I’m thinking about the word “thanksgiving” today. I suspect many of you might be doing the same, in one way or another. Tomorrow, of course, is Thanksgiving Day, that annual holiday when we take time to remember God’s goodness and blessings to us. For some it may only be seen as a day to have time off from work or school, or to gather with friends and family, to eat a big meal of turkey with all the trimmings, and maybe even watch some football. Others may just be wanting to get rested-up for some serious Black Friday shopping. Thankfully, some of those “crazy” shopping behaviors have changed due to “Cyber Monday,” and spreading out Black “Friday” over several days. The danger is that we miss the importance of being thankful for God’s blessings. I’d like to highlight below two things from the word, “thanksgiving.”
The first part of the word, thanksgiving is “thanks.” We need to remember the importance of giving thanks to God for who He is, and for his love, care and blessings in our lives. The importance of giving thanks is found throughout the pages of the Bible. Psalm 100 says, “Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God. It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”
What are some practical ways that might help us to be more thankful? Our family has two little boxes on the coffee table in our living room. One of them says “Give Thanks,” and the other one has the word, “Grace” on it. We’re encouraging our family to write down on a piece of paper something (or someone) they are thankful for, or maybe something that happened to them where they were shown grace from God. You could also take a few moments to pray. Before asking the Lord for anything, why not thank him for some of the blessings he has given you.
The second thing I wanted to highlight is found in the second part of the word thanksgiving: “Giving!” The holiday, after all, is called Thanksgiving, not Thanks-getting. What are some ways you could give to God or others? Did you know that in addition to “Cyber Monday” there is also “Giving Tuesday?” That’s a day where many Christian and charitable organizations encourage people to send in a special donation to help the needs of others. You could do that for your local church, the Exeter Food Closet, the Visalia Rescue Mission, or whatever ministry the Lord has put on your heart. It doesn’t have to be a financial gift. It can be the giving your time in volunteering, or tutoring, or just helping out a neighbor or friend.
As that familiar Thanksgiving hymn says, “Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done, in whom his world rejoices.” May we all “with hearts, hands and voices” give thanks to Him this Thanksgiving.
Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Community Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.