Thanksgiving

Over the years, I have come to realize that thanksgiving is the answer for nearly every situation. Perhaps this is why Paul tells us to be thankful for everything in Ephesians 5:20. I am firmly convinced that while all of us have numerous unresolved issues, the way to keep them in God's hands is not through surrender 500 times a day (although surrender is certainly important), but through thanksgiving. As we take thoughts captive with thanksgiving, it releases control from us to Him. Instead of a worry of "what if ____ happens" I can instead choose to think "I thank you God that you are in control of _____." Thanksgiving not only is of benefit in control issues, but also in humility. Where pride wants to take credit for something that occurred thanksgiving acknowledges the source. Instead of a prideful thought of, "I really did well when I... ", I can take the thought captive with "Thank you Lord for how you did ___ through me" or "thank you Lord for putting these people in my life that helped train me to have ______ go so well." Thankfulness deflects glory to where it is rightfully due and is not self-seeking. When I realize that pride is what makes me look more like the devil (what caused him to leave heaven) than God and is what causes me to be opposed by God in James 4 and 1 Peter 5, this becomes very important knowledge! The last thing I want to do is shut myself off from the love of the Father being in me (1 John 2:15-16).

I think thanksgiving can also pull stuff into being. There are times when I look at things and am unsure of my motives. (If my motives for doing something are clearly wrong, I need to ask the Lord's forgiveness). However, I am referring to those times where I am unclear. I can simply thank the Lord for how He is taking care of the situation and rest in peace. I think the Lord will also give those times where, if we are living in a deep abide, where He will loosen His grip on us for a split second to evaluate if I am walking in humility or pride. When I thank Him for the humility He is giving, it will continue. If I turn inward and try to conjer up ways I did things wrong, I will probably have a slow spiritual death by introspection, rather than focus on Him. However, this last point could be disregarded if one never has experienced living in the rest and peace of having Him fight the battles for you because thanksgiving has become a way of life.

Thanksgiving is of value in prayer. Sometimes we are interceding for something that the Lord has already given previously. Bill Johnson recently preached a powerful message on how this is the case. He said, "A lot of times what we think is an answer to prayer is stepping into what has already been given." He continued by saying that sometimes what he had been contending for a very long period of time did not come. However, when he simply changed his thinking so as to approach the issue as though it had been done was when He walked into breakthrough. [1] I know that this has been true over and over in my life. Even when something happens that I need to process before the Lord, I can simply process it and then walk in thanksgiving for how He is taking care of it. However, this has also been true on other issues too. However, in these cases, as one approaches in thanksgiving, they should also act on what they are thanking God for! Perhaps not all of the answer has arrived but part of it has.

This should be obvious, but thanksgiving should not excuse passiveness. There is a time to act and one should not sit around and do nothing and merely walk in thankfulness. For example, if I need a job, I should be willing to apply for jobs, not merely walk in thanksgiving for how the Lord is going to work things out. However, there is a role in doing our part, which is not being a workaholic (reminder to self), but then walking in thanksgiving for how God is going to take care of the situation.

another post for seminary finds its way here...
1 Bill Johnson. Sermon at Bethel Church in Redding, CA on 11/16/08.