BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“When you bring a thanksgiving offering to the Lord, sacrifice it properly so you will be accepted” (Leviticus 22:29 NLT).
God wants us to offer thanksgiving to Him but it is not all thanksgiving that God accepts. Any thanksgiving that is not accepted by God is, therefore, a waste on the part of the person who offers it. Genesis 4:3-5 tells us that God accepted the offering of Abel but rejected that of Cain: “When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, 5 but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected” (NLT). It is important to know how to offer acceptable thanksgiving to God otherwise our thanksgiving will be a waste.
I want to share with you six components of acceptable thanksgiving that I have identified in the Word of God, and trust God this message will help you to offer acceptable thanksgiving to God.
Six Components of acceptable thanksgiving
1. Repent of your sins. Sin will make you unacceptable to God, and if you’re not acceptable to God, your thanksgiving can’t be acceptable to Him. Repent of your sins before you offer thanksgiving to God. God is first interested in you before He is interested in whatever you want to give Him. In Matthew 15:16-20, the Bible records, “ Jesus said, ‘Do you still have trouble understanding? Surely you know that all the food that enters the mouth goes into the stomach. Then it goes out of the body. But the bad things people say with their mouth come from the way they think. And that’s what can make people wrong. All these bad things begin in the mind: evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual sins, stealing, lying, and insulting people. These are the things that make people wrong. Eating without washing their hands will never make people unacceptable to God’” (Easy-to-Read Version). Mark 7:20-23 says a similar thing.
These two scriptures show that eating with unwashed hands can never make you unacceptable to God (defile you) but the sins highlighted and other sins will make you unacceptable to God, and If you’re unacceptable to God, your thanksgiving can’t be acceptable.
Our relationship with fellow human beings can affect our relationship with God. He wants us to walk in love in our relationships to truly show our love to Him. According to the Bible, we can’t claim to love God we have not seen physically when we’re not walking in love with human beings created in God’s image that we have seen (1 John 4:20).
Troubled relationships can affect your thanksgiving to God. That’s what Matthew 5:23-24 tells us: “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God” (NLT).
See that your conscience is devoid of any guilt as you come to offer thanksgiving to God. That’s why it’s important to avoid whatever constitutes sin in your life and resolve any outstanding issues with people as much as possible. “The sacrifice of the wicked[sinner] is an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 15:8a NKJV). Proverbs 21:27a says a similar thing.
2. Make sure it is a freewill offering. It must not be done out of compulsion. It must come from your heart. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). Don’t do thanksgiving grudgingly; it won’t be accepted by God. God can do without your thanksgiving; He has enough heavenly beings offering Him quality worship day and night (Revelation 4:8-11).
Your thanksgiving should be voluntary. The New King James Version renders Leviticus 22:29 thus: “And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will” (NKJV). Don’t offer thanksgiving to God under duress even when there is a call for the whole church to do thanksgiving. You’re not bound to thank Him but it’s foolish not to do so. If you don’t thank Him several others are too eager and willing to do so. Heaven won’t even miss your thanksgiving!
3. Sing and shout joyfully to the Lord. In the Bible, singing and making a joyful shout or noise to the LORD is associated with thanksgiving. For example, Psalm 95:1-2 says, “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (NKJV).
The psalmist calls out in Psalm 100:1: “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!” (NKJV). Nehemiah 12:46 says, “The custom of having choir directors to lead the choirs in hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God began long ago in the days of David and Asaph” (NLT). Isn’t that a good custom to continue today? And shouldn’t you be part of the choirs offering acceptable praise and thanks to God?
Singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God is acceptable to Him. It is not about how melodious your voice is or the beat of the songs. God doesn’t require that you sing like a nightingale or a professional. You’re not singing for man’s enjoyment but in honour and appreciation of God. Sing to the Lord from a grateful heart even if your voice is not sweet by human judgment – it is acceptable to God. Shout joyfully to the Lord even if you’re not gifted with a loud voice – God understands. Sing and shout joyfully to the Lord!
4. Joyfully declare the miracles or wondrous works God has done for you. What has the Lord done for you? Psalm 103:2 tells us not to forget all His (God’s) benefits – that means not to forget all that He has done.
Hannah was not ungrateful. She returned to Shiloh to fulfill her vow after weaning Samuel. Eli apparently couldn’t even recollect her face. 1 Samuel 1:24-28 says, “Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.’ So they worshiped the LORD there” (NKJV).
Once some people get answers to their prayers, they don’t behave like Hannah; they disappear. That’s how they deny themselves of more miracles from God.
Hannah was not like those nine lepers who didn’t return to acknowledge to Jesus that they had been healed and show gratitude to Him (Luke 17:11-19). 1 Samuel 2:21 tells us that after Hannah had given Samuel to God, He gave Hannah additional three sons and two daughters. It is in your own interest to offer thanksgiving to God. Don’t be an ingrate or an ungrateful person.
Psalm 26:6-7 says, “I will wash my hands in innocence; So I will go about Your altar, O LORD, That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works (NKJV).
The Bible says in Psalm 107:22, “Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing” (NKJV). During thanksgiving, you don’t hide what the Lord has done; tell Him what He has done for you not because He doesn’t know or He has forgotten but to show appreciation.
If you’re doing special thanksgiving to God, standing before others, you can share your testimony publicly if it is already mature to share but you don’t have to go into all the unnecessary details. Declare His works in your life with rejoicing. Don’t hide what God has done for you; thank Him privately and thank Him in the congregation of His people. Your thanksgiving plus testimony may encourage someone’s faith. And because you’re thanking God, He’ll do more for you. Jeremiah 30:21 says, “Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry; I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small” (NKJV).
5. Dance to the Lord and sing with musical instruments. Dancing is one of the things to do to make your thanksgiving acceptable to God. Dance to the Lord by the Spirit of the Lord; don’t dance in the flesh. You may not even know how to dance to beat; it is not required. It is God you’re dancing to, not man; you’re not in a dancing competition with anyone. You don’t have to be a good dancer; you only need to be a grateful dancer! You can dance alone in your closet, and you can dance in the presence of other saints. You can lift up your hand, bow before Him, etc.
If you have any musical instrument to accompany your singing and dancing, this also is acceptable to the Lord. Psalm 149:3 says, “Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp” (NLT). The Book of Psalms talks about different musical instruments used in singing to the LORD. Psalm 147:7 says, “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God” (NKJV). In Psalm 150:2-6, we are charged to: “Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” (NKJV).
If you don’t have musical instruments, clap your hands – they are your stringed instrument! Your ten fingers become your ten-stringed harp! (Psalm 33:2; 144:9). Psalm 47:1 says, “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” (NKJV). You may not be able to play the keyboard, pipe organ, flute, guitar, saxophone, or trumpet but you surely can ‘play’ the tambourine! Go ahead and ‘play’ it – it’s also a musical instrument.
6. Special thanksgiving involves presenting to God something honourable to appreciate Him. This is in addition to your singing and making a joyful noise to Him. There’s nothing you give to God that can match or pay for what He has done for you but what you give is your token of gratitude to Him. It can be money; it can be material things; it can even be your time offered for service.
Leviticus 7:12-13 says, “This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which he shall offer to the LORD: If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil. Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering” (NKJV). This was the practice in the Old Testament. You can offer the equivalent of these today.
However, you must be careful about what you give to God. It is not only about the size but also about the quality. That widow in Luke 21 gave only two mites, but it was all she had, and Jesus said she gave the most – more than all that the rich people gave. Be sure that what you give to God is honorable and not disrespectful. A disrespectful offering is a waste to the giver because it is unaccepted by God.
Hear what God told the Israelites in Malachi 1:8: “And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ says the LORD of hosts” (NKJV). The same principle applies to thanksgiving offering today. Give God only what is honourable. God knows what you have; He knows your ability or capacity. You could have given far more than others but you could have given below your capacity, and God knows this.
However, though you present a gift to the Lord as you offer Him thanks, it’s not a substitute for singing and declaring what He has done for you. God is not poor or in need of whatever material or gift you give Him. He owns the whole world. That is why the psalmist says in Psalm 69:30-31, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bull, which has horns and hooves” (NKJV). The earth is the LORD’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1). 1 Corinthians 10:26 also underscores this truth that the earth is the LORD’s and all its fullness.
Therefore, God is not looking for gifts from a heart that is not overflowing with thanksgiving. He told the Israelites in Psalm 50:8-14, “I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats? Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High” (NLT).
Your gift can’t make God richer! Before you give God any thanksgiving offering, regular or special, make sure your heart is overflowing with gratitude. God looks at the heart; not at the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7).
Conclusion: Don’t be ungrateful to God. As the refrain of that popular hymn says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God hath done! Count your blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.” That was what David did in Psalm 103, He listed all that God had done for him and blessed His name for all of them. You also think about all God has done for you and thank Him for it; don’t forget all His benefits.
Thank Him for forgiving your iniquities, for healing your diseases, for His loving-kindness and tender mercies, for satisfying your mouth with good things, for renewing your youth like that of the eagle, for executing righteousness and judgment on your behalf, etc. In offering thanksgiving to God, offer an acceptable offering.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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