Every Day Is Thanksgiving Day
About seven weeks ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. Today Americans will commemorate their national day of thanks. God has much to say about giving thanks. Simply acknowledging that our Heavenly Father loves us so deeply gives us cause for gratitude – every day. Here are some things God’s Word has to say about thanksgiving. But first, what is it?
What is Thanksgiving?
Are you a little fuzzy on the distinction between thanksgiving, praise and worship? So am I. I like this definition of thanksgiving: thanking God for His goodness. (Praise is thanking God for His greatness; Worship is thanking God for His Holiness).
In the Bible the root word for thankful is the same word that is used for grace. To say thank you in the Greek language one uses the word charis. We cannot separate thankfulness from the grace of God. His goodness is manifested as grace toward us. The Bible is a record of God’s goodness to man and tells us much about the characteristics of thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Is Essential – Not an Option
We are instructed in Colossians 3:17 that “whatever we do in word or deed we do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” I love it when God doesn’t allow for wiggle room. This scripture clearly states that our hearts are to be ever thankful. There are no circumstances under which we are exempted from expressing our thanks. It is God’s will.
Thanksgiving Is the Will of God
First Thessalonians 5:18 states that it is the will of God for us to give thanks in everything. God created us in his image. He knows what we need to be whole and effective for destiny to which He has called us. Much research has been done in the academic world about the personal positive effects of gratitude. The research validates the perfection of the Father’s will for us – to give thanks. And thanksgiving goes beyond the words “Thank you.” It is the overflow of a grateful spirit.
Thanksgiving Is an Overflow Of Our Spirits
Jesus said that we speak out of the abundance of our hearts (Luke 6:45, Matthew 12:34). As we meditate on God’s goodness, the overflows of our thoughts come out in spoken words of thanksgiving. Ephesians 5: 18-20 describes how we are filled with the Spirit: We begin by speaking to ourselves in psalms and hymns; then our hearts become filled with melody; and all of that spirit-inspired gratefulness overflows into “giving thanks for all things unto God.”
Thanksgiving Is Our Approach to God
In Bible times, God’s presence was in the Holy of Holies that was located in the innermost part of the temple and could only be entered by the High Priest. For a non-priest to come close to God’s presence, one first entered the temple gates, and then progressed to the inner courts. Psalm 100:4 describes this approach to God as “entering His gate with thanksgiving and entering His courts with praise.” Using our earlier definitions of thanksgiving and praise, we enter his gates by acknowledging His goodness and approach even closer into His courts by acknowledging His greatness. Since prayer is a way of approaching God, an expression of gratitude is part of every prayer.
Thanksgiving Is A Part of Every Prayer
The Bible teaches that two things are to be in every prayer: First, we are to pray in Jesus’ name and second, our requests are to be accompanied by giving thanks to God (Philippians 4:6). God made prayer available to us and even told us how to make our requests known to Him. It is through our thanksgiving that the supernatural power of God is released.
Thanksgiving Unlocks the Supernatural Miracle Power of God
Our prayers can become very detailed and very impassioned. In contrast, often when speaking to the Father, Jesus used very few words. The few words in these instances would not even be considered a prayer, but were rather a simple expression of thanks for what God was about to do. The power of God was released by giving thanks.
In John 6 when Jesus fed the 5,000, he didn’t pray over the meal – He thanked the Father for providing it. And that small offering of fishes and loaves were supernaturally transformed to feed everyone who was present – with twelve baskets left over!
Standing at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus performed one of the most astounding miracles without praying publically. He simply said “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” “and He that was dead (Lazarus) came forth.” Death’s hold on Lazarus was broken through Jesus’ simple expression of gratitude for God’s goodness. The supernatural power of God was made manifest by Jesus expression of gratitude.
Yet, many prayers are offered without gratitude, and worse, there are those who go through life without acknowledging God’s goodness. And if we are not thankful (if we fail or refuse to acknowledge the goodness of God), there are consequences to pay.
What Happens When We Are Not Thankful?
Romans 1:21-32 describes the consequences of not being thankful and it’s a steep, slippery slope that leads away from God. The passage outlines the decline of the human race into a most depraved state, estranged from God. And where did such a decline start? Beginning in verse 20 we are told that man can clearly see God existence and power from the created world. And despite that understanding “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful…” (verse 21).
All the consequences, debasement, defilement and separation from God are consequences that have their genesis in failure to be tanksful, to acknowledge God’s goodness.
But we are not of that breed. We are blood-bought Believers, whose lives overflow with gratitude for God’s goodness expressed so many ways through His grace toward us.
To Sum It Up
Whether you live in Canada, the US, China, Latvia, or the North Pole, don’t wait for a designated day to give thanks. Today is always the day to acknowledge and give thanks for God’s goodness.