Thanksgiving: we all know it goes far beyond turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie. And we don’t even have to read our way very far into scripture to know our hearts clearly benefit from it. Thanksgiving is more than a “holiday,” it is a holy way of life. As we approach the days ahead with Thanksgiving at the forefront of our minds, let’s look at how scripture compels us to make it so much more than a meal shared among family and friends.

Thanksgiving should be the very dialect we speak.

See Ephesians 5:4 (MSG)

What is thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is an expression of our thanks to God for His grace; it is an act of worship in which we center our attention and affection on God for who He is.

Sounds simple enough, but we all face a common problem: our hearts are prone to wander. One of my favorite hymns expresses it best:

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Robert Robinson, “Come Thou Fount”

I know my heart is prone to leave the God I love. It’s the human sin condition. We inherited it from our first parents in the garden long ago, when the enemy launched his first attack against the heart of Eve.  Whether we realize it or not, we are in a daily battle for our affections. The enemy’s aim is to exalt himself above God. He will do anything to lure our affections away from Jesus. We can trace the history of the battle through scripture right up to our very own daily lives.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17), but when we look to His gifts as our source of joy over our Great Giver we fall prey to the schemes of Satan. He wants nothing more than our hope in things to diminish our hope in Christ.

Or sometimes we’re so held down by the overbearing burden of circumstance, that we lose sight of the One who gladly bears our burdens for us. I will not make light of anyone’s pain, but let me remind and encourage you that the enemy does NOT get the final say! However our hearts wander, we lead them back to God when we keep watch through thanksgiving.  

Thanksgiving is an act of war. Jesus has already broken the power of our enemy (Hebrews 2:14-15). Now we join the fight and take back the ground the enemy thinks he has won when we unlock the power of thanksgiving in our lives. 

The Power of Thanksgiving: Three Benefits of Gratitude

1. Thanksgiving helps you see God and dwell in His presence. 

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Psalm 100

In truth, there’s nowhere we can go to escape God’s presence (Psalm 139:7). But, we can ignore His presence or become forgetful of it. Hard times can eclipse our view of Who God is (and easy times can numb us to our deep need for Him).

When we come before Him with thanksgiving, we are declaring truth to our hearts. We remember that He is God, He made us, we are His. We remind ourselves that the Lord is good, and His love and faithfulness are forever. Nothing can separate us from His love or presence (Romans 8:38-39).

Thanksgiving positions our hearts to trust His goodness and His love at all times, no matter what else screams for our attention. Thanksgiving helps us to see God for who He is and directs our hearts back to His presence.

2. Thanksgiving replaces worry with peace

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,”

Philippians 4:4-7

This is very good news for us because the peace of God is not circumstantial. It is beyond our understanding, but very much within our reach through the inner workings of His Spirit.

With thanksgiving, we present our worries and concerns to God. This is key! Giving thanks means we are mindful of who Christ is and what He has already accomplished for us. We defeat fear of the future by recalling the Lord’s faithfulness in our past and present.

Then we look ahead, knowing His faithfulness waits for us there, too. When we bring our requests to Him with our gratitude, we are inviting His shield of peace to guard our minds against the worries and fears that threaten to overwhelm us.

Thanksgiving fights anxiety and brings about God’s peace.

3. Thanksgiving helps us rehearse the gospel. 

“…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins,”

Colossians 1:12-14

We give thanks because God has enabled us to share in His inheritance. We have been rescued from darkness and transferred into His kingdom, and we are redeemed and forgiven. Expressing our gratitude for the great gift of salvation is a way we remind our hearts of His great rescue and redemption.

We need this rehearsal: to constantly repeat His by-grace-are-we-saved-through-faith-gift-of-God truth. We need it so ingrained into our hearts and minds that we just can’t help ourselves but be ridiculously grateful and boast, not in ourselves, but in Him (Ephesians 2:8).

We were dead, but He made us alive! Oh, thanks be to God for His extravagant gift of grace!

How to unlock this power? The Holy Spirit is The Helper

If you want to unlock the power of thanksgiving in your life, ask the Holy Spirit for help. He intercedes on your behalf according to the will of God, (Romans 8:27). Ask Him to bind your heart to His. Defy the enemy’s schemes to thwart God’s throne in your life. 

Through thanksgiving, we lead our wander-prone hearts to see God and dwell in His presence. Peace replaces worry. We rehearse the gospel again and again. While His grace is an ever present-reality, may it never become ordinary to us. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift, (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

Now, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving,”

Colossians 2:6-7

Never forget the power of thanksgiving.

Continue to unlock the power of thanksgiving with part two of this series: 5 More Benefits of Gratitude.


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