WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
DECEMBER 27, 2020
TOPIC: THANKING GOD FOR 2020
BY T. O. BANSO
“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul; then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul” (Psalm 124:1-5 New King James Version).
We have just celebrated Christmas and today is the last Sunday of the year 2020. The outgoing year means different things to different people. Nevertheless, the consensus will be that it is the year that the coronavirus pandemic plagued the world and shut it down.
It is the year of lockdowns and travel bans. It is the year when schools and businesses were on holiday for months. It is the year when worshippers couldn’t gather physically in their auditoriums for church services. Worship services became virtual. It is the year of physical distancing.
Many people lost their loved ones. Several others lost their businesses and jobs. Sadly, as the world is heaving a sigh of relief over the available vaccine to deal with COVID-19, the second wave of the pandemic has started, with different variants, and devastating effects. The world is once again gripped with fear.
This is understandable. The world has not yet recovered from the negative impacts of the first wave – the lockdowns, the deaths, the job losses, etc. It does appear that in the last few decades there has never been a year as challenging as 2020.
Added to the problem of the pandemic are persisting internal security challenges that some countries have had to face. I know of a particular country which now appears to be like Pergamum or Pergamos, a city where Satan’s throne is (Revelation 2:13). Satan’s activities are widespread. The people seem to be living in a country where Satan dwells, as bloodthirsty kidnappers, gunmen, and bandits have taken over a once relatively safe nation, killing the people, young and old, without restraint. Someone said this is a sign of a failed state.
A country that used to be peaceful and secure, to some extent, is now being described as one of the most dangerous places to live on earth. But the LORD shall have mercy and cause the wickedness of the wicked to come to an end (Psalm 7:9). Satan shall be defeated.
With all the daunting challenges of the outgoing year, wouldn’t it be right to continue lamenting and complaining this last week of the year? Of course, it appears justifiable. However, it won’t be the right attitude. The right attitude is to look back and give thanks to God. Yes, give thanks to God, in spite of all the negatives. We are not to thank God for the negatives but to thank Him despite the negatives. Why? It could have been worse.
I always say to fellow Christians that if after all our prayers, the unsatisfactory events of the year still took place, do we know what would have happened if we had not prayed? The violence, the carnage, etc. that happened in 2020 are unfortunate. We seem to have lost sight of the various calamities that God averted, and many other negatives He didn’t allow to happen.
Maybe you prayed this year for some personal things and you didn’t receive manifestations of the answers. Your story is not different from mine. Nevertheless, we must not forget the answers to prayers we received, particularly, the good things we didn’t ask God for, which He did for us. We didn’t reject them when He did them for us, saying that they were not part of our requests! We enjoyed them. We must thank God for the year 2020, no matter what our experiences were in the year. If not for God!
We should say with Israel, “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us; then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul; then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul” (Psalm 124:1-5 New King James Version).
If not for God! If you can think, you will be able to thank God. “Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:6-8 New King James Version).
I, therefore, want to invite you to give thanks to God for all He has done for you this year. If you’re reading this today, Sunday, December 27, 2020, it remains just four days for this year to end. If you’ve not started giving thanks to God for the year, I want to encourage you to begin now. Lamentation 3:22 says, “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed. Because His compassions fail not” (New King James Version).
Gratitude is the right attitude. Not to thank God is ingratitude, for everything that God has done for you this year. 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.”
As God has spared your life to see the last Sunday of 2020, and as you are looking forward to 2021, don’t let the devil make you angry at God for what He didn’t do for you. Maybe He didn’t grant your request because you asked amiss – your motive or purpose was wrong (James 4:3). It could also be for your own good. He knows what is best for you. Furthermore, maybe it’s not really a denial but just a delay for the right time. Don’t allow the devil to blind you to what God has done for you this year. Count your blessings; name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done for you.
Remember the journey mercies God granted you during the year. Remember when you nearly had an accident or when you actually had an accident but the LORD saved your life. Remember when you were ill and at the point of death, you narrowly escaped. Maybe you didn’t see God at work in all that. You didn’t see God in the many close shaves with death you had in 2020? What about all the dangerous moves you made that God protected you! Or did you think it was your intelligence, your bravery, or a mere coincidence?
1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (New King James Version). Your success was not by your power; God made it possible. You could have done all you did and your efforts would produce a different result. You had better realize that. God warned the children of Israel to beware of saying, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17 New King James Version).
That warning is also for anyone who is crediting his successes and achievements in 2020 to his or her intelligence or power rather than to the goodness of God. “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18 (New King James Version).
Ingratitude is a sin. A thoughtful person will be a thankful person. This last Sunday of the year 2020, I urge you to be grateful to God for His kindnesses and manifold blessings in your life. Don’t be so concerned about the good things you expected but are yet to happen this year. Don’t fail to acknowledge the good things that have happened in your life.
Don’t let the devil steal your joy and gratitude to God. He will constantly remind you of answers to prayers that have not manifested in 2020. Don’t allow the devil to push you to a position that you will fail to appreciate the many answers to prayers you enjoyed in the year. Ephesians 5:20 says, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (New International Version).
The apostle Paul encourages us in 1Thessalonians 5:18 to, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (New International Version). That means to give thanks to God whether the circumstances are favourable or unfavourable, whether you are successful or unsuccessful. Whatever your experience has been in 2020, what God expects from you is not grumbling, complaints, or accusation but quality thanks. God is able to work all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28).
At this season of the year, let the Word of God in Colossians 3:17 ring very loud in your ears: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (New International Version).
In your house, workplace, church, and anywhere you go in the remaining days of this year, let the praise of God be in your mouth. Rather than grumbling and complaining over anything, just be singing praises to God. “Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name” (Psalm 30:4 New Living Translation). This is the wisest thing for you to do as this year closes. Psalm 92:1 says, “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (New King James Version). Enter 2020 with thanksgiving and the New Year with praise!
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit 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 resurrected 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 the palm tree and grow like the 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.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank You for all the kindnesses that my loved ones and enjoyed from You this year. I appreciate You for all the answers to prayers and all the good things You did for us which we didn’t even pray for. Thank You for all the evils You averted and all the victories You gave us. I thank You that You will make us see the end of 2020 and cross over to the New Year safely. Thank you because, for us, the glory of 2021 shall be greater than the glory of 2020 in Jesus’ name.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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