PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Thanksgiving is a very important subject in the Bible. There is no shortage of scriptures on the subject in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. The Book of Psalms, in particular, is full of such verses on thanksgiving. Psalm 95:2 says, “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms” (New King James Version).
The Bible says in Psalm 107:21-22, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing” (New King James Version). In Psalm 116:17, it is written: “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD” (New King James Version).
The psalmist says in Psalm 147:7, “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our God” (New King James Version). Psalm 50:14 says, “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High” (New King James Version). This is just to mention a few.
The New Testament also contains similar verses on thanksgiving, such as Colossians 4:2, which enjoins believers to “continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (New King James Version). Ephesians 5:20 says to give thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In view of the important attention given to thanksgiving in the Bible, it is a worthwhile exercise to consider its benefits, in order to encourage believers to pay serious attention to thanksgiving. From the Word of God, I’ve been able to identify ten benefits of thanksgiving to Christians. And I believe God that this message will impact positively your fellowship will God towards engaging more in robust thanksgiving.
The Ten Benefits
1. God sees you as a grateful person. Nobody likes an ingrate – an ungrateful person – not even Jesus. In the story of the ten lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17, only one of them, a Samaritan, came back to acknowledge the manifestation of his healing as he was going to show himself to the priests. Jesus asked for the whereabouts of the rest. “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17-18 New King James Version). The Samaritan returned to thank his healer. Jesus’ reaction shows that He hates ingratitude.
When you demonstrate a positive attitude of thanksgiving, God will take note of you as Jesus took note of that Samaritan who came back to give glory to God for his healing.
2. It gives you access to God’s presence. “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5 New King James Version). Nobody can legally enter a fenced property except the gates are opened, or enter a house legally until the doors are opened. Thanksgiving opens His gates; praises usher you into His courts. And until you enter into His presence, there’s no audience, and if there’s no audience, there can’t be answers to requests.
3. You please God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (New King James Version). Thanksgiving is the will of God, and when you give Him thanks, you please Him. Grumbling is not God’s will; thanksgiving is God’s will. When you give thanks to God, He’s pleased with you. That’s why Jesus commended the only leper, who came to acknowledge his healing; and obviously to show appreciation. If one is pleased with someone, one can go to any extent to express it. Imagine what you’ll benefit from God if He’s pleased with you!
4. God is magnified. Magnified in this context means glorified. Thanksgiving enables you to magnify or glorify the Lord. Psalm 69:30 says, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (New King James Version). When you’re giving thanks to God, you’re magnifying Him; you’re glorifying Him. David understood this and didn’t want to magnify the LORD alone. So he declared, “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:3 New King James Version).
The song of praise that Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, sang following the prophetic greeting by her cousin, Elizabeth, is called the Magnificat. Mary began that song by declaring, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:46 New King James Version). When you magnify the Lord, He magnifies Himself in your life. You cannot glorify God and live in shame. You’ll surely be a partaker of His glory.
5. It brings balance to your spiritual life, especially your prayer life. Imagine a prayer or spiritual life without thanksgiving! It will be a selfish exercise; it will be just life about asking and receiving without appreciating God, the giver of all things. That means we’ll just show up before Him, collect all we need, and just disappear only to reappear, collect and disappear – and the cycle continues. We shall all be a bunch of ingrates. That will amount to irresponsibility! Is that what you do? Are you selfish in prayer or in your walk with God? How much thanksgiving do you engage in daily?
Thank God for thanksgiving! Thanksgiving ensures that we’re not selfish, telling God, “Give me, give me.” Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart” (New Living Translation). Do you have a thankful heart? Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (New King James Version).
Jesus’ life was full of thanksgiving. He showed us examples of praying with thanksgiving. John 6:11 says, “And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples…” (New King James Version). That was when he fed about 5,000 men with five barley loaves and two small fish and twelve baskets of fragments were gathered.
He also did the same when he fed four thousand with seven loaves of bread and seven baskets full of fragments were gathered (Matthew 15:32-38). Before calling Lazarus out of the tomb, He started by saying, “Father, thank you for hearing me” (John 11:41b New Living Translation).
6. It ignites joy in you and creates an atmosphere for the supernatural. You can’t truly be thanking God and be sad. Thanksgiving and joy go hand in hand. Psalm 28:7 says, “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving” (New Living Translation).
The LORD said in Jeremiah 30:19, “There will be joy and songs of thanksgiving, and I will multiply my people, not diminish them; I will honor them, not despise them” (New Living Translation). Also in Isaiah 51:3, the LORD said concerning Zion, “Joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody” (New King James Version). Joy and thanksgiving go together. Even in Psalm 100, we see joy in verse 1 and thanksgiving in verse 4.
A thanksgiver cannot be held captive by the spirit of despair, frustration, or sadness. God delivers a thanksgiver in the day of trouble. “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:14-15 New King James Version).
As you begin to thank God, negative feelings of sadness, moodiness, depression, etc. disappear. Joy is released. The more you thank God, the more joy that is released in you. Joyful thanksgiving creates an atmosphere for God’s power to fill your life.
7. It gives you supernatural strength to face and overcome the challenges of life. Life’s challenges could be overwhelming, but thankful people handle life’s crises better; they have a positive perspective in the midst of life’s crises. Because of their relationship with God, and faith in Him, they thank Him for what He’s done for them in the past and thank Him by faith that He’ll see them through their current negative situations. They’re, therefore, able to overcome worry. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 New Living Translation).
The Bible says that, in prison, Paul and Silas, at midnight, prayed and sang hymns to God (Acts 16:25). They were not criminals; they were ministers of the gospel imprisoned in the course of doing God’s work. Their offence was that they delivered a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination whose masters were using her for fortune-telling and making a huge profit. But they didn’t mourn in prison or regret. They maintained a positive attitude. They prayed and thanked God. They came out of that crisis victorious. Hallelujah! Just keep thanking God, and you’ll soon experience a divine turnaround.
8. It positions you for more blessings. If you thank God for what He’s done for you, you prepare yourself for more from Him. Gratitude to God makes you a candidate for more blessings from Him. The saying that gratitude is the right attitude is apt. Nobody wants to bless an ungrateful fellow. “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. Their children also shall be as before, and their congregation shall be established before Me; and I will punish all who oppress them” (Jeremiah 30:19-20 New King James Version).
Multiplication and increase follow thanksgiving. Keep thanking God, and God shall keep increasing and promoting you. When Jesus gave thanks before the little meal available was shared, as we read earlier, the little meal on each occasion was multiplied and five thousand and four thousand men were fed on the first and second occasions respectively. Fragments of food gathered were more than the original meals (John 6:11; Matthew 15:36-38).
Instead of grumbling or complaining about the little you think you have, cultivate a positive attitude of giving thanks. God can multiply what you have and ensure that it’s not just enough, but you have excess. His name is El-Shaddai – the many-breasted God, the All-sufficient God, the God Almighty.
9. It keeps you humble. When you give thanks to God, you’re giving Him credit. You’re saying it’s not by your power, might, or wisdom; you’re calling attention to Him, not to yourself.
Proud people don’t thank God, because it doesn’t boost their ego! They’ll rather brag and call attention to themselves. It’s not possible to be a sincere, biblical thanks giver and be proud at the same time. Thanksgiving keeps you humble, and the more you thank God, the more humble you become. The Bible says, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17b New Living Translation).
Pride goes before destruction; haughtiness precedes a fall (Proverbs 16:18). According to Proverbs 29:23, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor” (New King James Version).
You surely remember Nebuchadnezzar’s pride. He said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30 New King James Version). He didn’t acknowledge that it was God who gave him the kingdom. He suffered for this for seven seasons during which he was driven from the throne to the field eating grass like oxen. His body was wet with the dew and his hair grew like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. What a strange and awful image! This is not a fabrication. In fact, modern science has confirmed the existence of such a health condition. Some have said the disease was boanthropy, a rare psychological disorder in which the sufferer believes he is a cow or ox. Yet, others have described his disease as insania zoanthropica, a rare mental illness, which causes human beings to think of themselves as animals and act as such.
Whatever modern science may call Nebuchadnezzar’s illness, what happened to him was a negative transformation, just because he failed to give God the honor due to Him. He learnt his lesson the hard way.
But Cyrus was humble. He acknowledged that it was God who gave him the kingdom. “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me” (Ezra 1:2 New King James Version). Pride is a sin. God hates the proud. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5 New King James Version).
10. It promotes good health. Research has shown that grateful people tend to enjoy better health than ungrateful people. That is even with regard to showing gratitude to fellow human beings, not to talk of showing gratitude to God.
Thanksgiving positively impacts the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of people. If such a positive attitude is extended to a relationship with God, it is bound to engender a better and higher health impact. As God accepts our thanksgiving, we can believe Him to heal us physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Conclusion: Rise up and begin to thank God. There is a lot to thank God for in your life. Don’t let the devil deceive you. “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.” (Rev. Johnson Oatman, Jr. 1856-1922). As you thank Him, things can only get better for you. Cultivate the habit of thanking God.
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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