The Pastor’s Part – November/December, 2016
“Thank God for Thanksgiving!”
How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. Psalm 116:12-14
Can you believe it? Already there are commercials in the media pushing the world’s idea of Christmas! One of the challenges presented by a Messenger that covers two months is the temptation to already jump to Christmas. Yet there’s Thanksgiving and Advent ahead to prepare us to celebrate our Savior’s birth.
With November how important it is for us to remember Thanksgiving. It becomes the heart-set to the Advent and Christmas seasons to follow. This morning I read Psalm 116 in my devotion. The question raised by the psalmist gives us Thanksgiving pause: “How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?”
During gift purchasing for the celebration of Christmas, many of us will jokingly complain about how hard it is to buy a gift for the person who has everything. The joking pun (especially by the fiscally minded like me) is to then say, “I will just give them the gift of myself. With God, it’s not just a joking matter, but a serious challenge. God does have everything! Everything, including ourselves, is the work of His creative hands. This puts us into a position of obligation. We owe our lives and everything we have to God. So, how do we respond to the psalmist’s question? How do we express ourselves to the God who has given each of us life and eternal life in His Son, Jesus Christ?
Fortunately, we’re not left to guess. The Bible tells us what God is looking for from us. He is looking for nothing more than a sincere “thank you!” God expects us to receive His generous gifts with a thankful heart. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about. How could we not be moved to gratitude when we think of the lengths to which God has gone to create us and then to redeem us in the death and resurrection of Jesus? Our heavenly Father loves us so much He gives the gift of His Son!
God in His Word also specify repeatedly that He expects our thanks be given to Him in worship! I’m sorry to pop the bubble of all those who brush God off with the comment, “I can worship God anywhere, at home or on the golf course.” Well, no, the psalmist says, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.” When we gather to worship, whether during the time of Thanksgiving or during Advent or on Christmas or any Sunday, it is with the purpose of thanking and praising God, giving to Him the only thing which He really asks in return for His generous blessings: the grateful worship offered to Him in faith and love.
May our worship in November/December swell with the hearts and voices of God’s thankful people who take time each week to thank God for all His goodness to us!