Giving thanks is no small thing.
Giving thanks is an important attribute of our faith. God expects us to be grateful for His blessings.
As we pause this week for a day of rest and family and friends and joy and hope in the middle of a dark world, let us not allow current events or personal struggles to cause us to forget the many blessings for which we can and should give thanks to God.
That’s what this week’s holiday is all about.
In her book titled Gratitude, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth writes: “I think we tend to think of gratitude as an add-on, maybe a second tier—grace. You know, right up there with going to church on Sunday night or cheerfulness or hospitality; but as I got into this subject, I realized this is foundational. We are always, always, always debtors. We owe him, we owe others. He doesn’t owe us anything. Yet God has given me Christ; he has given me his grace—He has lavished it on me. For me to be anything other than grateful is really, really wicked.”
Does that sound overstated to you? Is it really wicked to be ungrateful? Wicked to not abound in thanksgiving to God?
Jerry Bridges says it is. He writes “To fail to be thankful to God is a most grievous sin. When Paul recounts the tragic moral downfall of mankind in Romans 1, he begins with the statement, “Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Giving thanks ought not be a once a year activity for the children of God who receive the gift of fresh mercy each day. Our lives should overflow continuously with gratitude to God for all that He has done, is doing and will one day bring to pass in our lives.
So why is it that we are so careless when it comes to being thankful people. How do we cultivate a spirit of thankfulness that permeates our whole lives?
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says she learned the secret of living a life of thanksgiving from watching Joni Erickson Tada
“She’s been for more than 40 years now,” Nancy writes, “a quadriplegic, in a wheelchair with very limited physical capacity. Things that come easily for us—just getting up, getting dressed, feeding ourselves—she can’t do those things by herself. Anytime that anybody is with her, you can’t help but notice that she has this effervescent, joyful, hymn-singing, praising, thankful spirit.”
How does Joni do it? How does she maintain that spirit with all the challenges that she faces in her life?
Joni says being grateful is a choice. “I think over all these years I’ve so disciplined and trained myself to give thanks in all things that that has become my reflex reaction.”
What is your reflex reaction to the circumstances in life? To adversity? To discouragement? To what you read on your Twitter feed?
Is it to give thanks or to grouse? To be grateful or to be grumpy? To whine or to worship?
“I have a friend,” Nancy writes, “who was meditating on the verse, ‘in everything give thanks’ as he brushed his teeth one morning. He realized that he had never stopped to thank the Lord for healthy teeth. And then he thought to himself ‘If we would only have tomorrow that which we thanked the Lord for today how much would we have tomorrow?’ If tomorrow’s supply depended on today’s thanksgiving how much would I have tomorrow?”
Giving thanks, Jerry Bridges says, puts the credit for the blessings we experience where the credit rightfully belongs.
When we cultivate the habit of giving thanks for God’s past blessings, it stirs us to trust God for what is ahead and it strengthens our faith in the process.
When we cultivate the habit of giving thanks we learn to focus on what we do have instead of what we don’t have. And that leads to contentment.
May this Thanksgiving Day be a day that brings great joy and blessing as you express to God how grateful you are for His blessings in your life.
If you are gathering with family or friends to feast on Thanksgiving day, you might consider printing and reading together this liturgy for feasting with friends.
Jeff Brinsfield has some items he’d like for you to have.
Jeff has sold his mother’s home in Carthage, AR. And before the new owners take possession of the house, Jeff has some items that need to find new owners and a new home.
Here’s a partial list of what Jeff has to give away:
A sofa bed
Two deep freezes
Various kitchen items
Lawn chairs and table
Next Saturday, December 3, Jeff will be at his mom’s house at 10am. He’ll be giving away these items (and more) to whoever can come and carry them off. They are available first come, first served.
Carthage is about 15 minutes south of Sheridan. And the house is a little tricky to get to. The address is 225 Dallas 416, and the zip code is 71725. You can click here to open a map.
Because it’s tricky to find the house, here are some landmarks as you make the drive.
You’ll head south on Highway 167 from Little Rock. When you reach Sheridan, you’ll take Highway 46 toward Leola. Once you reach Leola, you’ll turn left on 9th street (Highway 229). From Leola, it is almost exactly five miles until you see a white sign on the left for Hopewell. Take the next dirt road on the left between two old houses. Once on the dirt road, there is a fork, stay on the left side.
Pictures of some of the items will be posted on the Redeemer Facebook page. Keep checking in!
God, for reasons that are his own, chose to bless Isaac’s younger son Jacob (the deceiver) and not to bless Jacob’s older brother Esau.
How is that fair? Isn’t that unjust?
Paul answers that question directly in Romans 9. And we’ll see how he answers it when we gather for worship this Sunday.
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!