Preparing Ourselves for Thanksgiving
18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Th 5:18
We can show God our gratitude with small, everyday actions. Most of us were toddlers when we learned to say “please” & “thank you.”
We were a little older when we fell into the habit of asking, begging, nagging, whining, “Please, please, please, ple-e-e-e-ease!”
Older still when we began to try bargaining. If you give me this …” “If you let me do that …” Then, “I’ll never ask for anything else again.” (Yeah, sure.) “I’ll do my homework right after …” (Insert laugh here.)
Perhaps not surprisingly, our relationship with God tended to follow the same track. Almost always ready, willing and able to ask politely. More than a little slow with the thank-you note. If we even remembered to write it and mail it. Or email it. Or text it.
If we even remembered to say it with more than a passing “thank you” in the same tone and sincerity we may have used in years gone by when our mother would pointedly ask, “What do you say?”
So how do we — how can we — sincerely say “thanks” to our Heavenly Father? Well, thankfully our Creator has given us a lot of ways to do just that, here are 8 of them:
1. Go to Church
Celebrate Worship. Celebrate the Word. Celebrate Communion.
No doubt you know the word “Eucharist” (Communion) is from the Greek for “thanksgiving” or “gratitude.” When the Church asks “What is this sacrament called?” The answer is “it is an action of thanksgiving to God.”
Great! Go to Church! A Done deal. Next.
Not so fast. It’s an action of thanksgiving, which certainly implies us doing something there besides just standing and sitting, walking up for Communion, stay for a closing song and head out the door.
Without our actively taking part in Church — praying with others, offering our gifts to God, reverently receiving Communion, joining in the worship then we’re pretty much like that child blurting a fast and nearly thoughtless “thank you” to appease Mom.
25 Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. Ep 5:25-26
Let’s love it too.
2. Do what Jesus told us to do
What does that mean? Jesus said, ‘Abide in Me’. Dwell. Hang out. To show our ultimate gratitude…Spend time with the Most High. Maybe in the Word, maybe on a walk, maybe in silence, maybe…
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. Jn 15:4
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. Be thankful unto him and bless his name. Ps 100:4
3. Find time to Breathe
Stop the busyness. We work so hard, and often, we can forget to put the breaks on. Take time for examination. Reflect on God’s work and word. Take time to give thanks.
A man and his wife on a strict diet, sat down at the table for a meatless meal, all steamed and all green. He looked at what was before him and said, ”You say the blessing. If I thank the Lord for this He’ll know I’m lying!”
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Jesus (Mt 11:28)
“Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10
4. Thank people God has used in your life
What we can do for others who poured into our lives is to thank them. Thank you for being a gift from God !! Thanks for being my teacher, my parents, my friends…
Thank them for their investment in you, and tell them specifically how God has used them to provide for, encourage, and strengthen you.
How many people have been engaged in your life? How many people have taken their time to help you or serve you? How many people have left their busy lives on the side of the road and helped you to find an Inn. Stop and say thank you.
Daniel 6:20 says, ”Daniel was on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God.” Everyday was Thanksgiving for Daniel, and should be for us as well.
Take some time to express gratitude to others who God has used in your life…
3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Pp 1:3
5. Help the least of these
Consider this: In describing the Last Judgment, Jesus said,
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Mt 25:31-4o
When we focus on serving, helping, and loving those in need, we are acting in a way that is pleasing to our Lord & these are great ways to say “thank you.”
6. Take note
Make a new way to note God’s work in your world. Take time to jot down His actions, communication, … Find a way to ‘take note’ that’s easy to keep track of, and hard to cheat on.
Jotting down a few things at the end of every day can be a prayer of thanksgiving. Why? Because you know the source of all goodness, blessings, grace and love.
19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:19
7. Don’t put a gift from God in your sock drawer
What? Sometimes we receive a gift from a family member or friend and quietly tuck it away in a dresser drawer. It’s not something we need, want, know how to use,or even like.
When we do that with a gift from God it runs counter to what Jesus taught in the Parable of the Talents (Let’s read…Mt 25:14-23).
14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.15 He gave five bags of silver[a] to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more.18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together![b]’
22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
The lesson? Use what God gives you!
Maybe he gave you an ability to teach so that, one way or another, you need to be a “teacher.” Maybe you’re quite the baker. Or mechanic. Or listener. Or comic. Or motivator.
Pay attention to the talents God has given you, develop them, and use them to help others.
8. Care for those you love
One way we can we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord is the care for them and spend time with them…
25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another. Hebrews 10:25
We all have people in our lives who need care. Don’t neglect their need, rather fulfill it! Some of those you love you need you to celebrate with them, others need you to mourn by their side. Show the care of your Lord to ones He was put in your life.
10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other…13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Romans 12:10,13
Thanksgiving at its best is thanks giving.
Give the Lord thanks!