A friend posted on Facebook, “Noticing more and more homes decorated for Christmas. Did I sleep through Thanksgiving?”
Great question! Will we miss Thanksgiving? Or do we live out thanksgiving daily? Our level of gratitude mirrors our spiritual condition. Do we demonstrate gratitude to God continuously?
Giving thanks is commanded. I Thessalonians 5:18 reads, “In everything give thanks.” Paul doesn’t say give thanks FOR everything, but IN everything. God is not after gratitude that is coerced, like the kind of thanks a young child is forced to say after opening Grammy’s Christmas present and finding a package of underwear.
This command compels us to look beyond our stressful, frustrating, disappointing circumstances. God wants us to see His love, constant presence, infinite wisdom and sovereignty regardless of circumstances.
John Piper wrote, “When we see His grace and wise purposes, loving thanksgiving rises towards Him …”
Giving thanks battles discouragement. There’s a legend about a man who discovered the barn where Satan stores his tools. The man noticed a large supply of bags containing seeds of discouragement. The Devil was counting his bags, preparing to plant the seeds in human hearts, where they would create self-centered grumbling that revealed ingratitude. The man asked if there was any place where seeds of discouragement would not take root. Yes, Satan told him, discouragement never grows in a heart filled with Thanksgiving.
Giving thanks pleases God. Too often we’re like the man who prayed, “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff, so thanks for nothing.” That attitude is not funny to God, for it reveals the reality that many people busily live their lives oblivious to their source of blessings. They’re like a pig that roots the ground searching for acorns but never looks up to acknowledge the tree from which they fell.
Do you remember the story of Jesus’ encounter with the ten lepers recorded in Luke 17? On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus entered a village and ten lepers saw Jesus and cried out for mercy.
Jesus commanded them to go show themselves to the priests and as they dispersed, they were healed of this dreadful disease. Can you imagine their glee? They were walking along, and one looks at the other and says, “Hey, your leprosy is gone.” Then they examine each other and notice they’re all cleansed.
One stopped in his tracks, returned to Jesus shouting glory to God, fell at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. Jesus was pleased with his thanks, but disappointed that only one returned.
“Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?” Jesus asked. How often are we too busy to stop, throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet in worship and simply say, “Thanks”? Thanksgiving reminds us to put on the brakes and thank God for His many blessings that we too often take for granted.
My annual sampling includes:
• My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
• Another grandson born in February, Easton
• Those rare occasions when my entire family gathers
• My wife of almost 40 years
• My church family
• The privilege of preaching God’s Word Sunday after Sunday
• The great season the Braves had and the stronger bullpen they’ll have next season
• Another SEC Eastern Division championship for the Georgia Bulldogs
• Chocolate covered Oreos
• My Mom, still going strong at 92
• The McDonough Road paving project finally completed (or is it?)
• Loyal readers who enjoy this column and now find it at www.thecitizen.com
• Readers who through the years encouraged me to write a book
• My first book, entitled “The Day I Nearly Met Dolly: Tales of Faith, Family and a Few Home Runs” just released and listed on Amazon
• Another book prayerfully waiting for a publisher to pick up
• Continued good reports from the doctor
• Christmas music, but not too early
• Our wonderful Fayetteville library and the outstanding children’s section, where I check out books to read to my grandchildren
• A 9-year-old Honda still going
• Banana pudding
• My Godly in-laws
• Getting to preach in my home church this fall
• Faithful Brazilian brothers and sisters zealously sharing the Gospel and planting churches
• An early morning run and prayer time
• Sharing special moments with church members
• Our church’s Upward Sports ministry that impacts so many
Let’s not sleep through Thanksgiving. What’s on your blessing list?
[David L. Chancey is pastor of Fayetteville’s McDonough Road Baptist Church. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, just past McCurry Park, and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them online at www.mcdonoughroad.org. and like them on Facebook. Visit www.davidchcancey.com to see more columns.]