Theme: How to Give Thanks
During this Thanksgiving week, we learn how to render thanks to the Lord through the prayers of thanksgiving from Jesus himself.
Scripture: Matthew 14:19
So what should we do this Thanksgiving weekend? I suggest that we should follow our Lord’s example and thank God in each of these ways I have tried to point out in this study.
1. Give thanks for even the smallest things. Instead of thanking God for the big, obvious things you have received or been able to enjoy this past year, why not make it an exercise to thank him for the smallest things, which are the important things after all?
Thank him for the food on the table. Thank him for those who prepared it. Thank him for those who are present to enjoy it with you. Thank him for those who are not present but who love you and may be thinking of you and praying for you. Thank him for those who have died but who were used by God to bring spiritual nourishment into your life. Thank God for those who care about you spiritually today. Thank him for a place to live. Thank him for a place to worship. Thank him for the clothes you wear. There are people who do not have any of these things. Thank him for air to breathe and for such a beautiful world to live in and enjoy. Thank him for health and laughter and children and the fact that we can smile. Thank him for your mind. Thank him for good books to read. Thank him for the Bible.
2. Give thanks at all times. You have done that, particularly yesterday as you began to eat your Thanksgiving feast meal, I am sure. But do it every other day, too. Do it when you go to bed, and when you wake up tomorrow. Do it even when you start out on Monday morning to return to the regular weekly grind of work.
3. Give thanks in all circumstances. And if your circumstances are painful or unhappy or even just undesirable, thank him for those things too. It doesn’t mean that you have to call evil things good. Sin is still sin. Pain is still pain. Sickness is still sickness. Death is death. But Christians do not look at those things as unbelievers do. Bad things are still bad, but they are not the ultimate evil. The ultimate evil is to be separated from God for all eternity in hell, and that has been averted totally and forever for those who are in Christ.
What is more, God is able to accomplish his own good purposes even in the evil world. We can never doubt this if we remember that God accomplished the greatest of all goods, the salvation of his people, through the suffering and death of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Since God’s purpose is to make us like Jesus Christ, whom we love, we can thank God even for the sufferings, for we know they are being used by God to form Christ’s beloved image in us. A few chapters earlier in Romans Paul wrote, “We… rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3, 4). We can be sure that no Christian will ever stand before God in heaven and have any reason to question the wisdom of God in what he has done in that individual’s life. He is God! He is good! He does everything well!
4. Give thanks publicly before other men and women. This may be hard for some people who have never given thanks publicly before. Some people are naturally shy. But that is all right. Your witness will carry even more weight because of your natural reluctance to speak about your gratitude to God openly. Can you imagine what a difference it would make in the moral tone of this country if even a percentage of those who are really Christians would regularly express their gratitude to God for their salvation (or for anything else) publicly? It might be the beginning of a revival. Why are you reluctant to thank God openly? Has he been secretive with you?
5. Give thanks to God. The last thing I have to say is: Give thanks to God. To God! There is nothing you have that is of any value at all that has not come from him. It may have come through human channels, even your own ability to earn money and buy the things you enjoy. But the channels are from God too, and the important things, those that are intangible—life, joy, friendship, peace of mind, contentment—these are from God directly, and you are sinning greatly if you fail to respond to him in gratitude.
Do you believe that? If you do, then speak it out publicly before the watching world.
Why should we give thanks to God?
How often should we thank God?
In what way do we know that God is able to accomplish good even in the midst of evil?
Application: Assign yourself a new reason to give thanks each day. Thank God for the perfect example of Jesus to teach you how to offer thanks. Allow him to teach you to be more thankful for all the circumstances of your life.