Struggling to be Thankful?

Struggling to be thankful this year? For whatever reason maybe this year is a little more difficult to have a heart of gratitude.  You are looking forward to spending time with your family and eating some turkey, but it is difficult to find things to be thankful for.  If this is you, I know you are not alone.  Sometimes our present circumstances can weigh us down that it is hard for us to rejoice or be thankful.  However, God gives us a great way to fill our hearts with thanksgiving – Remembrance. If you have spent some time studying the Bible, one of the things God instructs us to do is to remember. As we examine all the festivals and feast in the Old Testament, they were events to remember God's powerful works done in the past. Passover is a perfect example, as the events purpose is to remember God's sparing of Israel's first born and the Lord's mighty deliverance of his people from the hand of Pharaoh.

Remembrance is not just an important concept in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament as well. In the Last Supper, Jesus told us to partake of the meal and to do so in remembrance of him. As a result, the church in all her history made a practice of partaking in the Lord's supper remembring his horrific crucifixion in his sacrifice for our sins.

In general, I do not think we would typically characterize ourselves as thankful people. Sure on Thanksgiving when family is together, the Turkey is hot, and the football is on we might give thanks. In general though, I do not think our lives are lived in thanksgiving. Rather than thankfullness we complain, groan, and grumble about our life. Perhaps one of the reasons we are so unthankful is because we take so little time to remember. Our minds are consumed on the present and anxious for the future. We devote very little time to reminiscing and remembering the past. Yet, it is in the past that we can confidently see God's sovereign hand working in our lives. It is in the past that we can remember how he has provided us, protected us, and delivered us.

When we pause, sit down, and start remembring, thanksgiving will be the result. When we reflect on God's graciousness to us we cannot help but be thankful. Both our physcial needs and our greater spiritual need has been provided by God. He has provided us with our daily bread and he has given us the bread of life.

So if this thanksgiving, if you are having a hard time finding ways to be thankful, stop and remember. Remember the ways He has cared for you. Remember the ways He has provided for you. Remember the incredible gift of Jesus Christ, that you have been saved and redeemed through him. When you start remembring, you will quickly find your heart in thanksgiving.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

The following is a Puritan prayer from the book The Valley of Vision I pray that this prayer spurs your heart to give thanks to God today!

O MY GOD,

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil; for the body thou hast given me, for preserving its strength and vigour, for providing senses to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding; for thy royal bounty providing my daily support, for a full table and overflowing cup, for appetite, taste, sweetness, for social joys of relatives and friends, for ability to serve others, for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for a mind to care for my fellow-men, for opportunities of spreading happiness around, for loved ones in the joy of heaven, for my own expectations of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

20121122-083252.jpg

Thanksgiving is a Daily Activity

2947274184 05f9eaeb0a 2

Thanksgiving is a daily activity.  There is always a lot of energy and encouragement to be thankful in the month of November.  However, for the Christian, thanksgiving must be a daily activity.  We must not be thankful just on days we eat turkey, but every day of our lives.

Why? Because thanksgiving is the proper response to the Gospel.  It is our thanksgiving that fuels our worship.  It is our thanksgiving that fuels our pursuit of holiness.  It is our thanksgiving that fuels our mission.  If you take thanksgiving out of the Christian life, you get monotonous ritual and habitual routine.  There is no passion for the spread of the Gospel without thanksgiving for the Gospel.  
 
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow.  I am looking forward to enjoying it with my family.   Eat your fill and give thanks.   But more than anything, I pray that our thanksgiving propels us to radical mission every day of the year.  
 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Remembrance as Thanksgiving

4009438816 d6528b1631

Is your stomach ready for Thanksgiving?  Many of us are preparing to feast this Thursday with family and friends.  To prepare for the feast, some of us might hit the gym a little harder this week.  We might even skip a meal on Wednesday so we can eat more on Thursday.  We will spend hours preparing the turkey and all the delicious side dishes.  It will be a grand day of feasting and celebrating.  However, as our stomachs for thanksgiving, we must first and foremost prepare our hearts.  

Thanksgiving is first and foremost a day to give thanks.  We will spend that time thanking God for all the incredibly blessings he has given us.  We will thank God for our family.  We will thank God for our friends.  We will thank him for our home and all the material blessings that he gives us.  However don't you dare forget to thank God for that what you should most be thankful!  You redemption given you through Jesus Christ.  

In one of the Psalms of Thanksgiving, Psalm 111, the Psalmist invites us to carefully think about and remember the works of the Lord.  A key part of showing thanks is remembrance.  I love reminiscing with old friends.  You get together with a friend you haven't seen in a while and you start talking about "the good ol' days".  You remember and reflect about the past.  You laugh a lot and your heart is filled with joy.  Let me ask you a question.  When was the last time you reminisced about the glorious work God has done in your life?  When was the last time you took a second to remember what God has done for you through Jesus?  A key part of showing thanks is remembrance.  This is why the ordinance of the Lord's Supper is given to us by Jesus.  As we take the Lord's supper, Jesus tells us to do this in remembrance of Him.  Thanksgiving is rooted in remembrance.  

Why does the Bible instruct us to remember so much?  Well we are forgetful people. We get so consumed with the present and worried about the future, that we neglect to remember the past.  This is why the Bible calls us to remembrance.  When we remember what God has done in our lives, our hearts become filled with Thanksgiving.  

So this week take thirty minutes, get off by yourself, and remember all that God has done in your life.  Or better yet, around the thanksgiving table start remembering together the faithfulness of God in your life.  Listen to each other's stories, and give thanks to God for his marvelous works.  As you remember, you will find your heart filled with Thanksgiving.  

As Christians we have so much to be thankful for.  As Psalm 111:9 puts it we should be thankful because, "He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant for ever.  Holy and awesome is His name!".  You see redemption has come and his name is Jesus.  Our sin has been paid.  God's relentless covenantal love has pursued us and reconciled us back to the Father.  We who enemies of God have now been adopted as sons.  We have much to be thankful for.   So thank God for your family.  Thank God for your friends.  Thank God for all your material blessings.  But don't you dare forget what you should most be thankful for, redemption given to you through Jesus.  Remember the cross.  Remember your savior.  Then you will find your heart filled with Thanksgiving.