It is the season to give thanks. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember that “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Being grateful is a choice we all have to make daily. Thanksgiving is a good time to remind ourselves to be thankful for what the Lord has done and has not done for us. Making thanksgiving as a lifestyle not only frees us from anger, bitterness, and discontentment but it is also a powerful spiritual weapon the Lord has given us.
This year, have you made your gratitude list yet?
In her book “One Thousand Gifts – A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are,” Ann Voskamp states that, “Waiting till you’re happy before you give thanks is like waiting to be healthy before you take your vitamins.”
Being grateful is a choice we all have to make daily. Thanksgiving is a good time to remind ourselves to be thankful for what the Lord has done and has not done for us. Let us make that as our lifestyle instead of just a once a year tradition.
When we choose gratitude and contentment, our situation may not change, but our attitude and perspective will and that in turn will help us get through the situation.
“Joy is always a function of gratitude – and gratitude is always a function of perspective.” (Ann Voskamp)
When everything is going our way, it is easy to be happy and thankful. But how we respond when we face challenges is what will set us apart. Jesus said that “you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world.” John 15:19 (NLT)
Do you know that thanksgiving and gratefulness are some of our greatest weapons? I have experienced this myself many times, but especially in 2004-2005 when I faced a very difficult health challenge. I will save that for a future post, but I remember questioning Him for everything I was going through. He never did answer my ‘whys’ but instead He covered me with His love until I could not help but praise Him. Once I learned to praise Him despite my situation, my problems seemed to fade. Nothing changed in the physical, in fact it actually got worse, but my spirit soared. Eventually He brought the healing and restoration, but the greater gift to me was my experience with Him. He did not want me to fight; He wanted me to praise Him. And without realizing it at the time, that praise helped me rise up above my circumstances.
The Bible clearly documented this principle of praise and thanksgiving being powerful weapons. In 2 Chronicles 20 (one of my favorite battle stories in the Bible), the people of Judah under King Jehoshaphat faced a triple threat as they were surrounded by the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir. In the midst of chaos and panic, King Jehoshaphat sought the Lord and He answered.
“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”” (v14-17)
Receiving an answer is one thing, obeying it is another matter. The king chose to obey (since he really had no other choice).
“Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:
“Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”
Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. (v20-22)
All the Lord asked them to do was to stand and praise Him. As they praised and declared His goodness, He gave them the victory.As we celebrate Thanksgiving with our loved ones, let us resolve to be intentional in making praise and thanksgiving as our lifestyles. As we learn to do this, we will see the Lord’s deliverance in many areas of our lives. As he promised in Isaiah 61:3, He has given us “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”