At this time of year, many people find themselves thinking more about thankfulness. But a look at Scripture reminds us that being thankful needs to be a foundation of our lives every day.
In fact, having an “attitude of gratitude” adds to our spiritual and physical health all year round - and it’s a mindset we can cultivate. We can certainly express our appreciation to family and friends, for employment, fun times and new things. But the Bible clearly instructs Christians to fix our eyes on the Heavenly Father, the true source of every good thing in our lives. He is the One who graciously gives us “good things” of all kinds, and our natural response should be thanking Him specifically.
How Can We Express Thanksgiving?
“Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise His name” (Psalm 100:4).
We can express our thanks privately anytime. But there’s something very special about gathering together to express gratitude to God. I grew up in a church where opportunity was often given for testimonies. People were invited to stand and share something God had done in their lives, or how coming to know Jesus changed their lives. Listening to stories always led me to be more aware and grateful for God’s presence in my life.
Verses all through the Bible point us back to God as our Creator and Sustainer, and how we are to be a thankful people. The list of things we could praise Him for is endless. But here are just a few reasons to give thanks to God all year long. Don't be surprised if more blessings come to your mind as you read these.
“Let us come before Him with Thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:2-3).
1. His Love
In 1 John, the disciple says straight out that, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). In Scripture, we see those that received and embraced His unconditional love for them humbly and joyfully thanked the Lord for it.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good” (1 Chronicles 16:34).
“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind” (Psalm 107:15).
God’s love is just as strong for us today as it was for those in Scripture. He is still our Father, who seeks a relationship with us. His deep and abiding love should lead us to praise Him just like those we read about.
How has God shown His love to you?
2. His Provision
From the earliest days of the Israelite nation, God has delivered His people from, and led them through, all sorts of trials and hardships. So, many accounts tell of people responding with gratitude for how God watched over them in challenging times. Their trust grew stronger and led them to pray with expectation going forward.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise Him” (Psalm 28:7).
“I thank and praise You, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power” (Daniel 2:23).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).
It doesn’t take much thought for us to come up with our own testimonies of how God has carried us in hard times. He wants us to recognize that He, and no one else, is our Provider, and to hear our response.
In what situation has God provided for you?
3. His Forgiveness
King David and the disciple Peter are two examples in Scripture of men who were impacted by their sinful choices, and later received the forgiveness of God. Both were deeply changed in the process. Others join with them in Scripture to express thanks for such amazing grace.
“I will praise You, Lord. Although You were angry with me, Your anger has turned away and You have comforted me” (Isaiah 12:1).
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits - who forgives all your sins” (Psalm 103:2-3).
Every believer throughout the ages has been able to hold onto the same promise of receiving God’s forgiveness for sin. We too can feel that lightening of our spirit and respond with gratitude.
What sins has God forgiven you for?
4. His Word
Even before the Bible we have today existed, its teachings and truths were shared. Sometimes it spread by word of mouth, other times in written form. But whatever way it reached people, the Word of God changed minds and hearts and inspired gratitude in those that heard it.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).
“At midnight I rise to give You thanks for Your righteous laws” (Psalm 119:62).
Today, most of us are immensely blessed to have access to the whole Bible. On any given day, we can be impacted by the life-renewing power within its pages. God is pleased when we use this gift and thank Him for it.
What Bible verse has made a difference in your faith walk?
5. His Creation
God created the earth for His pleasure and ours and took great care in the process of making it. Every detail was intentional. King David was one of many who delighted in nature, seeing evidence of the Master’s hand all around him.
“Give thanks to the Lord of lords: to Him who alone does great wonders, who by His understanding made the heavens, who spread out the earth upon the waters, who made the great lights - the sun to govern the day, the moon and stars to govern the night” (Psalm 136:3-9).
We have the opportunity to appreciate God's handiwork as well. Looking up into a bright blue sky, sitting on the beach or a walk in the woods is a way to find refreshment and calm.
What is your favourite spot in nature to spend time?
6. His People
The Apostle Paul often expressed gratitude for his fellow Christians and for the encouragement and support they gave. He recognized that God was ministering to him through those believers while giving them a chance to know the joy of serving the Lord. Feeling the power of community brought out praises.
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2).
“I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all His holy people and their faith in the Lord Jesus” (Philemon 1:4).
“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your face is growing more and more and the love all of you have for one another is increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).
The church was part of God’s plan for His people. Most of us who belong to a local church family can agree that there is comfort and strength to be found in fellowship. We are given chances to serve each other and help each other grow closer to our Lord. The sound of thanks coming from a congregation sounds sweet to God.
How has being in a church family made a difference in how you live?
7. His Plan for Us
The Apostle Paul wrote repeatedly that the followers of Christ have been set apart by God. He taught that believers have the privilege and responsibility of growing in holiness and of joining the Lord in His mission. Paul also mentions God's plan for us to share in numerous blessings through what Jesus did on the cross: victory over the enemy, restoration with God and an eternal Kingdom to enjoy. And we know from the covenant God made with Abraham that we are blessed like this in order to be a blessing (Genesis 12).
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire’” (Hebrews 12:28-29).
“We give thanks to You, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because You have taken your great power and have begun to reign” (Revelation 11:17).
How has the knowledge of God’s plan for you now and in the future encouraged you?
God Gladly Receives Our Praise
In this age, we are even closer to seeing the return of Christ. That should awaken us to greater determination to be known as God’s children, and more gratitude for His wonderful promises.
Saying “thank you” to God hardly seems like enough in light of all His blessings to us. But whenever we do that, He gladly receives our praises. Studying verses about thankfulness will bring us to a place of humility, and a place of joy, and that is how God wants us to live every day.
“What shall I return to the Lord for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people” (Psalm 116:12-14).