This is a month when we emphasize being thankful. Our Lord modeled thanksgiving for us in the Gospel of John. When Jesus received five small barley loaves and two small fish from a boy, he held them in his hands. “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (John 6:11) There were five thousand men present. We are not certain of the total number of all who were fed that day, but it was an amazing miracle. In his actions Jesus was being thankful for what he had, believing that it would be turned into something greater. It was! Actress Roma Downey once observed: “A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles.”
Thanksgiving is to be offered to our God who can do greater that we can envision. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Thanksgiving is to be offered while we are petitioning God in prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, 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.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Thanksgiving is to be offered at all times. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Thanksgiving is to be offered while things aren’t going well. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Richard Baxter wrote: “Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can…Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart.” Baxter’s words encourage us to think of thanksgiving as a spiritual discipline to be practiced by us continuously, regardless of how we may be feeling. Our God deserves to be worshiped, praised, and thanked for who He is, for what He’s said, and for all He’s done. As one practices this discipline God brings to mind things for which we should be thankful – things which we may not have otherwise remembered unless we were engaged in this prayer of gratitude.
There are so many things for which we may be thankful – our families, our homes, our employment, the food we eat and the clothes that we wear. Relationships should cause us to be grateful as well. The Apostle Paul expressed thanks for Philemon, saying, “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers.” (Philemon 1:4) All of the Colossian believers were special to Paul. He wrote, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for the saints….” (Colossians 1:3-4)
Most of all we should be grateful for the gift of eternal life. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:57)
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.