As this is the week for families and loved ones getting together in America to celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving I have been thinking about God’s graciousness and goodness to all of us. While there are many things that divide our beloved country there are also many things that bring us all together. Holidays are a time of bringing together those who are near and dear to us regardless of religious, political, or financial differences. I would like to share my viewpoint as I see in the Bible how we are to have an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude not only at this special time but all year-long. I start with the Beatitudes.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-12, (New International Version or NIV).
Thankfulness is an attitude from the heart. It can’t be bought or sold. It can only come from a place of gratitude for something that someone has done for us. I am thankful for this teaching because it is so different from the ideology of successfulness being pandered today. Being humbled by some pretty tough situations in my own live has made me realize just how precious this teaching really is. We are blessed by God through Jesus Christ if we are humble and not arrogant. We are blessed by God with comfort when we mourn. We are inheritors if we remain filled with true humility, a joint heir with Jesus Christ as an adopted son or daughter of God! We will have that gnawing hunger for righteousness and justice that constantly ravages our souls filled. We will be shown mercy if we give mercy to others. We will see God if we remain humble, righteous, and merciful to others because we will be pure and sinless when covered by the blood of Jesus. When strangers or even people we love hurt us by their words and actions we will understand that they are fighting against God in us and not against us. It helps us to remain focused on praying for them and being kind to them when we realize that their battle is with our Lord. Yes, this passage fills me with much to be thankful about. Here’s another.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33, (NIV).
I love music and I love to sit down to play the piano when all alone and I play hymns and worship songs in quiet praise to God. In fact I did this today before coming to write and I find such joy in singing and playing whatever song comes into my mind. It is a quiet time between my Lord and me, a special time of something like prayer. I always feel His presence especially during such a time. I believe that this Psalm really speaks to my heart about all the things God does for you and for me and for our entire world. Often we think that we grew the crops, but without the blessings from God we would have no crop at all. We often think that we are the owners of the land, but without God creating such a beautiful place for us to live we would have nothing to own for our small moment in time. We think because we voted that our candidate will win an election, but God places in that high office whom He wishes to be there and if our nation seeks after Him then His blessings will be overflowing. Kings and Princes and Presidents all have their governmental powers because God placed them there to rule His people. How awesome is that! But many do not honor God for His wonderful blessings. This makes me sad. Yet I can rejoice in the sovereignty of my God and know that His plan for all of us will be righteous. I can be assured that if the justice I seek does not happen in this lifetime it will come at the judgement seat of Jesus when all stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! That is our hope of which we all are waiting. When the people of our land forget about God, there is a price to pay and this prayer of Habakkuk is also my prayer.
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed—but he marches on forever. I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish. Were you angry with the rivers, Lord? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode your horses and your chariots to victory? You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. You split the earth with rivers; the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high. Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot. With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters. I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3, (NIV).
As you approach this time for giving thanks to God for all the wonderful blessings that you enjoy remember that it can all be taken away in a moment. Remember that there are brothers and sisters in Christ all across our world that are living in stressful times of war and aftermath of war, of earthquakes and the aftershocks as well, that there are those who have no clean water and not enough food to feed their loved ones. Pray for them, that God will give them strength to persevere and then find a Christian organization that helps these people in these places and give generously. We all have much to be thankful for and let us not forget to give praise to the One who makes our life of ease and comfort possible, thank God, on this one special day, and honor Him for His many blessings on your life. May God continue to bless you and your household through the coming year.