I always love December 31 because it means I am on the brink of a new beginning. Those failures I’ve experienced during the year can end, and I can start fresh and new. Hope springs eternally in our hearts as we walk in faith and trust with our Lord and Savior Jesus. In Psalms 42 and 43 David questions himself repeatedly with these words: Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
David wonders, and so do I, why I fret over failures, defeats, troubling circumstances, etc? His answer, and mine, is in trusting God alone. His hope, and mine, is in God and the salvation He provides for eternity. So as I end this year, I will reflect on what I achieved for Him, what God did in and through me, and look forward to the New Year with Hope. I will look backward with thanksgiving in my heart as God has been 100% faithful in all things just as He promised.
Isaiah encourages us in 49:29-31 that the Lord knows the way, will provide and lead us in His way of hope.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Will you join me in focusing on Hope and what God will bring your way in 2020? Not only is it a New Year, it is also the beginning of a new decade. Resolve to move Onward and upward with Christ alone!
A lesson and truth I received from the scriptures we studies this month on cultivating a habit of thankfulness in our lives is this: Thankfulness has a powerful affect on me and all those around me.
How have you seen this to be true this season of thanksgiving? Is your mindset towards thanks contagious? “How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9 Paul felt that the thanks he had for his fellow believers, for their faith and love for God, caused him to rejoice. He saw God working in their lives and this brought joy and thankfulness to his own worship. I would call that contagious thanks. Have you ever been thankful for someone or something and it caused you to give thanks to God? As we live our lives, we need to look for those things that God gives us that create ‘contagious thanks’ within our hearts. As we give thanks to Him in these situations, God will faithfully create in us a thanks that will be contagious and will result in our being in a constant state of thankfulness and joy. Paul left the Thessalonians with these words in 5:16-18 “ Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Develop that attitude of gratitude and watch it grow in your own life and then watch it rub off into the lives of those around you.
As you gather around your Thanksgiving table today, let praise and thanks lead your discussion. David expressed it this way in Psalm 107:21-22 : Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
22 Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving
and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.
What praises do you have for the Lord today? Can you tell of things He has done for you this year? As you tell your family, offer your words in thanksgiving to God for His gracious provision, help, love, care and guidance. All we have we owe to Him as He is the provider of all things. If things look dark today, place your hope and trust in Him remembering His promise in Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God is good and has good things planned for you just as He promised.
Have a day filled with thanksgiving and praise!
Have you ever thought that your gifts of love, food, blankets, or money bring back thanks to God? The New Testament believers in Corinth were asked to give donations to their suffering fellow believers in Jerusalem. Paul was headed to Jerusalem and would carry the offerings to them. Paul explains the benefits of giving to them in 2 Corinthians 9:11-15.
“Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” Paul first tells them 2 good things will come from their generosity. Their needs will be met and then they will thank God for providing for them.
Paul then continues, “3 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” Your giving and their thanks will bring glory to God and show your obedience to Christ. Then they will pray for you and give thanks for you and your giving.
Paul is showing us that giving generously to provide for others brings glory to God, and thank-filled prayers for ourselves. Giving comes back to you in thanks. Thanks is something that cannot be measured or quantified but received with grace and turned back to God brings Him glory and you good.
Your giving causes needs to be met and the receiver to be thankful = glorifies God.
Their thankfulness caused by your giving shows how much you love Jesus =glorifies God.
Their thankfulness spurs them to pray for you = glorifies God.
Consider your own generosity at this time of Thanksgiving. Do you know someone who is in need that you can help? Remember your generosity brings glory to God and will result in good for you too. At the very least, it makes you feel good to help others and pleases God by your actions, but knowing our Good God, it will achieve so much more!
As Paul begins his first letter to the Corinthian church, he introduces himself and then proceeds to tell them why he is thankful for them and their faithful witness for Jesus. Walk with me through 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 and put yourself in the place of a receiving Corinthian believer and see what Paul is saying to you too.
“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Have you thought about the gifts God has given you in Christ? Who would give thanks for your serving them with your gifts of encouragement, love, peacemaking, hope, and joy? 5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. Okay, how active are you in your church? Do you go there with the intent of serving the body of Christ? 6 This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. 7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Knowing you have faith and gifts from God, are you serving with anticipation of His return? 8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Through faith in Jesus we have all we will need to keep a steady course and await His return, are you living like He could come today? Are you doing things (praying, studying, worshiping) to keep you strong in your faith?
I thank God for Paul’s ministry, sacrifice and love for others that spills over to me generations later. He was committed and totally living in anticipation of Christ’s return. He wanted to encourage others to follow Christ completely knowing that Jesus equips every believer to complete the tasks He has prepared for their lives. How are you doing in giving thanks for your fellow Christians that serve alongside you at your church, workplace, or neighborhood ? Are you using your God given gifts to support the body of Christ and live a life filled with thanksgiving and praise?
May this November be a time of renewal and praise for you as you consider Christ and all He has done and given you to keep you strong for Him. May it overflow to others daily as you give thanks and serve Him.
What are the effects of not acknowledging God and being thankful? As I pondered that thought I was led to Romans 1:19-22. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Paul is explaining that all people know about God because they see His power in nature, and the creation that is all around them. He says they have no excuse for not knowing there is a God. Creation is too magnificent to have happened by chance and the power of the wind, rain, sun and seasons are so orderly and precise they could not have been by happen-chance. Paul continues, “21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Paul is saying that when people continue to not acknowledge God they become futile, ineffective, useless in their thinking and their hearts turn away from God with dark and foolish thoughts of pride, contempt, greed, and gain. The center of their life’s focus is on them and what they can get or achieve.
Paul was talking about people who did not believe in God, who refused to believe He exists and how it effects their thinking and future. However, part of this lesson could be applied to the one who takes credit for all the good things in their life, their success at work, having a great family or home, having money in the bank and being able to take great vacations. All of those things come to us from God. He is the source of all wealth and honor and the glory, praise belongs to Him. I need to call myself up short if I begin to go down that road with that kind of futile thinking as it leads to dishonoring God.
Today as you consider all you have- thank God for those things, for the ability to do the things you do, for your health and family, your job, your home and most especially your faith in Jesus…. Philippians 4:19 is one of my favorite promises and reminds me who the provider of all is. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Ezra 3:11-13 records the reaction of the people when they succeeded in rebuilding the foundation of the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. God had allowed them to be deported to Babylon for 70 years to refine them and cause them to give up idolatry that had plagued them for generations. Their reaction is genuine and heartfelt. “ And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,
“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.” The weeping was joyous but also many lamented the glory of Temple Solomon had built that was gone.
These verses about their rejoicing over the temple’s foundation reminded me of the foundation we have in Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith. 1 Peter 2:4-6 describes Jesus: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Our faith in Jesus places us in ‘God’s building’, His spiritual house, that has a firm foundation in Jesus. You cannot build a building without a firm foundation likewise, faith without Jesus at its base will crumble, fall and be meaningless.
Think about your foundation of faith today. Soon you will be rejoicing over your foundation, Jesus, and praising and singing thanks to Him!
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
David described his state of thanksgiving as being eternal in Psalm 30:11-12 . Why was he going to be thankful forever? Earlier in the Psalm David said God had lifted him out of the pit, saved him from his enemies, healed him physically and spiritually, had shown him forgiveness and favor. David had experienced God’s forgiveness as he mourned over his sins. In Romans 4:7-8 Paul quotes David’s words from Psalm 32 ““Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Experiencing God’s forgiveness, seeing that God had covered his sins and that his sins would never be used against him in judgement made David eternally thankful and filled him with joy.
What about you? Have you experienced God’s hand lifting you out of despair or trouble, has He rescued you from your enemies or from a really bad situation? Has God touched you physically or spiritually to heal you? Have you been given favor by God in blessings you did not expect and in no way deserved? God had shown himself faithful to David, and David recognized this. His responds was eternal thanks that was filled with joy. What is your response to God’s grace and forgiveness in your life?
Begin today to cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving that is based on God’s grace and forgiveness. You will experience joy from now to eternity.
One area of giving thanks that has seemingly slipped away in America is the practice of giving thanks at meals. It is a rare occurrence to see people praying in restaurants as they are served food. Why has this habit begun to disappear from public view? I really don’t have an answer just some conjectures: **In today’s world, people seem overly concerned with how others view them and do not want to do something considered ‘politically incorrect’ and offend someone. **They have gotten out of the habit of doing this regularly. **Or perhaps thanking God for the food they are about to eat, never crosses their mind as they earned the money to pay for it, so why give thanks? Whatever the reasons they have for not praying- giving thanks is very biblical.
Jesus’ giving thanks is recorded in the gospels on various occasions. Matthew 14:18-19 Jesus is preparing to feed 5,000 people and He said, ““Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people” Again when 4,000 had gathered and had been with him for days, He had compassion on them and gave them food. Matthew 15:35-36 “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people.” After Jesus’ resurrection, he met the men on the Road to Emmaus. They did not know who he was but He spoke to them about himself from scripture. They begged him to stay and eat with them on their journey. Luke 24:30-31 records this encounter, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Paul also followed Jesus’ example under the hardest of circumstances. He was a prisoner being transported to Rome and they were in a great storm. All on board the ship feared for their lives. Paul brings calm into the situation, “Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. 37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board.” Acts 27:33-37
What should be our response to these biblical examples of giving thanks? Jesus in his humanity gave thanks to God for the provision of food for the gathered crowds. Paul gave thanks in a desperate situation that could have totally consumed his thoughts and prayers. They did not ‘forget’ to pray when they were busy and consumed with other things- they stopped, gave thanks and then ate. No matter where we are, we need to acknowledge God when we eat. We need to thank the creator of all things for the provision of food for our bodies. Physical food is essential for our bodies to run well just as spiritual food is essential for our growth and development in Christ. Our spiritual food is the Word of God.
I must confess that I am convicted by this blog today. I often do not pray when I am out in the company of unbelievers or get out of the habit of praying when by myself at meals. Knowing Jesus was in the habit of thanking God for his physical provision of food, convicts me that I should do the same out of respect for God and His provisions in my life. I pray that you are led to do likewise.