Pastor's Ponderings on Thankful Thinking

As the leaves are changing and the air starts to become rather crisp, we look forward to many celebrations and plans during the holiday season. Celebration is a Biblical concept. The scriptures are loaded with details on how God’s people are to celebrate and remember His goodness and faithfulness. For example, celebrations were utilized to remember His character that He is holy, that He is just, that He is the provider, that He is the One who satisfies us, etc.
In fact, God commanded the people of Israel to celebrate regularly. After spending many years in the wilderness, Israel did not have a common practice of celebrating and resting because they had been slaves for several generations. But then, God commanded them to routinely remember His character through celebrations (Deuteronomy 16:1-17).
Because the United States had a godly heritage, it has been engrained in our culture to celebrate Thanksgiving once a year. What makes this holiday so important? Most would rightfully say that giving thanks is a regular command in the Scriptures for believers. Christians are right to assert that. However, there are often two precepts that people might forget when it comes to giving thanks.
The first precept is the purpose of giving thanks. A regular practice for many families is to say something that they are thankful for before stuffing themselves with mashed potatoes and turkey. We thank God for different things on this earth, but we tend not to go further to recognize the attributes of His character while thanking Him for the practical things in life. Having a balance of both the practical and the characteristics of His nature should be evident in our thanking Him. This can be seen in Psalm 136 where the psalmist gives thanks to the LORD for the things he has done and then going further in thanking Him for His character on display in what He did (“His mercy endures forever”). The ultimate direction and purpose of giving thanks should be to God for the purpose of acknowledging His character and giving Him glory. My hope and prayer is that we would make this our purpose during this season of celebrating Thanksgiving.
The second precept that we need to recognize is the consequence of failing to give thanks. Over the past two months we have been studying rocks and fossils in one of our Wednesday night classes. In this class we have been delving into scripture and seeing how holding to a Biblical worldview is extremely important in the Christian life. One of the passages that we examined during our study is Romans 1:18-23 where unbelievers willfully forget His power and divine nature that is made evident in creation. The consequence for not recognizing that He is God and for not giving thanks is that they are given up to go deeper in their sinful ways. As believers, we must take heed to the weight of this passage. When we fail to give thanks, we operate our lives as if we are like unbelievers who are destined to wrath. Thankfully, we who have trusted in Christ as the foundation of our salvation will not be given up to our sinful ways. But are we operating in the new manner of life that we have in Christ? Are we living in thanksgiving, recognizing that God is truly the Creator and Sustainer of life? We owe Him thanks for every good thing…so why not thank Him?
As we enter this season of giving thanks, let us remember that the purpose is to worship His character. And let us remember the great significance and consequence of not giving thanks to our Heavenly Father. May we be encouraged to thank our Heavenly Father for all that we have, and may we enter this season with grateful hearts for His abundant mercy through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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