What does thanksgiving mean to you? I'm not talking about the holiday we celebrate in late November when we all eat too much and laze around watching parades and football all day long! I mean truly being thankful.
Psalm 100 gives us insight into how to be thankful. First, we learn in verses one and two we are to be joyful. Joyfulness should be a characteristic of God's children but the only way we can be truly joyful is if we are filled with His Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 lists joy as part of the fruit of the Spirit.
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!"
The joy we gain through the indwelling of God's Spirit is a deep abiding sense of His presence with us in any circumstance and an assurance that He will stay with us no matter what happens. Many times in the Old Testament God gave assurances of His presence with His people. When Moses was afraid to go before Pharoah God told him:
"Who makes a person's mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say." Exodus 4:11-12
In His commissioning of Joshua God told him:
"No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you." Joshua 1:5
God said through Isaiah:
"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." Isaiah 43:2 NLT
In the New Testament Paul mentioned being joyful in most of his letters. He admonished the Corinthians to:
"Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11.
He told the Ephesians to be filled with the Spirit and to sing joyful songs from the heart. (Ephesians 5:18-19) In Philippians, Paul said we are to rejoice always and James said:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3
Pure joy in trials leads to true thanksgiving. When we know God is with us in the floods, in the fires, and in the storms we can be truly thankful. When we are joyful no matter the circumstances of our lives thanksgiving becomes easier. The way to joyful thanksgiving is to stay connected to God through prayer.
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The second insight into how to be thankful is found in verse 3 of Psalm 100:
"Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture."
The word for know used here means "to know by experience; to acknowledge." We experience God by spending time in His Word and in prayer. Acknowledging the Lord as God, Creator, Shepherd means submitting to His lordship over our lives. Experiencing God and acknowledging Him is only possible when we are filled with His Spirit.
Many times in Scripture God refers to His people as sheep. Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd. He says in John 10:27:
"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they know Me."
And speaking of God's people Peter said:
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10
Complete submission to God leads to true thanksgiving. We cannot be fully submitted to God and still live our way. This only leads to misery and death. Paul said of this life:
"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:5-8
Gathered manna for Psalm 100:1-3 is:
True thanksgiving is only possible with a joyful, submitted heart.
Where is your joy found? How can you be joyful in all circumstances? How submitted to God is your heart? Where have you not fully submitted to Him? What can you do today to submit these areas to God?
Praying we all have joyful, submitted hearts that lead to a truly thankful spirit!
Until next time keep gathering manna, growing deeper, and gaining intimacy.
God bless and keep you,