A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

by Stephen Sumrall

#/"Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving; and pay your vows to the most High" /#(Ps. 50:14 AMP). #[Suffering Through to Thanksgiving]# Encouraging as were many of the developments among the Pilgrims, they experienced much sadness, but they suffered their way through to thanksgiving. Brimming over with gratitude as a result of bountiful crops in the summer of 1621-crops that produced more than enough corn to see them through their second winter-Governor Bradford declared a public day of thanksgiving, to which the Indians were invited in October. Chief Massasoit was a remarkable example of God's providential care for His Pilgrims. The chief and eighty-nine other Indians joined with the Pilgrims in feasting on venison, wild turkey, vegetables from their gardens, and pies. It was a joyous occasion for all, as they ate and then competed in games and merrymaking, and in prayer. Even though they had endured great hardship, God had been good to them and they recognized this. More than two hundred years later, in 1864, Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving, upon the persistent urging of a widow who had been pushing for this for many years. President Lincoln's proclamation called for the nation to set aside the last Thursday in the month of November as a time of thanksgiving to Almighty God for all His blessings. Ever since, our country has observed this occasion. #[The Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving]# While this is a distinctly American holiday, David, in the Book of Psalms, called for the people to praise God and to be thankful. True thanksgiving is a theme woven throughout the psalms in particular, but elsewhere in the Word of God as well. A look at some of those calls to praise and thanksgiving is in order: #/"O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving"/# (Ps. 95:1,2 NAS). #/"Serve the Lord with gladness….Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name"/# (Ps 100:2b,4). We see from passages like this that it is not enough to just praise God for who He is, but also we are to be thankful. To be thankful means, among other things, that we appreciate what we have. Sometimes it appears that Americans are the least appreciative people on the face of the earth. We take so much of what we have for granted. The Bible talks about the "sacrifice of thanksgiving." In Psalm 50, for instance, the psalmist tells us to "offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving." In the flesh we look at circumstances instead of looking at God. Emotionally, then, it is hard for words of thanksgiving to come out of our mouths. That is precisely what is meant by offering a "sacrifice" of thanksgiving to God. We are, in effect, saying: "God, while I may not understand what's going on here, I give up my questions and complaints to you. I thank and praise You for who You are." A wonderful example of that kind of attitude is provided in the New Testament, where we see Paul and Silas in prison. They had been beaten and their feet fastened in stocks. #/"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God" /#(Acts 16:25). They made a choice-a sacrifice of thanksgiving to praise God in the midst of their awful circumstances. The Bible reveals that praising God in the hour of their adversity not only lifted their spirits, but it also shook the jail with the mighty power of God, which loosed them from their bondage and resulted in the jailer and all his house believing in the Savior, Jesus Christ. Maybe the missing ingredient in your life is the power of praise and the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Our God is a great and mighty God, who responds to the thanks offerings of His people. #/World Harvest/# November/December 1989