Thanksgiving is over and here comes Christmas!!! This is the time of year that really flies by for me. It’s already December first. I had planned to write what I’m thankful for, I actually had a whole draft which I am now typing over. Instead I want to share the article below. It sums up more than what I’m thankful for and reminds us of what this time of year is supposed to mean. I hope you enjoy!
In Everything Give Thanks
By: Margaret Manning
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Had I read and understood this verse as a young girl, perhaps I wouldn’t have needed to read all the books I read about finding God’s will for my life, or attend all the seminars on discernment, or spend anxious nights in prayer wondering if I was perfectly aligned with the will of God. Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians that giving thanks in everything was God’s will for them, plain and simple.
On the surface, this seems too easy, too simple to encompass something as deep and as wide as the will of God. And yet, praise and thanksgiving have always been the markers of a people who walked in the will the Lord, even of those who struggled with circumstances in which we would be stretched to find any reason for praise.
For ancient Israel, the concept of thanksgiving was explicitly tied to remembering all that God had done on their behalf. The people are told to remember the God who “brought them out of the land of Egypt” and to remember “the days of old” when the Lord found them “in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled them, He cared for them, he guarded them as the pupil of His eye” (Deuteronomy 5:15; 32:7-12). The psalmists remind the people to “remember that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer” (Psalm 78:35), and Job cries out in defiant praise after losing everything, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
A spirit of thanksgiving marked the earliest followers of Jesus as well. These early believers were so overjoyed at the Spirit’s work among them that they shared meals, their property and possessions, and were continually praising God (Acts 2:42-47). Paul exhorted the Philippian Christians to offer their prayers and supplications “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6), and the endless song around the throne of heaven in Revelation sounds the chorus for “blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever” (Revelation 7:12). Indeed, it is the will of God, from beginning to end, for us to give thanks and praise.
The American celebration of Thanksgiving was founded because our earliest leaders thought it important for the entire nation to stop and give thanks. Written in 1782, one of the first declarations concerning the day of Thanksgiving read:
“The United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of divine goodness to these States:[…] Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.”(1)
This declaration reflects the notion that the mark of a great nation, like the distinction of God’s people in Scripture, is in its thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is God’s will for God’s people because when we give thanks for who God is and what God has done in our lives, there is no room for jealousy of what others’ have, no room for complaining about what we lack. Even in times of deepest sorrow, there is a joy that rises up on the heart when praise comes even with tears. Thanksgiving makes the heart full of gladness which overflows from our lives and spills out into acts of kindness and generosity. When we are grateful, we cannot help but share our gratitude. And this is the will of God for our lives.
I am grateful for a day set apart to focus on thanksgiving, but I am challenged to live into God’s will for my life by giving thanks in everything, every day of the year. As the author of the letter to the Hebrews concludes: “Through God then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God that is the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”(2)
Margaret Manning is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1)Thanksgiving Proclamation State of New-Hampshire. In Committee of Safety, Exeter, November 1, 1782 from https://www.history.com.
(2) Hebrews 13:15-16.
Copyright (c) 2008 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
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