By James J. Fire
THANKSGIVING is the favorite holiday of choice among many Bible believers and disciples of Jesus Christ. It’s the one that has apparently been untainted by the customs and mythic beliefs of this world.
Christmas (the observance of the birth of Christ at any rate) is tainted with Santa Claus, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and materialism in the world of commerce to your home.
Easter (barring the pagan name – I prefer to call it Blessed Resurrection Day myself) is about the resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ from the dead, and yet here too we have such things as Easter Baskets, the Easter Bunny, etc. and so forth.
Thanksgiving is at least in form, untouched; true, people partake of food in such quantities as to be considered gluttonous; but the idea of thankfulness is present. The world just doesn’t seem to know to Whom they’re to express their thanks (themselves and their own industry maybe?) – or if they offer thanks, it’s to some generic concept of ‘God’.
For the believer however, thanksgiving is not just one day of the year to observe; rather it’s a heart attitude to maintain every day, and if one wills, to make a special observance of such on this last Thursday of November.
*~Why is it imperative to give thanks to God all of the time? Doesn’t He know our hearts and whether we are actually thankful or not? Why the need to constantly express our thanks to Him?
Well, for one reason, the Scriptures are replete with verses that speak on “giving thanks” and expressing our hearts of gratitude to the Giver of all blessings and gifts . . .
2 Sam 22:50
Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
2 Sam 22:51
He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.
He is indeed the tower of our salvation, and shows mercy, not just to the king, David, but even those of lowly estate, meager and poor though their circumstances may be; in that which is vital and of eternal importance, the LORD is gracious in salvation and mercy (1 Chron. 16:34) and for these reasons, we offer our thanks and note this: "among the heathen". The unsaved are to see our gratitude for God and this is, in part, a faithful witness and testimony before them!
The Psalms are as overflowing with thanksgiving and praise to God as are our Thanksgiving tables with delectable feasts! And they’re just as stuffed with such subject matter as a roasted turkey!
Psalms 30:4, 12
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
Over and over the Psalms remind us to give thanks to God for His holiness, for His goodness and mercy, and for His righteousness and justice, and for His faithfulness to those whose hearts are towards Him!
Likewise in the New Testament, we see an ample supply of admonitions and exhortations to “give thanks” to the LORD –
We are thankful to the LORD for our fellow saints, that the LORD saved their souls and through whom we find encouragement and cheer, as one member of the body ministers to another to our mutual edification and joy:
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
We understand that God’s will for us is to “give thanks” in – not necessarily “because” but at the least, “in all things”:
1 Thess 5:16-18
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Another Psalm links thankfulness with the worship of God, and the life of a believer is to be as constant in worship as it is in breathing! It so “blesses His Name” to see His own beloved children express their heart-felt appreciation and thanks to Him for all He has done for us!
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Thankfulness is associated with love and peace in the Scriptures:
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Its sobering to note that the unsaved, and specifically those opposed to God have as one of their defining characteristics an attitude of an unthankful heart (Rom. 1: 21; 2 Tim. 3:2) and they did not (and do not) glorify God, a primary reason for our very existence!
There are times of sorrow and deep loss for every saint in the kingdom; its during this time, when overwhelmed with grief and despondency when one is tempted to become hardened of heart, even accusing God with such words as “You could have prevented this, LORD!” or something similar.
It’s during these times that we do well to remember that even in the darkest of days, and the deep, deep despondency of grief and pain, there are still things to be thankful to the LORD for – and such thanks offered, at such times when one feels least like doing so, is a sacrifice to the LORD. In bringing the heart about, and directing it towards God in thanksgiving is a means of lifting us out of our present circumstance, so we can see, despite the current calamity, that we have an eternity of blessing awaiting us, for which it is proper to express our thanks and gratitude:
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
Anxious thoughts, worry and frustration will be abated when once we direct our hearts in prayer and supplication to the LORD, and in bringing before Him our thanksgiving, and thus bearing the fruit of peace which shall rule our hearts:
Philippians 4: 6-7
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Its important that we express thanks, and in so doing, bringing to the fore the constant reminder of the supply of the LORD’s blessing – even if there is a temporary lack of physical blessing in our earthly world – that shall endure for all eternity, knowing that our struggles and burdens we endure now are only temporary – like our lives themselves: but a vapor that appears for an instant and then is gone.
Those that ignore the offering of thanks will soon forget the blessing and provision that the LORD brings to us, and will see only the pain and sorrow, the deficiencies and lack, the darkness and dreariness of life, and as a result become bitter and hard of heart, not expressing faith towards God, but unbelief and mistrust.
Hebrews 3:12-13, 19
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
We are God’s sheep, the flock of His pasture – and the LORD is our Shepherd, we shall not want (have any need unmet); it’s important that we “rest” in His provisions just as He has faithfully made provision for our salvation! He Who wrought such an incredible provision that will endure throughout all eternity, is He any less able to meet our temporal provisions that we have need of (sometimes desperately so), even in today’s society of a depressed economy, scant provisions for employment, and with little foreseeable hope on our future horizons (EXCEPT for the Blessed Hope of the LORD’s SOON RETURN!)?
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
A good brother (and worship leader) that I know is fond of saying, “If the LORD Jesus died for our sins, and did nothing else for us, this in itself would be far, far more than we ever deserve.” Yet the LORD daily loads us with benefits (Psalm 68:19), some of which we are not even presently aware of! Yet we must remember, since our Abba Father has granted to us His Son, Whom He willingly sacrificed on the cross for our salvation, how much more shall He in the same Spirit of Grace, Love and Peace give us all things, and freely so?
What He would have of us, if I may say so, is a closer walk with Him, recognition of His provisions, both physical and especially spiritual, and a heart fluent in worship and thanksgiving.
This Thanksgiving, may we all stop and consider that which the LORD has blessed us with, and if we can think of nothing else (though I’m sure we can!), the primary cause and focus of our thankful heart: the LORD Jesus Christ, our King, and Savior and Chiefest of Friends! HALLELUJAH, what a Savior!
Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart
Today as you read this, there is a saint in Communist China who is imprisoned, having endured torture, who is thankful to the LORD for giving them the grace to bear up under such violence and remain faithful to His Name despite such. Others are enduring the same thing behind Islamic borders and are likewise thankful for the same reasons…
There are other followers of Jesus Christ who are thankful in Africa for the handful of food, a daily provision for their present need, and not looking towards tomorrow’s needs, but leave that in the faithful hands of our dear LORD…
Other believers are gathered together at a funeral of a beloved who has departed; thankful that the LORD allowed them to be blessed by their life, and the privilege of knowing them, and that they are securely in the hands of our Abba, and awaiting our own arrival in heaven…
Some saint has had a tragic car accident and has lost their legs, and now will spend the remainder of their days in a wheel chair, but they are nevertheless thankful for the days when they did have good, strong legs . . . and are also thankful that the LORD spared their life, which means that they have yet some divine purpose to fulfill in this world, for His glory…
At that same hospital, another believer is fighting cancer, and in the pain and anguish, offers up sacrifices of joy, thanking Him for grace to endure, and a life lived with beloved family and friends, and with whom, they will one day be reunited, delivered from all disease, pain and death...
Now we focus our attention on a healing that the LORD performed on ten lepers; apparently there was at least one among them that was not Jewish but "a stranger (foreigner)" . . . who received healing like the other nine, but with a difference:
Luke 17:11-19 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Again, we see that the giving of thanks equates to glorifying God; let us as His beloved, glorify Him by offering our heart-felt and deep, abiding thanks this not only on this upcoming Thursday, but all the year through!
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.
“Everywhere God is present, but there is a peculiar presence of grace and glory into which men should never come without the profoundest reverence. We may make bold to come before the immediate presence of the Lord - for the voice of the Holy Ghost in this Psalm invites us, and when we do draw near to him we should remember his great goodness to us and cheerfully confess it. Our worship should have reference to the past as well as to the future; if we do not bless the Lord for what we have already received, how can we reasonably look for more? We are permitted to bring our petitions, and therefore we are in honour bound to bring our thanksgivings.” ~~ Charles Spurgeon