Thanksgiving

Of all the people in the world those of us in this country should be truly thankful, as we live in a rich and prosperous land of liberty. We give thanksgiving a lot of lip service. We even have a national holiday that is set aside for a day of Thanksgiving. Yet, just how thankful are we? Do we properly understand what it means to be genuinely filled with gratitude and thanksgiving toward God? The last Thursday in November is the only time some will pause to offer thanks to God. But giving thanks unto God should not be seasonal but continual, "for in Him we live and move and exist" (Ac.17:28).

The Scriptures instruct us to give thanks to God. And I am impressed with comprehensive nature that should characterize this thanksgiving. The apostle declared, "Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father" (Eph. 5:20).

When we fail in our thanksgiving toward God not only are we in violation of His will, it puts us in pretty bad company. Among those mentioned in Romans chapter 1 whom God gave up because of their wicked hearts and lives are the ungrateful. "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom. 1:21-ff).

We need to remember the source of our blessings. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits" (Ps. 103:2). "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow (Jas. 1:17). It is nearly inconceivable that we could enjoy so many good things in life without ever stopping to remember the source of those daily blessings. All of the physical blessing of food, clothing, and shelter come from God's provision. And certainly all hope and provision for salvation has been given by Him through His son Jesus Christ.

Many not only fail to give thanks for the physical blessing they receive for God, many do not express thankfulness for the sacrifice of Jesus as they fail to worship and obey His will. Every spiritual blessing is found in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). The only way we can be set free from sin and thus have hope of the Kingdom is to obey and serve Jesus. And how thankful we should be for the great sacrifice He made to give us this hope. The apostle Paul realized his lost condition without this great sacrifice and was truly thankful for what God had done for him. He declared, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom. 7:24-25). Paul knew the source of the blessing he received and he gave thanks unto God through a life of service.

There were times in the history of Israel in which they failed to show thankfulness to God. Through the prophet Isaiah, God declared, "An ox knows its owner, And a donkey its master's manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not consider" (Isa. 1:3). Here is something that even beasts know. They know the one that shows them affection and feeds them and thus show affection in return. Yet, sometimes people fail to show as much understanding and consideration as does an animal. God says they did not "consider." The word "consider" means to think about, or examine mentally. The Israelites problem was that they never took time to stop and think about where all their blessing came from. They were not thankful. It is interesting that the old Anglo-Saxon word from which we get our word "thankfulness" means "thinkfulness." To be thankful we must be thinkful or mindful of all the good things God has done for us.

Let us express thanksgiving to God for all the physical and spiritual blessing He provides. And let that thanksgiving be expressed, not annually, but daily through a continual life of obedient service.

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