October 10 2021

MAKE THANKGIVING A PRIORITY

“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the LORD, so walk you in him: rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein in thanksgiving.” KJV

In his letter to the church of Colossae, Paul rejoiced in the evidence of the Colossian believers’ salvation and prayed for their continued growth.

He was concerned for the man-centered philosophies of the day that could prove to be a distraction for them or even persuasive arguments that could lead them away from a true knowledge of Christ.

He longed to know of their stability of faith in Christ and knew that such stability would be accompanied with heartfelt and abundant thankfulness.

 To quickly summarize a portion of Paul’s letter, we read that a life centered on Christ (1:15) and a life reconciled to God in Christ (1:21–23) is a life with the hope of glory in Christ (1:27); and a life rooted and established in Christ (2:6–7) will be a life that will become increasingly grateful to the point of overflowing thanksgiving.

  • A life centered on Christ
  • A life reconciled to God in Christ
  • A life with the hope of glory in Christ
  • A life rooted and established in Christ
  • Equals a life increasingly grateful with overflowing thanksgiving.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5.

Thanksgiving that:

  • The Lord is good
  • That His mercy is everlasting
  • That His truth endures to all generations.

What did the psalmist have in mind? What are the “gates” he is referring to? 

The whole of Psalm 100 is for the people of God to act in response to who God is. To shout, to serve, come before Him and know that the Lord Himself is God.

 But verses 4–5 reveal an increasing nearness to God, as one of God’s Chosen People would enter His gates (the city of Jerusalem) and His courts (the Temple).

The context does not reveal any “things” or experiences of the people, but simply a clear focus on the person and character of God.

 The children of Israel were (and are) God’s Chosen People (Genesis 12:1–3). In choosing them, His desire was that through the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all the earth would be blessed.

 When David slew the giant Goliath, he did so declaring, “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:46).

 While Psalm 100 is certainly an exhortation given to God’s Chosen People to respond to God with hearts overflowing with praise and thankfulness, it is also applicable to believers of all ages.

As we enter this place of worship it should be with attitudes of thanksgiving; as we enter into the sanctuary of our prayer life it needs be in thanksgiving.

“Thank you” was an expected response my parents reinforced in our lives. Praying at the table to “give thanks” was, and remains, a common practice. It sets our eyes and therefore our hearts upon our Provider.

 This was also a habit we sought to establish in our family as well. While many, if not most, believers have been encouraged to give thanks, pray regularly, and likely heard numerous messages on thanksgiving, are we really being thankful?1

 

The book of Leviticus is full of commands and laws from God for the Israelites to offer up sacrifices on certain days, at certain times, for certain reasons.

 The majority of these sacrifices were required of the Israelites… no ifs, ands, or buts!

However, there was one sacrifice in Leviticus that wasn’t a requirement.

This sacrifice was to be a pure expression of thanks to God, it’s called the Todah (“Thanks”) offering. In fact, today when you travel to Israel one of the first words you learn in Hebrew is todah–– “thank you”!

So, as an Israelite if you simply wanted to say thank You (todah) to God for all the blessings He’s bestowed on you as one of His children, you would follow the law outlined in Leviticus 7:11–15.

According to the rabbis the thankful Israelite would bake 40 loaves of bread (30 unleavened/10 leavened) as mentioned in the Leviticus reference above.

 After baking his loaves of bread he would choose his finest lamb or goat and travel to the Temple in Jerusalem.

 This walk could be an hour or a many day journey depending on where you lived, just to say, “todah, Lord!”

When the thankful Israelite would arrive at the Temple he would give a portion of his bread (about 5 loaves) to the priests.

 The priest would take the offered lamb or goat and sacrifice it to the Lord; that whole lamb would be offered up to God.

 After it’s been cooked the priest would take that barbecued lamb off the altar and give it to the thankful Israelite who was then required to eat all of it by the end of the day:

 “The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day it is offered. He shall not leave any of it until morning (Lev. 7:15).

Now, for Thanksgiving we all buy turkeys that range from 12-20 lbs, which can feed  8-15 people, with some leftovers for a casserole or turkey sandwich the next day.

 According to Leviticus, the thankful Israelite was required to eat all of the lamb (100+ lbs.) by the end of the day! Now he has 35 loaves of bread and 100+lbs. of lamb to eat. I certainly hope there’s no tryptophan in lamb!

You’re probably asking, “So how would he eat all of that food?”

The thankful Israelite would take his abundance of meat and bread that he used to show thanks to God and bless family, friends, and even strangers with a filling meal.

As they would sit around to eat, inevitably they ask why the Israelite was so thankful to the Lord, which gave him an opportunity to glorify the Lord for what He has done in his life.

There is a real effort here in giving thanksgiving. This man needed to select the animal with care; prepare 40 loaves of bread; travel a distance; wait while the animal was cooked; then go out and about to gather enough people to insure that everything would be eaten.

And it seems logical that the entire family was involved in this act of thanksgiving as each member probably had their tasks to perform.

Real effort in thanksgiving. Do we put effort into our thanksgiving or do we just voice a quick, shallow thanks?

I love the way the Lord structured this sacrifice. First, it wasn’t required, which means God doesn’t want a manufactured “Thank You” from us.

 Instead, He wants us to give Him the praise and thanks He deserves from the heart.

Second, the Lord didn’t take the sacrifice for Himself, instead His impossible demand to eat all of the meat by the end of the day encouraged the thankful Israelite to glorify God by blessing others.2

Let me ask you, what are you thankful to the Lord for this season?

And, how are you ready to show it? Will it require some effort on your part?

We can demonstrate our thankful hearts by our focus upon the Lord. During all of the above preparation of bread, and barbeque lamb and meal preparation, minds and heart would be focused upon God.

This time of focusing our minds and thoughts upon God is what He longs for in our thanksgiving.

Prioritize your relationship with God.

Genesis 39:2 NKJV

“The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man.”

Admission to certain social clubs depends on your family of origin: blue blood or blue collar.

Sadly some employers and some churches do that too. But God doesn’t.

Imagine you were Joseph. You share a father with your siblings, but four different mothers have given birth along the way.

Put yourself in Joseph’s place as he grow up in this household. Does any of his experience ring true for you?

Your dad’s a con artist. He has been one his whole life and everyone knows it.

 The whole community knows he cheated your uncle out of the estate and then hid behind his mother’s skirts before running off like a coward to avoid the repercussions.

 Your great-uncle tricks your dad into marrying your mother’s sister, perhaps by getting your dad so drunk during the wedding feast that he didn’t know which sister he married.

 So he ended up marrying the plain one instead of the pretty one.

 But that didn’t faze him, he just married both of them.

 The one he really loved couldn’t have kids, so he slept with the nanny.

 He enjoyed it so much he started sleeping with most of the kitchen help too.

 No wonder you always thought that your brothers looked like the cooks!

 But big doors swing on little hinges, and Joseph’s life is described in one verse.

“The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man.”

Successful in spite of family dysfunction and betrayal.

Successful in spite of slander and 13 years of false imprisonment.

And with God on your side, you can overcome your beginnings and succeed too.

That’s why the most important thing you can do is to build, maintain, and prioritize your relationship with God.3  

The number one way to show thankfulness to God is to prioritize your relationship with Him. Even in times of trial and struggle and disappointment.

Psalms of Thanksgiving

Psalm 7:17 ~ I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

  • His righteousness was exchanged for our sin nature upon the cross!
  • Singing, acknowledging that He, Jesus, is the LORD, Most high.

 

Psalm 28:7 ~ The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

  • It is His strength that carries us through;
  • His shield that protects us – guards our hearts.

As a result my heart should trust in Him. I speak the following every night I lay down to sleep:  “LORD be the strength of my heart this night, in Jesus’ name.”

I am paraphrasing Psalm 73:26, “My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

 

Psalm 50:14-15 “Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the most high. Then, call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you and you will give me glory.”

  • Put some effort into your thanksgiving
  • Thank Him for “showing up” in your past
  • Give Him glory that He has promised that while you are thankful He promises to “show up” again for you.

 

Psalm 69:30 ~ “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.”

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Amen.

 

1  Paul Pierce Friends of Israel  November 20 2020

 Chris Katulka Israel My Glory November 26 2013

3   Lloyd Shivrattan ministries Oct. 8 2021. Daily Text Messaging.

 

 

 

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