We have this unwritten rule in the church that when there is bad weather or a major holiday that falls on Sunday night or Wednesday night, we have a devo. Of course, a devotional is a good thing and edifying for the church but sometimes there is the impression that it is less than "real church" when the preacher preaches a sermon, have classes.
Whenever the saints gather together in the name of Jesus to praise God and build one another up, this is real church, a biblical church, a worthy church and church that pleases the Lord. Tonight is one of those nights where we are having that devo just before the big holiday weekend. And since that holiday is Thanksgiving I thought that it would be edifying if we reviewed how the act of 'giving thanks' is important for our spiritual growth.
Why Giving Thanks to God is Important
1. Thanksgiving is the basic response of a soul that recognizes the existence of a personal and almighty God.
From the sacrifices of Abel to Miriam's song of joy to the Apostle Paul's beautiful prayers of gratitude, holy men and women of faith in every generation have called on the Lord with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the basic unit of our communication with God. It is the most repeated expression of faith between man and God. Thanksgiving is important because it is a sure sign that a person has a true and vital relationship with God.
2. Neglect in this area is the first step away from a relationship with God and a plunge into darkness.
For even though they know God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
- Romans 1:21
Pagans and unbelievers do not give thanks, but believers who neglect giving thanks are taking one step towards disbelief that will eventually plunge them into darkness and ultimate denial of Christ. Thanksgiving is important because it signals that our faith is strong.
3. The constant giving of thanks in private and public worship is the antidote to so many emotional and spiritual evils.
When faced with difficult circumstances, disappointments and failures, we can respond with fear, anger or despair or we can lift up our eyes to God, who has promised us the final victory through Jesus Christ and give thanks for the blessings of salvation which we enjoy now and forever. Paul, the Apostle, when beaten and imprisoned unjustly, when his mission seemed in shambles, did not despair; he chose to give thanks and offer songs and prayers of praise from his jail cell (Acts 16:25).
His release from jail by an earthquake is symbolic of the release from our prison of fear and despair when we offer God thanksgiving and faith during our times of trial and suffering. Thanksgiving is important because it is the highest expression of our hope and trust in God.
Our eldest son, Paul, refers to the breakdown of his refrigerator, or temporary loss of electricity due to a storm or the inconvenience of having to wear a mask to go into Walmart or enter the church building these days, as first world problems. He says this because he's been in developing world nations while in the military and he's heard the horror stories of poverty, suffering and terrible injustice from missionaries who have visited and stayed in our home since he was a little boy.
These images of real world suffering by fellow Christians in other nations are what help him (and should move us) to keep our problems and inconveniences in proper perspective. As he calls them, "first world inconveniences." This is why the US and Canada are the only major nations in the world, in history, to ever have a Thanksgiving day holiday.
Regardless of our health, financial status or family situation, all of us can be equally thankful because we all equally share the very same hope of salvation and eternal life. That is something we can all sing and praise God for. The rest of the injustices in this world God will deal with when Jesus returns.
What about you, this Thanksgiving? Are you able to thank God for saving your soul or can you only be thankful for the stuff that's on the dinner table? My hope and prayer is that you can be thankful for both. Do not let another Thanksgiving go by without responding to Christ in baptism or being restored through repentance and prayer.
God bless you, and have a very Happy and blessed Thanksgiving day.