Have you ever been to a restaurant and been disappointed that you couldn’t find what you wanted to eat? Doesn’t that seem rather silly, to be surrounded by a whole bunch of great food options and be disappointed because one thing is missing? Isn’t that how we often are in life? We complain about some disappointment while we are surrounded by a host of blessings. Thanksgiving Day is a time for us to turn that around and focus on all the blessings that we do have. This morning, we want to spend some time shifting our focus. I want to invite us to reflect briefly on two things. First of all what are the things we have to be thankful for. And I will ask your participation in that in a moment. Then we will think about expressing our thanks and we will also invite you to participate in that. This is the worship portion of our service today.
First of all, I would like to look at a number of Bible verses which remind us of some of the things we have to be thankful for. After that, I would like to invite you to share what you are thankful for.
Psalm 75:1 says, “We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.” You may ask, “What has God done?” Have you ever seen a pretty flower? God made that! Have you ever admired a sunset or a mountain or a lake? God made that! If you are in Christ, have you ever realized that you are not guilty of your sin? God did that! Have you ever experienced blessings that were obviously not coincidental? God did that. His deeds are many when we look for them.
There are 15 verses in the Bible that have one particular phrase and many more expressions of the truth contained in that phrase. Psalm 107:1 is one of these: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Often in the Bible this phrase is repeated to remind us of the core of who God is. I am thankful for that.
One of the greatest gifts we have received from God is described in Colossians 1:12, “…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” How thankful we are for our salvation!
Not only can we give thanks to God for what we have received, but we can also praise Him for the hope of what we will receive. Revelation 11:17 encourages, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.
What are you thankful for?
Being thankful is one thing, but we must also give expression to our thankfulness. We have already expressed our thanksgiving in words, but when we look at the Bible, we also find many other ways in which we can express thankfulness.
I was surprised how often thanksgiving is expressed or we are called to express it with music. Psalm 28:7 is one of many verses in the Bible in which this happens. It says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”
I had wondered about how we would put together two different, important concepts in our service this morning. We celebrate thanksgiving today and we also celebrate ordination. There is at least one connecting point, however. One of the themes which we find in the Bible is the concept of giving thanks to God among the nations and telling the people of the world “all that God has done.” In these verses, mission and thanksgiving come together and so that is also our link today. It is our privilege to tell the world what God has done and to give thanks before the world for His great gifts. Psalm 105:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.”
It is also interesting how often the Bible calls us to give thanks to God in community. When we do that, we not only give a louder declaration of praise because it comes from more voices, but we also encourage each other. Psalm 35:18 says, “I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you.”
We could talk about other ways like thanking him in prayer, in communion and even in whatever we do, but instead let’s actually do these things to express our thanks for all the things we have mentioned. We will receive the offering as an expression of thanks, Larry will lead us in observing the Lord’s supper as an expression of thanks and then Lorne will lead us in song, also as an expression of thanks.