Pastor’s Blog

Thanks-Living

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  – Psalm 100:4-5        

 It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving Day is just a few weeks away now. This fall is flying by. After a very wet September and October, we have recently been blessed with some sunnier days. Praise God! But, of course, the temperatures will eventually plummet and snow will fall. Still, I’m going to enjoy each and every day of this wonderful fall season while I can. Perhaps you are doing the same.

Even before George Washington declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on October 3, 1789, the custom of giving thanks had been observed by early American settlers dating back to the “first thanksgiving” between pilgrims and Native Americans at the Plymouth Plantation in 1621. But the truth is, peoples from every nation and every culture have felt a natural instinct to give thanks to a Supreme Being for the blessings and abundance we enjoy since the beginning of time.

As Christians, we make no mistake about the fact that the Supreme Being we worship is God Almighty. From the days of old we have been hearkened to worship our great God and give thanks for all that he has done. King David says: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name.” In fact, the exhortation to “give thanks” is used 33 times in Scripture. Psalm 100:4-5 tell us to, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

 What’s striking about the above passages and references to giving thanks in Scripture is that they are not bound to a certain time, day, or place. There’s nothing in the Bible that says we are to give thanks merely for one day such as on a national holiday known as Thanksgiving. Nor, is there anything in the Bible that suggests there is only a certain time or place for giving thanks. The biblical writers simply exhorted us to “give thanks” – any time, any place, any day, every day!

It’s good that we have a national day of Thanksgiving in this country. And, I’m really glad that we do. For many, Thanksgiving Day is a special time to remember the blessings and abundance of God poured out into our lives. Personally, I have a custom of sitting down and actually listing all the many things for which I am thankful on a sheet of paper. Then, I pray through the list, giving thanks to God for each item listed. It’s a great exercise and I highly recommend it.

Yet, how much better, if I/we took time to be thankful and count our blessings each and every day – rather than just one day a year! Maybe what we need to do is make a list every week, or every day of all the many ways God has and is blessing us. Or, perhaps we could simply make a mental list of three things that we are thankful for at the end of each day. I sometimes do this as my head hits the pillow at night, thanking God for at least three good things that happened that day.

My point is not to diminish our annual Thanksgiving Day holiday. But rather, to turn each day into a kind of “thanksgiving day.” I call this “Thanks-Living.” That is, living each day in gratitude and gratefulness, mindful for what God has done and is doing in our lives. Consider all the many blessings God has brought into your life: family, friends, a church home, resources, a home, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, clothes to wear. Many of us also own things such as computers, televisions, cars, & toys!

Therefore, I challenge you today: Make every day a day of thanksgiving! Live each day aware of the grace and goodness of God that surrounds you, holds you, and goes before you. Give thanks to the Lord for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, for forgiveness, for righteousness, for the new life that is ours in Christ. Tell Jesus how much you love him for his presence in your life – for walking with you each moment of every day, even in the valleys of life. Enter His courts with praise and thanksgiving no matter where you are at any time!

Imagine the people of Grace Church being known as a grateful people – one of the most grateful churches in entire the Cedar Valley. Imagine the joy of Jesus welling-up in our hearts like a spring of water, welling-up within us. Imagine giving thanks in all circumstances, even when times are tough. Imagine giving thanks when we feel like it and even when we don’t. Imagine demonstrating an attitude of gratitude as a positive witness for Jesus to those around us each day. For truly, there are many reasons to give thanks each and every day of our lives!

Thanks-Living with You,

Pastor Dave Van Netten