It is a privilege to live in a county where there is a day set aside each year to give thanks. Early in our country and even recently, as a nation we have been called to fast and to pray and to engage Heaven in our life experiences on planet Earth. What does that mean? Why is that important?
Fasting, praying, being thankful and calling Heaven to the Earth are chosen Dynamics of our Conduct and our Behavior that have huge impact on the outcomes of our lives on Earth and forever. A Dynamic is defined as an interactive system involving completing or conflicting forces. This simply means that for our being thankful there is a corresponding reaction. We choose our outcomes by the actions that we freely and completely select to follow. These actions impact the Earth and our life experiences on this planet. Our present life experiences are entirely the result of the actions that we have chosen previously.
I have often asked myself how important is being thankful to our Creator and our God, and what does the Manufacturer’s Handbook say about thankfulness?
The words “thank,” “thanks,” and their variations are used 139 times in the King James Version of the Scriptures. In the New Living Translation they are used 168 times. That amount of usage makes the word, its variations and their meanings and usages, important to the Author of the writings. If it is mentioned that many times by our Creator and our God, then we must determine why it is used, how that pertains to us as Humanity, and how this understanding impacts us as Humanity. I believe this is important, particularly in the understanding of our likeness to our Creator.
In a very large majority of the usages of the words thanks and/or thanksgiving, there is the pairing of the admonition or directive to combine thanksgiving with the presentation of our praise to our God and our King. I have often been intrigued by the record in the letter to the Romans identified as Chapter 1 verse 21. There is described here a very clear picture of how our God looks at thanksgiving and praise from Humanity.
The King James says –
“Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful…”
The New Living Translations says –
“Yes, they knew God, but they would not worship Him as God or even give Him thanks…”
There appears to be several things that are identified here as important.
- Recognition – our Creator wants to be recognized as God. Knowing does not appear to be enough. There is an element of recognition. Recognition is defined as the act of identifying someone or something because of previous knowledge, or to formally acknowledge someone. Our Creator God wants Humanity to formally acknowledge Him as our Creator and our God.
- Acknowledgement – to acknowledge means to accept or to admit the existence, the reality or the truth of someone or something, and to recognize as being valid and as having force or power.
- Worship – a feeling or expression of reverence and honor and adoration for Deity. To reverence is to show deep feelings of respect/regard and devotion. Devotion is a large expression of dedication and of loyalty.
- Glory – exaltation. The fame, admiration and honor that is given to someone who does something important. Praise of Deity. Praise and thanksgiving offered as an act of worship to Deity.
- Thankfulness – gratefulness. Warm, friendly feelings of gratitude.
These terms are key indicators of the personality of our God. To many it may be difficult to believe that our God has a personality. In different places He refers to His mind. As like-produced beings we understand that we have a mind, and that is where our emotions, our feelings, and our personality are developed and where they are housed. Being created in His likeness and His image, for us to have a mind and a personality, He would have to have a personality first. Often Humanity can only see God as some austere, non-concerned Being that has no interest in individuals, much less any interest at all in all of Humanity. I’m not sure where that perception comes from, but a casual observance of our God will dispel any such nonsense. He is the God of great compassion and provision. Even before the foundations of the Earth, He had greatly detailed plans for each member of Humanity.
A summation of this passage would indicate that our God wants each of us to formally recognize Him as our Creator, to accept and to admit His existence, and to accept and to declare His power in our lives. We are to do this by our expression of reverence, honor and adoration. This expression is to be an exhibition of dedication and loyalty wrapped up in praises that are warm, friendly feelings of gratitude or thankfulness. This is what Jesus was telling the woman at the well in Samaria. This kind of relationship and this kind of praise and worship only comes from a thankful spirit and is received by a thankful God.
Why is a thankful spirit important? In our World today, especially in the United States, we are a people who often find it easier to recognize what we do not have more than to recognize and to be thankful for what we do have. We are constantly being bombarded by all of the different media forms with things that appear very enticing, and they are presented as things we cannot live without. The reality is that when we get them, they do not look at all as they did in the marketing. Passing through the Atlanta Airport recently, Fran and I stopped to get a quick sandwich. As we sat at the table a gentleman came and sat at the table next to us. As he opened his sandwich, he looked at us and said, “Boy, I wish it looked like they show it in that photo on the wall.” It did not. Not only sandwiches, but most everything that is being marketed is shown as something that will change your life. Your life will be enormously enhanced by the experience of owning and enjoying this product. We purchase them only to learn that the glitter is gone very quickly. My Brother once said to me, “do not buy any of those exercise products you see on television. I have them all in my closet. They are unused and I will let you have them at half price.” I am sure that was not totally correct, but much too much of it really is.
What are we looking for? What is it we want, and why do we want it? Is it possible that we are unhappy with whom we are and what we have, and all of this feeds our discontentment? “If I could only lose ten pounds;” “If I could only get a new car, a new house, a new spouse, a new job, make more money, move to a new town;” and a whole array of “other things that I do not now have.” The displeasure appears to be with ourselves, but we are led to believe that obtaining something outside of ourselves will provide the answer. Is that a reasonable conclusion? Is that reality?
All of the marketing we see presents us with unreasonable expectations. Everything we are shown is perfect, without fault, without blemish. Our skin, our bodies, our relationships, our cars, our homes, our children, our teeth, our food, and on and on and on, and we are presented with examples that are supposed to be natural, but they are all without blemish. That does not exist. If we can understand that we are eternal spirits that live in a body, and that we are managed by our minds, we then can set priorities and reasonable objectives with acceptable time projections for accomplishment. All of the marketing is very one-sided. Very little information is offered about products that are available to enhance our spirit’s relationship with our Creator. Very little is offered to develop correct thinking that is in agreement with our Creator’s plans and the way to look at things His way. Most marketing addresses the body and satisfying the senses. This is the most temporal of all of our being.
Just as the previous terms that describe the personality of our God, they are also a part our make-up and our personality and they are not wrong. We want to be recognized, our influence for good to be honored, our contribution and participation to be revered by the expression of loyalty and appreciation. This is important. It is important to our Creator, and it is important to us as Humanity. I believe it is false humility to act like this does not matter. He has said that we are made like Him, and what matters to Him matters to us, and what matters to us matters or is important to Him.
A spirit of thankfulness is very important to our God. He follows this presentation in Romans with very specific outcomes and actions that are the results for those who do not honor Him as God, who choose to not worship Him, and who are not thankful.
We are told to enter His gates with thanksgiving and to come into His courts with praise. We cannot be unthankful and constantly complaining. Our God is good and His mercy endures forever. Be thankful unto Him and bless His Holy name forever and continually.
As the old hymn says, “Count your many blessings, count them one by one.” Make a list of the good in your life and it will overwhelm the bad or challenging.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Philippians 4:8-9, The Message