Thanksgiving week is finally here. This week children and grandchildren will bring home from school turkeys cut out of construction paper with little feathers pasted on them. They will have pilgrims with funny bonnets, hats, and buckle shoes. Unfortunately though, giving thanks is not a natural attribute in anyone. Contrary to popular opinion, we are not born with good tendencies. The Bible tells us that, "there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Romans 3:12). None of us are born with a thankful heart! Thanksgiving does not spring out of our unregenerate nature. It is only when we are born-again that we become genuinely appreciative to God and to man for our blessings in life. Giving thanks is more than just bowing our heads and praying a little prayer over our daily food. It is also more than just a once-a-year event celebrated with friends, relatives, turkey, and pumpkin pie. It is an attitude of heart and life, that leaves us in humble gratitude before God and men.
In Genesis 8: 20-22 we find that Noah gave thanks to God by an offering immediately once he departed the Ark.
"And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord" (Genesis 8:20)
Of all that Noah could have done, he continued to put first things first. What did Noah do immediately upon exiting the ark? He built an altar to give thanks and honor to the Lord. This act of his worship reflects the priority that should be given to this matter of thanksgiving.
The truth is Thanksgiving should have first place in our attitude.
Proverbs 23:7 tells us "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee."
Our actions are controlled by our attitudes. In other words, what we are determines what we do. We must be right on the inside before we can behave correctly on the outside. For thanksgiving to work its way into our daily living, it must begin in our hearts. Jesus taught this same principle during His earthly ministry. In speaking about this He stated,
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." (Luke 6:45)
Solomon spoke about this same matter when he penned these words, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23)
There is nothing easy about cultivating an appreciative attitude. It is something that we have to work on constantly in our inward man. But, as we humble ourselves, and cooperate with His Spirit, the "sweet aroma" of a grateful spirit will begin to reveal itself in our lives. Not only should thanksgiving have first place in our attitudes but Thanksgiving should have first place in our actions.
If we are thankful in our hearts, we will be thankful in our daily living. "Thanksgiving is thanks-living!" That is, a thankful spirit is translated into our actions. Realize this: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) Therefore we should be determined by the grace of God, to always show our appreciation for His blessings. Not only should we demonstrate our thankfulness to God, but we should demonstrate our thankfulness to those around us. Thanksgiving is not just a vertical principle, it has its horizontal relationships as well. When we are sincerely thankful to God for His blessings, we cannot help but be grateful for the kind deeds of others. That means that you and I should be quick to remember to say "thank you." More often than not, to our shame, these two words of thankfulness do not leave our lips.
Lastly, Thankfulness should have first place in our approach to God. When we think of approaching God, the first thing that usually comes to mind is prayer. But, the Bible teaches us to come before God, not only with "prayer and supplication," but also "with thanksgiving." Here are a few verses that demonstrate that simple fact:
Psalm 100:4 "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name."
Psalms 69:30 "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving."
Nehemiah 12:46 "For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God."
As a matter of fact, prayer combined with praise and thanksgiving are often found together in the Scriptures.
Philippians 4:6 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
Colossians 4:2 "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;" 8
Nehemiah 11:17a "And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, was the principal (song leader) to begin the thanksgiving in prayer:"
Looking at the account of Noah we can all agree that what he did concerning his approach to God agrees with the Bible. His "prayers" and "giving of thanks" came first. He was quick to give God the glory for what He had done! We need to learn to follow Noah’s pattern of worship.
Let this Thanksgiving Week be the beginning of a new pattern of thankfulness in your life. This surely will bring glory and honor to God!
Psalms 95:2 "Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms."
- Pastor David Carroll Senior Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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