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A Truly Thankful Thanksgiving: Philippians 4:4-9

A Truly Thankful Thanksgiving
Rick Wilcox

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.—Philippians 4:4–9 (ESV)

The holiday season traditionally begins with Thanksgiving and ends on New
Year’s Day. That’s a long time! Emotions tend to be exaggerated for better
or worse. The expectation of warm family experiences often stands in sharp
contrast to the reality that is less perfect and less nurturing to the soul.

In today’s lesson, the Apostle Paul says joy is very different from happiness
and entirely separate from our circumstances.

WATCH—This clip from today’s message:
ICE BREAKERS— Tell the story of your best Thanksgiving memory. What
made it so good? Is your experience of the holidays different now from
when you were younger? How so?

READ— Philippians 4:4

QUESTION— Is it possible to “rejoice in the Lord always?” Why or why

The Greek word for ‘rejoice’ (χαίρω chairō) was frequently used as
a greeting.

READ— Psalm 23:1 and Romans 8:31

QUESTION— What impact does our relationship with God have on our
outlook and attitude?

READ— Philippians 4:5

QUESTION— The Greek word translated in the ESV as ‘reasonableness’
is ἐπιεικής (epieikēs), which means “a sweet forbearing spirit.” If
you have a different translation of the Bible (like King James or
New American Standard etc.), how is the word translated there?

READ— 2 Corinthians 10:1

QUESTION— In this verse, the same word is used to describe the nature
of Christ. Can you name someone who is like this? Tell the group about
that person.

READ— James 5:8-9

QUESTION— This passage echoes Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:5 “the
Lord is at hand.” How would it change your behavior if you could see Jesus
standing next to you during the day?

READ— Philippians 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:7

QUESTION— What are you anxious about? Who do you share those
anxieties with? Have you ever taken time to unload them on God in
prayer? What was that like?

QUESTION— This verse says the peace we receive is unreasonable.
Describe a time in your life when you were at peace, even amid arduous
circumstances. Why was that so?

READ— Philippians 4:8

QUESTION— Pastor Rick described this verse as descriptive of life’s
blessings. Make a quick list of the first ten blessings that come to your mind.

READ— Philippians 4:9

QUESTION— Who was your most remarkable example of the Christian
life? Tell the group about that person.

Χαίρω (Chairō) was often used at the opening of a letter as a formal
salutation (e.g., James 1:1). Letters embedded in the book of Acts opens
with the author’s charein (“greetings”) to the recipients (Acts 15:23; 23:26).

Chairō was also employed as a formalized greeting when meeting someone
in a public place (e.g., Matt 28:9). The term chairō, as an expression of
wellbeing or gladness, characterizes Zacchaeus’ welcome of Jesus into his
house—he received Him “gladly” (Luke 19:6). Jesus is mocked with the
term, often translated as “hail” (Matt 27:29). When the good news is
preached and received, those who believe are filled with chairō (Acts 8:39).
John the Baptist compares his joy to that of the friend of the bridegroom at
the coming of Jesus, who is the fulfillment of his chairō (John 3:29). The
word describes the father’s desire to celebrate and “rejoice” because his
prodigal son returned home (Luke 15:32).

One can express chairō during specific present trials and afflictions because
after suffering; there will be a day when they will be vindicated by Christ (1 Pet 4:13). It is also an appropriate response because trials are the means to Christian maturity (Jas 1:2–4). Jesus comforted His disciples on the night of His betrayal, telling them that He would be taken away but that they would see Him again, and when they saw Him, their grief would turn to chairō
(John 16:16–22).

Chairō often will result in a response of worship. It represents the proper
attitude following the culmination of a sequence of events, ending in praise,
suggesting the praise not only expresses chairō but also completes the
enjoyment that is experienced. Those who witnessed Jesus’ miracles should
also experience rejoicing (chairō; Luke 13:17; 19:37). According to Jesus, a
person should “rejoice” (chairō) at one’s name being written in heaven
(Luke 10:20). Praise can also be expressed at the arrival of the marriage of
the Lamb recounted in Revelation (Rev 19:7).

Even Jesus experiences chairō. He praises the Father because of the
generous revelation God gave to the disciples (Luke 10:21). In his farewell
discourse, Jesus exhorts His disciples to rejoice (chairō) at His departure
since He will be with the Father (John 14:28).
~ Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.—Philippians 4:4 (ESV)
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