// Kenneth W. Hagin
THANKSGIVING was first celebrated as a federal holiday during the Civil War. On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."
It's great to live in a nation that has an official day for giving thanks. But the act of thanksgiving was originally God's idea. The following verses in the Book of Psalms makes this clear.
"Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High."
"I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving."
"Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms."
"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name."
However, instead of entering God's courts with praise and thanksgiving, we often come before our Heavenly Father with a list of gimmes. There's nothing wrong with telling God what we need and what we're believing for. But before we start asking God for things, we should tell Him how much we appreciate and love Him.
Complaining: The Enemy of Thanksgiving
One thing that doesn't show God how much we love and appreciate Him is complaining. It's a habit that is very easy to fall into. But when we do this, we only make ourselves miserable and those around us unhappy.
We also have to realize that complaining lessens our ability to handle adversity when it comes against us. Psalm 77:3 says, "I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed." Complaining leads to being overwhelmed and being overwhelmed leads to passively accepting whatever life hands us.
Some people are waiting for life to improve before they change their attitude. But it doesn't work that way. We must first change our attitude and learn to give thanks in the middle of our situation. Thanksgiving enables God to change adverse circumstances. We will see amazing changes in our lives when we consistently keep an attitude of gratitude.
How Should We Express Thanks?
From verses in the Book of Psalms to other passages throughout the Bible, we know that it is a biblical command to give thanks to God. Here are five different ways we can express gratitude to our Heavenly Father, as well as how to make thanksgiving a lifestyle every day of the year.
One: Make It a Habit
There are many bad habits that can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually harmful to us. Giving thanks to God, on the other hand, is a good habit! In fact, we should be in such a habit of expressing thanks that we do it automatically. As believers, giving thanks to a God Who has blessed us beyond measure shouldn't be something we need to be reminded of. Thanksgiving should naturally flow out from within us. We should be so filled with appreciation for everything God has done for us that we just can't keep silent.
Two: Be Courteous
We expect people to say thank you to us, and we should return the courtesy to others. When a waiter brings something to our table, or when someone opens a door for us, we should thank them. In fact, when we're driving and someone lets us merge in traffic, we can show our thanks by waving. It's good manners to say thank you. The same holds true with God. He has done so much for us and has given us countless blessings.
Three: An Act of Worship
Expressing thanks is an integral part of worship for every believer. The Bible is filled with examples of individual people and the Church as a corporate body giving thanks to God. The psalmist David worshipped God with thanksgiving for what He had already done and what he was going to do. In looking at the lives of Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and men and women in the Early Church, we can see how they worshipped God through thanksgiving. Likewise, we should always give thanks to God as an act of our individual and corporate worship.
Four: An Act of Faith
Expressing thanks is an act of faith because we are declaring our belief that our present blessings came from God. In our circles, we encourage believers to keep the switch of faith turned on. Continually giving thanks to God is one way to do this. It keeps our faith active. We're also giving thanks because we believe that the future blessings we desire are on their way! This is what real faith is all about—thanking God ahead of time that His promises are going to come to pass in our lives.
An Act of Love
Thanksgiving can be a way of saying I love you. True love doesn't take things for granted. When we love God, we don't take Him or His blessings for granted. We then express our love and gratitude by giving Him thanks!
The Thanksgiving holiday is so much more than eating turkey, dressing, gravy, and sweet potatoes. And it's more than family and friends coming together to enjoy food, fellowship, and football! There is a natural side to Thanksgiving, and we should be mindful of our nation's heritage and blessings. But there is also a spiritual side to giving thanks.
It's good to make a habit of thanking God and to show Him courtesy through our thanks and praise. We should continually thank Him as an act of our worship and faith. And the best reason to offer thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father is simply because we love Him.
As we approach Thanksgiving, let's be thankful for all the blessings God has poured on us. But let's not forget to give thanks to God every day of the year. When we do this, we will see circumstances change because we're living a life of thanksgiving!
FAITH IN ACTION
What Are You Thankful For?
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
—Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)
God commands us to be thankful—both for our good and His glory. There are practical ways we can cultivate gratitude. It can be as simple as writing a thank-you note expressing our appreciation or picking a time every week to reflect on and write down our blessings.
However you choose to express your gratitude, begin today!
My Gratitude List
Today, I'm thankful for____________________.
I really appreciate____________________.
Today, I show my gratitude by____________________.
Thank you God for everything in my life!