A Theology of Thanksgiving

“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.

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Thank God

(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.

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Some Stories Never Get Old

(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.

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Give Thanks Together

(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.

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Training Our Tongues to Say Thanks

(This devotion is day sixteen of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)

Read Psalm 33

I have a wonderful two-year-old daughter. The early days of her life consisted of feeding her, changing her, and trying anything to make her sleep. Now she’s much more interactive. She says funny things and sweet things, and sassy things too. It feels like every week she learns new skills, sentences, and behaviors. Some words came natural: mine, now, and I want to. Others took more work. Words like please, sorry, and thank you need encouraged and reinforced.

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Thanks Be to God

(This devotion is day fifteen of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)

Read Romans 6

Sometimes we ignore giving thanks because we’ve become used to something, or someone. My wife does many things for our family, including cooking delicious meals. Sometimes I make the meal, but I’m more of the sous-chef and taste-tester than the master chef she is. While I’m grateful for her loving our family through a home-cooked meal, anytime something becomes common there’s a danger of overlooking it. Or maybe we feel thankful, but we show our gratitude a little less because we’re accustomed to it. This happens in the home, the office, and in the church. But it also happens in our spiritual life.

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God’s Steadfast Love Endures Forever

(This devotion is day fourteen of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)

Read Psalm 136

The Psalmist opens (1-3) and closes (26) this song with the call to give thanks. In between, he moves from God’s glorious attributes and powerful acts seen in Creation (4-9), Redemption (10-22), and ongoing Provision (23-25). There is more than enough reason to thank God in each realm. Anchoring every verse is the refrain: “for his steadfast love endures forever.” This Psalm lays down an excellent foundation for thanksgiving rooted in who God is for His people.

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God’s Wonderful Deeds

(This devotion is day twelve of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)

Read Psalm 9

We could all use a little more joy in our day. And not the fake-smile, posing for people kind, but real joy where rest and rejoicing come together, much like peanut butter and chocolate do for Peanut Butter M&M’s (so good). How can we find this kind of joy, in the best of times and the worst of times?

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Record and Recall

(This devotion is day eleven of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)

Read 1 Chronicles 16:1–36

What are landmark moments in your life? Can you recall times where God did something big in your life or taught you something? What are some of God’s wonderful works in your life, in your family, or in the life of your church? (These aren’t theoretical questions, so take a moment to answer them.) How did you celebrate those times and how do you commemorate them after the fact?

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Forget Not All His Benefits

(This devotion is day seven of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)

Read Psalm 103

Sometimes we forget how good we have it. We believe the “grass is greener somewhere else” lie. Or like children bored with their toys, apathy for God’s blessings sets in.

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