Just Give Thanks

November is a month we celebrate the holiday known as Thanksgiving in the United States.  In our generation, it is generally classified as a time for family and friends to come together for an absolute food fest and sleepily watch football (while our seriously full stomachs try to digest large amounts of turkey and pie!).  It is also recognized historically as a time to give thanks for the harvest and provision.  I have serious reservations about our country and our ability as a nation to recognize the blessings we have received.  So this article is to challenge all of God’s men to step up and be the leaders God has called us to be and truly lead by example in “giving thanks” for God’s blessings.

One of my biggest concerns is we have lost the ability to give thanks in the good times that we, and our nation, have experienced.  We don’t have to go far in God’s Word to find a caution to those who are experiencing what is often referred to as “the good times.”  God tells us “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.” (1)

Doesn’t this sound all too familiar when we look at this passage and compare it to the behavior of our nation today?  The passage goes on to say “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’  But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.   If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.  Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.”  (2)

Isn’t it amazing how quickly and thoroughly a man can forget the gifts, talents, and blessings God has provided him? He suddenly he becomes a “self-made man” when he is viewed as successful from the world’s perspective!  No matter what we accomplish, no matter how successful we may become we do so with the gifts and talents God has blessed us with.  Isn’t it so very sad that history has to keep repeating itself?

Scripture tells us “If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.”  The thing that should be truly frightening to God’s men is that God has always fulfilled every promise He has ever made.  Whether it was the promise of blessings or curses all of them have come to pass in God’s perfect timing.  So here is the critical question to God’s men; are you giving thanks to your Heavenly Father for your talents and blessings that give you success in your family, your occupation, your community and/or your church?

However, don’t think that I neglect to be very aware that some of you reading this article can truly say “what good times?” when you look at your life in recent months.  Loss of a job, a loved one, or a home, and challenges of the economy, health issues, tragic weather and many other events that our nation has experienced have contributed to the state of mind in which some of us find ourselves.  When I find myself feeling this way (and trust me I do find myself feeling this way) I often go the Psalms because there seems to be so many verses of comfort, assurance and hope in that book of God’s Holy Word.  Let me share just a few of the passages from the book of Psalm that help me get myself back to a mind of giving thanks rather than “woe is me.”

    • Psalm 34:15-19 “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.  The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;”
    • Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
    • Psalm 61:1-4 “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.  From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.  I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings”
    • Psalm 62:4-8 “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
    • Psalm 91:1-2 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
    • Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?
    • Psalm 139:17-18 “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you.”

These are but a few of the many wonderful verses that God gives us to encourage and uplift us even in difficult times. And the truth of the matter is, our ability to give thanks is really not related to whether things are going well or not so well in our lives but has everything to do with our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  I particularly love the passage that says “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (3)   Please notice that it says “supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know to God.”  We don’t hear the word “supplication” often so it seems very foreign and therefore unimportant.  In this case it is very important because the word supplication means to “humbly petition.”  (4)

So to remove worry, stress, and fear from our lives we need to have daily dialogue with the Author of peace, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Unfortunately even God’s men have fallen prey to the idea that we have a “drive-thru God” where we just rush through the parking lot of life, place our order with God and pick it up at the next window.  There’s just not a whole lot in that scenario that implies humility or thanksgiving is there?  Men always claim to have great skills at using logic and simple logic would tell us if we don’t take “EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” to our Heavenly Father then we cannot receive “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” guarding our hearts and minds in and through our Savior Jesus Christ.

So here’s the real deal; whether you are in good times or not so good times here are just a few reasons that you should be giving thanks not only in November but on every day:

    • Colossians 3:17 “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
    • Hebrews 13:15-16 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.  And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
    • 1 Corinthians 15:56-58 “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
    • Ephesians 5:118b-20 “Instead, be filled with the Spirit.  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Colossians 1:12-14 “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
    • 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

GOD’S MEN: God has given us so much for which to be thankful; whether times are good or times are rough! So let’s dedicate ourselves to giving thanks and becoming role models for our families, friends and colleagues and show them what it looks like when a follower of Jesus Christ “lives out loud” the meaning of thanksgiving. AMEN!

(1)  Deuteronomy 8:10-14a.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the 1984 NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.

(2)  Deuteronomy 8:17-20
(3)  Philippians 4:6-8
(4)  Dictionary.com

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