“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1 NIV
We have all heard of the Americans celebrating their ‘Thanksgiving’ holidays. Their pilgrim ancestors who set sail for the new world, though faced with many hardships, came together to thank God for His bounteous provision and care. Despite the harsh conditions and trials which took many of them to an early grave, they were grateful to the Almighty for every benefit they received. What a great example to all of us!
I have often wondered why Christians don’t have special occasions or days set apart in the year for giving thanks to God – after all there is a precedent for this in the OT. Some believe that Paul’s writings suggest that the idea of observing one day as more holy than others is somehow incongruent with a Christian lifestyle – with the possible exception of the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship. We are not to have special days or seasons. Paul, of course, meant that all days are to be devoted to God and lived in holiness – whether at work or in private or corporate prayer. Worshipping God in the Spirit means worshipping Him at all times – being conscious of Him in the midst of our daily work or rest.
So, we do not have holy days – for all days are to be holy – but we sometimes need holidays. Jesus called His disciples away for short periods of rest and fellowship with Him. Everyone feels the need for an occasional break from their routines – a holiday when they can have some time to themselves, and bond with their loved ones. In the OT, the Israelites were commanded to take a holiday each year!
“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year…” (Leviticus 23:39-41 ESV)
Sunday – is a day given to us to bond with God and with one another. Most worship meetings today will devote some time to giving thanks. Yet, what a blessing we might enjoy, if we see every Sunday as a day set apart in our week for thanksgiving. Let us use this day to consciously thank Him often, with all our hearts, for His many mercies and blessings. I was going through a list (in my Olive Tree Bible study app) of things that the Bible has to say on giving thanks, and they include –
- Thanks should be offered to Christ (1 Timothy 1:12), through Christ (Romans 1:8, Colossians 3:17, Hebrews 13:15) and in the name of Christ (Ephesians 5:20).
- In private worship (Daniel 6:10) and in public worship (Psalm 35:18)
- We magnify God by thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30)
- We are to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving (Psalm 116:17) and abound in faith with thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7).
- Thanks should be offered for the gift of Christ – 2 Corinthians 9:15
- For the nearness of God’s presence – Psalm 75:1
- For Christ’s power and reign – Revelations 11:17
- For the reception and effectual working of the word – 1 Thessalonians 2:13
- For deliverance from indwelling sin, through Christ – Romans 7:23-25
- For victory over death and the grave – 1 Corinthians 15:57
- For the grace bestowed on others – 2 Thessalonians 1:3
- For the faith (Romans 1:8), love (2 Thessalonians 1:3) and zeal (2 Corinthians 8:16) exhibited by others.
- For the conversion of others – Romans 6:17
- For the triumph of the gospel – 2 Corinthians 2:14
- For wisdom and might – Daniel 2:23
- For the goodness and mercy of God – Psalm 106:1, 107:1, 136:1-3
- Before receiving food – John 6:11 and Acts 27:35
- For the supply of our bodily needs – Romans 14:6-7, 1 Timothy 4:3-4
- Upon the completion of great undertakings – Nehemiah 12:31 and 12:40
- For all people – 1 Timothy 2:1
- Thanks should be offered on behalf of God’s servants – 2 Corinthians 1:11
- For the willingness to offer our property for God’s service – 1 Chronicles 19:6-14
- For appointment to spiritual service – 1 Titus 1:12
- The heavenly host give thanks – Revelations 4:9, 7:11-12, 11:16-17
- We are commanded to give thanks – Psalm 50:14
- Thanksgiving should accompany prayer (Nehemiah 11:7, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2) and praise (Psalm 92:1, Hebrews 13:15)
- We should give thanks God always (Ephesians 1:16 and 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 1:2) and in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
The list goes on, but here we gain an understanding of the importance of giving thanks. The more we offer thanks with our lips, the more joyful our lives will be. Sometimes, it can seem like a sacrifice, but this sacrifice has a definite promise attached to it – “Sacrifice a thank offering to God, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call on Me in a day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you will honour Me.”
So, let us resolve to hallow our Sundays by offering thanks – with our lips, and in our hearts, as often as we can remember. As we do this, the habit of thanksgiving will flow over into the other days of the week. Our lives will grow happier and more victorious, and our witness more powerful.
Father, we thank You, today for every benefit and every blessing in our lives, both material and spiritual, but especially for saving us. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.