Proclaim It or Practice It

This week we celebrate one of my favorite holidays of the year . . . Thanksgiving Day! 

In our home, like many of yours, it is a time of enjoying the company of family and friends; sharing in the kitchen and around the dinner table; and remembering the grace of God as seen in His care and His compassion in our lives.

In the year of 1777, the Continental Congress issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation encouraging citizens of our new country to express appreciation to their Holy Creator.  Their proclamation, read throughout the colonies, instructed them “to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received and to implore such farther Blessings . . .”

It was recommended “to the legislative or executive Powers of these United States to set apart Thursday . . .and . . . at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance . . .”

What an incredible insight and moving thought that was proclaimed thorough out our land . . . to set aside one specific day to honor with gratitude and express our dependence on God.

Paul had a different take on declaring our sole dependence on God and evidencing that through a statement of thanksgiving.  In I Thessalonians 5:18, he wrote, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Where our early forefathers thought it prudent to issue a proclamation for the giving of thanks, Paul instructed that it be a practice of our daily lives as followers of Christ.  As we set aside some time to celebrate all that God has done, let’s consider several ways to make this attitude a part of our daily walk with Him.

Remember that God is good and His love endures forever.  Throughout the Psalms, the writers encouraged us to remember this phrase, “God is good and His love endures forever”.  (Psalm 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 118:29, 136:1,2,3,26)  Other authors of the scriptures also remind us of this truth of God’s goodness and love. (II Chron 20:21, Ezra 3:11, Jer 33:11).  Remembering that He is good confirms His care for me today.  Remembering His love endures forever confirms His concern for me tomorrow.  In both, I have the confidence and encouragement to “give thanks”.

Recall all that God has done.  David says in Psalm 9:1, I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”  Taking an inventory of all that God has done in my life, for my life and through my life causes me to stop and give thanks.  Have you ever sat down, looked at an old photo album and then began to recall forgotten memories?  Recalling your salvation, answers to prayer, grace that was given, mercy that was great, faith that moved . . . each of these causes us to “give thanks with our whole heart.”

Respond to God in psalm, in praise and in prayer.  I know this may sound a bit unusual . . . but when is the last time you sang to God, thanking Him for what He has done.  That’s where the book of Psalm originated.  David, Solomon and the psalmist expressed their adoration and appreciation to God through song, through praise and often using these expressions as a prayer.  Psalm 30:12 says, “That my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.”  Paul wrote that we are to Let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God.”

Rejoice as God works in the lives of others.  This was a common expression of the New Testament writers.  Paul frequently wrote that he thanked God for fellow saints and co-workers.  (2 Thess 1:3, 2:13, Eph 1:16, Col 1:12, I Cor 1:4, I Thess 1:2).  Giving thanks for what God is doing in the lives of loved ones, co-workers, fellow worshippers, and other saints not only develops appreciation for God and His work, but also for those in whom He is working.

Realize that this is God’s will for you.  It’s His will not just for you, but for all of us.  Paul reminded us, “in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  Whenever we feel we have lost direction in finding God’s will . . . start by giving thanks.  Appreciation to God for who He is and what He does always gets us back on track to finding His will.

As we put these thoughts into practice, what results will we see in our lives?  Let consider three:

  1.  Gracious Response:  When I practice these five etiquettes of thanksgiving I begin to see a change in the way that I talk and respond.  I no longer complain or criticize. Instead, I begin to bless and encourage.  It’s often been said that “sour grapes produce a fine WHINE”.  How true.  When we rejoice in gratitude, we respond with grace.
  1.  Grateful Reflection.  Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8, Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (The Message) Not only will my speech be effected, but my thoughts will also be impacted.
  1. Gentle Reactions:  What does the old proverb say . . . “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”?  Gratitude changes our speech, it changes our thoughts and in turn, it changes our actions.  James identified this as a reflection of wisdom, But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

As we approach this wonderful time of the year . . . of time of thanksgiving and a time of true worship, I pray that you will not just proclaim a day of giving thanks, but that you will indeed daily practice giving thanks.

May God bless you as you remember, recall, respond, rejoice and realize all that God is and all that He has done.

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks unto the Holy One,
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say “I am strong”,
Let the poor say “I am rich”,
Because of what the Lord, has done for us

Give Thanks!
Give Thanks!
Give Thanks!

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