By LOU TISCIONE
Thanksgiving is a time set apart to thank God for all His blessings. It now appears that stores are trying to get a jump on Christmas shopping by beginning “Black Friday” on Thanksgiving Day! Our culture continues to push a secular agenda on all of us. Now the press of shopping is crowding out a time of personal reflection on the goodness of God.
This year, I’ve taken some time to reflect upon this phenomenon as it relates to Thanksgiving Day. More specifically, how it relates to individual motivations.
We know that giving thanks is a response of Creatures to their Creator. Thanksgiving to God is inseparable to praising God. In order to give God thanks it is necessary to acknowledge His mighty works and His attributes. We give thanks to the one who provides all things; is the Lord of all things and always good.
King David wrote Psalm 65 and it has been used throughout the history of the Bible as a song of worship. Verse 1, “Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed.” King David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit put everything into a right perspective. He declared that praise is owed to God! Praise is the verbal declaration of the mighty works of God and His character. We are Creatures and we are in debt to the Creator. We are all called to remind ourselves that all we have and all that we enjoy has been provided by the hand of the sovereign God. We fulfill our debt to God by remembering those mighty acts recorded in the Scriptures. It is expected that we will not keep those acts of God to ourselves. Praising God not only is required but it is the means to experience true peace in the midst of turmoil.
Biblical praise requires knowledge of God and His mighty acts. Too often, we think that praising God is a spontaneous emotional act done by “Charismatics” or “Pentecostals”. Some might suggest that praise is “Letting go of our inhibitions and being led by our emotions”. Praise is rather an intentional act which begins in our minds. As we read and study God’s word, those mighty acts like the deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt impress on our minds the absolute sovereignty of God. It reveals to us His grace. It demonstrates His providence. For those who have been born again, the Holy Spirit illumines their minds so that they may see and apply the truth of God. It is through this means that God sanctifies those whom He justified and gives peace.
Therefore, praise is not only a debt owed to God but it is a means of God to change those who are His to be more like Christ thereby knowing the peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
The second part of verse one, “And to you shall vows be performed,” aids in our understanding of genuine faith. Those who are intent on praising God are those who seek to be faithful to Him. A vow is a solemn promise. David wrote of the expectation of those who praise God to keep their promises made to Him.
When God breaks into the life of a man or woman He makes them a new Creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17. There is an observable difference in the person who has been born again. The Bible refers to this change as conversion. God changes the one whom He raises from death to life. Conversion is done by God instantaneously but continues throughout the life of a believer. The instant God converts a sinner into a saint is described as being brought from darkness into light by the Holy Spirit. The process of change that continues is what the Bible calls sanctification. Part of sanctification is profession. That is, when a believer is changed by God, he desires to declare his reliance upon Christ. Jesus said, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven. …” (Matthew 10:32)
In the face of the increasing secularization of our culture preserve time to give thanks to the God whom we praise for His mighty acts and attributes. May the assurance of knowing Him provide you with the peace that surpasses all understanding. “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, the holiness of Your temple!” (Psalm 65:4b)
Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).