Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
and into His courts with praise: Be
thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
This is the time of year that we all pause from all the busy activities of our daily lives to give thanks; the one day out of the entire year that we set aside specifically for thanksgiving. Or do we........? We have been so abundantly blessed by the Almighty God, but do we really give thanks for all He has given us? How much time do we actually spend thinking about all our blessings, and thanking Him?
Even on this one day that we claim for a national holiday for that purpose, our primary focus often is not on our Lord and the blessings He has given us. Usually our focus is more on who all will be here for the big dinner, what are we going to eat, and who's going to do all the cooking and cleaning up, and which teams are playing who in the football games. We say a quick prayer----after all, we went to all the trouble to cook this huge meal, we certainly don't want the food to get cold if the prayer takes too long! Some families even go around the table, having each person say one thing they are thankful for----one thing, as if God hasn't blessed us so abundantly that to list ALL our blessings would probably take us all day and all night!
We really need to start being more mindful of all that God has done for us, and giving Him praise, glory, and thanks. We set apart one day a year, and think we're doing well; in the Old Testament, part of the priest's job was "And to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening;" I Chron. 23:30. They were to stand and praise God and thank Him twice a day, and we think we do well to thank Him once a year?????
Many of us teach our children a cute little prayer like this one:"God is great, God is good;
Let us thank Him for our food. Amen."
That's very sweet, and we SHOULD begin teaching our children to pray at a very young age. But let's not break our arm patting ourself on the back---as we mature, our praises and thankfulness should be growing, also. It's certainly not wrong to be thankful for our food; Jesus himself always gave thanks before breaking bread. But even when we give thanks for our daily bread, do we realize how abundantly God has blessed us?
Statistics say that if you have enough food to eat, you are more fortunate than 50% of the world's population, who will go to bed hungry tonight. God has blessed us so abundantly in this area, in fact, that it's killing us. More than half the people in this country are overweight from our abundance. Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, strokes, heart attacks, heartburn, acid reflux----these are only some of the medical problems that are directly related to our overabundance of "daily bread".
God has blessed us financially, too. Do you know that about 59% of the world's wealth is controlled by only about 6% of the world's population? And most of that is right here in America! Even less than wealthy families in this country are much better off than most people around the world. But do we praise and thank God? Unfortunately, usually we get to thinking it is our own good judgment or our own good business sense that is responsible for our success. We neglect to realize that "Every good and perfect gift is from above..." (James 1:17)
And what do we do with our wealth? Do we use it for God's glory, to praise and thank Him for giving it to us in the first place? No, what usually happens is we buy bigger houses, newer cars, nicer furniture, take better vacations--- all things that benefit only ourselves, and leave God completely out. Then, we have to work longer and harder to pay for so many luxuries that we didn't really need in the first place, which leaves us even less time and energy to worship God. How many times have we heard, or maybe even said, "I can't go to church--- Sunday morning is the only day I have to sleep late." Did you ever stop to think that maybe if we didn't have quite so much, we might actually be better off?
For those of us who have believed in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life, we have so much to be thankful for. Even if God never answers another prayer all our lives; even if He never does one other thing for us in this lifetime; even if He allows us to lose everything we have in this world; He has still given us the greatest gift of all--- eternal life. No matter what we may not have in this world; no matter what we may suffer, no matter what happens to us here, we know that it is only for a little while, and then we have His assurance of eternal life. Eternal life with our Lord, in a heaven far beyond our poor imagination, where there will be no pain, no suffering, no sorrow of any kind, for all eternity. If that isn't reason enough to thank Him and praise Him every day of our lives, I don't know what is!
If you have not yet trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you should be very thankful that you still have a chance to do so. That in itself is reason for heartfelt thankfulness--- that you have not yet died in your sins, and so still have another chance. That will not always be the case. The time will come when it will be too late---- but as of right now you still have that opportunity. I beg you, don't let this Thanksgiving day go by without realizing that God's greatest gift of all is still available to you.
Don't just say a quick prayer before dinner this Thanksgiving; get some place quiet and really, truly contemplate on all the many ways that God has blessed you and your family. Spend some time in worship of Him, and giving Him thanks. I promise you, it'll make this Thanksgiving the best you've ever had!