Thanksgiving in the Bible is for both the sun-lit mountaintop and the deep, dark valley. Paul calls us to give thanks “in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18). We don’t wait until our faith is so full and strong that thanksgiving bursts at the seams, but we practice thanksgiving even when we’re fearful or worried because it’s part of how we set our eyes on God and cultivate faith in him. Thanksgiving is one of the key ways we push back against the full-court press from worry, fear, and anxiety.
In our kitchen, we have this framed chalk art in the image to the left. “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Psalm 104:14-15). It’s a reminder food and drink are both God’s provision to care for us but also an evidence of His goodness in giving us food to add to our happiness. God wants us to enjoy our food, our drinks, and our feasts.
The Bible describes feasting in very positive terms—although there are obviously times where it’s corrupted or misused, like all of creation. It seems God created us to thoroughly enjoy food as a gift but also to prepare our hearts and minds for something even more satisfying.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” (Psalm 92:1)
In our day and age of more-more-more where “Thanksgiving” is the waiting season between Halloween and Christmas, gratitude often takes a back seat. It’s no surprise thankfulness struggles to compete for attention with a holiday where I get to make a list of things people will buy me.
(This devotion is day twenty-five of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
After an entire chapter on the resurrection, the most extended and exhaustive New Testament passage on the subject, Paul ends it with two punctuating remarks. The first is that this glorious reality and hope leads to thanksgiving. If anything should lead to giving thanks, it’s reading 1 Corinthians 15. As this song reaches its climax, he thunders out, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
(This devotion is day twenty-four of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Read Colossians 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15–17; 4:2
When you open an email or an old-fashioned letter, you know right away if it’s good or bad news. The first few words set the tone for what follows.
Since Paul had never visited the city of Colossae, his opening sentence of thankfulness (Colossians 1:3) acted as a first impression for his readers. He sets the tone not with a rebuke for their failures—like Galatians—but by affirming God’s good work in them. This casts a shadow of encouragement and pastoral love over the entire letter. If New Testament letters had emojis, Paul would have included a big smile or high five.
(This devotion is day twenty-three of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Read Deuteronomy 8
The Bible is full of admonitions to remember God, what He’s taught us, and what He’s done for us. Through remembrance, we hold on to what we’ve learned in the past and live in light of it in the present. Throughout the Bible, God’s people face future fears by recalling God’s former faithfulness. Remembrance stirs up greater trust in God, it brings to mind what He’s done and said in the past, and it reminds us what we’ve learned from God. But the Bible also has many warnings not to forget.
(This devotion is day twenty-two of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Read Psalm 118
As a kid, one of my favorite things about holidays was how our family would gather and share stories. I would sit back and listen to them spin tales. A new one might be sprinkled in on occasion, but usually they rehashed the same old stories, but we would laugh as we relived the memories. As an adult, it’s still one of the best things when our family gets together. My sister is a good storyteller. She gets very animated and exaggerates stories a little more every year. But somehow, I never get tired of these stories we tell again and again, usually at one of my parent’s expense.
(This devotion is day twenty-one of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Read 1 Samuel 8
I’m not afraid to admit; I’m a fan of country music. One song from the 90’s (the greatest musical decade) was “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks. The song reassures the heartbroken that sometimes not getting what you want, or not having your prayers answered, might be a gift. Garth’s lyrics tell the story of a married man going to his hometown football game and running into his high school flame. The future he once desired comes into mind and he’s struck by how much thankful he is he didn’t get what he wanted. He realizes what fell through and was disappointing and painful, became a blessing leading to something greater: his wife. The chorus says these famous words, and it helps if you read them with a bit of Garth Brooks twang.
(This devotion is day twenty of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Read Psalm 95
We often think of spiritual disciplines only in personal, individual terms. I should read my Bible. I should pray. I should give thanks. This is certainly important. Some people neglect personal habits and only study Scripture or pray when they’re gathering with other believers. Neither gutter is healthy. We need to prioritize seeking to know God on our own and with others. As we learn about and practice thanksgiving, we do it together. Doing so not only exalts God and emboldens our faith, but it encourages other believers.
(This devotion is day nineteen of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
What’s your story? What’s your testimony? If you’re a believer in Christ, do you remember the wonderful gift of salvation when Jesus rescued you?