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Connect Through Giving Thanks
In times past it has been easy to regard relationship with God as a mere observance of outward ceremonies. Going to church, singing songs, seeing people baptized, taking communion, bringing offeringsóall these can become nothing more than rites and rituals, the performing of duties without truly connecting with God or with Godís people. Today, that will not suffice. God wants more. You and I need more lest we cast dishonor upon the name of God. Today, God is calling us to true spiritual worship, to prayer and praise with thanksgiving.
In Psalm 50, God calls to the heavens and the earth that He may judge His people. Those that have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice must gather to hear what He will testify against them. True holiness has been despised and the pure worship of God corrupted. God desires mercy and not sacrifice. (Hosea 6.6; Micah 6.7) He is not indebted to man because of any sacrifices or offerings made. He requires neither food nor drink. His possessions are boundless. Rather, He communicates life to all as the self-existent One. (Psalm 50.1-11)
We tend to form our estimate and image of God from ourselves. This leads to carnal worship, and to a proud view that somehow we benefit God by our services. (Isaiah 66.1, 2) The world had a beginning, but God is from eternity. In Himself there is sufficiency, so He says:
If I were hungry, I would not tell you: for the world
is mine, and the fullness thereof. Will I eat the flesh
of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God
Thanksgiving; and pay your vows unto the Most High: And
call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you,
and you shall glorify Me. (Psalm 50.12-15)
We just seem to have a propensity for perverting true worship. Itís easy for us to become addicted to ceremonies. We like tradition and repetition because it makes life with God easier, more predictable. We really would like a checklist so that we could see "how weíre doing" and be able to boast about our fabulously victorious Christian life. But God doesnít allow it.
Rather, we are called to acknowledge God as the Author of all our mercies and to ascribe to Him His just praise. Days of trouble are assumed, and in such days we are to walk with a trust that calls on a God we know to be good, true, pure, and holy. We are to seek by prayer that deliverance which God alone can give, and render the appropriate thanks.
The psalmist sets praise and prayer in opposition to ceremonies and mere external observances of religion to lead us to a holiness of life and heart, the true sacrifices which please the Most High.
In paying our vows, we are reminded of Psalm 116.12, 13: "What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD."
God is Spirit. We worship Him in spirit and in truth. Outward rites may confirm our faith by representing truth, but these should lead us to call upon the name of the Lord with a pure heart. Godís eyes are not blinded by those seeking to shelter impurity of heart and life under a veil of outward services. Such obtrude themselves into the presence of God, hoping to deceive Him with vain inventions and strange fire. Yet this "form of godliness" unaccompanied by the grace of faith and repentance abuses the name of God and becomes sacrilege.
It is the wicked who hate instruction and cast Godís words behind them. They consent with the actions of thieves, partake with adulterers, give their mouth to evil, and frame deceit with their tongue. They speak against their brothers and slander those of their own family. They forget God. (Psalm 50.16-22)
God desires us to connect to Him and to one another through thanksgiving. The ties of nature are not to be violated, but strengthened. In forgetting God, we display base ingratitude, yet God extends the hope of mercy even to the most corrupt of humanity, i.e., those who profane His worship, mock His forbearance, and abandon themselves to scandalous crimes.
Now consider this, you that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offers praise glorifies Me: and to the one that orders his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God. (Psalm 50.22,23)
God is only to be approached by those who seek Him with a sincere heart and in an upright manner. This is only possible as we look to and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, trusting in His Blood and righteousness, being justified freely by Godís grace.
For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. (1 Peter 3.18)
Thanksgiving honors God (Psalm 50.23). God commands it. (Psalm 50.14) Failing to give thanks is as much forgetting God. (Psalm 50.22; Romans 1.21) Thanksgiving acknowledges the grace and goodness of God, safeguarding us from pride and arrogance. If weíre not thankful, we grumble, grow bitter, and curse rather than bless.
It is a time to give thanks, to connect through giving thanks. We can do this privately, like Daniel (2.23; 6.10) or publicly (Psalm 11; 22; 35). We can offer thanksgiving for others (1 Timothy 2.1) and for Godís goodness to the nations (1 Chronicles 16.7-36).
As we call upon Godís Name, sing to Him, seek Him, remember His mighty works of creation and redemption, remember His covenant and our covenant blessings, we ascribe to God His glory, character, and worth. We make His name known among all peoples and join with all nature and the heavenly host in worship. Through thanksgiving we connect with God and with others. It just breaks down the barriers of bitterness and hatred and pride. Looking at each other, we may deem one higher or better or holier than another. But looking at God, we are humbled and seek Him to save us all.
Lots of times I am asked, "Whatís there to be thankful for?" It gets like that. Right now itís a time of clouds, and some of those clouds are dark clouds with few silver linings. But Godís glory is also connected with a cloud, and Jesus is coming with clouds with great power and glory. Actually, we have a lot for which thanks can be given. So, letís just say, "Every believer can give thanks to God by remembering and praising Him for the following demonstrations of His Being:
- Godís wondrous works of creation: (Psalm 9.1; Isaiah 25.1; Psalm 136, 139; Romans 1.21)
- Godís wondrous works of redemption: (Exodus 15; Psalm 18, 30, 86, 118; Isaiah 12.1, 4; Colossians 1.12)
- Godís wondrous works in others: (Psalm 109; 1 Thessalonians 1.2; 2 Thessalonians 1.3; Ephesians 1.16; Colossians 1.3)
- Godís gifts to us: (Daniel 2.23; 2 Corinthians 9.10, 12; Ephesians 1, 2; Psalm 19; Psalm 119; Psalm 104, e.g.)
- Godís attributes and character: (Psalm 28; 100; 107; Jeremiah 33.11; Daniel 6.10; Psalm 103, e.g.)
- Godís revelation and wisdom, which delivers us from affliction: (Psalm 119; Daniel 2.17-23; Exodus 15; Psalm 73; James 1.1, 2; Psalm 35; Psalm 79, e.g.)
- Godís unspeakable gift, even Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord: (Luke 2.38; Revelation 4, 7, 11; 1 Timothy 1.12-17; 2 Corinthians 9; John 3.16)"
Here at Mary Craig Ministries, we thank God at our remembrance of you. Through your prayers and offerings, your praise reports and thanksgivings to God, we become more connected to you. So many of you are now sowing bountifully into MCM and the work to which God has called us. You have given gladly, graciously, generously, and as guided by the Holy Spirit. You are those who know the truth that God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. As you minister seed, your seed multiplies and brings increase. You are enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God.
Because of your gifts MCM has ministered in 40 nations, supports three orphanages overseas and several local community outreaches in addition to providing publications and a web site of international import. We have upcoming mission trips planned for Australia and Asia. Craighouse continues as a Christian community refuge for those seeking help and hope in Jesus Christ, offering restoration to the spiritually orphaned and wounded of the Christian community in an atmosphere of grace.
With all this before us, I ask you to continue giving. We are only $7,600 short of our budget goal for 2001. Thatís really remarkable, and I hope that your gifts will enable us to surpass what we could ask or think.
One time I was speaking with some children in India. They wondered why America was so blessed as a nation. I told them I believed America was so blessed as a nation because we are a nation that gives. So many in America understand that the foundation of all giving is love and goodness. It begins with Godís goodness and love. Godís goodness prevails under His ownership. Giving enables thanksgiving to God. People praise God when people give to one another. It connects us together and to Him. Americans right now are reaching out to many in need everywhere. Because America gives, America will continue to be blessed. America is still, so far, a nation under God, a nation that prays, "God bless America," a nation that gives thanks to God for His bounty and grace.
The transforming effect of Godís gift of grace to us in Jesus Christ is such that we can now give. God gives all of Himself that we might thank Him and connect with Him through our praise and prayers. We give in His name, for His glory, and by His grace that others might connect to God and one another through giving thanks.
This Thanksgiving, connect to God and to those around you by giving thanks to God and by giving that causes others to give thanks unto God.
Your fellow servant,
We give thanks to God always for you all,
making mention of you in our prayers. (1 Thessalonians 1.2)
© 2001 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.
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