Real Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Day is a traditional American holiday, observed by most Americans with a feast, featuring a large roasted turkey.  It is a day when many people across the country will gather with family and friends.  Prayers of thanks to God are often made just before the meal begins.

Although Thanksgiving Day is not mentioned in the Bible, the Bible says much about giving thanks to God. Throughout the Bible, believers are encouraged to give thanks to God. One such passage from the Bible is Ephesians 5:18-21.

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Sprit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Here, the Apostle Paul instructs the Christians at Ephesus to be filled with the Spirit. He lists three steps to being filled with the Spirit. One of those steps is to give thanks to God. In verse twenty, Paul lists three traits of real, Spirit-filled thanksgiving.

First, Spirit-filled thanksgiving is constant. Paul instructs the Ephesians to give thanks “always.” Thanksgiving is not just something believers should do once per year.  Believers should give thanks to God every day. As we say our daily prayers, we should spend a portion of our prayer time thanking God for what He has done for us. In fact, we should give thanks to God all the time.

Second, Spirit-filled thanksgiving is comprehensive.  In verse twenty, Paul instructs the reader to give thanks to God “for all things.”  It is easy to thank God for the good things in life. It is difficult to thank God for bad things.  In fact, it may seem insane to thank God for bad things. But that is exactly what we are expected to do.  How can a person possibly do such a thing?  We can only give thanks to God for bad things when we realize that God will use the bad things in life, as well as the good, to do something good in our lives.  In Romans 8:28, Paul writes, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  When we know that God will use the bad things to do something good for us, we can thank Him, even for the bad things.  When we do, our focus is turned to God, rather than our circumstances.  And we are filled with the Spirit.

Third, Spirit-filled thanksgiving is concentrated.  Many people say that they are thankful.  But it seems that few say to whom they are thankful.  Paul instructed the Ephesians to give their thanks “to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20) Since God is in control of all things, we should thank Him for all things.  We may only approach Him in the name of Jesus Christ, because it is Jesus, who died on the cross to pay for our sins, rose from the dead and is now in heaven making intercession for all who believe in Him.  When we receive the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, we have a standing invitation to enter the very presence of God in prayer.  Once we have entered His presence in the name of Jesus, we should give Him thanks for all He has done.  Our thanksgiving is not to be a generic feeling of thankfulness projected aimlessly into the atmosphere.  Our thanksgiving is to be directed specifically to God, who has created and rules over all things.

To experience real, Spirit-filled thanksgiving, thank God in Jesus’ for all things at all times. Let Thanksgiving become more than a great holiday once per year.  Let it become a state of mind

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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