Gratitude

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  

Can any of you think of other verses in the Bible that mention gratitude?  Raise your hand if you would like to share.  

With praise and thanksgiving, they sang to the Lord: “He is good;  his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid (Ezra 3:11).

When I was asked to contribute an article for November, I naturally thought of Thanksgiving.  On this day, we are to be thankful for all that we have, including, of course, the de rigueur green bean casserole and the breed of turkeys that have pop-out belly buttons to indicate that they’re done roasting. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever (1 Chronicles 16:34).

We often meet with our families on Thanksgiving, and this “together time” is most precious.  My wife and I, as grandparents, take special joy in the growth of our family and seeing the seats around the Thanksgiving table beginning to fill again.  

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts (Colossians 3:16).

I like to preface our Thanksgiving meal by asking each person to name something for which they are grateful.  It reminds us of our many blessings and puts us into a proper frame of mind for our prayer, giving thanks for what we have received. 

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds (Psalm 9:1).

I ask my ESL students about their impressions of America. All mention freedom, something that we too often take for granted.  We have freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of opportunity, freedom from want, freedom of choice.  But what do you think is our greatest freedom?  I’ll come back to this later. 

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High (Psalm 7:17).

One freedom that I am exercising right now is the freedom to write this religious article without fear of retribution or persecution. So, yes, we have freedom of religious assembly in this country.  How wonderful is that?  

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

But should we just be grateful on Thanksgiving?  Is this the only time to be mindful of all that God has done for us?  An exercise for you:  Please fill in the blanks in the following sentence.  “Please help me to express my gratitude to you, Lord,  _______ and every ______.”

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 (Colossians 3:17).

Getting back to the question, “What is our greatest freedom,” I believe it is a freedom not only for one country but for all humanity.  Namely, the freedom from sin that the agonizing sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary gave freely to us out of His unbounded love.  

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices, God is pleased (Hebrews 13:15-16).

We celebrate this gift every Lord’s Day by partaking of the bread and the fruit of the vine in remembrance of His sacrifice on our behalf.  I know it is not yet time for making resolutions; that comes on New Year’s Day. But surely, as we are blessed daily, wouldn’t it be an act of gratitude to Him who offers us salvation to remember His sacrifice daily?  

But how should we express our gratitude to God?  We can’t very well send Him flowers and a note of thanks.  What, of course, comes to my mind, and probably yours as well is to praise Him in prayer, offering up our heart-felt gratitude before turning to our many petitions for healing and comfort. 

And indeed, God has expressed through His Word how He would have us give thanks.  

We see in Micah:

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:6-8).

And from Luke:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Thanksgiving Day is a day marked out to express gratitude as a nation.  Let us, as Christians, be mindful of our gratitude to our Savior every day. 

Soli Deo Gloria