A Heartfelt Thanksgiving Reflection: Our Eternal Gratitude beyond Worldly Traditions

National Day of Thanksgiving - 11/23/2023 | Psalm 107 ESV

Praise and Thanksgiving Every Day

As we gather together on this Thanksgiving Day, my warmest wishes extend to all my fellow members of the body of Christ. Today rises above mere tradition; it's a collective pause, a nationwide moment of reflection to acknowledge the blessings showered upon us and express gratitude to our benevolent and gracious God. Thanksgiving is not confined to a single day; it's the embodiment of gratitude— time dedicated to profound thanks and praise.

True Wealth: Nurturing the Abundance of a Grateful Heart

Speaking of blessings, a clever message once graced the marquee of the Baptist Church in downtown Billings: "Want to get rich? Count your blessings." This simple yet profound statement encapsulates a timeless truth—true wealth is not measured by material possessions but by the state of the heart. If richness is defined by the satisfaction of desires and contentment with one's possessions, then a contented person is genuinely wealthy.

However, it's not uncommon to encounter individuals surrounded by wealth and possessions who remain discontent. Despite their worldly abundance, they express frustration, always yearning for more. True richness, it seems, eludes them. Recognizing all the good things as blessings, not just earned possessions, reflects a heart that is not only appreciative but also content.

A Biblical Perspective on Contentment and Gratitude

In the sacred pages of Scripture, contentment stands hand in hand with godliness, as it unequivocally states, "Contentment with godliness is great gain." True wealth is not quantified by possessions but by finding contentment in what one has. Surprisingly, some of the world's wealthiest are those with little material possessions.

Contentment is a vital element in genuine thankfulness. When was the last time you heard someone grumbling about not having enough to express true gratitude for what they do have? It's a rare occurrence. 

Counting blessings is not a mere enumeration; it's an acknowledgment of richness and appreciation. Yet, true Thanksgiving, as our sacred text emphasizes, is an attitude centered on the giver and His grace.

In the prayer of King David during the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, he encapsulates this attitude: "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, and his mercy is forever." Thanksgiving is not solely about possessions; it's about our attitude toward the Lord, the ultimate giver.

Historical Roots of Thanksgiving from Washington to Lincoln

The roots of Thanksgiving run deep, evident in the original presidential proclamations. George Washington recommended a day devoted to the service of the great and glorious being, the author of all that is good. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our benevolent father.

The call to praise God, the giver, resonates in the classic hymn we fondly call the common doxology, penned by Thomas Ken in 1674. It resounds, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." True Thanksgiving transcends the act of counting blessings; it's about praising God, the giver of every good and perfect gift.

The Divine Depths of God's Goodness:

To truly understand goodness, we must know the true God, Yahweh—the Great I Am, the creator of everything. This goodness is reflected in Jesus Christ, where the term "good" is rooted in the same word Moses used to describe God's creation in the beginning—perfect and good. The linguistic connection between "good" and "God" in English and German underscores that true goodness emanates from God.

God, in His righteousness, punishes unrighteousness and evil. Yet even His punishment aims for the greater good—the transformation of the wicked. Surprisingly, even seemingly negative occurrences like curses, sickness, heartaches, and disasters are promised to work for the good of those who love Him. This showcases God's goodness.

Despite our undeserving nature, God's goodness is evident in His eternal loving-kindness and mercy. His faithful love endures forever, rooted in the Hebrew term "cassid," often translated as loving-kindness. This mercy is seen in God's redemption of us, sinful and rebellious. Despite deserving eternal judgment, God's mercy shines through the cross of Jesus.

Eternal Goodness: God's Blessings beyond Earthly Constraints

The sacrificial act of Jesus, taking our place under God's law and willingly enduring judgment for our sins, exemplifies a level of kindness beyond human comparison. God's love, compassion, mercy, and kindness are not circumstantial or temporal but all-encompassing and everlasting. It extends beyond earthly circumstances, age, and even death.

As we experience life's blessings and challenges, let us acknowledge God's goodness. Count your earthly blessings, recognizing that they are temporary and a result of God's inherent goodness. True thanksgiving goes beyond celebrating gifts; it acknowledges the giver—your eternal and benevolent God. Partake in God's Thanksgiving supper, in the Bread and Wine. Taste His eternal goodness and live in His loving kindness forever.

Thanksgiving beyond Worldly Traditions

Let this Thanksgiving be more than a tradition. Let it be a day of profound reflection, gratitude, and praise. Welcome the true richness of a grateful heart, drawing inspiration from biblical wisdom. Recognize the historical roots of Thanksgiving and the deep resonance of gratitude in our culture.

Witness the profound goodness of God, understanding that true thanksgiving goes beyond earthly traditions. It's an acknowledgment of the eternal goodness of our Creator. As you count your blessings, let each one be a testament to the richness of God's grace. This Thanksgiving, partake in a feast of gratitude, savoring the eternal goodness that transcends time and worldly traditions.

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