How is everybody feeling? Full? Not only did Lyndsey and I celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday with some friends from church, we made a complete meal on Saturday and then had leftovers with our faith family at Faith Bible Church on Sunday. In order to counter the four days of feasting, I feel that I should do a four-day fast!
I find it interesting that we spend one day telling the world how thankful we are for what God has given us, and then the next day go buy more stuff we don’t need to impress people we don’t like (thanks for the quote Dave Ramsey). As if Black Friday wasn’t bad enough, it has now been spread to the next week with Cyber Monday… That being said, the Saturday after Black Friday is also known as Small Business Saturday where we are encouraged to buy locally (a very good thing) and then there is Giving Tuesday! After all of the time spent shopping for ourselves (parents, don’t lie, buying toys for your kids is a way to re-live your childhood, so it is also for you… this is why my daughter gets legos and Lincoln Logs…) we are encouraged to give to charities. This is also a very good thing.
We all know the Bible encourages to “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). We are to always give thanks. How many of us thank God every day? Someone once posed this question: What if we woke up in the morning and only had what we thanked God for the day before? How many of us would be missing a lot?!? I know I would. So, yes, we give thanks all the time, but what are some specific times after Thanksgiving Day the Bible encourages us to give thanks?
There are four times when we are to be thankful.
First, in times of anxiety. Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” There have been times in my life that are defined by anxiousness. When there is more month at the end of the money (Thanks again Dave Ramsey), when my wife was getting near the end of her pregnancy, when I was waiting to hear the vote from Faith Bible Church on whether or not to call me as their next lead pastor, and when I was waiting to hear news from my brother after my dad’s stroke. I was anxious for news, anything! What are you anxious for? What are you having trouble waiting on God for? Paul’s words are pretty clear, don’t be anxious. Pray and be thankful. This is easier said than done. H.A. Ironside once said, “We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”
Second, in our daily walk. Colossians 2:6-7 says “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” It is so easy to get into a routine and forget about what Christ has done in your life. Before I accepted Christ’s free gift of grace and forgiveness, my life was a mess. I had little or no regard for others, disobeyed my parents (even when I knew they were right—sorry mom and dad!), and would do anything to annoy my siblings. Not to mention how little effort I put into my school work. Then Christ became real. I experienced genuine sorry for my sins. My daily walk became different. I knew that Paul was right when he said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Each day was (and is) to be filled with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for what Jesus had done and continues to do in my life.
Third, in prayer. Colossians 4:2 says “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” When I was a kid, I was taught the A.C.T.S. acronym for how to pray: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. It was a good reminder to always praise God for who He is, confess sins, and thank Him for blessings before asking for anything. Often times, I rush into prayer, saying “thank you God, now here is what I want/need…” How disrespectful of me! If I truly believe that God is a Holy God, I would spend more time talking to Him than asking Him for things, things that don’t really matter in the long run. I would spend more time asking and praying for Him to meet people’s spiritual needs than physical needs. I encourage you to spend the majority or all of your time in prayer today in thankfulness to God. Thank God for the big stuff and the small.
Finally, in times of trial. In the accounts of the Last Supper and even in Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians, before the bread is broken and the wine is drank, Jesus gives thanks. Matthew 26:26-28 says “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Jesus knew what was coming. Jesus would spend some time agonizing over what was about to happen when He was in the Garden of Gethsemene and then He would be led to the cross where He would die. This was going to be the most physical, emotional, and spiritual trial that Jesus would encounter. Yet He was seen giving thanks! When I face a trial, the last thing I want to do is give thanks. But I must. Jesus’ brother James also tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).
How are you doing with your lifestyle of thanksgiving? Spend some time this week meditating on the Scripture above and just be thankful. We are blessed beyond measure. Thank you Jesus.
This blog contains material from Motivating with Scripture by John Regier. Used with permission. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.