What can I say about Thanksgiving that hasn't been said a thousand times on Facebook and Twitter and all over the blogosphere during the last two weeks?
I must confess that I'm cheating today. This post is an edited version of one that I wrote in 2005, when "Tuesdays with Jesus" first began. I admit that I have used it on some other Thanksgiving weeks since then.
Many of you have never seen this post, and for those of you who have, I believe that the message is still as sweet for this very holiday week. Psalm 98 was my inspiration, and I would encourage you to stop what you're doing and read those words before you continue. Won't you please?
How typical is it to write about Thanksgiving this week? It doesn't surprise you, does it? I think that you may find what you are about to read is a little different. Are you up for a challenge?
The Lord asked me to do something this week that is quite out of the ordinary, and I invite you to accept the challenge with me. From today until next Saturday evening, give thanks. "Easy enough", you say. No, I mean ONLY give thanks. Don't ASK God for anything - ONLY give thanks.
Verse 1 of this psalm says, "Sing to the Lord a new song". The "songs" we typically sing are full of requests and petitions to God. I would guess that your "asking" time outweighs your praising and thanking time, when you go to God in prayer. Let's sing a new song - one of ONLY giving thanks. No whining, no complaining, no begging, no asking - ONLY thanks!
Do you believe that your Heavenly Father knows everything you need before you ask Him (Matthew 6:8)? Let me assure you that just because you aren't asking for a few days, doesn't mean that God will not be aware of your needs. He's not going to say, "Gee, I haven't heard any requests from Sally and Joe today - I wonder what's going on; I wonder what they need?" How absurd! Your Father knows! Yes, we are told to pray, but I believe that it will be refreshing and pleasing to God's ears to hear nothing but our heartfelt thanks for a few days.
We can thank Him because He has done marvelous things (v.1). His right hand and holy arm have worked salvation for Him (v. 1b). He is righteous (v. 2). He makes His love and faithfulness known to all the ends of the earth (v. 3). He is our King (v. 6). He is the judge who will judge in righteousness and equity (v. 9). He forgives all your sins, heals all your diseases, redeems your life from the pit, crowns you with love and compassion, and satisfies your desires with good things (Psalm 103: 1-5).
Thank Him - Praise Him!!
When I'm talking thanks, friend, I'm talking real thanks. Look at the commands of Psalm 98. Verse 4a says, "Shout". To "shout"is to utter a sudden loud cry. "Burst into jubilant song with music". (v. 4b) "Bursting" is like an explosion - "jubilant" is rejoicing in triumph. Explode into triumphant rejoicing over your God!
Sing - shout for joy (v. 6)! When David brought the Ark of the Lord back to Jerusalem, he was leaping and dancing before the Lord to the point that the Bible says his wife despised him. He told her, "I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this" (2 Samuel Ch. 6:16,21-22).
The sea, the mountains, the rivers, the whole world, is commanded to sing before the Lord (Psalm 98: vs. 7-9). Jesus said that if the people didn't cry out, "the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40).
Don't be put to shame by the rocks!
The praise and thanksgiving set forth in God's word is not quiet, reserved, or afraid of what other people think about it.
It is shouting, dancing, joyful music, and exuberant praise to the One who is worthy!
Not only will days of only thanksgiving be pleasing to the Lord, but I believe that it will be beneficial to us as well.
Try something for me. Say your name five times in your head. Now try and think about your address while still thinking your name. Can't do it, can you? We can't think about two things at the same time! While thanking God, we cannot worry. While expressing thanks, we cannot complain. We can't fret. We can't murmur or grumble. We can't work out our own plans to take care of our problems.
There's freedom in the midst of the thanksgiving!
I believe that our joy will increase and overflow as we thank. If we really concentrate on what we have been given, we will become joyful. Our focus will shift from what we don't have, to "every good and perfect gift" that God has given us (James 1:17).
You may be thinking that you don't have much to be thankful for today. Oh, my friend, you do! Start with your spiritual blessings; the Cross, salvation, God's love for you. His faithfulness, His mercy and compassion. The forgiveness of all of your sins. The Blessed Holy Spirit living on the inside of you. If you are reading this right now, I assume that you have been blessed with a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food to nourish your body. I praise God each morning for eyes that see, ears that hear, lips that speak, and a body that moves. Each breath, each heartbeat - a gift from God.
Do you hate doing laundry? Thank God for a husband and children who wear those clothes and that you have the means to buy them. Do you hate house cleaning? Thank Him for providing shelter. Do you hate your job? Please don't!! Thank Him that you have one -- so many do not! You get the point...
You might say, "But Donna, you just don't know what I'm going through right now. It's so hard to be thankful." The Bible tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). All -- not some. Even in bad situations we can thank Him because "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Thank Him because "the testing of your faith is developing perseverance (patience). When perseverance has finished it's work you will be mature, complete, not lacking anything" (James 1: 3-4). Maybe you can't see the end from the beginning today? Thank God for teaching you how to trust Him!!
Today is Sunday. Won't you join me for the next five days on this journey of total thankfulness? It won't be easy, I assure you. We're not used to it. That old, ugly father of lies may even put on a stronger attack. Let me make a few suggestions:
When you have a thought or a situation that would cause you to worry or fret or complain, just say "Jesus". There is power in that name.
Say, "Jesus" and then begin to thank Him, once again.
If you are in a prayer group this week, dare to be different - tell the others that you're doing nothing this week but thanking Him. Who knows? It may catch on....Hallelujah!
Thank Him for what He WILL do, ahead of time, "calling things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). Thank Him for that healed marriage. Thank Him for that saved son or daughter. Thank Him for the provision He is sending...right now!
Put your laundry list of requests in your pocket, immerse yourself in the Word, and see all His benefits (Psalm 103:2). Shout for joy even if you don't feel like it. Be undignified! Let "Thank you Jesus!" continually be in your mouth! Then go to worship Him on Sunday morning. Praise, sing, dance, if you're not embarrassed. You will have "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).
I believe that God is going to do some mighty things in our lives this week. I really do. Won't you try it with me?
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.