What is thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is an acknowledgement and confession with gladness of the benefits and mercies which God bestows either upon ourselves or upon others.
- Thanksgiving is the employment of those are in the immediate presence of God. Rev. 79-12 “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”
- And therefore in giving thanks we approach their condition as indicated in Psalm 14013 “Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.”
- Thanklessness is the characteristics of sinful man. Simple ma, man gone astray from God. Rom 121 “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened”
- To have a thankless child makes a father bitter “how bitter the thing must be to God since it bears fruit in man”
- Thanklessness is the fruit of a sinful and depraved nature. Just as thanklessness is the fruit of a sinful and depraved nature, thankfulness is the fruit of a regenerated heart.
- Thankfulness flows naturally from a regenerated heart as light flows from the sun.
- This is why thanksgiving is enjoined upon the believer as a duty. Ps. 5014 “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:”
- Thankfulness is also solemn because it is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
When you a believer give thanks?
The bible says always as in time of adversity as well as in time of prosperity.
- For what should the believer give thanks?
All things: examples
- Paul in all his epistles
- Job in his desolation Job. 120-21
Thanksgiving does not rest in generalities, it descend to particulars as:
- For Christ 1Cor. 915 “But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void”
- For saving grace. Col. 112 “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:”
- For peace of God in the heart Col. 315 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful”
- For guidance in speech and actions Col. 317 “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
- For food 1Tim. 44 “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:”
- Thanksgiving is also the essence of worship
In Ps. 92 which is a song for the Sabbath, thanksgiving is the key note.
- David gave thanks in 1Chron. 1641 “And with them Heman and Jeduthun, and the rest that were chosen, who were expressed by name, to give thanks to the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever”
- Hezekiah gave thanks in 2Chron. 312 “And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the LORD.”
- Leaders in Israel appointed Priest and Levites whose special duty was to give thanks.
- Believers therefor who are Priests are to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually that is the fruit of their lips giving thanks to His Name.
- Believers are also to give thanks for victory over sin and death and the grave. 1Cor. 1557 “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- What are the motives of thanksgiving?
- The motive to thanksgiving all spring from the character of God and His action towards believers especially His goodness and mercy Ps. 1061 “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
- 36 celebrates is mercy in all departments of His great wisdom and providence.
- 34 describes His holiness
- 751 describes his power
- 425 describes His help
- 10962 describes His word
- 6930 magnifies His word and He dwells upon His grace, His love and His excellence.
What are the result of thanksgiving?
- We may mention all in one the glory of God fills the heart as it fills the temple. 513-14 “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.”
- Believers therefore ought earnestly to cultivate the spirit of thanksgiving for is the one of the most beautiful and beneficial things we can have.
- The theme of the believer should evermore give thanks
Phil. 46: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”
Accordingly, there are many Psalms of thanksgiving for God’s mercies e.g. Psalm 18, 19, 29, 30, 32-34, 36, 40, 41, 66, 103-106 and 111.
Giving thanks is not easy because man tends to take God for granted – the heart of man is deceitful Jer. 179.
The word ‘heart’ is used in Scripture as the seat of life, or strength, hence it means the mind, soul or spirit or one’s entire emotional nature and understanding. This is why the heart is called
- the seat of belief 528,
- the seat of concern 3120,
- the seat of desire 101,
- the seat of doubt 1123,
- the seat of evil 283,
- the seat of fear 354,
- the seat of hatred 1917 and
- the seat of lust 124.
In these last days, the heart will be especially unthankful 2 Tim. 32.
Remember, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts Mt. 1234-35.
On the other hand, a grateful heart is one which truly acknowledges who God is and what he has done. Faith after all is identified as the “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Heb. 111, 6. Thus faith is clearly set within the context of relationship, the relationship between God and each individual who has decided to trust God despite what may be touched, seen, heard or tasted – all the criteria of materialism (Heb. 116).
Ingratitude on the other hand begins with a heart that refuses or rejects God and His gifts.
Rom. 121: “Because, although they know God, they did not glorify Him as God nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened”
A thankful heart rejoices at God’s work and Word.
Ps. 1053: “Glory in His Holy Name. Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord”
A thankful heart is also focused on God and His mercies while an ungrateful heart is full of pride and is self centred. A grateful heart is a merry heart Prov. 1513, Prov. 1722 which inevitably leads to PRAISE because it takes account of the small and ordinary daily blessings of life received from God.
Thanksgiving and praise are joined together because it is impossible to give thanks without praising God.
The word ‘Praise’ implies congratulations or commendation as it does in Rev. 195: “Then a voice came from the throne saying: Praise Our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great.”
Ps. 2225: “My praise shall be of you in the great assembly, I will pay My vows before those who fear Him” or worship as in:
Ps. 633-8: “Because Your loving kindness is better than life, my life shall praise you. Thus I will bless you while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your Name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. And my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me” or which includes ‘bowing down’ as an act of giving reference. Ruth 210: “So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground and said to him, Why have I found favour in your eyes that you should take notice of me since I am a foreigner.”
The grateful heart does not hide his gratitude; instead it involves friends and relations and well wishers to join in acknowledging the goodness of God. This leads to:
- thanksgiving from a grateful heart leads to testimonies: Nothing is more effective in drawing someone to Christ than the sharing of personal testimony ( 439: “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified”)
Believers should always be ready to share their testimony. A personal testimony catches the attention of those listening and holds the interest of the unbeliever (Job 428-30). By its very nature, a personal testimony is unique and it offers an opportunity for the believer to identify with Christ and to show how Christ makes a difference in a person’s life.
Jn. 442: “Then they said to the woman: Now we believe not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”
This answers with clear and precise reasons, the hope that the person has in Jesus Christ.
1 Pet. 315: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
- Thanksgiving from a grateful heart also leads to Public Worship: ( 518-26, Lk. 1842-43) Public worship is important because it helps to bring man back to God. It helps to link faith with doctrine 1 Thess. 518. the grateful heart is thus doing the will of God from the heart Eph. 66. Prayer unites the soul to God. To know God is possible and such knowledge is possible through personal devotion and spiritual practice. The public dimension of the life of the believer is equally important because it shows that faith is NOT subjective, based on human wisdom but on the power of God (1 Cor. 25) and it allows the believer to boldly confess Christ in the public.
Let us not forget that God created man to meet God’s needs.
In Gen. 27: “And the Lord formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils, the breath of life and man became a living soul”
Man became body, soul and spirit. The soul has three main functions:
- fellowship with God (see 126-29, Gen. 38-10)
- worship of God (see 423-24), worship means forgetting all your needs, worries, sorrows and focusing on God’s glory and honour.
- Accountability 131, Mt. 1626 (What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?)
Mk. 837: “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Thus a grateful heart is also one that does not lean on his or her own understanding because the danger of leaning on your understanding is this: it invites pride in your intellect – which is wrong Prov. 35.
A grateful heart thanks God in the midst of trials and adversaries (Heb. 317-19, 1 Cor. 1031) and does so because he understands as it is written in Isa. 559: “That is the heavens are higher than the earth, so are thy thoughts higher than your thoughts” and therefore he comes to God as little children with a childlike heart and begins to enjoy the ‘hidden things of God’ in accordance with Lk. 1021: “You have hidden these things from the prudent and the wise and revealed them to babes”
A grateful heart understands that as written in Jn. 327: “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” and therefore does not LEAN on his own understanding, but allows a deep sense of his ignorance or deep distrust of his own power of understanding of the things of God to draw him near to God in thanksgiving.
Ps. 1004 says “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise”
Thanksgiving then becomes a channel to receive more blessings, more honour, glory, joy and knowledge from God.
What is more, a grateful heart completes the cycle of gratitude by reaching out to give to others in the spirit of Christ (2 Cor. 912). Thus a grateful heart is an integral part of the holy life.
Because the expression of gratitude is tied so closely to the response of faith, Paul encouraged believers to give thanks in all things (1 Thess. 518). He commanded Christians to pray with thanksgiving (Col. 42) in the name of Christ, who has made all thanksgiving possible (Eph. 520). In his teaching on how to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, Paul specified that Christians should give thanks, just as the Lord “had given thanks” (1 Cor. 1124).
Believers should thank God for the following:
- for deliverance from enemies (Ps. 1817)
- for deliverance from death (Ps. 308-12);
- for forgiveness of sin (Ps. 325, Ps. 1031-3);
- for blotting out of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ (Isa. 4422)
- for giving us eternal life (Jn. 316)
- for making us partakers of divine nature of God (2 Pet. 14)
- for making us overcomers (Jn. 1633)
- for overcoming the works of the enemy i.e. Satan (1 Jn. 38)
- for His providence (Ps. 1213)
- for giving us peace (Jn. 1427)
- for giving us liberty (Gal. 51)
- for saving us from shame (Isa. 544)
- for guidance (Prov. 42)
- for healing (Ps. 1033, 1473)
- for His blessings and provision (2 Cor. 98)
- for victory over death and the grave (1 Cor. 1557)
- for wisdom and might (Dan. 223)
- for the supply of our bodily needs (Rom. 146-7, 1 Tim. 43-4)
- for answers to prayer (Ps. 286);
- for compassion toward the afflicted and oppressed (Ps. 342);
- for renewal and refreshing times from the Holy Spirit (Acts 319)
- for executing justice (Deut. 324)
- for continuing guidance (Is. 3020-21)
- for all people (1 Tim. 21)
- for all things (2 Cor. 911, Eph. 520)
- for appointment to the ministry (1 Tim. 112)
- for Christ’s power and reign (Rev. 1117)
- for deliverance through Christ from indwelling sin (Rom. 723-25)
- for the conversion of others (Rom. 617)
- for faith exhibited by others (Rom. 18, 2 Thess. 13)
- for the gift of Christ (2 Cor. 915)
- for the goodness and mercy of God (Ps. 1061, 1071, 1361-3)
- for the grace bestowed on others (1 Cor. 14, Phil. 13-5)
- for love exhibited by others (2 Thess. 13)
- for nearness of God’s presence (Ps. 751)
- for the triumph of the gospel (2 Cor. 214)
- for willingness to offer our property for God’s service (1 Chr. 296-14)
- for the zeal exhibited by others (2 Cor. 816)
- for making us Joint Heirs with Christ (Rom. 817)
- for the Arms of God (Is. 332)
- for writing our names in the Book of life (Lk. 1020)
- for hearing our prayers (Jn. 1141-42)
- for the reception and effective working of the word of God in others (1 Th. 213)
Thanksgiving to God is described as:
- Spiritual sacrifice (Ps. 11617)
- Duty (2 Thess. 213)
- Duty to be carried out unceasing (Eph. 116)
- Duty to be carried out spontaneously (Phil. 13)
- Duty to be carried out in Christ’s name (Eph. 520)
- God’s will (1 Thess. 518)
- Heaven’s theme (Rev. 712)
- Should enter God’s gate with thanksgiving (Ps. 1004)
- Abound in faith with thanksgiving (Col. 27)
- Come before God with thanksgiving (Ps. 952)
- Exhorted to thanksgiving (Ps. 1051, Col. 315)
- Habitually offer thanksgiving (Dan. 610)
- Magnify God by thanksgiving (Ps. 6930)
- Offer sacrifices of thanksgiving (Ps. 11617)
- Resolved to offer thanksgiving (Ps. 1849, 3012)
- Christ set an example of thanksgiving (Mt. 1125, 2627, Jn. 611, 1141)
- Thanksgiving is commanded (Ps. 5014, Phil. 46)
- The heavenly host engaged in thanksgiving (Rev. 49, 711-12, 1116-17)
- Thanksgiving of hypocrites, full of boasting (Lk. 1811)
- Thanksgiving should always accompany praise (Ps. 921, Heb. 1315)
- It should always accompany prayer (Neh. 1117, Phil. 46, Col. 42)
- It should be accompanied by intercession for others (1 Tim. 21, 2 Tim. 13)
Thanksgiving should be offered
- Always (Eph. 116, 1 Thess. 12)
- In everything (1 Thess. 518)
- In the name of Christ (Eph. 520)
- Through Christ (1 Tim. 112)
- To God (Ps. 5014)
- Before meals (Jn. 611, Acts 2735)
- In private worship (Dan. 610)
- In public worship (Ps. 3518)
- Upon the completion of great undertakings (Neh. 1231,40)
- At the remembrance of God’s holiness (Ps. 304, 9712)
- The wicked are characterized by an absence of thanksgiving (Rom. 121)
A believer who is thankful brings joy and glory to the Father and an attitude of gratitude will bring a host of blessings to make one a channel of blessing to others. Amen.