Football? Turkey? Feasting? Perhaps, all of the above? Tomorrow I will enjoy Thanksgiving, the uniquely American holiday that came from the Pilgrim celebrations. Those hardy souls that remained alive after the first year of terrible trials, gathered with their Indian friends to give thanks to God. Three centuries later their day of prayer has grown into our Thanksgiving. I want to encourage you to actually ‘give thanks’ on Thanksgiving! Turn a day of thanksgiving into a life marked by the beauty of gratitude. How?
First, give; generously, sacrificially, and often
God demanded the tithe (10% of income) from the Jews under the first covenant. For those of us who are in Christ, under the agreement of grace, it is no longer a law, but it is a great guiding principle for our giving. We need to go beyond giving as an emotional response, or giving because we are pressured, or giving because we buy into a ‘give to get’ scheme that prosperity teachers use to manipulate us. Instead, we should give purposefully, like an investor uses his money. We should look for worthy ministries, well run charities, and individuals
that we can help onto their feet. In these ways, we put a portion of our resources, at least a tithe, to work for God. When we choose to live with less so we can give more, we are able to grasp that what we have is not because we are more deserving than someone else, but because we are God-blessed. Gratitude grows in the fertile soil of generosity.
Second, worship deeply, regularly, and from the heart! True worship restores proper perspective. I urge you to set aside time each day to be with the Lord. Worship, in church on Sunday, is good and should be part of every Christian’s regular habit. Worship, daily and weekly, focuses our hearts on things eternal, as well as keeping it clear to us Who is God. Worship helps us to remember that we are not Him! Worship that is mature allows us to listen intently to His instructions. In worship we learn how to live to bless. It is not wrong to pray about our needs. God wants us to ask boldly. But, I think each of us can remember more than a few prayers that were more about our wants than our needs. Spiritual worship helps us to discern the difference.
Third, express gratitude!Cultivating a habit of thankfulness helps us to avoid a ‘me centered’ life. We keep in sight the ways that God has blessed us. We realize how much those around contribute to our well-being. Thanksgiving should not be just a day on the calendar, it should be a way of life.
Moses, the great leader of God’s people, when he was advanced in age and near the end of his time of service, warned of the danger of blessings – that they would become self-sufficient and forget to serve God. I pray that these ancient words of warning will find a place in our hearts and minds today, so that we will give glory to God. “For the people of Israel belong to the Lord; Jacob is his special possession. He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; he guarded them as his most precious possession. Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them in and carried them aloft on his pinions. The Lord alone guided them; they lived without any foreign gods. He made them ride over the highlands; he let them feast on the crops of the fields. He nourished them with honey from the cliffs, with olive oil from the hard rock. He fed them curds from the herd and milk from the flock, together with the fat of lambs and goats. He gave them choice rams and goats from Bashan, together with the choicest wheat. You drank the finest wine, made from the juice of grapes. But Israel soon became fat and unruly; the people grew heavy, plump, and stuffed! Then they abandoned the God who had made them; they made light of the Rock of their salvation.” (Deuteronomy 32:9-15, NLT)`
So, let’s us give thanks, today, tomorrow, and each day. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)
Thanks To God For My Redeemer
Thanks to God for my Redeemer.
Thanks for all Thou dost provide,
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side.
Thanks for pleasant balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and dreary fall,
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny,
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair,
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare.
Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain,
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain.
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heavenly peace with Thee,
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity.
August Ludvig Storm | John Alfred Hultman