Giving Thanks

 Many times we Christians want to know: “What’s God’s will for my life?”  Well, a great place to start would be to obey the commands found in Paul’s letter to the believers at Thessalonica: : “And we urge you brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. See to it that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thes. 5:14-18).  While it is true that the virtue that should most definitely characterize the life of a Christian is the love we have for one another (Jn. 13:34,35),  it would seem safe to say that another quality which should set a believer apart is an “attitude of gratitude,” and not just for the times when things are going the way we wish, but “in everything!”  (Note that the command is not to give thanks for everything, but in everything.)

     It is interesting that when Paul wrote about the ungodliness and unrighteousness of those who are suppressing the truth (of which there are many today), he said this: “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. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Ro. 1:21,22).  A lack of thankfulness is an indication of spiritual blindness or hardness.
     So why should we be thankful to God? First of all because it is His due.  All that we are and have is from His hand–our health and strength, our food and shelter, our very blood and breath, our time, both now and for eternity. God is worthy of our thanks and praise because He is our Maker. We are not our own; we belong to Him. The rampant feeling today is that every man’s life is his own. But in Revelation 4 and 5 we have two glimpses of praise around the throne in Heaven and we hear these words: “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created” (Rev. 4:11).  We are creatures. God is the CreatorWe are to worship the Creator, not His creation!  When we stop being thankful, we turn our eyes and heart to what God has made and make it our god.
     God is also our Provider and Sustainer.  We have no other source. Life’s necessities, as well as all its extras, come from Him. The Pilgrims knew this well. Do we?
     Our Creator God is also our RedeemerThe Apostle Paul sums up the wonder of God’s redemptive love in a few words: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (II Cor. 5:19).   The Apostle Peter added this: “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold…but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18,19). 
     God deserves our thanks. He is a faithful Creator and Sustainer. He loves us and redeems us by the shedding of the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. But we should also thank God because this is His will and purpose for all men. Whenever and wherever men have valued their relationship with God, they have offered their thanks. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and David gave thanks to God. As their eyes were opened to discern the beauty of God’s holiness, His love and perfections, they responded with thanksgiving and praise.  The Psalmist, David exhorted: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psa. 100:4,5). Thankfulness and praise will be our theme in Heaven throughout eternity, but we need to get started making that the focus of our life now.
     There’s another important reason why we should be thankful to God. To acknowledge His goodness is to see Him as He is and to take our rightful places as His wholly dependent subjects. When we are thankful, we see God’s love and goodness–no matter the circumstances. We are able to discern His judgments. We are receptive to His will. To be unthankful, on the contrary, is to declare our independence from God, to cut ourselves off from Him. Unthankfulness blinds us. An unthankful person probably doesn’t even realize that God is in the picture. An unthankful nation is an unthinking nation and its people are in mortal peril. America’s deepest problems are rooted in blindness to God’s goodness and sovereign power. Her problems are the products of unthankfulness. Where God is pushed out, fear comes in–for the individual or for a nation. “They were in great fear where no fear had been” (Psa. 53:5)  is spoken of those referred to in verse one: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” The price of unthankfulness is high. You cannot ignore God’s rights, God’s sovereignty, or God’s lovingkindness without losing touch with God–on whom your life depends. 
     The Christian should be thankful for many other things; but let me mention only one. Be thankful that all the circumstances of life are in God’s hands. If you belong to Christ, you are called according to His purpose and God will not waste anything in your life. He will make all things work together for good. This is the anchor promise of Romans 8:28 and it will always hold. Nothing God permits will be unplanned or pointless no matter how it seems. Tears will come, but as you trust and thank Him in “all things,” He will weave the tapestry of your life for His glory and for your good.
     Let me close with some thoughts from Charles Swindoll in The Finishing Touch: “THANK YOU LORD: for Your sovereign control over our circumstances, for Your holy character in spite of our sinfulness, for Your commitment to us even when we wander astray, for Your Word that gives us direction, for Your love that holds us close, for Your gentle compassion in our sorrows, for Your consistent faithfulness through our highs and lows, for Your understanding when we are confused, for Your Spirit that enlightens our eyes, for Your grace that removes our guilt.”
 
                                                                                                                   Happy “Thanks-Living”
                                                                                                                                    Pastor Dave
 
 
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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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