Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
During Thanksgiving time, or times of giving thanks, I often think of Psalm 107. The Psalm begins "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever (107:1)!
The psalmist continues by addressing the readers' different experiences (vv. 4-5, 10-12, 17-19, 23-27), experiences apart from the Lord, from which they cried out to the Lord (vv. 6-7, 13-14, 19-20, 28-30) and from which the Lord saved them. Based on the Lord's gracious salvation, they give thanks (vv. 8, 15-16, 21-22,31-32).
The end of the Psalm articulates one of the true marks/manifestations of the true believer: praise for who God is and thanksgiving for what God has done. He also articulates the mark of an unbeliever, those referred to as the wicked: they shut their mouths, i.e., they do not praise and thank the Lord. Here is the summary of the psalmist: "The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths" (Ps. 107:42).
During this Thanksgiving season, with our youngest home from college, and my two other adult children and their spouses celebrating in their own homes, I sent the following text-messages that we might together remember the importance of giving thanks to the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
In addition to that biblical text, ponder this quote from John Calvin from his commentary on Ephesians:
However many blessings we expect from God, his infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.
Matthew Henry, A Way to Pray: A Biblical Method for Enriching Your Prayer Life and Language by Shaping Your Words with Scripture
Give thanks to God for the mercies he has shown you, and for the many blessings he daily brings into your life. We approach the throne of grace not only to seek God's favor, but to give him the glory due his name. We give him glory by honoring him for his infinite perfections as the one and only living and true God. We also glorify him by gratefully acknowledging the many manifestations of his goodness to us. He gladly accepts our thanks, and regards himself as glorified by them if they arise from a humble heart aware of its own unworthiness to receive any favor from God. Our thanks must come from the heart, a heart that shows genuine appreciation for his gifts, but always loves the Giver more than the gift.
Along with the psalmist and fellow believers, might we see and rejoice!