God doesn't want our thanksgiving to be limited to one Thursday in November. He wants us to continually thank Him. He wants us to live a life of thankfulness and Thanks Living.
When we choose to give thanks to the Lord, we're paying our debt. We owe God thanksgiving. We owe him everything. But when we give Him thanks, we're paying our debts to God. When we thank Him, we're recognizing that God is the source of every good and perfect gift in our lives.
Being thankful means a conscious choice to live a life that is God-centered rather than self-centered. We choose not to focus on ourselves, our wants, our desires, our needs. We choose to live a life that is totally centered in God. When we give thanks we exalt God. We glorify Him. When we do that we fulfill the purpose for which we were created. We exist to put a spotlight on God, to glorify Him.
The fact that God expects us to thank Him for His blessings in our lives, is evident in the words of Jesus, to the one lone ex-leper who returned to thank Him.
Luke 17:15 "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed" Where are the other nine?"
God not only deserves our thanks, but He also desires them. He wants us to be grateful for His goodness and not to take it for granted.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The apostle Paul made it clear that our giving of thanks is to be continual and not contingent. That it is to be ongoing in spite of our circumstances, not just because everything is going well. Paul was able to maintain an attitude of gratitude even though he faced some very devastating circumstances, because he held onto a proper perspective of both God and His circumstances.
Knowing that God expects us to live a life of thanksgiving rather than offering limited thanks, and knowing that we must never lose sight of God's goodness, and God's hand at work in everything we face is crucial in our Christian life. When our circumstances turn from good to bad, when the flow of God's blessings seem to be temporarily turned off in our lives, what we tend to forget is that in these moments, the world is most likely to be watching our lives. Suffering provides you and I the greatest opportunity to demonstrate the validity of Christianity at work in our lives.
I can prove my gratitude by "Thanks Living". John 14:15 "If you love me, obey me; John 14:21 The one who obeys me is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him. Jesus said that his followers show their love by obeying God. Love is more than lovely words. It is commitment and conduct. If we love Christ, then prove it by obeying what he says in his Word.
Christians should offer continual thanks, because the enemy is listening and watching. 1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kine of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Lions attack sick, young, or straggling animals, they choose victims who are alone or not alert. Peter warns us to watch out for Satan when we are suffering or persecuted. Feeling alone, weak, helpless, and cut off from other believers, so focused on our troubles that we forget to watch for danger, we are especially vulnerable to Satan's attacks. During times of suffering, seek other Christians for support. Keep your eyes on Christ, and resist the devil. Then, says James, "he will flee from you" (James 4:7)
Philippians 4:4, 5 Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are unselfish and considerate in all you do. It seems strange that a man in prison would be telling a church to be joyful. But Paul's attitude serves to teach us an important lesson. We have a choice to demonstrate Thanks Living even when our circumstances are everything but ideal. Paul was full of thankfulness and joy because he knew that no matter what happened to him, Jesus Christ was with him. Several times in this letter, Paul urges the Philippians to be joyful, probably because they needed to hear this. It's easy to get discouraged about unpleasant circumstances or to take unimportant events too seriously. If you haven't been joyful lately, or if you haven't been demonstrating Thanks Living lately, you may not be looking at life from the right perspective.
So let me ask on this Thanksgiving Week. What has God done for you this past year? As you reflect on your life this year, have you remembered to thank God for all that He has done in your life and family? Is your life demonstrating Thanks Living today? If not, it isn't too late to make some positive changes.
Happy Thanksgiving and blessings to you and your family!