Article by site founder, Connie Rice
Most people are thankful for numerous things in their lives – maybe for their family, friends, provision, career, etc. It’s appears that the more thankful people are, the less unhappy they tend to be. There are also those who don’t see the blessings in their lives, but only see the struggles or things they don’t like, and thus are not very thankful. In either case, it may be helpful to look to Scripture to see not only what our Creator says about thankfulness, but to whom we should be thankful.
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.
Today, if only you would hear His voice,
‘Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested Me; they tried Me, though they had seen what I did.
For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known My ways.’ So I declared on oath in My anger,
‘They shall never enter My rest’.”
When we read the Bible consistently and repeatedly throughout our lives, it becomes quite clear why we should be thankful and to whom. However, that does not mean that it is always easy to act on or remember to be thankful in times of struggle. It requires intentionality and a continual effort to maintain our relationship with our amazing Savior, Jesus Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach and transform us through the Bible. We have the promise of heaven for those who have submitted to Christ here, but life here on earth is the domain of the prince of this world (Satan). As a result, we are surrounded by the curse of a broken world – sickness, death, evil, heartbreak, addiction, greed, corruption, confusion, lies, deceit, immorality, arrogance, lack of respect for life, etc. – which can result in people having a lack of hope, which can result in despair. Each of us has our own sinful nature to contend with as well, and can be more of a problem to ourselves and those around us than we would really care to admit. Jesus came to earth and endured pain, mockery, torture, and murder because He knew we were incapable of saving ourselves and that our sin separates us from the very thing that we so desperately need – hope through a relationship with Him and the power to turn from the sin that can so easily control and deceive us.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
We are saved by God’s grace because of His amazing love for us. Our hope is in Him. The more we allow God’s Word to penetrate our minds and hearts, the more clearly we see Him for who He is and how deserving He is of our worship and obedience. This cannot help but increase our awe of the One who loves us and offers us a way of salvation in spite of our flaws and sinful attitudes and behaviors. Jesus’ voluntary sacrifice on our behalf cost Him everything to the point of death on a cross.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 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. 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 3:1-17
It is no wonder that the farther our culture moves away from God and His Word, the worse things become. It’s curious that modern American society has more material comforts than in previous times, but despair, depression, addictions, etc. are increasing. Some look to escape from reality and some seek to redefine reality for themselves. The phrase, “looking for love in all the wrong places” seems to fit here. Jesus is the answer – Scripture tells us that through Jesus, we have access to the peace of God and joy that the world cannot offer. Our identity, purpose, and how we should live are found in the Bible.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”Philippians 4:4-9
At some point (maybe not that far down the road), the evil will rise to the point that God’s final judgment will be upon our world. Each of us has to get to the end of ourselves and recognize our need to seek God’s wisdom, which He has graciously provided to us in the Bible. It is no wonder that the farther our culture moves away from God and His Word, the worse things become. If people do not expect to stand before Him in judgment, they would tend to rationalize evil against their fellow man – perhaps even convincing themselves that they are doing it for the greater good (past history is a good teacher here). At some point (maybe not that far down the road), the evil will rise to the point that God’s final judgment will be upon our world. Each of us has to get to the end of ourselves in order to recognize our need for God’s wisdom, which He has graciously provided to us in His inspired Word.
“You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven?
At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens’. The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”Hebrews 12:25-29
It can be easy for us minimize our sin or even refuse to acknowledge it, but God is merciful and powerful and can help us turn from it. He is holy, so we need to be cleansed of our sin through trusting in Jesus Christ for our salvation and asking for His mercy and forgiveness. Partnering with the Lord and allowing the Holy Spirit to help us grow to be more like Christ and give us the power to say no to sin is a lifelong pursuit and worthy of our efforts. As we place all of our trust in Him, we will begin to experience the extent of God’s faithfulness and understand the psalmist’s words because we will have discovered the same thing for ourselves.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;Psalm 100
give thanks to Him and praise Hs name.
For the Lord is good and Hs love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.“
Having a thankful heart, counting our blessings instead of focusing on what is not to our liking, helps us to be more content – which in turn, gives us a better attitude and perspective. That makes life easier for us and for those around us. We will still fail at times because we can never be perfect this side of heaven, but we can allow the Holy Spirit to help us be the best person, spouse, parent, child, relative, friend, employee, boss, etc. we can be and be quick to ask for forgiveness from God and others when we do fail. A clear conscience is a wonderful thing – it only comes when we are obedient to God’s teachings and do not deceive ourselves into thinking our that sin does not matter to Him (and as the Lord of all, He defines sin, not us). So, to whom should we be thankful?
“For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place.
Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering and come before Him.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. Tremble before Him, all the earth!
The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’
Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord,
for He comes to judge the earth.”
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.1 Chronicles 16:25-36
Cry out, ‘Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to Your holy name,
and glory in Your praise.’
Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”
As our forefathers discovered hundreds of years ago when they first arrived in America, – thanks be to God, who is sovereign over all. Michael Medved explains the history of the first Thanksgiving in one of the “5-Minute Videos” on “Prager U”. The more we know the Lord, the more our hearts will overflow with thankfulness for His love, mercy, and grace and for the supernatural peace, strength, power, and joy that He makes possible for us in this life while awaiting His promise of being with Him and other believers in heaven. – not just once a year as we celebrate Thanksgiving, but every day of every year.
© Constance Rice 2022