Thanksgiving…all the way!!!
Of atheists it is said…a bad moment for an atheist is when he feels grateful, and has no one to thank. Here is a tragi-comic “atheistic” story echoing the same sentiments even while reiterating a point about thanksgiving…
An atheist was walking through the woods, admiring all the “accidents” that evolution had created. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!” he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. Turning to look, he saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charging towards him. He ran away as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw the grizzly was closing. Somehow he ran even faster, so scared that tears came to his eyes. He looked again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pounding, and he tried to run faster. He tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up, but the bear was right over him, reaching for him with its left paw and raising its right paw to strike him.
At that instant the atheist cried, “Oh God help!” Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving. As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, “You deny My existence for all these years, teach others that I don't exist, and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. However I am willing to forgive you now and give you a new start. Now Am I to count you as a believer?”
The atheist looked directly into the light, hardening his heart said slyly “No…no…however… do me just a little favor …perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?”
“Very well,” said the voice.
The light went out. The river ran. The sounds of the forest resumed. Then the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed its head, and spoke: “Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful.”
Now no prizes for guessing what transpired next (sic)!!! While on the topic of thanksgiving, Yours Truly is inspired to share a message on the same using the following Scriptural portions…
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”-1 Thess 5:18
It is a Biblical mandate that we ought to have a thankful disposition at all times even when we are going through adverse circumstances’ for the Bible tells us elsewhere that the infinitely wise Sovereign God would use all circumstances (good or bad) for our eventual welfare (Rom 8:28).
Take the example of our beloved Saviour. Christ did not become the Saviour of the World by virtue of His extraordinary sermons or miracles (astounding as they were) but by virtue of His God-ordained atoning death on the Cross which entailed maximal suffering borne out of obedience (Heb 2:10, 5:8-9).
No wonder our Lord well aware of God’s redemption plan even while breaking the “bread” that signified His own body (which was going to be broken beyond recognition -Isa 52:14) thought it fit to give “thanks”!!! For He knew very well that this imminent suffering of His would usher Him into eternal glory (1 Cor 11:23-24/Rev 3:21)!!!
Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?-Luke 17:17
Some Christians’ whilst reflecting on Genesis 1:27 of God making man “in His own image” inadvertently limit their understanding to the physical dimension of it all…which ought not to be the case (God also may have 2 ears, eyes etc etc)!!! Rather it would serve us all well to ponder on the spiritual and the emotional similarities between our unique Creator (Rom 11:33-36) and His most unique creation (us).
Imagine a person going his own way thanklessly after we have gone out of the way to help Him. It would break our hearts. Ditto with our emotionally similar Creator when we take His blessings for granted…
A discerning Bible reader would be able to detect Jesus’ voice getting slightly choked with sadness in the afore-referred Scripture when the ingratitude of the nine healed lepers registers on Him.
A spiritually healthy Christian is one who constantly renews His gratitude for God meditating often on all the benefits the good Lord had graciously bestowed upon him (chief of them being salvation) whereby his love for His Creator is also constantly renewed. Greater the gratitude, greater the love (Luke 7:47)…greater the love…greater the obedience…greater the obedience…greater the sacrificial witness…greater the sacrificial witness…greater the impact on the viewing public!!!
Let the Scripture take over at this stage…
“…and a considerable number of those who had engaged in occult practices threw their scrolls in a pile and burned them in public. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, it came to fifty thousand drachmas. Thus the message about the Lord continued in a powerful way to grow in influence.-Acts 19:19-20 (CJB)
In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground-Gen 4:3
Amazing aspect about the trait of thanksgiving is it is rooted in us from birth. Now let’s hit the rewind button and visit the times of Cain and Abel… leave alone Apostle Paul’s instruction enshrined in I Thess 5:18, even the Mosaic Law with its regulation to observe 3 thanksgiving annual festivals (Exo 34:22-24) was yet to be given at that time. Yet what do we see? The 2 siblings bringing their thanksgiving offerings to the Lord for the attribute to say thanks was inherent in them! The key decisive, introspective question we need to ask ourselves is…are we exercising this innate trait for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31)?
and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,-Gen 4:4
Now for a lesson within a lesson! What was right about Abel’s offerings that the Lord accepted it (read ranked it as “approved”) and what was wrong with Cain’s offerings that the good Lord rejected it? The person concerned or should I say his heart towards the Lord...Ladies and Gentlemen!!! Look closely at Genesis 4:4…the person involved is mentioned before the offering (the Lord accepted Abel and his offering). More than the offering, a person’s heart condition matters to God. Are our priorities right whilst giving a thanks offering (say a considerable sum to Church Ministry or an Evangelistic institution)? Are we giving our thanks offering wholeheartedly or as a matter of ritualistic routine? Especially on the Thanksgiving day we owe a sizeable offering to the Lord by way of a sizeable contribution to our local Church which has been used by Him to nurture us spiritually (Deu 16:16-17). Also it would serve us well to remember during Thanksgiving Sundays’ and beyond that the good Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7) at all times even whilst detecting and admonishing a half-hearted endeavor towards expressing thanks such as the one of Cain (Gen 4:7a).
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” –Acts 16:30
We all know that souls are won-over by power-packed, Spirit-filled sermons. Remember the response of those of heard a soul-stirring sermon of Apostle Peter on the “Day of Pentecost” ….
“… ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ ”-Acts 2:37 (TLB). We can well imagine a repentant, convicted prostrate spirit behind it all!
Now the decisive question is… can sincere thanksgiving in adversities rope-in a soul in the manner a powerful spirit-filled sermon does? The answer is an emphatic yes!!!
One doesn’t have to go beyond the Acts 16:16-30 to arrive at this conclusion. There we see a Philippian Jailer witnessing two Christian missionaries being the very definition of the word “stoic” even while being whipped unjustly (Historians state that at the time of receiving whip lashes so much is the pain that unconsciously obscene flows out of the mouth of the those at the receiving end of it all). Later on even while being dumped into an unhygienic cell and having their feet cruelly fastened into stocks, the Jailer observed that these 2 men were all grace and poise in the manner of their Master at the Cross. More dramatic events symbolizing a thankful demeanor in trouble were to unfold before the Jailer…whole-hearted praising of God by way of passionate singing by this awesome twosome, an earthquake and…an utterly selfless disposition of not wanting to capitalize on the opportunity of escaping which would have sealed the fate of the Jailer at the hands of his Superiors (as per the Roman Law... every jailor was made responsible for his prisoner, under the same penalty to which the prisoner himself was exposed). The end result of it all…a similar conviction was wrought by the Holy Spirit and a consequent similar response was elicited like the one we saw in Acts 2:37…an offshoot of powerful preaching. If at that time it was “Brothers, what must we do (to be saved)?” then now it was…
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” –Acts 16:30
Do I need to say more? Did Paul and Silas preach? Or did they perform miracles to draw the attention of the Jailer? No way!!! The thankful way they went about their calling even in the midst of severe, unjust suffering roped in a soul for the Lord and later on more souls (Acts 16:33-34).
Apostle Paul much like His Master first practiced and then preached (Acts 1:1) rather than the other way around! Before he wrote that monumental verse in 1 Thess 5:18 (from Corinth) he had practiced thanksgiving in the midst of severe affliction a few months ago in Philippi.
Praise God for such faithful, thankful Apostles!!! Let us be thankful to the Lord for their inspirational lives. Hallelujah!!!