be happy we got lucky. But it would no more make sense being thankful, if that’s the way the universe is, than it would be to send thank you cards to the management of the casino where you happened to hit the jackpot.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (CSB)

Joel Fischer