Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

It's almost time for the big Turkey feast here in the USA. This will be the first time in four years that we are celebrating with just the four of us, no extended family, no strays, no extra places to set at the table. Last year there were 21 of us gathered at our house. So, I have a feeling that this year's feast will be a little bit strange.

But, we are still thankful! There is so much to be thankful for this year. Which makes me wonder what it takes to make me feel thankful. Is it money? A nice house, a car to drive, an education? Sometimes as I look around at the current situation of government in my country, I don't feel like being thankful. My taxes are already too high, next year they are supposed to be even higher. The people who have been elected to my government don't speak for me, they don't even really speak for the people who did vote for them. I feel like my country is becoming something other than what I want it to be. How in the world would I do anything to change the situation? It makes me feel small to think about these things.

Feeling thankful? How many people are now unemployed or under-employed in your state? How many people do you know who have lost their jobs this year? Now are you thankful?

As a follower of Christ however, I am called to be thankful in all things. How can this be? I read the apostle Paul's words to his friends in Philippi like this, "Don't be anxious about anything! Instead in all that you do at work, home, school, or as you are looking for a job, and even just out running errands--be in conversation with Christ telling Him all your woes, all your needs. As you talk to Him be thankful for what He has given you! Tell Him you are thankful for the simple air that you breathe, for the fact that you woke up this morning and got out of bed. As you do this, you will be covered with the very peace of God Himself. You will not even be able to understand the peace that will overcome you as you lay your trouble with Christ. But this peace will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus." {from Phil 4:6-7}

How about this from my favorite book of the Bible, Psalm 95
"Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depts of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, "They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways." So I declared on oath in my anger, "They shall never enter my rest."

There is a lot to notice in this Psalm! First of all, God is great! He is the creator of all things! He is worthy of our praise; in fact, He is the only one worthy of our thanksgiving. Not only is He the creator of the entire world, He is the tender shepherd of His people. Yet, we are reminded that those who have hardened their hearts toward Him, like the nation of Israel in the desert after they fled Egypt, will never rest. So, when we give Him thanksgiving, we rest from the woes and anxieties that come to us because of the stresses of the world. Wouldn't you rather be thankful than bitter!? Wouldn't you rather be at peace than war? Wouldn't you rather enjoy the fellowship of God than continually be on the run from Him?

These roses were actually blooming in the park here about four weeks ago! Tomorrow I'm going to share a favorite hymn with you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving-Eve. Make a list of all your blessings and things you are thankful for. Then, praise God for them!

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