Friday, November 26, 2010

Entering in with Thanksgiving . . .

I wish all of you a heart of Thanksgiving this morning. I hope that your day yesterday was as special as mine was, and that thanksgiving continues to permeate your heart and soul in the coming year. I will be teaching on thanksgiving this Sunday, and as I have prepared my notes I am struck by a few things:

Daddy & his girls with the Praise Jar.
1) The thankful heart is the humble heart. Thankfulness implies a recognition of something not coming from us, but from another. God draws close to the humble heart (whereas He resists and opposes the proud heart). Romans tells us that those who have rejected God are those who have failed to worship Him as God or give Him thanks (Romans 1:18–25). In contrast to this, Psalm 100 gives us a picture of God's temple in which He sits at the center and it says that we enter His gates with thanksgiving (verse 4)! We could go so far as to say that we are commanded to be thankful when 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 tells us that God's will for us in Christ Jesus is to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks through all circumstances.

2) Thanksgiving floods the Bible. Read the Bible looking for verses on thanksgiving, or expressions of thankfulness and rejoicing, and you'll find that it is all over! The believer's heart should be a thankful heart!

3) The devil hates me (and every other believer). He hates all that we stand for and the very One within us! He is a liar, a murderer, a thief, an accuser, and a deceiver who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. If he could, he'd kill or destroy believers in a second. The obvious implication of that is then that every good thing in our life (every breath, every heart beat, every smile given, every smile received, every love felt, every love expressed, every laugh, every meal, every item of clothing, every healthy cell in our body, etc.) comes from God! No wonder James reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes from above, from our Father in Heaven (James 1:16–17). Looked at that way, that every tiny bit of goodness in our life is the Father intervening against the enemy's desire on our behalf, and we have so much to be thankful for!

Yesterday morning we did what for us is a Thanksgiving tradition we started some years back in an effort to keep God at the center of the day and our  hearts. We call it our Praise Jar. During the year we endeavor to write, each night, praises of God's hand in our life that day (sometimes we miss weeks at a time, but it is still our desire). Then, at Thanksgiving, we spend the morning by the fire with hot drinks taking turns pulling a praise out and reading it. Two things strike me about it that I'd like to share with you:

1) You'd be amazed how many things God does for you that you thought, at the time, you'd never forget—and which, even a few months later, you realize you had forgotten!

2) You will find your faith shooting through the ceiling when you spend hours at one time reminding yourself of all the different ways God has blessed your life in the past year! I was stunned how many times over the last year we have seen a physical healing in our family after prayer, how many times we have been blessed by someone reaching out and helping us or giving something to us, how many times prayers have been answered, how many times God has taken care of needs or anxieties I have had that were just special "gifts" from Him to me, how many times He has loved us in our "love language"—just gifting us with something He knew was special to us, how He has met our every need, etc.  Each of these, alone, are amazing when we realize the Creator of the universe has moved in our life in a visible way—but taken together, at one time, it is an incredible faith building and thanksgiving producing way to focus our hearts and joy! If you don't have some tradition like that (a Praise Jar, a journal, etc.), I encourage you to consider starting one. Preserving the testimony of God is a strong Biblical theme that not only builds faith, but gives God glory and speaks to generations to come (our heart is to make copies of all the praises in to books that each of our daughters will get when they leave home . . . they will take with them a record of years and years of God's hand on their family to then begin their own record as they begin their own families).


  1. Great suggestion on the praise jar - I'll have to bring that up to the family. But when it comes to crafty, scrapbooking things, I'm a miserable failure. We're lucky we've got pictures to prove they were, in fact, babies at one time (well, I'm not *that* bad).

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Thanks for the comment Pearl, and "Happy Thanksgiving" to you and yours as well! The Praise Jar is a wonderful thing, whether or not you make a fancy wood top or just use an old milk carton. We, ourselves, struggle in the art and craft department, and the book of praises we hope to make for our girls at their departure from home will likely be pages and pages of "Xerox" copies of the praise bound together in order of date. I can't put in to words enough how powerful it is, in whatever form, to return to a series of remembrances of God's love, faithfulness, and power in one sitting! It is quite incredible, which makes sense since He is such an incredible God! God bless you and your family . . . may your days between now and Christmas be filled with a deep sense of wonder and reverence and joy as you focus your eyes on Him!

  3. Love the idea of the praise jar. That is a super way of remembering the blessings of the year in a special way on Thanksgiving day. Thank you for sharing! Dan

  4. What a beautiful idea Pastor Erick! I know how often I forget what God HAS done for me and look at all the little things that I feel that He "hasn't" sad and heartbreaking....
    Thank you!! ~ Kierstyn

  5. Thanks, Dan and Kierstyn, for the comments. I value hearing back from people. The Praise Jar is a very special idea. I was asked in an email if we thought of it or learned of it from elsewhere, and I believe we thought of it, but I would guess that elements of it were already in our hearts from other things people do. It came out of a season when we had really felt the shallowness of many Christian holidays, and we tried to think of a way to make God the center of them. This came to us as the best way we could truly fill Thanksgiving with thanksgiving---to spend the day remembering His faithfulness and thanking Him for it. God bless you both and, again, thanks for the thoughts.


Thanks for your comments, I look forward to and value your sharing. Due to a large number of SPAM comments, you will need to enter a word verification before your comment will be sent to me for moderation. Your comment will be visible after I publish it. Erick

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