Everyone in the United States knows that Thanksgiving is the day that we recognize which brings us back to when the pilgrims ate a large meal with Native Americans. It was out of thankfulness to God for providing a great bounty when those settlers had no skills in farming this foreign land.
In contemporary times, we remember that celebration, but it is also about general thankfulness to God for giving us every good thing we have.#God has given us every good thing. #thanksgiving Click To Tweet
Today, I’m here to say that thankfulness is not only for Thanksgiving Day, but also for every day.
And that thankfulness should define our churches.
Thankfulness for the Gospel
God sent His only Son to die for our sins. Then He rose from the dead. And He will come back to fulfill the rest of His promises.
That’s the gospel, and it should move us to thankfulness.
First, God loved us so much that He sent His Son. You, parents out there – you understand this really well. Would you give up your child’s life to save a good person? How about for a bad person? Because that’s what God did. He saved us when we were sinners.
And He was powerful enough to rise from the dead and defeat death so that we would also no longer be defeated in death.
And when He comes back, He will reward us for suffering for Him during our lives. It’s unwarranted, since we never deserved salvation, let alone rich blessings on top of salvation.
In our churches, this must be the very foundation of our joy. When we sing songs to God in unity, and worship Him with our lives and the use of the spiritual gifts He’s given us, it’s gotta be out of a heart of thanksgiving.
Thankfulness for Provision
God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). And thank God for that, because I know that I often fit in the category of “evil” and “unrighteous”, but God still brings me the good things I need.
He gives us every good thing.
As our churches experience provision, not only enough for ourselves, but enough so that we can provide for the needs of others, thankfulness should flow out from us.
Thankfulness in Our Hearts
Check this out –
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:15-17).
…be thankful… with gratitude… giving thanks…
If you notice, 3 times in 3 verses, Paul referenced being thankful.
Do you think it was important to him?
Our churches must have thankfulness in our very hearts as we participate in worship of God.
Thankfulness in Our Actions
We’re commanded in Scripture to do all sorts of things – live holy lives, order our families properly, order our churches properly, love each other, care for widows and orphans, give generously, meet urgent needs in our communities, obey the government, love our enemies, and on and on.
But if we do these things out of compulsion or with bitterness, then we lose sight of God’s real intent. At the end of the day, God wants us to love him and do all these things out of thankfulness to Him.
As we do the hard work of church planting, it must be out of thankfulness. As we tell people about the goodness of God and share the Gospel with them, it must be out of thankfulness. And as we shepherd and protect the flock, it must be out of thankfulness. As we raise up leaders to continue and multiply the work, it must be out of thankfulness.The hard work of #churchplanting must be out of #thankfulness . Click To Tweet
Thankfulness Despite Difficult Circumstances
And as we suffer terrible things, we must also do it out of thankfulness.
I met an Indian pastor this week, who has 120 churches in his network. His people are facing great persecution from Hindus and Muslims. He told a story of a man who was forced to watch as a few evil people raped and murdered his wife. A girl of 13 was burned alive. Many wives were made widows. His church buildings are being burnt to the ground.
Yet he stood before me and thanking God for His grace and mercy.
In America, we face difficulties, too, even if it is not physical danger. We face gossip, humiliation, blacklisting in our careers, and shunning.
Can we do it with thankfulness, too?
Can our churches stand in thankfulness as we lose more and more rights? How about as we lose credibility in the public arena, being looked at as the loony “Christian right”? And what about those who hate us who continue to spread gossip about us?
Build the Church
So as you plant churches, be very careful to weave thankfulness into the DNA of your congregations.
Stand firm, knowing that God has kept every promise He’s made. Give Him thanks as you look forward to the coming blessings when He returns.
And take a good look at your brothers and sisters in the Lord, your spouse, your children, your friends, your work, your food and drink, your house, your freedom.
Remember that it is God who has given it to you. And give thanks out loud to Him. Thank Him in your prayers, and as you live out your lives. Thank Him in the unity of your church and your obedience lived out in your community.
Also published on Medium.