Thanksgiving

November/December 2017, Volume 99, Number 6

Gratitude

“Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones” (Psalms 149:1. All scriptures from NASB).

Kent and Sean Humphreys

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The word “Thanksgiving” has a far-reaching meaning. Typically, when one hears this word, they envision a banquet table overflowing with delicious food and surrounded by hungry appetites! In the United States, the annual celebration of Thanksgiving takes place in the month of November. It is a time when families come together from far and wide to fellowship with one another and to give thanks for the bountiful meal that is set before them. This tradition originated in America in the year 1632. It was first celebrated during the month of October by Plymouth Colony Pilgrims in appreciation of assistance from members of the Massasoit Indian tribe in celebration of the first harvest. This same celebration has been held in the United States ever since.

However, this is a narrow view of a powerful word that is connected more with a spiritual application than with an annual celebration. There are many uses for this word, and here we will examine several.

The common word “amen” is closely associated with thanksgiving. After giving thanks at the beginning of a meal, the speaker generally closes the prayer with “amen.” Hence the connection with the word thanksgiving — that is, gratitude or grateful acceptance of what is offered.

When giving thanks (Thanksgiving), a person expresses gratitude for the item received. In Matthew chapter five, Jesus gave nine beatitudes to his followers. These were instructions to His followers regarding how they should conduct themselves in order to be acceptable to Jehovah God. Obedience or thanksgiving occurs as a result of following these heavenly
instructions.

Gratitude is another way of giving thanks. When someone lends you a hand or maybe gives you financial aid, you are grateful for the assistance. Gratitude is another form of being thankful.

Thankfulness can come in many forms. In this occurrence, it is associated with the Ark of the Covenant being brought into the Temple: “And all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman,  Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred twenty priests blowing trumpets in
unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and glorify the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets
and cymbals and instruments of music and when they praised the LORD, saying “He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (2 Chronicles 5:12,13). Their thankfulness
and gratitude was expressed with music and reverence!

Thankfulness is the expression of a loving heart. These psalms express some of the most loving sentiments of Thanksgiving ever expressed! The following are a few of the psalms written by David which reveal his tender heart and his thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father.

● “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon, and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is the man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost take care of him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, and dost crown him with glory and majesty!” (Psalms 8:3-5).

● “I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy wonders. I will be glad and exult in Thee; I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1,2).

● “O come let us sing for joy to the LORD; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods, In whose hands are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Come let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psalms
95:1-6).

We should emulate this condition of the heart that David expresses so beautifully in the psalms. In our daily lives, we have many opportunities to express our thanks to our co-workers and our families. Thanking anyone goes a long way in paving the way for a wonderful relationship. It is a sentiment that expresses to the receiver your appreciation of their efforts and kindness!

When we consecrate to our Heavenly Father, we are telling Him from our heart, that we wish to give our life in total service to Him, and that we are thankful He has called us for this purpose.

The Example of Jesus

As our Lord Jesus and His disciples were assembled in the
upper room, the Lord’s Supper was about to be instituted. “And
while they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is My body. And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them saying, Drink from it, all of you” (Matthew 26:26). In this experience of Jesus and His
disciples, we realize the highly symbolic language that was used; however, the point of our lesson is to show that even our Lord gave thanks for what they were about to receive.

“And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more” (Matthew 26:44). As shown in this example, praying is synonymous with thanksgiving, and acceptance. At one time, small children, including this author, were raised to always say “please,” and “thank you.” It was a form of respect to elders. Today, it is rare to hear those words spoken in public. Kindness and politeness seem to be a thing of the past.

In the early church, we find an example of thanksgiving in the writings of Apostle Paul concerning the unity in the church. “Paul called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank
my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:1-5).

Here, Paul is acknowledging through thanksgiving the grace that was received from the Father. He stresses this fact by saying, “I thank my God always concerning you.”

We should always be in a state of thanksgiving.  Everything we possess has been given to us by the Father, as stated in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “For who regards you as superior? And what
do you have that you did not receive?” Nothing happens by happenstance. Our Christian conduct should reflect this, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1
Thessalonians 5:16-18).

David’s Example

David expresses similar thoughts. “Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing” (Psalms 107:22).

Again, David expresses the thoughts and positions that we as new creatures should always have in the forefront of our minds, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits towards me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones. O LORD, surely I am Thy servant, I am thy servant, the son of Thy handmaid, You have loosed my bonds” (Psalms 116:12-16).

We should be like David in our heartfelt sentiment towards God, as well as to one another. David was always looking for some way in which he could please our Heavenly Father.

Finally, in Psalm 118, we see the absolute faith that David had in God, which should be reflected in our lives also. “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly. The right hand of the LORD is exalted. I shall not die, but live, and tell the works of the Lord. The LORD has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to Thee, for Thou hast answered me; And Thou has become my salvation”
(Psalms 118:16-21).

The prospective saints of God who are running for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus should also express the sentiment of thanksgiving. It should be forever in their
hearts and minds. Paul, the master wordsmith, teaches us this. “Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for
your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:14,15).

Why is this so important? It is because we all have moments in our lives where we feel insecure and unhappy, and a little unthankful. The Apostle Paul goes on to explain why it is so important to keep this lifeline open to our Father. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayers and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the
peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7).
Other synonyms for thanksgiving include “benediction” and “blessing.” As we go through life, no matter the circumstances, let us remember that our Heavenly Father is in total
control of our life. “In everything give thanks: for it is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ).

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