Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks – The Complete Package

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left England carrying 102 passengers. Aboard was an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith. The treacherous and uncomfortable ocean crossing  lasted some 66 long days.

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn feast that is acknowledged today as the first Thanksgiving celebration in the colonies. But it wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

There are many verses that reveal the absolute importance and critical nature of praising God. But few do a finer job than do the words found in the book of Hebrews and chapter 13. Verses 15-16 read,  "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

These verses remind and exhort all Christians to ‘continually’ offer thanks to God and to do so through what is termed there the 'fruit of our lips'. That obviously includes approaching God both verbally and outwardly and in public.  It is also declared there that this should al be done 'sacrificially' clearly revealing the level of thanks expected by the Creator from His redeemed and highly blessed people.

But even more striking is what is conveyed in verse 16. While still in the context of thanksgiving the author also adds,  "But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." These words provide a vivid, and maybe enlightening, reminder that part of giving adequate praise to one's Savior is to do good to others on His behalf. This too is to be accomplished sacrificially by actively caring and even sharing of our material things to meet the needs with those less fortunate.  Galatians 6:10 indicates that these actions be primarily directed to those who are “of the household of faith”. And again it is interesting that this that the writer says is 'well pleasing' to God.

A Christian’s praise to God in all of its forms should not be limited to a day, a season or just in the good times of life. It is rather to be a continual, sacrificial and comprehensive lifestyle both verbally and practically. It is to be the complete biblical package!

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.” (Psalm 107:1-2)

Bill Breckenridge