Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Giving Thanks - Part IV

For more on giving thanks to God, please see my earlier posts.

Thanking God in the Old Testament

Giving thanks to God is a recurring and important theme in the Bible, starting with the Old Testament. God wants us to not only worship him as the creator, but also praise and thank him as the giver and sustainer of life. In the Old Testament, God made a provision for thank offerings to him, as we read in Leviticus 7:11-13:

This is the ritual of the sacrifice of the offering of well-being that one may offer to the Lord. If you offer it for thanksgiving, you shall offer with the thank offering unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of choice flour well soaked in oil. With your thanksgiving sacrifice of well-being you shall bring your offering with cakes of leavened bread. NRSV

Many years later, King Hezekiah re-instituted proper Jewish religious practices, including the thank offerings, as we read in 2 Chronicles 29:31:

Then Hezekiah said, “You have now consecrated yourselves to the Lord; come near, bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the Lord.” The assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings; and all who were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings. NRSV

Today we give God our thanks and praise in worship and in prayer, but also by our offerings. Prayer and worship without generous offerings are missing something – words but no action. Moreover, by focusing on our blessings and thanking God for them, we will have a better outlook on life and will be generally happier and more well-adjusted. Do you sincerely thank God in worship and prayer, and most importantly, by your offerings?

Two Examples from the New Testament

As I said before, giving thanks to God is an important aspect of our faith, and we see thanksgiving mentioned often in the New Testament as well. Two examples (out of many) are found in the New Testament.

The Ten Lepers (Luke 17:11-19)

In Luke 17:11-19 we read about how Jesus healed 10 lepers, who presumably were all Jewish except for one Samaritan. It was the Samaritan that, upon noticing he had been healed, returned to Jesus and thanked and praised God for his deliverance from a terrible disease. You can sense the disappointment in Jesus when he asked rhetorically (in Luke 17:17):

“Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” (from The Message paraphrased translation by Eugene Peterson)

Can you imagine God’s disappointment with us?

The Crippled Man (Acts 3:1-11)

The second reading involves a man who was born with some deformity that made him unable to walk all his life. He was reduced to a life of begging. God used Peter as his instrument to heal the guy, and you can immediately see his gratitude as we read in Acts 3:8-9:

The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. (from The Message paraphrased translation by Eugene Peterson)

This healed man knew it wasn’t the power of Peter but the power of God working through the Apostle that healed him. Can’t you just picture this guy jumping and dancing around Peter and John, hugging them and shouting “Hallelujah” and “Praise the Lord!” He made such a ruckus that he attracted a crowd, as we read in Acts 3:11:

All the people ran up to where they were at Solomon’s Porch to see it for themselves. (from The Message paraphrased translation by Eugene Peterson)

Do you make it a point to publicly give God the praise and glory when good things happen to you?

During this season of thanksgiving, think about gratitude and thanksgiving to God. I hope that as you sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, you remembered Who is the ultimate Source of your blessings, and who owns everything that he gladly shares with us. Let us always and everywhere Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

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