Giving Thanks Always – Even When You Don’t Feel It

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NKJV)

      child-prayer-clipart-royalty-free-praying-clipart-illustration-216150       When my younger sister was about 4 years old at a family dinner with my grandparents, she requested to say the blessing at the table. My Granny, being one to always encourage us to pray, told her to go ahead. Everyone bowed their heads and closed their eyes, except me of course being the older sister I felt the need to keep an eye on her. She began to pray, looking around the table, thanking God for each and every item on the table, including the plates and forks, except one food. She closed her prayer with the words “But I’m not thankful for the green beans. I don’t like them and I’m not thankful for them! Amen.” We can laugh at a child’s honesty in refusing to give God thanks for something she doesn’t like, but how often are we unthankful? Do we too sometimes feel justified in not giving thanks?

            God wants us to have a grateful heart and thankful spirit. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.” (Psalm 95:1-3) But we don’t always feel thankful. We all have times and situations in our lives that we don’t want or like, so how then can we be thankful?

            When we cannot be thankful for a specific thing or situation, we still can find ways to give thanksgiving and praise to God. Sometimes we have to stop and ask God to bring to our remembrance things to give Him thanks for. Sometimes we have to ask Him for the words to praise Him with. David wrote Psalm 51 after Nathan had confronted him about his sin with Bathsheba. In verse 15 he says, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.” David who wrote so many beautiful psalms praising God, asked for help to praise Him.

            How do we offer God thanksgiving when we are hurting, when we’re going through a spiritual battle, or we’re in a time of trial?

            First, we remember WHO God is. 

 “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:13) God’s names tell us who He is. He is the great “I AM”. Whatever you need Him to be, He is. 

He is JEHOVAH SHALOM, The Lord is Peace. Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  During some of the worst times and events of my life, God has been my peace.

He is JEHOVAH SHAMMAH, The Lord is There. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:18, 20b) He was there with me in every crisis.

He is JEHOVAH-RAPHA, The Lord That Heals. “…If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26) He was my Healer when I had shingles in 2010.

He is JEHOVAH JIREH, The Lord Will Provide. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19 He has been and continues to be our Provider through job lay-offs and a bad economies.

He is EL SHADDAI, The Lord God Almighty, The All-Sufficient One. When God spoke to Abram in Genesis 17:1, He said “I am El Shaddai” (Almighty God) and He promised to bless him and make him great. He is the God Who sustains us. Genesis 18:14 says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?..”

 Whatever else is, wherever else we are, we can give God our thanksgiving for Who He is to us. Psalm 69:30 (NKJV) says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

          The second thing we can do is to remember WHAT God has done in the past.  Psalm 107:21-22 says “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!  Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (NKJV)

            Psalm 77: 5, 6 in the New English Translation says, “I thought about the days of old, about ancient times. I said, ‘During the night I will remember the song I once sang; I will think very carefully.’ I tried to make sense of what was happening.’” v.11-14 continues “I will remember the works of the Lord. Yes, I will remember the amazing things you did long ago! I will think about all you have done; I will reflect upon your deeds! O God, your deeds are extraordinary! What god can compare to our great God? You are the God who does amazing things; you have revealed your strength among the nations.”

            When we are walking through the valley, when we are under fire, when we have questions, we need to reflect back on the times God answered us and recall His great work in our life.

            Psalm 107:22 in the Amplified Bible says “And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and rehearse His deeds with shouts of joy and singing!” We need to speak about what God has done for us to others. Hearing ourselves rehearse God’s goodness not only encourages them, but it encourages us too.

             The third thing is to remember the HOPE God has given us.  Romans 5:1-2, 5 says “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory… And (this) hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (NET Bible)

            “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) We have been given hope through the Holy Spirit and that hope does not disappoint.

 “Blessed is the man [or woman!] who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For (s)he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV)

            When we don’t feel we have anything to be thankful for, we’re usually in some kind of spiritual battle, and we can’t afford to be silent. That is when we need to loudly proclaim the goodness of our God. We need to offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. Psalm 86:12-13 says “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, And I will glorify your name forevermore! For great is Your mercy toward me, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”   The Psalmist is recalling Who God is and What God has done in the past.

            The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”.

            When we have a bad report from the doctor, we say “Thank you God for being my Jehovah Rapha. When the bills are due and there’s no money we can say “Thank You God for being my Jehovah Jireh.” When there is turmoil all around us we can say “Thank You God for being my JEHOVAH SHALOM.

              Psalm 50:14-15 says “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” We can go to God with our needs, and we can do it in faith when we know Who He is and we can offer Him thanksgiving, not for the need itself, but for His response to that need.

               When David was on the run from Saul, who was trying to kill him, he fled to Gath but when he realized he was in danger there he pretended to be insane. (1Samuel 21:10-15) That is when he wrote the 34th Psalm. It begins “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

 

 

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I Give Thanks

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

I love Christmas. Without the first Christmas, we would have nothing to celebrate. Without the first Christmas, there would have been no Calvary, no perfect sacrifice for our sin. Without the first Christmas, most of us would be without God. I love Christmas for all that and more.

Having said that, I don’t want to rush into the Christmas season bypassing Thanksgiving. Since I was a child, Fall has been my favorite time of year. The colorful fall leaves, pumpkins, scarecrows and candy corn in October, cooler days, turkey and pumpkin pie, and then of course my birthday in November were all my favorite things.

Thanksgiving Day is primarily an American holiday (the Pilgrims and all that) but setting aside a special time to give God thanks for all He has given and done for us should be so much bigger than just a single feast day. A day that is being diminished more and more as we all seem to want to rush right into the Christmas season. I want this year to be more. I want to really stop and consider what I have to be thankful for, as an American and as a Christian.

This nation was born because men and women came in search of a place they could worship God as their hearts desired. My ancestors left Wales in the 1700’s to escape the tyranny of religious persecution. They were Separatists and Separatists were not approved of by the Church of England therefore not by the Crown. Even in the colonies, there was disagreement about religion, but the idea that all men had the right to choose how to worship won over have an authorized state church. A nation that had true religious freedom was born and people from all over the world and from every ethnicity have come to participate. I give thanks that today I have the right to choose how and where to worship God.

This nation has been under attack from the beginning, but God has protected it and held it together. The War of 1812 tested the United States ability to defend itself but the nation proved itself strong. In 1865 the nation was tested again when it was divided regarding slavery, but freedom won and the nation was restored. Through two world wars, in Korea, Viet Nam and the Middle East, with God’s help and protection, the United States has defended itself and its friends against common enemies. For this I give thanks to God.

It’s easy to look around and see moral decay all around us. Unborn babies are killed at the mother’s convenience and it is legal in all 50 states. Sexual depravity is rampant and in our faces every time we turn on the television or if we’re not careful every time we use the internet. Drug addiction and alcoholism continue to tear families apart and destroy lives. Students are not allowed to carry Bibles on school campuses. It appears that God is no longer a part of this nation and that the Christian voice and influence is being silenced. But that is not all there is.

I know students who are standing up for God and for what they believe and are telling their friends about Jesus. I see good men and women in government trying to right some of the wrongs that have been done. I know men and women of God who are preaching and teaching the gospel, working to bring lost people to Jesus. Every week at our church, and other churches, men and women, boys and girls are giving their hearts to the Lord. For this I give God thanks.

God has always had a remnant of people He could work through to bring about the things He desires. In the Old Testament we have the account of Elijah, God’s prophet in Israel. Elijah had defeated the prophets of Baal, the false god the people had begun to worship. He was on the run for his life because Jezebel had vowed to kill him. This mighty prophet started feeling sorry for himself and decided he just wanted to die because things were so bad. He thought he was the only one left serving God and he just wanted to give up. But God spoke to him saying, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19)

I may not always be able to see what God is doing around me, in my nation, in community, or in my family. But I know that He is at work. God brought this nation into existence for a reason and a purpose and He’s not done yet. For that I give thanks!

Psalm 107:1-9, 17-22, 43 (NKJV)

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.
They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.

Fools, because of their transgression,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.
Their soul abhorred all manner of food,
And they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And declare His works with rejoicing.

Whoever is wise will observe these things,
And they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.”
Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

What I’m Most Thankful For

In a few days it will be Thanksgiving and at my house preparations are underway.

This is the time of year that most of us stop to  consider the blessings we’ve received but maybe don’t acknowledge as frequently as we should.  When my grandson Christopher was in 1st grade, his teacher gave the class an assignment to write down the one thing they were most thankful for. Then she put all their papers on the wall for display. Some of the kids said their parents, some said their pets and some even said brothers or sisters. Here’s what Christopher said.

I’m most thankful for Jesus who died for our sins and rose from the dead in April.”

Ok, let me explain. The previous spring Easter had been in April.  But out of the mouths of babes. Should not we all be most thankful for Jesus Christ, Who became sin so that we might become righteous, Who became poor so that we might become rich, and by Whose stripes we are healed.

Thank You, Heavenly Father for your most precious gift, the death, burial and resurrection of Your Son Jesus, the Christ, Your Anointed One. Thank You Heavenly Father that because I’ve put my trust in You, I now have life everlasting. Amen