— By LOU TISCIONE
We are blessed to live in a country that sets a day aside for giving God thanks. As you know, George Washington set one day apart to thank God for His providence.
Many of us have many things for which to be thankful: our spouse, our children, our church, our homes and our nation. Yet our tendency as sinful human beings is to see the glass half empty rather than half full.
We look at those things that are not to our liking, or are less than desirable, and complain about them. It seems distasteful, even contrary, to thank God for everything, even those “bad” things.
But, that’s exactly what God’s will is for us. He said to give thanks in all circumstances (Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Believers know that all things work together for those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Giving thanks to God is a response of one who has been changed by Him. It is informative to look back at one of the greatest celebrations in the Bible. It was a thanksgiving service! 1 Chronicles 16 records King David’s preparation and implementation of a thanksgiving worship service. His motivation was the return of the Ark of the Covenant. David organized this great worship service to, “invoke, to thank and to praise the Lord.” (1 Chr. 16:4) The ark was a visible sign of God’s faithfulness to His covenantal promise made to His people.
The ark contained the stone tablets upon which God wrote the Ten Commandments. There was also with the ark in the Holy of Holies, the golden urn containing the manna from heaven and the budded staff of Aaron.
King David knew that the people of God needed a visible reminder of His providence. As a man of God, David knew that God’s people were commanded to thank Him. The Ark of the Covenant was a constant reminder that God would be faithful to His promise made to Abraham and his seed. (Genesis 17:7) God demonstrated His faithful providence by providing food for Israel in the wilderness. Jesus confirmed God’s faithfulness. He declared that the Father will provide the needs of His people. (Matthew 6:25-32)
God’s people in the wilderness were fickle as are we. Even though God gave them a sign of His leading them through Moses and Aaron rebellion broke out regularly. As a visible sign of Aaron’s leadership God caused his staff to bud. God told Moses to keep that budded staff before the people to remind them of His chosen leadership. It continued as a reminder of God’s promise to lead His people by His chosen instruments.
Now, consider what God has given to us! We have been given God’s word written. We hear Him every time we read His word. Every Christian has been given the Holy Spirit who works in concert with the Word to change us and speak to our hearts. God has said that believers can approach His throne of grace with confidence because Jesus has given them access through His shedblood. As we come to the Father in our quiet moments, He has promised to hear us and to answer our prayers in ways that are beyond what we ask or think.
In addition, Christians are told by the Holy Spirit that they are children of God. (Romans 8:16) Believers have God’s constant presence leading and protecting them. Believers have eternal security. Believers have been given a clear revelation of God’s plan of redemption in the Bible.
Christians, therefore, should have a greater desire to give thanks to God. The Church of Jesus Christ belongs to Him. He is the head and king of the Church. The most fundamental reason to give thanks to God is His grace of adoption. (Galatians 3:26-29) “See what kind of love the Father has given to us that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)
If you have been adopted by God through faith alone in Christ alone, thank Him every day and set apart a time during this Thanksgiving season to gather with His people to corporately thank Him for what He has done in Christ.
May your Thanksgiving Day plans be centered in giving thanks to God for the person and work of Christ.
The Rev. Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).