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Your personal Thanksgiving

November 5, 2007

by Pastor M. Schoenfeld, St. James Lutheran Church, Howard Lake

Each year, in the month of November, our nation sets aside some time in order to give thanks for the many blessings we have received. As we do this together as a nation, and as we give thanks together as families, let us also make this thanksgiving very personal.

The following study is meant to aid you in your own personal thanksgiving this year. May God richly bless you as you grow in giving thanks to the Lord God in all circumstances of life.

• First of all, let us consider the things for which we can give thanks. In the Bible we learn that people gave thanks to God on many different occasions.

In Genesis 8, Noah gives thanks to God that the Lord had delivered him from the flood. In Exodus 15, Moses and Miriam and the Israelites give thanks to God for delivering them from slavery in Egypt and bringing them through the Red Sea.

In Deuteronomy 8, God tells the Israelites, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you.” They gave thanks for land, food, and material blessings.

In I Samuel, chapter 2 Hannah gave thanks to God because she had been blessed with the birth of a son. In I Kings 8, we see that when the construction of the temple was completed, King Solomon and the Israelites gave thanks to God for how He had blessed them. The Psalmist gave thanks to God because He is good (Psalm 107: 1). Mary gave thanks for the coming Christ (Luke 1:46-55).

Clearly from this small sampling there are many different occasions for which we can give thanks to the Lord God. Now, make it personal. Take a moment and list what or who you want to thank the Lord for this thanksgiving,

• I suspect that many of the items you listed above are temporal, meaning that they are things or people that we are able to enjoy in this world, but will one day pass away. In Psalm 118:1 we are told: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” We can give thanks to God for His eternal love and other things like His Word and our time in heaven which will last for eternity because of Jesus. Take a moment and list those lasting and eternal items that you want to give thanks to the Lord for.

• In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 God tells us this: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In this verse, we are told to give thanks in all circumstances.

It is easy to give thanks to God when things are going well. When life goes our way, and when we receive what we want, it is easy to give thanks to God.

But what about when times are difficult? What about when we are sick or ill, when we are insulted and taken advantage of, when we are bored, when we face challenges, or face some sort of trial or suffering? Do we give thanks to God then?

In Acts 5:41-42 we are told how the apostles even gave thanks that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ. We can give thanks in all circumstances because regardless of what we face in life, God will work all things for our good (Romans 8:28) and nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37-38)

Furthermore, God will use trials and difficulties of life in order to give us hope (Romans 5:3-5). Therefore take a moment and list some of the other circumstances in your life for which you may have a reason to give thanks to the Lord God.

• Consider for a moment how it is that we give thanks to God. In Psalm 100, the Psalmist wrote: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.” We can come before God with shouts of joy and with songs in our hearts and uttered in our mouths.

In Leviticus 7 we are told how the ancient people of God could bring a thank offering to the Lord expressing thankfulness for God’s goodness. Likewise, we can give thanks to the Lord God by bringing our offerings of thanks to Him.

In Philippians 4:6 it speaks of prayer, a common way in which we may give thanks to God. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

In Colossians chapter 3 we are told that since God has worked good in our lives, we can respond by the kind of lives we live. Take a moment and think of how in your life you would like to give thanks to the Lord for all the goodness He has brought to you.

• Finally, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.” I Chronicles 16:8-9

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.