On any given day, if you search the movie listings, you are likely to see a movie listed that tells the story of one or more superheroes. Bookstores are filled with books and graphic novels featuring beings, both human and non-human, whose mission is to protect the rest of us from evil. They are there to fight for us.
In numerous verses, God’s word tells us that we should be thankful and that we should give Him thanks and praise. We are to give thanks for everything (Ephesians 5:20) and in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we come before the presence of our God, we should do so with thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2).
Today is Thanksgiving Day in our nation. All across the United States, we gather with our families and celebrate with a wonderful Thanksgiving feast, following the example set by the Pilgrims in 1621. But, what are we celebrating? What are we thankful for? And, better yet, to whom are we thankful?
As we sit down to our Thanksgiving meals today, my prayer is that all Americans will take the time to remember who has provided for us, who has blessed us with all that we have. Thanksgiving is a day set apart to thank God and to give Him praise.
In 1863, in the midst of a great civil war, it was President Abraham Lincoln who first proclaimed that the last Thursday of November should be set apart as a “day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” In his proclamation, Lincoln talked about the strife our nation was in, but also about the great things about our nation. He followed that by saying, “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” Lincoln went on to say that we should “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of our nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
Those words sound as pertinent today as they did when Lincoln wrote them!
May we all take the time, not just on this Thanksgiving Day but every day, to seek the face of the One who has provided all that we have and to give Him thanks and praise. His love for us endures forever and for that we should be truly thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and God bless you!
How do we respond to the works of God? As we look at His creation–the beauty of nature, the complexity of the life He has created, the miracle of life–are we filled with awe? When we see a life changed by His word, by His presence, are we amazed at what He has done? And, when we think about the sacrifice He made, giving His Son, Jesus, as a ransom for our sins, are we filled with wonder that a God so powerful, so holy, and so righteous could really love us that much? All these things should (and do!) stir up awe, amazement, wonder, and fear of the One who has done them. But, what is the appropriate response to God’s mighty works?
I believe that the answer to that question is praise. After the initial feelings of awe and wonder–after the “wow!”–should come an outpouring of praise. As I thought about this, I went to His word and found some verses that confirmed it to me.
In Matthew 9:1-8, a paralyzed man was brought to Jesus. When Jesus tells the man to pick up his mat and go home, the man is immediately healed and gets up and walks. The crowd reacts in awe and amazement, but what stood out to me was that their response was to praise God. In Luke 7:11-17, Jesus encounters a large crowd carrying the body of a dead man, the son of a widow. Jesus’ heart goes out to the woman and he touches the dead man, who sits up and begins to talk. Again, the crowd of people is filled with awe and amazement and again, their response was to praise God.
I found another example of this in Revelation 15. Here, after the anti-Christ has been defeated, those who have been victorious over him marvel over God’s mighty works. Their response? They give Him praise! As I read that passage of Scripture, I also saw another confirmation of the importance of music to God. Before the people begin to praise Him, God gives them instruments–harps. Then they begin to sing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb as they praise God.
Lord, Your creation is amazing. When I sit and look at all You have made, I am awed. When I see Your mighty works and reflect on Your sacrifice for us, I am amazed. Let my response always be to give You the praise You deserve. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
“Worship the Lord with your life and praise Him with your mouth. A heart surrendered to the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit becomes like a fountain, pouring out praise.”
Those are the words I heard the Lord speak to my heart one morning. God’s word clearly tells us that our lives should be our living sacrifice to Him (Romans 12:1). He has shown us incredible love, grace, and mercy, and our response should be to offer Him our lives–not just part of them, but all of them–as a sacrifice of praise. By doing so, we are presenting our worship to God, worship that is not just true and proper but holy and pleasing to Him. We are being obedient to His word. Our hearts should be filled with worship. When they are, our mouths cannot help but speak (or sing!) His praise.
As I thought about this, I was reminded of the story of Zechariah in the first chapter of Luke’s gospel. Zechariah was told by the angel Gabriel that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son, whom he was to name John. Because Elizabeth, like Zechariah, was advanced in age, Zechariah doubted what Gabriel told him. As a result, his mouth was shut up and he was unable to speak. When Elizabeth did give birth, in obedience to the Lord, Zechariah confirmed that the child’s name would be John. Immediately, his voice was restored by God. And what was the first thing he did when his voice was restored? He opened his mouth in praise to God. His heart was so full of worship that it just bubbled up from his mouth in the form of praise.
Lord, in obedience to You, I give my life to You as a sacrifice because of Your great love and mercy. May that sacrifice be pleasing in Your sight. Let my heart be so full of love, fear, and awe of you that praise will always be on my lips. In Jesus’ name. Amen!