Last Thanksgiving in my blog I was lamenting about the difficulty of giving thanks when our plans don’t work out like we were expecting. I was reflecting on the reality of not being able to spend Thanksgiving with my mother due to covid restrictions. Today I want to reflect on some very important reasons that I have for giving thanks to our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Thessalonians the importance of maintaining a thankful heart when he writes, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,” (1Thess. 5:16-18 NASB). The three imperatives in this verse – rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks -are found in the Greek language in the present tense. This tense conveys the idea of continuous or habitual action in the present time. These three things – rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks are something that God very much desires that you and I have as a regular part of our lives and worship. Seeking to live at the center of God’s will is only possible with a thankful heart. One perpetual cause of thanksgiving is that even in all the difficult pathways of life, Jesus can shine the light of His glory in us and that His glory will be fully revealed when Jesus comes again. Recognizing God as the source of all of our blessings means that thanksgiving is really at the heart of true worship.
The application of the truth of God’s word should lead to an expression of praise and thanksgiving to our awesome God. A swelling sense of gratitude and appreciation is so critical as we express our love and gratitude to Jesus for all He has done. This passage states that we should give thanks in everything, but how is that possible? When we sense God’s goodness and our own unworthiness, that we don’t deserve even the least of God’s mercies, we can find a reason to give thanks to God in even the most difficult circumstances. True thankfulness is joyful prayer and praise to God, and it is the will of God that needs to be a high priority in the life of Jesus’s followers. It is a high privilege and a holy honor to give thanks to God for what He’s done and doing and to recognize His hand of blessing and mercy as we follow Jesus.
I am very thankful today that though I have been through the painful process of knee replacement surgery and recovery over the last 10 weeks God has seen fit to bring about my healing and recovery. I’m thankful for the privilege that I have once again of going to the gym and swimming five days a week, all things that I was not able to do last year at this time. I’m especially glad and grateful to God that I got to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and to have her come and stay with us following my aunt’s committal service last Wednesday. Even though this occasion was sad, it was also a very good thing as I had the opportunity to share the hope that we have of eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ with many of my family members. Such an opportunity doesn’t happen every day. I’m even thankful today I could visit the hospital where one of our church leaders is currently recovering from blood clots in his right leg. Again, I mention this because this was my first visit to the hospital for one of our church family since last summer. Visiting sick people is a very important part of my pastoral ministry and I’m rejoicing at the privilege of doing so again. As many of the covid restrictions are being lifted I find many more reasons to rejoice in the multiplied blessings of God. Things that in the past we would have been taken for granted are now cause for great rejoicing in my heart and life. Take some time this weekend to reflect on how much God has worked in your life to provide and guide you over the last year. Count your blessings of the things that you have today that you were not able to enjoy last year at this time. Remember it is God’s will for us to be in a continual state of thanksgiving and praise, utilize the blessings that you have today to lift up the name of Jesus in praise and adoration.
Rejoicing in our Savior,
Pastor Rich Sivo