Thanksgiving!

There is a prophetic description of our day given in the first part of II Timothy 3. As we look down through this list of the shortcomings of this era, we might think that being “unthankful” is one of the lesser evils of our day. It is, in fact, one of the most evil!

 

Why? Because ingratitude is the basis of all of the other evils. This is born out in another description of our day given in Romans 1. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”  (verse 21–emphasis mine) This chapter goes on to describe the perverseness and wickedness that has resulted from the attitude of ingratitude in our world today. It all started with their being unthankful!

 

According to I Peter 2:9, one of the missions of the church here on earth is to restore an “attitude of gratitude.”  “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  “To show forth the praises of Him” is just another way of saying “to give thanks,” for in Hebrews 13:15, we read, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

 

How important is our thankfulness to the Lord? Psalm 50:14-15 exhorts us to “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Here the Lord is telling us of His desire to help us in our time of difficulty. And all He asks in return is that we be thankful and that we glorify Him.

 

Paul told the church at Ephesus that he was praying for them that they might “be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19) Here Paul stated that if we could but grasp the extent of God’s love for us, we would then be able to understand how much He wants to do for us and we could then avail ourselves of “all the fullness of God.”  The next verse says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”  When we put these scriptures together we see that they tell us, not only what God is able to do, but what He wantsto do for us – and it is exceeding abundantly more than what we think! Surely our thanksgiving is a big part of that “power that worketh in us” to bring about His desire for us!

 

In Genesis 1, we are told that before there were any stars in the heavens, God had already created the earth. The scriptures tell us that He had already created light, a firmament, and vegetation on the first, second, and third creative days.  It was not until the fourth day, the scriptural account tells us, that He created the sun, moon and stars: “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:16) Up until this time, the earth apparently had been hanging in the midst of an empty, starless sky. This verse tells us why that God created the sun and the moon – but why did He create the stars? The best answer I can find is in Psalm 19:1-2 – “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” It seems that God did all of this just to show us, not only how great He is, but how great He wants to be in our behalf. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, which is but one of thousands, is 100,000 light years across. The next closest “big” galaxy is 2.9 million light years away.  Some estimate that it is 47 billion light years to the edge of the universe. And yet God is bigger than all of this! “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jeremiah23:24) Despite the fact that the universe is ever expanding it will never become as big as the Lord. If the heavens were created to declare His glory and His greatness they could by no means be small.

 

What is the lesson in all of this? Not only is God great! He desires to exercise that greatness in our behalf!  The heavens declare, not only the vastness of His power – but also the vastness of His love.  Psalm 147:3-4 explains the lengths to which God has gone just to help us grasp His great feelings toward us – the breadth, length, height, and depth of His love. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.  He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.”

 

How much does God Almighty want to do for us? “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). How can I access this vast supply? “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let you requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6). There is nothing too big – there is nothing too small! God is concerned with the most minute details of our lives and wants to supply every genuine need. All He asks in return is that we be truly thankful.

 

And the best way to express our thanks to Him is with our lives. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:17-24) What we find in these verses is life lived with thanksgiving. What we find here is THANKSLIVING! And a grateful spirit will affect everything about your life. It will affect your prayer life, your worship, your treatment of your spouse, your children, your brother and sister, and of the sinner. It will affect your attitude, your activities, your thoughts, your words, your choices. If you are wondering, “How can I say thanks to the Lord for all He’s done for me?”  The answer is, “With your life!”

 

What is the will of God for your life?  Thanksliving! “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit.”

(I Thessalonians 5:16-19-emphasis mine)

Rev. Robert Stroup is the District Superintendent of the Indiana District, United Pentecostal Church International. He is Pastor of Pentecostals of South Lake in Merrillville, Indiana.

 

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