The Power of Thanksgiving
It’s that season again, when we’re reminded to be thankful — and to express thankfulness. God has told us,
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)
Even though we know it’s God’s will, for most of us, a reminder is a good thing, because in the midst of busyness and challenges of life, we often forget to be grateful for our many blessings.
I always think of a particular incident when I think of giving thanks. Many years ago, our friend Paul noticed that his young daughter Susannah had a ritual with her bedtime prayers. She always prayed, “God, bless Mommy, and Daddy, and …” She went down her list, asking God for her all her wants.
At prayer time one night, he said, “Susannah, you have a lot to be thankful for. I’d like you to start your prayers with thanksgiving.” Susannah agreed, but Paul left on a trip the next morning and wasn’t able to reinforce his instruction.
When he returned, her prayers had not changed. He said, “Susannah, what did I ask you to do when you pray?”
She hesitated before answering. “Uhhh. Start my prayers with Halloween?”
She remembered the request—but didn’t understand what thanksgiving was and got mixed up with which holiday he had said.
Unlike Susannah, I understand what it means to give thanks and that it’s good to express appreciation, but I often get so busy that I don’t take note of what I’m grateful for, much less express it to others. I’ve resolved to do better after recently experiencing the blessing of being on the receiving end.
My husband is a pastor of a church of amazing people who regularly communicate their thanks. It makes it a joy to be part of them. However, we were recently showered with love and many expressions of appreciation. I must admit, it felt good. It deepened our love and our commitment to give more of ourselves. It also made me want to be more faithful in expressing my thanks.
But that was just the beginning of the day. After church and the dinner that followed, our home filled with out-of-town family who came to celebrate Dad’s 89th birthday. We visited, celebrated, and enjoyed being together. After the meal, while still around the table, I was once again struck with what an impact it makes to speak words of appreciation.
Robert’s youngest brother said, “Dad, at our house, we have a tradition that we do on birthdays, and we’d like to do it now.” He went on to explain that we wanted to each share something with Dad that we appreciated about him, starting with the youngest and moving up.
Seven-year-old Elena went first, and one at a time, each of ten people shared something they were grateful for, something Dad had done that had blessed his or her life. Most shared two or three things that had made an impact — and all sounded sincere.
At least once, Dad’s eyes filled with tears. Others were touched too. It was a precious time and a much bigger blessing than the simple gifts given earlier.
It was also powerful. Dad wasn’t the only one blessed. We all left the table encouraged, strengthened, and closer to one another because of words of gratefulness. All we did was say thanks — but we don’t make a point to do that often enough. I basked in the blessing and power of the time around the table for several days.
I wish we had practiced that tradition in our home as our children were growing up. In fact, I’m wondering how to stimulate more giving of thanks in other settings — of open, sincere, thoughtful expressions of appreciation. If you have ideas, I’m interested.
However, after some thought, I’ve decided that the best place to begin is with myself. I might not impact the whole community, but I could encourage some.
Meanwhile, I hope your Thanksgiving is blessed with gratefulness—and with thanksgiving.
When God Whispered
by Fred Alberti, crosswalk.com
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
My four-year-old son had to learn 2 Timothy 3:16 for AWANA. One of the leaders was concerned and stated that there was just no way the children could grasp the idea of Scripture being “God-breathed.” So we decided to ask my son to explain what “God-breathed” meant.
You know I think we are sometimes too quick to underestimate a child’s ability to understand the truths of the Bible. We are so quick to dismiss their abilities yet this is what Jesus had to say in Matthew 11:25, “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”
Jesus knew what children could understand.
I recently was walking through a nature trail. The leaves rustled underfoot and the sun shone out over the lake next to the trail inviting me to stop and reflect on God’s glory. I found a bench and while I sat there I heard the breeze whispering through the tops of the trees. Just a slight hushed sound and my thoughts. That’s when I pondered on my son’s words.
What did my son say?
He said, “Well, God-breathed means that…” and here he lowered his voice, “God whispered it.”
Wow… God whispered His Word.
Peter said, “…you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
Our Bible isn’t just some compilation of stories. It is the very Word of God whispered into the hearts and minds of men who were selected to be his special vessels to communicate His good news.
How about you?
Have you, like Elijah, heard the “still small voice” of the Lord bringing you comfort, encouragement, and guidance?
If not, maybe you need to spend some time to just be still and maybe in His time you’ll hear His whisper in your heart too.
Streams in the Desert – November 21
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
“Roll on Jehovah thy way” (Ps. 37:6, margin).
Whatever it is that presses thee, go tell the Father; put the whole matter over into His hand, and so shalt thou be freed from that dividing, perplexing care that the world is full of. When thou art either to do or suffer anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it, and acquaint Him with it; yes, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet, diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters. Roll thy cares, and thyself with them, as one burden, all on thy God.
Build a little fence of trust
Fill the space with loving work
And therein stay.
Look not through the sheltering bars
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow.
We shall find it impossible to commit our way unto the Lord, unless it be a way that He approves. It is only by faith that a man can commit his way unto the Lord; if there be the slightest doubt in the heart that “our way” is not a good one, faith will refuse to have anything to do with it. This committing of our way must be a continuous, not a single act. However extraordinary and unexpected may seem to be His guidance, however near the precipice He may take you, you are not to snatch the guiding reins out of His hands.
Are we willing to have all our ways submitted to God, for Him to pronounce judgment on them? There is nothing a Christian needs to be more scrutinizing about than about his confirmed habits and views. He is too apt to take for granted the Divine approbation of them. Why are some Christians so anxious, so fearful? Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord. They took it to Him, but brought it away with them again.
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NLT
What is your goal? Paul provided the Thessalonians with thoughts about their ambition that may seem surprising. Paul recommended that they “live a quiet life, minding [their] own business and doing [their] own work” (TLB).
This is an exceedingly practical approach to life. He knew that as other people watched believers, they would see that the Christian life really works! Their lives would be a real testimony, in some ways more powerful than their words.
In your life, remember that the Bible is packed with principles that apply in every area. These principles apply in your finances and relationships, in your family and community. Paying attention to your own work or school is the goal. Work on your own diet and health. His Word can help you make decisions and have discernment.
Yes, the Christian life has many other aspects. We are called to be people of prayer, to fellowship with other believers, to witness and share how Jesus has changed us, and to study the Word. But Paul reminds us of the importance of practice Biblical principles and the impact they can have on our own lives and others.
People all around are looking for answers. You have the opportunity to be an example to them. Show them how the principles in God’s Word really work and how faith in Jesus has changed you and how He can change them, too.