Theme: Giving Thanks for All Things
This week’s lessons help us to celebrate Thanksgiving properly by impressing upon us the importance of continually expressing genuine thanks to the Lord for all his blessings.
Scripture: Nehemiah 8:10
In addition to our families and our homes, let’s be thankful for our health. One of our television advertisements used to say, “If you have your health, you have just about everything.” While that is an overstatement, physical health is still a very great gift from God. Many are sick. Many are terribly sick. If you are not sick, thank God for the good physical health he has given you.
Let’s thank him for our work. There are people without work. In our city, particularly in the inner city, the unemployment figures are staggering. Without work people have no resources. They cannot buy the necessary things you and I take for granted. But even worse than the lack of necessities is the loss of self-esteem being without a job entails. And it is not just people from the lower levels of society that suffer a loss of esteem when they are workless. Sometimes well-educated and highly skilled people lose their jobs too. If you have meaningful work—even if you just have work—be thankful. Employment is not universal.
Thank God for the little things too: the car you drive that you like so much, that new winter coat, the book you are reading and enjoying, tickets to the orchestra, your favorite restaurant, your garden, the comfortable chair in your study, your golf clubs, your piano.
Be thankful for friends. Some people literally have no friends. Their life is one long uninterrupted path of loneliness. Friends enrich our lives and fill them with many happy moments. If you have friends, be thankful for them. Even Jesus was thankful for the friends God gave him.
Let’s also be thankful for the wonderful blessings we enjoy as citizens of a democratic nation: freedom of speech and worship; helping to elect people to govern our cities, state and federal government; opportunities to travel freely; personal ownership of property; and other such items. We have been reminded recently of those who live behind the Iron Curtain who have been unable to enjoy any of these benefits until very recent days—and some they still do not enjoy. Do not despise your freedoms. You may lose them someday. Thank God for them.
Above all, thank God for your many spiritual blessings. We are thankful for our material blessings, or should be. But remember to keep them in perspective. A person may possess much and still perish miserably in the end. This is why Jesus asked the piercing question, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul” (Matt. 16:26)? As wonderful as our material blessings are, they are still far less important that our spiritual treasures.
If you belong to Christ, God has turned his wrath against you aside, and he now sees you as his very own beloved son or daughter. If you are Christ’s, you have been delivered from the cruel rule that sin has had over you. If you are Christ’s, you have the Holy Spirit to console, guide, bless and strengthen you. If you are Christ’s, you have the privilege of prayer. If you are Christ’s, you are an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus. All that he has is yours, and you are destined to enjoy it with him eternally in heaven. If you are Christ’s, he has gone to prepare a place for you and will come one day to bring you to where he is.
So enjoy! Enjoy your spiritual blessings, and your physical and material blessings too. Thanksgiving is a day for enjoyment. “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks.” But remember: “…send some to those who have nothing prepared.” And before you plunge in, say “thank you.” Amen.
Do your prayers include a proper focus on praise and thanks? What are some reasons why we do not render them as we should?
Make a list of specific things for which to thank the Lord each day. Include God’s blessings toward other people.
Application: Pray for a greater spirit of thanksgiving, and seek to encourage others around you to do the same.