“O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” -Psalm 107:8 If we complained less, and praised more, we should be happier, and God would be more glorified. Let us daily praise God for common mercies–common as we frequently call them, and yet so…
I know I just posted another Morning and Evening, but I really wanted to write a bit on this one too because this was honestly one of my favorite ones to record so far. We in the USA just celebrated Thanksgiving, a tradition that we think of as going back to the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and to later presidential declarations of such days, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
I was intending to do a sermon episode on it with this sermon, but with the time crunch as well as falling ill, that will probably be done next year around the same holiday, God willing.
The power of gratitude
I wanted to take a moment here and talk about why as Christians, this occasion should be particularly meaningful to us. We should, as a natural course of living, be constantly thankful to God, and I believe it goes hand in hand with the biblical command to rejoice in the Lord in all things. We should remember that our lives, our families and homes, our very existence, and most of all our salvation in Christ, is a gift of God’s goodness and love to us. Certainly, however, it is appropriate for us in this season when we begin to close out the year and reflect on everything that has happened, to make time as a nation to stop and give special gratitude to God.
Gratitude is also one of the believer’s greatest weapons against the temptation to run to sin. Someone who hopes in the cross and pours out his gratitude on the unending grace of God can endure the darkest pits. My own experiences have only grazed the truth of this, but the goodness and grace of God is so very sweet after a deep draught of sadness and suffering, and a time of thanksgiving is all the more appropriate in that time.
I have said before that I believe two important commands we find in Scripture are “rejoice” and “do not fear,” both of which are tied into the idea of loving the Lord with every element of your self, and which overflow into loving your neighbor as yourself. I am reminded most of all of this passage from Hebrews:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.–Hebrews 12:1-2
Such an amazing picture of the strength we can find in God is seen here! Christ set the example for all His people by enduring not just giving up His heavenly throne to live as a servant, but enduring the torment of death on a cross, doing so because He knew the joy that would come of it, of the coming perfect union between Christ and His church, was far more valuable than the shame meted out to him in such an ignominious death.
I am constantly holding myself up against this, and I fall so very short. Yet even knowing that drives me to further gratitude, because the immense and glorious grace of God is more than enough to fill that gap, and to grow me up further. I pray that I will always keep this weapon at hand, as I go forth into the next part of life and into whatever God has planned for me there.