4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Eph. 4:4-8 NIV
Though the official day of Thanksgiving has come and gone for another year, we need to continue to let that attitude of gratefulness rule in our hearts and lives on a daily basis. We are fast approaching the season that we will be celebrating the greatest Gift of all, so we have every reason to continue in our celebration of thanksgiving and remembrance of all that God has done and continues to do for us. We should continue to rejoice and cast our cares on the Lord by presenting them to Him through our prayers and petitions. If we do this, we will find that peace that transcends all human understanding. We need to keep our focus on Jesus, who is the total embodiment of all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Think about such things, especially when satan tries to put thoughts in our heads that would destroy the peace that Jesus died for us to have. We have the Prince of Peace Himself as our constant companion, learn to lean on Him and experience the joy of total dependence on our Lord and Savior.
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as afragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. — Ephesians 5:1-4 NASB
We are going through a time of thanksgiving and praise for all the blessings that God has poured out on us and also for His grace in bringing us through the rough times in our lives. Most had a few days off and/or our regular routine was changed for a few days. When we are at family gatherings and places of worship, it is much easier for us to praise God and give thanks. We have been surrounded by those who love us and we feel a kind of insulation from worldly influences. But what do we do when we retrun to our jobs or schools? We will be around those who are more concerned about worldly things than spiritual. We will be more likely to hear the kind of talk that Paul describes here in this passage. It is this kind of mindset and conversation that causes us to focus on the world and not on Jesus. This can cause our attitudes to change from thanksgiving back to the worldly attitude of greed and coveteousness. As we go back into those situations. we need to remember that where we are or what we are doing does not change who God is or what He has done for us. In the face of all that satan confronts us with out in the world, we need to show others the love of God by keeping our conversations pure. We just need to keep practicing the attitude of love and thanksgiving until it becomes a lifestyle, not just a season in our lives.
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
Amen.” — Revelation 7:9-12 NIV
While John was on the Isle of Patmos, Jesus Christ gave him a vision of things that are happening in heaven and things to come. This passage is a scene that will happen after the great tribualtion. All of God’s children are now gathered home. The celebration is in full swing and what does John see that is going on in heaven? Everyone is worshipping and praising God and Jesus! We will be standing before the Lamb and praising Him with a loud voice. All the elders and the angels fall on their faces and worship God. We do not know a lot about heaven, God has chosen to keep most of it a mystery. But one thing we do know is that we will spend time praising and worshipping Jesus, the Lamb Who was worthy to be slain. My guess is that the celebration will go on for a few million years before we get involved in whatever else God has prepared for us. After all, time, as we know it, means nothing in eternity. So, it is a good idea to practice praising Him every day here and now, so that we can join in with all the tribes and nations in heaven!
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generouson every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. — 2 Cor. 9:10-13 NIV
Starting today, we need to prove to God that we are truly thankful for all the blessings He pours into our lives. We can do that by sharing those blessings, whether they be talent or time, words or worth, things or thoughts.
Someone you see today and every day needs a kind word, Take a second to smile and greet them. Someone you see today and every day needs someone to just listen to their story. Stop and listen, really listen. Someone you see today will be hungry and/or homeless. Feed them, naturally and spiritually. Someone you see today is feeling worthless and unloved, take the time to assure them of their worth and value in God’s scheme of things. If we make it a habit to do these kinds of things daily, we will not only be proving to God that we are truly thankful, but the world will know that we have been with Jesus. When we share our blessings, at the end of the day, each of us will find that we are the one who was truly blessed and received the greatest blessing.
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ — Matt. 25:40 NIV
1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. 3 For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; 7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. — Psalm 951-7a NIV
This morning, before we get all caught up in feasting, football, and other frivolities, we need to be sure that we spend some time with the Maker of all things. The greatest commandment is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind“. So, let’s spend some time in doing just that before we get distracted by all the worldly things. Just as we need to bathe and dress physically before we attend a banquet, we need to do the same thing spiritually. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to prepare us before we present ourselves to God, our Father. Then we can truly enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Let’s stuff our minds and hearts with His Word before we stuff our bodies with the bounty of His goodness. Let us partake heartily of the cornucopia of His Spirit before we partake of the cornucopia of the natural. Above all, throughout the day, shout or whisper your thanksgiving for His tender, loving care.
7 On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord:
8 Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 9 Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! 10 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! 11 Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore! 12 Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth — 1 Chronicles 16:7-12 NKJV
“That day” was the day that David and his men brought the ark back to the tent David had prepared for it in Jerusalem. David had tried before to get the Ark to Jerusalem but he did not observe the correct procedures for transporting the Ark. This time, the priests carried the Ark, as they should, and David stopped numerous times along the way to sacrifice to the Lord. This time he was successful and the Ark was once again at home, where it should be. It was a time of great celebration of victory and the peace of the land.
There is a parallel to the story of the founding of colonies in America. Just as David fought many battles before God established Him, there were unsuccessful attempts to establish colonies in America before the Plymouth colony was successful. Just as the Ark was moved around, there had even been earlier Thanksgivings at other locations in America. Just as David successfully returned the Ark to Jerusalem and celebrated, the colonists did not have a celebration until they had weathered some rough times. It was after their first successful harvest in 1621, that they invited the Wampanoag tribe to a 3 day celebration and time of Thanksgiving to God for bringing them through the tough times.
Thanksgiving is more than feasting and football, let us remember the real reason for our celebrating. We need to strive to make it a time of thanksgiving for our deliverance as a nation and for our personal deliverance from sin because of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. — Colossians 2:6 7 NIV
The most important thing to be thankful for is salvation. So, from the very moment we are saved, our hearts should begin to be filled with gratitude. From that point on, all the blessings that we receive daily should continue to fill our hearts with thanksgiving and praise for our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. To the extent that we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, our evil thoughts and desires are changing to good thoughts and desires. There has/will come a day when we should be overflowing with joy and gratitude because of the goodness and greatness of the God that we serve. Each day should bring less complaining and more reason to give God praise and thanksgiving. The praise and gratitude that fills our hearts will be reflected in the words that we speak.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. — Luke 6:45 NKJV
Every time we bring our petitions before the Lord, we need to remember to bring with them an offering of thanksgiving and praise!
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations. — Psalm 100:4, 5 NKJV
This is for now and all generations, not just the future when we enter into the gates of heaven and the courts of God. Every time, we speak His Name, we are entering into His gates and His courts. Let our hearts and our mouths overflow with praise for His goodness and mercy!
6 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. — 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
As Thanksgiving approaches, let us prepare our hearts and minds to give thanks to God for all the wonderful, marvelous ways He has blessed us. We don’t want our prayers to become ritualistic but we can learn from the example of the Jewish celebration of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles. This celebration begins after all the harvest is in and lasts seven days. During this time those observing the feast build a sukkah (a temporary structure or hut) and eat most of their meals there, God instructed them to do this in remembrance of all the things He had brought them through during their 40 years in the desert. The huts were reminders that they had wandered through the desert without a permanent home. From this, we can learn to set aside a few minutes each day to remember the things God has brought us through. If we are faithful to do this all week perhaps it will become a habit and instead of a season of Thanksgiving, we will continually thank God for His goodness every day. Thanksgiving will become a part of our daily lifestyle.
12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. 13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, — 2 Peter 1:12, 13 NIV
“A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably.” ~ John Bunyan
10 Is it not you, God, you who have now rejected us and no longer go out with our armies?
11 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.
12 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. — Psalm 60:10-12 NIV
God had temporarily rejected the nation of Israel because of their continued disobedience and refusal to repent. His rejection of Israel was not total nor permanent because of His covenant to them. As Christians we can be sure that God will always have a remnant of believers to carry on His work. However, God has made no covenant with our nation that requires Him to allow it to stand. It has stood for over two hundred years because of God’s mercy in spite of our rebellion and disobedience. It appears to us that God has rejected us, but it is we who have rejected Him. We, just as Israel, have turned from God to our own wisdom and to humans to help. Human wisdom and human help is worthless. But, it is not too late for us, if we, as a nation, will repent and turn back to God.
As we approach the Thanksgiving season, let us commit, together, to spend three minutes a day praying that our nation will repent, so that God can continue to show us His mercy. Three minutes; one minute praising God for Who He is, one minute thanking God for what He has done, and one minute petitioning God not to withdraw His mercies.
1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior– 1 Timothy 2:1-3 NASB
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. — James 4:1-3 NIV
Let’s think back over the last few “discussions over differences” that we have had with a loved one, an acquaintance or someone ever the phone. In what percentage of the statements that we made, did the word “I” come up? Were our thoughts, desires, and words based on “just judgment” or on our fleshly desires? Were we seeking justice or desiring to convince the other person(s) involved that we were right and they were wrong? Or, if we are honest, were we just wanting to have it “our” way? If we just wanted to have it our way, that is pride and we were more than likely wrong and just didn’t want to admit it. When these “discussions over differences” get a little ugly, the flesh desires to kill and we satisfy that desire by using unkind and hurtful words. Those words kill relationships. We covet the approval of our opinions from the other(s) involved in the discussion. so, we try to change their minds with our gift of persuasion. Instead, we should understand our limitations and ask God to change the minds of the ones who are wrong, accepting the fact that that might be us and not the others. If we truly want God to answer our prayers (and He always does), then we need to be ready to accept the answer He gives. Because the passage ends with the words “that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”, we tend to limit it to mean money. But, it applies to more than possessions and money, it also applies to time and talents. Are we using the time, talents and possessions that we have now for the glory of God? We need to remember that all these “things” are really God’s anyway, they are just on loan to us and we could lose them quickly. Before we ask God for anything, we should be sure that what we are desiring will bring glory to His name.
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. — Col. 3:17 NIV