Thanksgiving Day is usually a time of the year when we consider our blessings and offer up thanksgiving to God for all we have. However, the Bible teaches us that we are to have an ongoing mindset of thanksgiving. It should be at the core or our character and the attitude we choose daily.
A Psalm of Thanksgiving
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
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 Examined
The first verse in this passage suggests that we make a joyful shout to the Lord. Have you ever been so excited about something that you shouted? Having an attitude of true thanksgiving for what God has done for us and who he is, should evoke excitement and joy. The passage goes on to remind us we do this because God is good!
Verse 3 teaches us God is worthy of our thanksgiving and praise because He is our creator. For that reason alone God deserves our praise and thanksgiving, but there’s so much more to God, He is also good.
We are to give thanks because God has always been merciful and always will be merciful. Finally, we should give thanks because God’s truth endures to all generations. That means everything we know about God; who he is, what he’s about, his promises to us and his love for us, will never fail.
Thanksgiving according to Scripture
Always Give Thanks
1 Thessalonians 5:18 teaches us, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
“Two men were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence. The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it. Terrified, the one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!” John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.” “But you must!” implored his companion. “The bull is catching up to us.” “All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.'”
Some might interpret 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to mean, no matter what happens to be thankful it happened. God never suggests we should be thankful because we were abused, hurt or fell on financial hardship. God doesn’t say be thankful when evil comes our way. Rather in spite of our circumstances we choose to recognize God as God and honor Him as always worthy of our praise.
A Thankful Heart Leads to Worship
Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.
You can’t enter into a true spirit of worship unless you are thankful. Luke 17:11-19 gives an account of Jesus healing 10 men who had leprosy. These men approached him and asked for healing. He told them to go and themselves to a priest. (Priests were the only ones who could determine a person was clean). Of the ten only one returned to give thanks.
“The following are nine suggested reasons why the nine did not return:
- One waited to see if the cure was real.
- One waited to see if it would last.
- One said he would see Jesus later.
- One decided that he had never had leprosy.
- One said he would have gotten well anyway.
- One gave the glory to the priests.
- One said, “O, well, Jesus didn’t really do anything.”
- One said, “Any rabbi could have done it.”
- One said, “I was already much improved.”
The Bible says, not only did the one man return but, he returned praising God in a loud voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus giving thanks.
Giving thanks isn’t about the words you speak but about your attitude towards your circumstances.
Colossians 2: 6-7 says, “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.”
Overflowing with thankfulness gives us the idea of abundance or that we are so full of thankfulness that everyone can see and it flows over into every area of our life.
What hinders us from an attitude of thankfulness?
We get accustomed to the blessings
“The Israelites in the wilderness got accustomed to their blessings, and God had to chasten the people (Num. 11). God had fed the nation with heavenly manna each morning, and yet the people were getting tired of it. “But now our whole being is dried up,” they said, “there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (v. 6).
Nothing but manna! They were experiencing a miracle of God’s provision every morning; yet they were no longer excited about it. Nothing but manna!”
God is so consistent, so faithful to us that if we’re not careful we can come to take them for granted or develop an attitude of entitlement.
We have chosen an attitude of discontent (complaining)
Just like the Israelite’s, some of us have taken to complaining rather than being thankful. This happens when we lose sight of God. When we shift focus from God’s goodness, to our problems we can easily develop an attitude of discontent and complain bitterly about our circumstances.
Unfortunately some folks don’t appreciate what they have until its gone or they are at risk of losing it. I want to challenge you today to open your heart and mind to all the things God has done for you. Remember, God didn’t just give you life; he sustains it day by day, moment by moment. Keep your focus on the blessings of God and let your thanksgiving be joyful and overflow into every area of your life. Amen.