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“The Peace of God”
Philippians 4:4-7


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Thanksgiving Eve—November 25, 2009

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Economists are concerned.  They are concerned because many economic indicators these days show troubling signs and disturbing trends.  Unemployment and the national debt are up, while the value of the dollar and economic growth are down.  And there’s one indicator that’s most worrisome of all, the trend that many believe has the greatest impact on our modern economy.  Since 1967, surveys have been taken to determine the level of consumer confidence, and the Consumer Confidence Index is way down, dropping in the past two years from over 100, which is considered normal, to less than 50.  This low consumer confidence really has economists and retailers worried as we enter the traditional Christmas shopping season this Friday.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving during these troubled times, our reason for giving thanks is not based on something worldly and unreliable and erratic, like consumer confidence.  Our reason for giving thanks is instead based on the firm foundation of Christian confidence.  Consumer confidence rises and falls depending on changing circumstances and the whims of the world.  But, Christian confidence endures those ups and downs, because it is based on God’s love and God’s promises.  James puts it this way, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther lists some of the “good and perfect gift[s] . . . from above” that our heavenly Father has given us, which we have to be thankful for: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that he has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them; also clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that he richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.”

But, even more than these material blessings that we receive from our heavenly Father, the greatest “good and perfect gift . . . from above” that he has given us is his own Son.  Paul says in Romans, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Because of our sins we all deserve the punishment of eternal death and damnation.  But, God instead gives us the greatest gift, eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  As we think this Thanksgiving of all that we have to be thankful for, that greatest gift is at the top of the list.

Paul goes on in Romans to explain why the gift of God’s Son is the firm foundation upon which we rest our Christian confidence: “If God . . . did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”  You can have firm Christian confidence that your heavenly Father will supply all your needs, because he has already given you the greatest gift of all, forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of his own Son.

In this evening’s Epistle Reading, Paul tells us how to have firm Christian confidence despite the ups and downs of the world: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

That is how you can have Christian confidence even in these uncertain, troubled, anxious times.  Peter says, “Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you.”  Paul says in Philippians, “God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  Hebrews says, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’  So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’”  Jesus put it this way: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened unto you.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Amen.

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