By Violetta Reum
It is Thanksgiving week in the United States right now and it is one of my most favorite holidays of the year. The fall is coming to an end, welcoming in the winter and with it, the Christmas season. Thanksgiving brings families and friends together to celebrate, feast and be thankful for each other and everything that the last year brought.
It is also a natural season to meditate on gratitude and thank God for His abounding love, mercy and grace.
As I searched the Bible for guidance on thanksgiving, I was not surprised to find a multitude of verses and passages on the topic. I was however intrigued by how my bible (NLT Life Application Bible) defined the different words that I felt like described pretty much the same thing; thankfulness.
As I studied it deeper, I was moved by the ways that we are meant to live thankful lives with our actions, our character, our mindset and our prayers.
I wanted to challenge myself to be intentional this Thanksgiving week to pursue God, grow in my own spiritual walk and encourage others, while studying this subject of gratitude.
I would like to pass some of these challenges on to you. You are welcome to do these in one day, over the week, or any other time of the year. It doesn’t matter, as long as we are going deeper in our worship for God and are choosing a mindset of gratitude daily.
Thanks (n.) – kindly or grateful thoughts, gratitude
Our thoughts and mindsets intentionally and subconsciously control our attitude, character and actions. In order to live lives that are grounded in gratefulness and thankfulness, we must have a mindset to match. Let’s begin by turning our minds to gratitude.
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.Romans 1:21-23 (NLT)
Application: If we do not fill our thoughts with holy and pure things of God, something else will fill up our minds. The world will tell us what to think about and what to consider important if we are not careful to remind ourselves what is truly important and real. In what ways is your mind confused and are your thoughts distracted? Take some time now to surrender your worldly thoughts and idols to God and replace them with thanksgiving and worship.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)
Application: Spend the time today to pray for people who are in authority and give thanks for them. This can be a very difficult task as often these are the people who have hurt us or have abused their authority. However, the Bible urges us to do this, so let’s take the challenge. Pray for all people in authority in your life: positional (bosses, police officers, landlords, government officials, etc.) and spiritual (pastors, small group leaders, mentors, etc.). Thoughts of bitterness and unforgiveness have no room to grow if we practice gratitude. Give thanks for these authority figures and if able, thank them personally for the ways they have lead you.
Thankful (adj.) – conscious of benefit received
Now that we are walking out being thankful, it is time to work on our character. Only God truly knows our heart, our intentions and our motives. He is the one who sees us exactly as we are, but also he sees us as who we are meant to be. God is always calling His people to a higher standard and a moral character. After all, we are known by our character and in this season, God is reminding us to be thankful.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.Colossians 3:14-17 (NLT)
Application: Take inventory of your heart. Is there sin that somehow snuck in? Is there unforgiveness or grumbling that was festered in your heart? Spend this time repenting to God and asking Him to fill you with thankfulness, love and peace.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
Application: Think of some past challenges that you had to face and thank God for the ways that He helped you through those challenges and grew you through those experiences. Now, think of your current challenges and imagine how God can use them for your good in the future. Believe that God is good yesterday, today and tomorrow. He has rewarded you for suffering and perseverance before, and He will do it again. And we know that perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4)
Thank, thanking (v.) – to express gratitude to; to acknowledge God’s goodness
Being grateful is not simply a way of thinking or approaching life; it is an action. We have to be actively thanking others and God in order to faithfully and diligently walk out our beliefs. Also, we need to actively do something in order for our mindset and character to change as well. We cannot simply believe that we are honest people; we have to speak truth always. We cannot simply claim to be grateful; we have to actually thank someone or verbally acknowledge our gratitude.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Application: Write a letter to God, or a “thank you” note, if you will. Thank God for all He has done in your life, in the last couple years, in the last months, and yesterday. Remember His good works in your life and know that He is still not done.
We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory. Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.1 Thessalonians 2:12-13 (NLT)
Application: Think of someone who has received the message of the Gospel and is actively and courageously living it out. Thank them for all they have done for God and for His Kingdom. Remind them that God sees them and their efforts.
Thanksgiving (n.) – a prayer expressing gratitude, a public acknowledgment or celebration of God’s goodness
Finally, let us simply praise God for who He is and what He has done. Just like the definition says, may we express our gratitude for the ways He has loved us and provided for us. May we worship and acknowledge Him publicly. May this Thanksgiving day be time of celebrating His goodness, mercy, and love for us that God has shown us through His Son.
Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.Psalm 28:6-7 (NLT)
Application: Spend some time today worshiping God and allowing your thanksgiving to pour out like song. You can also simply reread and meditate on Psalm 100. If you are feeling creative, write your own psalm of thanksgiving to God. If you are feeling especially courageous, share this psalm with your family and friends at Thanksgiving dinner.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
This holiday stands for many things; both happy and painful. This year, may it be a special time of worshiping God for you and your family.
Author: Violetta Reum
Violetta has always had a passion and calling to see people pursue God with their entire lives, find their calling and identity in Jesus, and seek deep healing from past trauma and abuse. She enjoys spending time with her husband and son and discovering all of the coffee shops and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.