Why We Give Thanks

Hello LFCA Family,

As the Thanksgiving season is upon us, I wanted to share with you all what we talked about in chapel this week.

We could all spend countless hours listing all of the things for which we have to be thankful. Warm clothing, food on our tables, and as one sweet kindergartener pointed out to us in prayer on Monday that we have homes. When added to the fact that we have the freedom to come together in a school dedicated to learning about God, we have many reasons to be thankful. I wanted to focus our chapels this Thanksgiving week on what the Bible tells us about being thankful and giving thanks.

Narrowing down Bible references on giving thanks is no easy task. I found one estimate that giving thanks or thankfulness is mention in the Old Testament 102 times and in the New Testament 71 times, for a total of 173 references (on another site, their total was 189). This is not something then that should be overlooked or ignored. I opted to focus one day on the Old Testament and the other on the New Testament.

I always have looked at one passage as the "gold standard" of thanksgiving passages. Being one of the first I learned as a kid, Psalm 100 will never fully leave my mind.

Psalm 100 (ESV)
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2  Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3  Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4  Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5  For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

My focus in this passage is the last verse. Verses 1-4 tell us what to do...praise and give thanks. Verse 5 answers the "why" we should do those things:

THE LORD IS GOOD.
HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.

What more do we really need to be told about the nature of our God?
This phrase shows up throughout the Old Testament.
It appears at the beginning of Psalms 106 and 107.
When David brings the Ark of the Covenant back and declares a time of thanksgiving, this statement ends his song of thanks (I Chronicles 16:34).
When the rebuilding of the Temple began in Ezra 3, they sang it again (3:11).

THE LORD IS GOOD.
HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.

This theme runs throughout the Old Testament because, in a very real way, the Old Testament is the story of God proving His goodness and His love over and over again. And just as David, the priests, and the prophets in the Old Testament saw ample reason to praise and thank God, so did the Apostles in the New Testament.

I focused on one main thought that appears multiple times in Paul's epistles, and that is this:

WE SHOULD THANK GOD FOR EVERYTHING.

Paul often times would cut to the chase and lay it out for the churches to which he was writing. In the book of Ephesians, he told the people to "...be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (5:18-20 ESV, emphasis mine). Paul says here always and for everything. That's pretty clear.

We see the same thing echoed in his letter to the Colossians: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (3:16-17 ESV, emphasis mine) Here Paul says everything we do and say should be done and said to the Lord with thanks. Again, that's pretty straightforward.

But our most clear direction comes from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians. As he is finishing the letter, he gives them one sentence that is just loaded with meaning for us. "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (5:16-18 ESV, emphasis mine) In these verses, we see three different yet similar statements regarding when..."always", "without ceasing" (which means "never stopping" or "always"), and " in all circumstances" (which means "no matter what" or could be said "always"!) And while this repeating of the same concept points out its importance, the final statement slams the point home, "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." This is not one of those times where we have to search, or pray, or plead, or fast to find the will of God for our lives. This is spelled out for us very plainly. If you are a believer in Christ, it is God's will for you to always be in a state of rejoicing, prayer, and thanksgiving!

As you get the time this week to spend with family and friends, remember just how much we have to be thankful for, starting with the fact that we have a God that is good, whose love for us lasts forever, and whose will for us is to be thankful.

I will be praying for you all and your families this holiday season,

                                                               Mr. Chris Driscoll

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