Give Thanks!

Last week, our church small group had its first face-to-face, in-person meeting since the beginning of the Pandemic. Meeting in a local seafood restaurant, ten of us sat around the table enjoying the meal and a lively discussion. It was a precious time of fellowship with old friends that we speak to weekly by way of an audio connection on Skype. However, we have added some new friends to the group since our beginning. This was the first time to actually see some of them in person! I am so thankful for this group of men and women who have weekly shared life with me the past two years!

Cornucopia credit: pngimg.com

The group spent some time this week just before the Thanksgiving holiday sharing what each of us are thankful for at this season. There were stories told, favorite hymns shared, a poem read along with other expressions of thanksgiving. We have much to fret over in this turbulent world of ours each day, but amazingly, we have so much more for which to be thankful! The Bible encourages us to give thanks in everything. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV).

Here are some suggestions for thankful living: 1) Visualize and recognize your specific blessings. See them in your mind and identify them! 2) Verbalize and acknowledge your thanks. Interact with others by sharing what the Lord has done for you. Write about the blessings in your daily journal. Appreciate and be creative with your thanks. 3) Worship and praise God for your blessings. During corporate or personal worship, cultivate a continual habit of thanksgiving on all occasions - good or difficult times.

We often quote Romans 8:28 as one of our favorite promise verses in the Bible. Paul says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We should be reminded that the verse says that God works with a good purpose in all things. It doesn’t say that all things are good. We know they are not! But, God is sovereignly and purposefully working toward our good. That is a comforting promise for sure!

When I was an active pastor leading our congregation at the Thanksgiving season, we seldom missed an opportunity to share testimonies in a service of thanks. I always liked to prime the testimony time by affirming, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” (Psalm 107:2). This paragraph of scripture begins with this invitation, "O give thanks!" And it ends with this exclamation, “O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful words to the children of men!” (107:8, KJV). There is value in speaking about our thanks. We are blessed and others are uplifted by our witness of gratitude!

We know that expressions of thankfulness are needed all year long and not just during the Thanksgiving holiday. Make it your everyday practice to be grateful in all things. Such praising of God’s goodness should define you and me as children of God! Happy Thanksgiving!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 

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