First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

On Thanksgiving Day, families gather around their televisions to watch football games after devouring a large feast.  Some have even salted a bit of sentimental religious feelings into the day by saying grace before the main meal.

In contrast to this, the apostle Paul advises us to show gratitude to God no matter what our circumstances are.  Our forebears, the Pilgrims, knew that Paul was right for in the midst of want they met to express gratitude.  Abraham Lincoln also knew that, in spite of the circumstances (the Civil War, “a war of extreme severity”), expressing gratitude to God the Father affirms faith and issued a proclamation for a Day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated the last Thursday of November 1863.

Three things happen personally as you express gratitude:

(1.) Gratitude Mutes Arrogance.  When things are going well, it is easy to believe the myth about our own independence.  Steady employment, good health and fine education contribute to our idea that everything we possess comes from our own brilliance and hard work.  Self-sufficiency is part of the modern mindset tilting our thinking away from true humility and reliance upon a holy God.

Gratitude mutes this arrogance as the Holy Spirit reminds us that all success and achievement comes only because of God’s grace and His enabling power.  Without Him, we truly can do nothing!

(2.) Gratitude Motivates Action.  Paul puts gratitude and living thankfully together–“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).  To Paul, thanksgiving, words, and deeds all impact each other.

Each God-given ability has some useful expression in the life of another.  Every Christian has a unique circle of friends and acquaintances that God has placed them among and to whom they can show the love of Christ.  We say thanks to God by using these abilities for His glory.

(3.) Gratitude Multiplies Adoration:  The cornerstone of worship is this:  “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).  The gift of grace found in Jesus Christ is the starting point of our gratitude.  Reasons for gratitude should not only be for the blessings God has given, but for His Son Jesus who bore your disgrace and sin.  He defeated death by rising from the grave and lives in Christians now through the Holy Spirit—the One who enables them to live victoriously over the sin that desires to destroy them and their relationship with God.  Adoration of the Lord will increase as you measure what you were without Christ to what you are now as you surrender to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Gratitude.  Thanksgiving.  What noble emotions!  They express appreciation to God for talents, abilities and gifts which enable people to fulfill what He has called them to do.   Gratitude motivates you to action.  Obedient Christians express gratitude by dedicating their time, talents, effort and finances to lift up Christ in their communities. Gratitude multiplies adoration for Jesus who died for the sins of everyone who will receive Him.

How will you express gratitude to God with your life?

Psalms of Thanksgiving

What The Bible Says About Praise To God

It not Christmas! It is Thanksgiving! This world view has made merchandise of the Gospel and stolen the label Christmas. As soon as the Halloween candy is off the shelves, the stacking of Christmas items are stocked for sale to the average person who has bought the idea — shopping early gets you the best deals. With little to no reminders, promotions or forethought, the heart of thanksgiving is pushed aside to indulge in a pagan observance of getting. Yes, many people love to give at Christmas, unfortunately, in their giving they have left out the reason for the season, Jesus Christ. The Book of Psalms sets the record straight in regard to honoring God.

There are six different Psalms which are called declarative praises. 1.) Praise for the Lord’s strength. The Bible says “No king is saved by the size of his army… A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite its great strength it can not save. But the eyes of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope is in His unfailing love.” (Psalm 33:16-18)  2.) Praise for the Lord’s Deliverance. “I have not hidden your deliverance… nor concealed your great love from the congregation.” (Psalm 40:10)  3.) Praise for the Lord’s Forgiveness. “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them…” (Psalm 32:1-2) 4.) Praise for the Lord’s Goodness. “I will exalt you Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.” (Psalm 30:1) 5.) Praise for the Lord’s Help. “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me.. He set my feet on solid rock and gave me a firm place to stand…” (Psalm 40:1-2) and 6.) Praise for the Lord’s Awesome Deeds. About the work of God, “Come and see what God has done, His awesome deeds for mankind.” (Psalm 66:5)

There are descriptive psalms which invite you to praise God, (Psalm 105)  enjoy God’s wisdom, (Psalm 127:1) teach the pilgrimage of the Lord’s people, (Psalm 120-134)  that praise God at His throne, (Psalm 103:19) which admonish our sons, (Psalm 34:11) teach how to bless the Lord, (Psalm 1:1) teach about the importance of the Word of God, (Psalm 119) which share about the contrast of the righteous and wicked, (Psalm 1:6; 49)

The Psalms are so key to the spiritual growth of God’s people. The New Testament quotes the Book Psalms. Jesus referred to the Psalms many times in His teachings. The most popular teachings were Jesus gave reference to the Psalms are the Sermon on the Mount, the Last Supper, and at the cleansing of the temple.  After Christ went to be with God, His Father, the Psalms played an important influence on Christian living and in the early New Testament Church, with the Psalms being sung as a regular part of the song service.  (Jeremiah, D. (1994). Ten burning questions from psalms: Study guide (p. 102). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

Are you praising God this Thanksgiving?

Your Pardoned

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Enjoying the promises in this passage of Scripture begins with understanding confession. “Confess” (homologeo) can mean to agree with. It also means to confess publicly the wrong we have committed. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament; Vines Amplified Expository Dictionary of the New Testament; Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains; The Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament; Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament)

If you have sinned against your children, spouse, church or anyone, then you must confess to the wrong and ask for forgiveness from them and God.  If it is against the leadership of the church and you have taken it publicly to others in the Body of Christ, then a public confession is a necessity.  If you have sinned against leadership in the work place and made it public, then it needs to be set right before man and God.  This does not include unknowing sins or unintentional offensive.      Before 1 John 1:9 is verse eight, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  We can be in bondage in some way and convince ourselves that we are innocent.

Walter B. Night wrote in “You Wicked Wretch” about a governor’s visit to a large penitentiary:  “It was his secret plan to pardon a prisoner who met a certain condition, known only to himself.  He mingled with a great number of prisoners, all claiming to be victims of injustice, all claiming to have been wrongly treated and were innocent of their crimes.  Finally, one inmate said, ‘I have no reason to complain. I am guilty of my crime, wicked and desperate.’

The governor took this man to the warden, identified himself to the prisoner and said, ‘It is a pity that you should be here among so many innocent, honest men!  According to your own confession, you are bad enough to corrupt them all! You shall not stay with them one day longer!’ The governor pardoned him and ordered preparations to be made for his release.”

Your pardon from God comes through confession.

True Thanksgiving

Psalm 100 says, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanks giving and His courts with Praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 100 is indeed a psalm of praise.  Thus, this passage of Scripture should be wholeheartedly looked to when considering what true thanksgiving to God is all about.

The Hebrew word for “shout” literally means, with an expression that can be easily heard, you are to shout for joy to the Lord.  Just as football fans shout for joy when their hometown team makes a touchdown in a football game, Spirit-filled, born again Christians are to give a loud praise unto the Lord for His great works.  In all places of Christian service, whether in private, family or public worship He is to be given joyful praise.

The child of God who desires to give thanks to his Creator will give his heart, ears and mouth to songs that glorify the Lord.   God’s children know that He has created them; they belong to Him because Jesus purchased them with His life’s blood.  They have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and they will worship Him in spirit and truth.  They will enter into public worship for there is an agreement in their hearts with the psalmist David when he wrote, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’’” (Psalm 122:1)  Gospel-worshipers are given an ordinance to be joyful worshipers for this is what brings communion with the Father, the Son and fellowship through the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

The psalmist reminds us that the Lord is the only true living God.  His loves endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

People of this world worship gods created in their own minds and hearts.  A god is whatever gets the first fruits of your attention, your money and your extra time.

Time for your checkup… what types of songs get your adoration, money and time?   Whose praises are constantly upon your lips?  How loud do you shout at ball games versus the exuberance of your praises to the Lord for His redemption, provision and continued faithfulness?  What keeps you away from Christian fellowship, church attendance, and quality Bible studies?  Does your life reflect true gladness in service to Jesus Christ?  The Bible says that true worship is “…offering your bodies as living sacrifices, holy, and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Make this Thanksgiving season the time you begin expressing joyful praise to the Living God who created you!

Thankfulness In All Things

            1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  To fail to give God thanks is a symptom of unbelief. (Romans 1:21)

The true victories enjoyed in this life by born again Christians are obtained through thankfulness to God.  As long as the child of God is prayerfully seeking God’s guidance, he can look at aggravations, temptations, afflictions and persecutions as being opportunities for being transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  …to be conformed to the likeness of His Son…”

Jesus knew aggravation in ministry. In Gethsemane, Jesus took Peter, James, and John into the garden with him and gave them very clear instructions, “stay here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38) “Keep watch with me,” meant “stay awake and pray!” These three disciples were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, (Matthew 17) and they were with Jesus in the home of Jairus where they witnessed the raising of a dead girl. (Luke 8)  If anyone would be fired up, ready to walk in obedience, we would think it would be these three, yet they failed the Lord.

Jesus knew Satan’s attacks in service to His Father. Matthew 4:1 says, “…Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”  Having Satan after you open’s the door for tough times.

The Apostle Paul knew persecution and Satan’s afflictions in ministry so that he may enjoy Christ’s power in the Lord’s work. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) The whole of Scripture teaches us, if we are seeking with all our hearts and strength to walk in obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, in our afflictions we can be thankful for the opportunity to rest in “Christ’s” power. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

In reality, there are tough times. Being alone in prayer, being attacked by the devil, suffering affliction and even persecution are tough times. However, these are opportunities to find strength through the Holy Spirit and be formed into the image of Christ.  Grow Christ-like through a life of thankfulness in tough times

Thankful In Tough Times

Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

This passage of Scripture was written while the Apostle Paul was in prison and gives us truths to protecting our spiritual hearts in this life.  The people to whom the Holy Spirit led Paul to write were faced with worrisome things.

The fact is just being a human being, vulnerable to all chances and the changes of this mortal life is itself a worrying thing.  The Early Church, just like us had normal worries over human situations.  Being Christians did not protect them nor will it protect us from giving in to the temptation of taking one’s life into his own hands.  There is a magazine, “The Smithsonian Institute,” saying that “we are in the golden age of anxiety.” Pastor Rick Warren came across a study done by Dr. Walter Calvert, giving us the results of the sin of worry.  He writes: “Forty percent of what you worry about will not happen.  Thirty percent of your worries concern the past. Twelve percent of your worries are health issues. Ten percent of your worries are insignificant and petty issues with only eight percent of your worries having actual legitimate concerns.”

Those are interesting statistics, however, you and I know that there are real stress issues that do not need to be proven by a study.  The death of a spouse or a loved one, the effects of divorce, our nation’s financial instability, our war on terror and especially the eternal condition of souls who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.

There are three powerful truths in Philippians 4:6-7 that will protect your relationship with Jesus Christ and enable you to express a life of thankfulness to God regardless of the circumstance. They are, “Be Anxious About Nothing,” “Pray,” and “Be Thankful In All Things.” Application of these truths will guard your heart and enable you to walk up-right in God’s sight”  In tough times, learn how to be thankful!