November 23, 2015 • Life for Leaders
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.”
Beginning today, we’re going to take a short break from our slow devotional walk through Genesis in order to focus on giving thanks to the Lord. As most of my readers know, this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day for residents of the United States. It is a day for us to express our gratitude to God for his many blessings. At least that’s the idea. (For a brief history of Thanksgiving, see this item from my website.)
But, for many of us, Thanksgiving Day is filled with activities besides pausing to give thanks to God. Some of us spend the better part of the day cooking. Others spend our holiday hours eating what has been cooked. Millions of Americans fill Thanksgiving Day with television watching, beginning with the Macy’s Parade in New York City and then plenty of football. When you add travel and gathering with relatives, Thanksgiving Day can become crowded with everything but actual thanksgiving. Sometimes all God gets from us is a short prayer before we dig into the turkey.
I’m not really complaining about our Thanksgiving Day traditions. I love a turkey dinner with pumpkin pie as much as anyone I know. But I also think it’s good for us to take time for intentional, extended thanksgiving to God. God deserves it. Our souls need it. When I was pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I encouraged folks to recognize a season of thanksgiving rather than just a day. I’d encourage my Life for Leaders readers to do the same. My guess is that you might have more time to pause for genuine thanksgiving today, tomorrow, or Wednesday, than on Thursday.
Psalm 107 encourages us to be grateful right from verse 1: “O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” The rest of the psalm elaborates upon God’s goodness with specific examples. For example, verses 4-7 depict the Lord as rescuing those who were lost, bringing them to a place of safety. Verse 8 sums up: “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.” This verse serves as a refrain throughout Psalm 107, as it is repeated three more times (107:15, 21, 31).
When we stop to consider God’s love for us and how that love has been expressed in the wonderful things he has done for us, we will naturally offer thanks and praise to God. So, may I encourage you to begin your thanksgiving today. Think of God’s love for you and his goodness in your life . . . and give thanks!
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions that help you offer thanks to God?
When, in the next couple of days, could you set aside an hour for intentional thanksgiving?
How have you experienced God’s love recently?
Gracious God, I am thankful that my country sets aside a whole day for thanksgiving. But I am aware of how easy it is to fill this day with so many other things besides giving thanks to you. Forgive me, Lord, when my Thanksgiving has very little thanks in it.
By your grace, may this week be filled with gratitude as I take time to offer thanks for all of your gifts, most of all your love revealed and poured out through Jesus Christ. Amen.
An earlier version of this devotion appeared at The High Calling. It is used with permission under a Creative Commons license.
Image Credit: CC BY-ND 2.0
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.