Our church has an annual Thanks Living Communion Service.
But until Monday about noon, I wasn’t sure what I was speaking about for the devotion. I was asked for the sermon title so it could be placed in the order of service t to the senior ministry staff. I said, “I don’t have one. To tell you the truth, I don’t have a clue what I’m preaching. But I should probably get started on that.”
So, I typed the first paragraph and paused. I typed a second paragraph and paused. You see, I had ongoing text message conversations with 3 church members, 2 family group threads, and 1 local businessman. All the while, I was trying to tie up loose ends from last Sunday, get my mind settled toward Sunday messages for December, and do 4 days of office work in 2 days.
I love the holidays! But does God even want me to have a Happy Thanksgiving?
That holiday wish was extended to Lisa and me several times last Saturday. It felt like warm wishes. But what does God have to say about having a Happy Thanksgiving?!
Consider how TLB renders Colossians 4:2. “Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answers, and remember to be thankful when they come.”
Reading, listening, and learning God’s Word is the best way to know what God says about any topic. The Bible is His Word, and whether you believe in it or not, it has a lot of wisdom regarding holidays, holy days, and happy days.
But let’s focus on this customary greeting: Happy Thanksgiving. Let’s think about it as we look at it in 3 segments.
1) We start with the word HAPPY.
To be happy means “to be satisfied; to be pleased with one’s state in life.” Happiness is usually judged by our happenings. If you ask the average person if they’re happy, they’ll consider whether their current life circumstances are pleasing. But what if there’s a better way?
When the Bible talks about happiness, it uses the word “blessed.” God’s Word is clear! The key to real happiness is the blessing of God. If God says I’m blessed, I don’t have to check my circumstances! Blessed by God is greater than made happy by my happenings! No level of adversity can take away God’s blessings on my life!
Psalm 1 is a portrait of the blessed. It shows us God’s wisdom on the way of the godly and the ungodly. It plainly teaches that God blesses those who are faithful to Him. Christian, if you want to live blessed beyond your circumstances, you must cooperate with God’s wisdom. Review these first 3 verses:
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”
God is more concerned with your holiness than your happiness. He’s okay with you being happy, but He’s more concerned with you learning to walk in His wisdom and have a blessed life.
2) Let’s move on to THANKS.
So, the child of God who is walking in His blessed wisdom is happy. And now we think about thanks. A blessed man or woman doesn’t have to think very long to realize how grateful they should be. You might have recently been thinking of and making lists of people, places, and things for which you are thankful. Way to go!
Did you know that’s God’s idea? 1st Thessalonians 5:18 says,
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Every morning for the rest of the year, I suggest you handwrite a short list of 5 people, places, or things that you are thankful for.
What am I thankful for? I’m grateful for you. No one forced you to click this link and read. But you did, and it makes me happy. It blesses me when people desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Beyond the many blessings of the Triune God, salvation, and a home in Heaven, there’s so much more I can give God thanks for. I have a wonderful wife who loves me despite me. I’m grateful to have 3 children I love and like. I thank God for their spouses that love them without limits.
Are you thankful that you won’t be sleeping outside tonight? Do you want to thank God that you’ve got clothes to wear? And you should thank Him that He’s not dealt with you according to your sins! Thank Him for mercy and for sparing you from the full consequences of your foolishness.
3) We now arrive at GIVING, which is the key to blessed living.
The customary greeting says, Happy Thanksgiving. But our concept isn’t just about a turkey day. While our nation focuses on one day within one week for thanksgiving, that’s insufficient for Christians. Our thankful living must be spread over every month and every year of our lives! One season of the year could never contain all the thanks we need to give God and one another because giving is the key to Christian living.
Therefore, I’m determined to teach God’s people the concept of thanks-living. This is the only way we can be the generous people we’ve been called to become. Acts 20:35 encourages us to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said,
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Thankful living is usually seen as generosity among God’s people. So, I challenge you to be a blessing. You’re blessed, and you know it. Now be a blessing to the people God has placed in your life.
You can bless people with the gift of words. I challenge you to individually speak to at least 3 people over the next week and bless them with your words (maybe by text message). Address a loved one, a friend, or a coworker by name and tell them why you’re thankful for them. Ask them how you can pray for them. And encourage them by sharing how good God has been to you.
Does God want me to have a happy thanksgiving?
Yes. But God wants so much more than that for you and me. He wants us to know and walk in the blessed life. Knowing you’re blessed by God will lead you to give thanks in every situation. We’re talking about a generosity that lives beyond the fourth Thursday of November.
I’ll close with this invitation to listen in and enjoy the actual Thanks Living Communion Service I referenced. The spoken ministry starts at about 21 minutes in, but the whole service was only about an hour. Turn up your volume and your screen brightness. And prepare your soul to receive Holy Communion with us at the end.