In All Things, Give Thanks
We are coming upon the holiday season and Thanksgiving is a time where we again reflect on what we have to be grateful for. Prayers are said, thankfulness is expressed and we celebrate God’s blessings once again on Thanksgiving Day. On this day it is relatively easy to conjure up these warm feelings in our heart. Isn’t that the whole point of the day? I mean, it isn’t all about the turkey and pumpkin pie.
As this season approaches, I am reminded we are to recognize the blessings in our life each day. Thankfulness is not a once a year novelty. It’s not to be put on once a year like our reindeer holiday sweater! I believe we need to daily cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Scripture tells us,
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIRV)
We are to give thanks in all things, not some things, not the great and wonderful things, but in everything.
Does that mean I am thankful if my car gets totaled? Well, I can be thankful that I wasn’t hurt. What about the really tough things in life like losing a job, a home, or the death of a loved one? Ouch! Thankfulness? Seriously? Oh I know we can say the right, “spiritual” thing in such circumstances. It’s harder to have a thankful heart in the circumstance. God isn’t saying to be thankful that something awful has happened. He knows we are human, we get hurt, we lose hope, and suffer grief. No, rather he wants us to give thanks in the face of it.
I was told at 20 weeks pregnant that my child had a syndrome that was rare and incompatible with life. They were uncertain if she would even survive the delivery. The second half of my pregnancy was filled with moments of fear, worry, prayer, and hope. Through a difficult and complicated delivery, my daughter was born with breath in her lungs. Her father and I, along with those most precious to us, were able to love on her in the little time her lungs sustained her.
Losing a child at any age is an unbearable burden, an indescribable despair. My sorrow was long and deep. In the midst of my sorrow, I found myself doing a peculiar thing. I was thankful. I was thankful Caitlin was born alive and that I could spend a few precious moments with her. I was thankful the nurses taking care of us felt God’s presence in our room. Although they didn’t understand it, they expressed what peace and love they experienced around us, that we were “different” somehow. I am thankful God was glorified in the midst of our sorrow. If only for a day, I was thankful for the time God gave me with my little one before she went to Jesus. In the face of my pain, I was able to give thanks.
Perhaps this past year you are one of the millions who lost their job, maybe your house is in foreclosure, perhaps you have lost one dear to your heart. This may be a season of grief and loss for you, but please know that you have a hope that does not disappoint. For you have a Father who understands you. He comforts the brokenhearted. He promises to never leave you or forsake you. His love is extravagant toward you. His love never fails. Your sadness may last for a time, but joy will come,
“… but Joy comes with the morning. You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing …” Psalm 30:5 and Psalm 30:11 (NLT)
Oh, what we have to be thankful for. Such a great God! Such a great love!
Living Your Thanksgiving
by Laura MacCorkle, crosswalk.com
Make a glad sound to the Lord, all the earth. Give worship to the Lord with joy; come before him with a song. Be certain that the Lord is God; it is he who has made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep to whom he gives food. Come into his doors with joy, and into his house with praise; give him honour, blessing his name. For the Lord is good, and his mercy is never-ending; his faith is unchanging through all generations. – Psalms 100, The Bible in Basic English
When I was younger, Thanksgiving was pretty much just another holiday—a day when I got to eat a whole lot of good food and nibble on all the sugary stuff I wanted.
In fact, one year it only took me, my sister, two forks and about 30 minutes to finish off the rest of the pecan pie, while everyone else was either glued to the football game or snoring in a recliner. We had no regrets, and I’m pretty sure we’d do it again.
But besides being a holiday when I had permission to indulge, Thanksgiving was also a word my grandfather always incorporated at the end of his prayers: “And with thanksgiving, in Jesus’ name, Amen.” I always wondered why he used a word that made me think of cornucopias and construction-paper turkeys; but he had the Th.D. in our family, and I did not. So I knew he must have had a good reason.
Years later, I think I now understand. In that one word, he was saying “Thank You for giving.” You, being God. From my grandfather’s example, I see that thanksgiving was more than a one-day family gathering. It was and is a way of living, a daily act of expressing gratitude to our Maker who first gave to us.
At this time of year, I sit and think about when I last thanked God for giving me anything—let alone his son, Jesus Christ. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t remember. But I know that I want to make such gratefulness as prominent as the giant turkey on the table and see thanksgiving become a way of life.
There’s no better thanksgiving wisdom than that found in God’s Word, specifically The Old One-Hundredth (Psalm 100). If you open your Bible and take a look at this passage, you’ll see a notation under the heading: “A psalm. For giving thanks.”
Following that, there are many directives listed that can help us live our Thanksgiving . . .
1. Make a glad sound to the Lord
2. Give worship to the Lord with joy
3. Come before him with a song
4. Be certain that the Lord is God
5. Come into his doors with joy, and into his house with praise
6. [Remember] for the Lord is good… his mercy is never-ending… his faith is unchanging
“If another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such … according to the power of an indestructible life … ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’” – Hebrews 7:15-17 NASB
The Bible is filled with mysteries that point to a deeper spiritual dimension and deeper truths. One mystery involves Melchizedek, a king who appeared just once after Abram was victorious in battle (Genesis 14:17-20).
Melchizedek blessed Abram for his conquest because Melchizedek “was a priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18). He was a priest before the Law was given and before the Levitical priesthood had been established.
Through this man, we receive profound insights into the life of Jesus, who was “a priest forever” after the order established by Melchizedek. He was different from Levi, who was “still in the loins” of Abraham (v. 10). Melchizedek blessed Abraham. Then as an act of worship and gratitude, Abraham gave Melchizedek “a tenth of all” (v. 2). This was a record of the first tithe.
Melchizedek was part of a priesthood that lasts forever without human weakness. Something mysterious was taking place. Here we see a demonstration of the “power of an endless life” (v. 16 NKJV).
These passages give us clues into a spiritual dimension that is hard for our natural minds to grasp. God can reveal so much more about His Kingdom. But we need a Savior to set us free and help us experience this dimension.
Ask God to help you see this spiritual reality. Jesus has risen. He lives forever! He reigns! He is the Savior beyond time and without limits.
Knowing God – Streams in the Desert – November 15
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. (2 Corinthians 1:8)
But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God allowed the crisis to close around Jacob on the night when he bowed at Peniel in supplication, to bring him to the place where he could take hold of God as he never would have done; and from that narrow pass of peril, Jacob became enlarged in his faith and knowledge of God, and in the power of a new and victorious life.
God had to compel David, by a long and painful discipline of years, to learn the almighty power and faithfulness of his God, and grow up into the established principles of faith and godliness, which were indispensable for his glorious career as the king of Israel.
Nothing but the extremities in which Paul was constantly placed could ever have taught him, and taught the Church through him, the full meaning of the great promise he so learned to claim, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
And nothing but our trials and perils would ever have led some of us to know Him as we do, to trust Him as we have, and to draw from Him the measures of grace which our very extremities made indispensable.
Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to faith. When hindrances confront us in the path of duty, we are to recognize them as vessels for faith to fill with the fullness and all-sufficiency of Jesus; and as we go forward, simply and fully trusting Him, we may be tested, we may have to wait and let patience have her perfect work; but we shall surely find at last the stone rolled away, and the Lord waiting to render unto us double for our time of testing.
—A. B. Simpson