First Baptist Church of Oak Creek

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  "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
 . . .  Colossians 1:10  . . .
Be Thankful & Other Commands

Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered Thanksgiving 2006

Colossians 3:15-17 "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."


Our National Thanksgiving day is this Thursday. I would encourage every one of you to be sure to do more than over-stuff yourself with turkey, dressing and other goodies and then plant yourself before the tube. I urge you to set aside a time to recount the things you are thankful for and then, in prayer, thank God for those blessings.

In my preparations for this message, I came across the story of how the hymn "Now thank we all our God" was written. A man who understood that thanksgiving comes from our love of God, and not just from our outward circumstances wrote it. In order for me to tell the story, I need to being you up to speed on The Thirty Years’ War. This war (or series of wars) was fought between 1618 and 1648, primarily on the territory of what is today Germany, however, it involved most of the major European continental powers of the day. Although, in the beginning, it was a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, the rivalry between the Hapsburg dynasty and other European powers was also a central motive, as shown by the fact that the Catholic French even supported the Protestant side, increasing the French-Hapsburg rivalry.

This hymn, Now Thank We All Our God, was written in 1636 by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649), a German Lutheran pastor, during this war. Historical accounts say that Rev. Rinkart buried as many as five thousand of his parishioners in that one year. This was an average of fifteen funerals a day. His parish was ravaged by war, famine, death, and economic disaster. It was a desperate and dark time. In the heart of that darkness, he sat down and wrote these poetic verses for his children, based on 2 Corinthians 2:14 "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place."

"Now thank we all our God

With heart and hands and voices;

Who wondrous things hath done,

In whom his world rejoices.

Who, from our mother's arms,

Hath led us on our way

With countless gifts of love

And still is ours today."

This man knew thanksgiving comes from love of God, not just from outward pleasant circumstances.


Our text today makes it clear that thankfulness is to play a key part in every believer’s life. Let’s look at our text.

  • The Commands of Verse 15

ü Verse 15 starts with an imperative – "let the peace of God rule in your hearts." The word translated as rule (brabeuw brabeuo) has the thought to ‘direct,’ ‘control,’ or ‘rule’ in the sense of an umpire. Therefore, we are commanded by God to allow His peace to referee our hearts, which is the seat of our emotions. It is to preside over and govern the mind. Those who have a deep sense of God’s presence and realize that His grace is sufficient will allow their emotions and passions to be controlled by Him. They will be ruled by peace. I remind you of Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

ü The second imperative of verse 15 is "and be ye thankful." That is a Christian’s continual obligation. I agree with a pastor friend of mine who wrote – "If there is a besetting sin among God’s people, it is that of a lack of genuine thanksgiving for God’s manifold goodness to us."

We should be thankful for the gift of Salvation God has given us

Titus 3:5

We should be thankful for all of God mercies to us.

Lamentations 3:22-23

We should be thankful for our privileges and hopes as Christians.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (privilege of prayer)

1 Peter 1:3-5 (an inheritance)

We should be thankful for our calling to share the life-giving message of the Gospel

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

We should be thankful for the orderliness and consistency of God’s Creation

Have you thought about the benefits of being thankful? A spirit of thankfulness tends to promote harmony and peace. But, ungrateful people are commonly a quarrelsome, agitated, restless, and dissatisfied people. Nothing promotes peace and order better than gratitude to God for his mercies. Now, we move on to…

  • The Command of Verse 16

Verse 16 starts with an imperative, as did the previous verse – "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom." The goal is for God’s Word to dwell in us abundantly. The word translated as dwell (enoikew enoikeo) means ‘to inhabit.’ The thought is, that the Word of God is to have a long-term residence in our minds. Thus, God’s Word is to reside within us; not sparsely, but richly and in copious amounts. Clearly, this verse is teaching that the Word of God should saturate our minds. If that is to be a reality in our lives, that would mean that we need to spend a considerable amount of time reading, studying and meditating upon it. The result will be wisdom developing within us.

Just a side note: Nearly every week I get a request for Bibles, most often from some country on the African continent. They are in short supply there. We can be thankful for the proliferation of Bibles that we have in this country. I have a Bible and my Greek New Testament on my phone. I also have the entire book of Proverbs on the MP3 player on my phone. I have various King James Bibles, Greek and Hebrew Testaments, Bible study helps on my computer, on and on! Praise God for the Word of God and the study tools available to me. That is not the case in many other countries.

The result of letting "the word of Christ dwell in you richly" should be that we are "teaching and admonishing one another." The admonishing of one another simply means, urging each other to do what we ought to be doing. This, without a question, is a major ministry of the church both from the pulpit and teaching in the classroom. But look at the rest of the verse. This is to be done "in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Undoubtedly, the context thereof is the assembly of the local church.

The word translated as psalms (qalmov psalmos) literally refers to the plucking of a harp or other stringed instrument and thus clearly alludes to instrumental accompaniment. Instrumental music in the meeting of the church is thus clearly called for. I thank God for those who play our instruments!

Mentioned next are hymns. The word so translated hymns (‘umnov hymnos) has the sense of a ‘song of praise and thanks to God.’ The clear object and audience of Christian music is God and not human ears. Its object is to praise Him and not entertain us. Finally, there is the reference to spiritual songs. The final word is translated from the word (wdh) ode, which refers to singing in general. However, it is qualified as spiritual. So much of the songs sung today, and what goes by the name of Christian music, is clearly of a world and carnal in nature. Godly music is to be spiritual and that which is harmonious with the Spirit of God.

Finally, we come to "singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Again, the clear object and audience of our song is the Lord. The word translated as singing here is (adw ado) and again has the sense of a ‘song of praise’ and thus to God. Again, the clear biblical teaching of Christian music is of praise to our holy God. Its intent of singing in not religious entertainment for our ears. Also of note is the phrase, "with grace in your hearts." The word translated as with (en en) is the overwhelmingly common word for ‘in.’ Thus, the idea literally is to sing ‘in grace in your hearts’ to the Lord. The grace is not ours, but His. It is because of His wonderful grace that we can so sing praise to Him.

  • The Command of Verse 17

Verse 17 -- Moreover, in light of all, which has been said thus far, we are therefore commanded that whatsoever we do in word or deed, to "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." In other words, whatever we do or say, we are to do it in the name of our Lord. The context to this point has been of our relationship as Christians, particularly within the church and its music. We therefore are directed to do it all in His name. Once again the Apostle reminds us to "giving thanks to God and the Father by him." What this means is that our thanks to God is by (or through) him, that is, the Lord Jesus.



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1 Corinthians 2:9

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First Baptist Church of Oak Creek

10550 S. Howell Ave. - Oak Creek, WI 53154

Phone: 414-762-7575

Pastor: David L. Brown, Ph.D.

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