Being Thankful

Philippians 4:6-7: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I know I have said it before, but Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. While I appreciate the season where we remember the Incarnation of Christ and likewise rejoice when we observe His Resurrection, Thanksgiving embodies the truly Christian holiday of our nation. This is a day which has been set aside to acknowledge the Lord and His goodness to His people.

Yet for many, this day is often forgotten in the midst of dinner preparation and after-Thanksgiving sales. Innumerable households are even now planning where they will shop on Friday instead of how they will remember the Lord on Thursday. Indeed, in my past, there was a time when I too was caught up in the Americana experience of football and self-indulgence. Growing up, Thanksgiving was a secular holiday. Time off from school and time for food. That was about it. But over the years, God has done something remarkable in this heart of mine. In the midst of the feasting and celebrating, I now want praise and thanksgiving to the “Founder of the feast” to be paramount. And I want this to be what I leave in the hearts of my children as they remember Thanksgiving Day.

Consider the alternative to thankfulness. And note, even Christians can fall short here. What is our focus if we do not thank God for who we are in Him; where He has placed us; what He has called us to do; and where He is directing us? If we take our eyes off of God and the incredible ways in which He has blessed us, we may find ourselves staring down a slippery slope that passes through selfishness, pride, fear, anger, and finally despair.

Our selfishness may be revealed in the way we seek to pamper our flesh or ignore our sin. Our pride is evident to everyone, but us, when we ponder all the things “we” have accomplished and all the faults and shortcomings of others. We puff ourselves up, convincing ourselves of our own importance, and with a feigned sense of confidence. Yet, there inevitably comes that ever present fear of the unknown – how long will the good times roll? Will thieves, death, sickness, or old age rob us of what “we” have earned? Or, perhaps, we focus on what we don’t have, what someone else has, or what we have already lost. Then anger or jealousy may rear its ugly head as we ponder how others have “done us wrong.” In the end, we’re left alone with our bosom friend, despair.

No, by God’s grace, these things are not for me. And surely, Christian friend, they are not for you either. Let us instead rejoice and be thankful.

1 Chronicles 16:34: Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

We are to be prayerful and thankful in everything! The good and the bad (at least what our mortal eyes see as bad). When we do this, we acknowledge the sovereign plan of God, that all things work together for our good, since we are a people who love the Lord and are called by Him (Romans 8:28). We are saved by grace—God’s immeasurable grace. What are we saved for? We are saved to proclaim His holy name!

Psalm 106:47: Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise.

True thanksgiving requires three things: an understanding of God’s sovereign management of the past, recognizing that those influences have made us who we are today; an awareness of God’s provision for the present, viewing our current situation as His plan; a trust in God’s direction of the future, holding on to the promises He has given us in His Word. If we see what our great God has done for us through the work of His Son, the strength He gives us today to live for Him, and the power He offers us to trust in His promises, we will indeed be thankful, not only this coming Thursday, but every day as well.

So, I am thankful. And I pray you are as well. Here are some things I am particularly thankful for this year…

I am thankful for the godly wife the Lord has given me. Thank You, Lord, for Stacy.

I am thankful for the heritage the Lord has given me in our children and grandchildren. Thank You, Lord, for posterity You have given me, spreading out as arrows across this land for Your glory.

I am thankful for the families of Providence. I am daily amazed at the love our families have for one another and for their faithfulness to the work of Christ. Thank You, Lord, for Providence Church.

I am thankful for the elders in our denomination. Thank You, Lord, for friends who love, challenge and stand by one another.

Lastly, I am thankful for the peace of God that passes all understanding. Knowing the Lord is sovereign over His Creation gives me a peace regardless of the situation. Thank You, Lord, for teaching me daily. Thank you for the truths found in Your Holy, infallible Word.

If you are reading this blog and you don’t know the peace that I am speaking of, then I encourage you to read through the page Becoming a Christian. If the Lord uses this in your life, or if you have questions on the Christian faith, feel free to contact me at the church office: 309-387-2600.

And to make it legal, the opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the other elders or members of Providence Church.

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