This past week we celebrated “Thanksgiving”. For most of us it was a – time of turkey – feasting and football. Across our country parades were held – and black Friday followed and then black Saturday and Monday. Some stores are now opening late on Thanksgiving Day and I have even heard people use the term “Black Thursday”. We have tended to lose the thought of “Thanksgiving”.
Thanksgiving Day should not be the only day of giving thanks. Psalm 100: 4 gives us a thought about how we should celebrate Thanksgiving. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good” It would be good for us to remember that when this psalm was written – there was no such thing as “Thanksgiving” day. This psalm was written long before there were pilgrims in America – long before turkeys were stuffed and so were the people eating them. This psalm was written long before there were parades and football games – long before America became a country – but it is plain that this psalm is a psalm of thanksgiving none the less.
You see, thanksgiving does not need to be centered around some special date we set on a calendar. Thanksgiving will be and has always been a matter of action and of the heart. Most of us would agree that thanksgiving should be a matter of the heart, but is it also a matter of action. When we are thankful, we worship God acceptably and we do it with reverence and awe. Thanksgiving is not just a holiday celebration once a year. It’s an attitude of the heart that produces Joy; and it is also a biblical command. You cannot worship God acceptably with an ungrateful heart. You may go through the motions, but your ingratitude will hold you back.
Whenever you are struggling spiritually or emotionally, pause and check your “thankfulness gauge.” If your reading is low, ask Jesus to help you increase your level of gratefulness. Search for reasons to thank God; jot them down if you like. Your perspective will gradually shift from focusing on all that is wrong to rejoicing in things that are right.
No matter what is happening, you can be joyful in Christ your Savior. Because Jesus’ work was finished the cross, you have a glorious future that is guaranteed forever! Rejoice in this free gift of salvation which is for you and really for all who trust in Jesus as Savior. Let your heart overflow with thankfulness and God will fill you with Joy.
We are to thank God throughout each day for His Presence and Peace. These are gifts of supernatural proportions. Ever since the resurrection of our Lord, He has comforted those who follow Him with these messages: “Peace be with you.” and “I am with you always.” Listen when God gives you His Peace and Presence in full measure. The best way to receive these glorious gifts is to give thanks to God for them.
It is impossible to spend too much time thanking and praising God. God created you and me first and foremost to glorify God. Thanksgiving and praise put us in a proper relationship with God, opening the way for God’s riches to flow into us. As we thank God for His Presence and Peace, we appropriate God’s richest gifts.
Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables you to communicate intimately with God. A thankful mindset does not entail denial of reality with its host of problems. Instead, it rejoices in God, your savior, in the midst if trials and tribulations. God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble. Thanks be to God!
Rev. James Musgrave is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Logan and a member of the Logan Ministerial Association.