Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Power of Thanks!

The last two months the staff at New Beginnings has done something powerful. For many years now, we have been celebrating one another’s birthdays by going to lunch together. However, the last two months have been different. After we have ordered our lunches, we have taken time to each take a turn telling one reason that we are thankful for the person celebrating their birthday. The results have been awe-inspiring. There have been tears of joy, smiles of thanks, and humble reactions. Something powerful happens when we express our thanks for one another. How can something as simple as being thankful cause such a powerful reaction?

Thanksgiving is the right response from the created to the Creator!

Thanksgiving and thankfulness is fairly rare in the Old Testament for two reasons:
  1. Sadly, people were not thankful after the emergence of sin (Genesis 3:1-24). Thankfulness is not a character strength that naturally flows from the ruined hearts of humanity. Thanklessness is on display after the miraculous exodus of God’s people (Exodus 3:20; Numbers 14:2). Israel grumbled again and again, rather than thanking God for His deliverance and for food that literally fell from heaven.
  2. The most common Hebrew words for “thankfulness” can also be interpreted “praise.” The link in between “praise” and “thanksgiving” is not accidental and should not be ignored. When we are thankful and express our thanksgiving we are acknowledging God as our source of blessings and contentment. We should remember that Thanks = Praise and Praise = Thanks.

    Thanksgiving is common in the psalms. About twenty psalms command or invite Israel to sing songs of thanksgiving. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good" is a common refrain
    • Psalm 106:1 ;
    • Psalm 118:1 ;
    • Psalm 136:1
    Some psalms specify a reason, linking thanksgiving with deeds of love and worship, encouraging worshipers to glorify God with thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30 ), come before him with thanksgiving Psalm (Psalm 95:2 ), enter his gates with thanksgiving (Psalm 100:4 ), sing to the Lord with thanksgiving (Psalm 147:7).

    Perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, cries for help and grief also conclude with thanksgiving. These cries come from individuals in Psalm 7:17; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 35:18; Psalm 52:9 ; Psalm 54:6 ; and Psalm 86:12. But there are also cries from the community in Psalm 79:13; and Psalm 106:47.

In the New Testament the vocabulary for thanksgiving expands and expressions of thanksgiving increase.

  • Thanksgiving is a motive for Christian life and conduct.
  • Thanksgiving is a general attitude toward both the blessings and trials of life.
  • Thanksgiving is a central component of prayer.
  • Thanksgiving the right attitude for the ability to work and serve others.
In the Gospels and Acts thanksgiving most often occurs in prayer over a meal (Matthew 15:36, 26:27 ; Mark 8:6, 14:23 ; Luke 22:19; John 6:11, 23). Paul also thanked God for his final meal on the storm-battered boat that took him to Malta (Acts 27:35).

The Gospels introduce and the Epistles develop the concept that gratitude for God's deliverance in Christ characterizes the believer.
  • When a sinful woman interrupted a dinner party to anoint Jesus with precious perfume, Jesus told His shocked host that her actions sprang from thankfulness for forgiveness (Luke 7:40-47).
  • When Jesus healed ten lepers as they walked to the temple, He commented aloud that only one, a Samaritan, returned to thank him (Luke 7:11-19).
  • Paul’s letters teach us that believers should be thankful for every individual provision, and that gratitude for God's saving grace should envelops the entire Christian life.
  • A general attitude of thanksgiving in both the trials and blessings of life distinguishes the Christian. Paul instructs his churches to give thanks for all things, in all circumstances (Ephesian 5:20 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:18), even in suffering (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:1-4), and to do everything in the name of Jesus out of a spirit of gratitude (Colossians 3:17).
  • Believers in Jesus retain joy and peace especially when, "in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving [they] present their requests to God" (Philippians 4:6-7 ).
  • Thanksgiving is a central component of prayer for Paul. He prays that his churches will be thankful (Colossians 1:12), and gives thanks for answered prayer, especially for the extension of the gospel and the strength of his churches (2 Corinthians 4:15).

    As we take time out to observe Thanksgiving we should honor the concept by being and expressing our thanks. See if you can experience the power of thanksgiving this holiday. Watch as thanksgiving transforms your attitude and the attitudes of those for whom you are thankful. Thanksgiving is powerful. Thanksgiving is biblical. Thanksgiving is right.

    Be thankful and tell others why you are thankful!

    Dr. Phil Sallee, Pastor

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