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ReVision

The Practice of Thanksgiving (2)

Give thanks with other believers.

The Heart of Thanksgiving (6)

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Psalm 111.1 (ESV)

Practice thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is the easiest and most practical of the affections of a well-kept heart. It is the will of God that His children should give thanks to Him in every circumstance. The Lord promises that, if we will practice thanksgiving, He will envelop us in His perfect peace. Practicing thanksgiving as an act of faith and obedience also strengthens and prepares the heart to practice all the other affections according to what God intends.

Nothing could be easier or more important than to give thanks in everything, and yet we find it such a struggle to do so with any degree of consistency.

This is why we need to practice thanksgiving more than we do, until giving thanks spontaneously becomes just who we are as those whose minds are fixed on the Lord, and who understand that all our blessings come from Him, even in the midst of adversity.

We’ve seen some ways that we can begin to practice thanksgiving more consistently in our personal lives – through prayer and singing, when we’re alone and or with others, in general and specific terms. But Christians should make more of their times together for giving thanks. Christian fellowship and worship are natural settings in which to offer thanks to God.

But making the most of such times for thanksgiving won’t happen unless we are intentional.

Some suggestions
The more we work as individuals at giving thanks throughout the day, the better prepared we will be to encourage one another in this work. As you anticipate coming together with other believers, consider ways you might stimulate others to the good work of giving thanks to God (Heb. 10.24). Plan how you will use thanksgiving to honor the Lord and encourage your fellow believers. The combined and multiplied thanksgiving of God’s people reinforces and enlarges our individual gratitude, forming a chorus pleasing to God and beneficial to one another.

We want to give thanks in all things, and giving thanks with others can help us to improve in this most practical of affections. How can we make more of our times together for giving thanks?

First, as we have already mentioned, take time when you are with other Christians to share what God is doing in your life. You can do this by reporting on your time in His Word or your observations of His blessings. Share what the Lord is doing in your Personal Mission Field, your church, or in the Body of Christ in your community. All such indications of God at work can encourage your fellow believers in the knowledge of God and in more careful observance and acknowledgment of His blessings.

Be careful about boasting here in anything other than the Lord. Remember Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), and be on guard against any vaunting of self when you’re offering your thanks to God.

You might also pray with thanksgiving with and for one another, for what God is doing or teaching in your lives. In a group of fellow believers, the prayers of others for us may serve to open our minds to blessings from God we’ve simply failed to notice. The same will be true of our thanksgiving prayers for them.

Sing hymns of thanksgiving together. Christians are not as faithful in singing as we should be, especially given the many commands to sing to the Lord which we find throughout the psalms, and the fact that singing to one another psalms and hymns and spiritual songs of thanksgiving is evidence of the filling of the Spirit in our lives (Eph. 5.18-21).  We’ve seen that singing can be a powerful means for nurturing proper affections. Singing with thanksgiving only multiplies the potential for shaping our souls for spontaneous gratitude.

Read psalms of thanksgiving together, pausing after each verse to allow any who wish to do so to pray in their own words, following the suggestions of the text. By doing this you will train your soul to think in terms of thanksgiving, as you minister the living and powerful Word of God with one another. And you’ll also train your mind to read Scripture with a view to giving thanks for the many promises and blessings revealed there.

Encourage one another in specific acts of thanksgiving. These might include giving special offerings, taking up a fast, serving in some ministry opportunity, or creating a song or poem to commemorate some particular act of God’s goodness toward you. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, believers were led to remember God’s goodness in special acts of thanksgiving – from Jacob’s pillar, to the stones of witness in the book of Joshua, and the Lord’s Supper. Outward communal acts of thanksgiving can help to reinforce this most practical affection in our souls.

In short, don’t miss the opportunity, when you are gathered with other believers – including your family – to practice thanksgiving to the Lord. You can always find something for which to thank Him, and the more you do, the more you will train your heart for gratitude.

Thanksgiving – by all means!
By all these means, and many more, Christians can encourage and strengthen one another in giving thanks to God.

Urge your pastor to add prayers of thanksgiving to the morning worship. Insist in your Bible study group or Sunday school class that time be given for thanksgiving. Make the most of every opportunity, when you are together with other believers, to give thanks to God.

Remember, the goal is to give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. Thanksgiving leads to peace and a well-kept heart. And a well-kept heart is the key to a strong soul. The more we help one another in this, the more we will also help ourselves.

For reflection
1.  What opportunities exist in your life for giving thanks together with other Christians? What can you do to make sure part of that time is devoted to thanksgiving?

2.  Do you think spending more time together in thanksgiving would be a help to those whose faith is weak or faltering? Explain.

3.  What steps can you take to encourage other believers to seek out opportunities for giving thanks?

Next steps: How can you bring more thanksgiving into your life at home? Make a plan to fill your home and your Christian groups with thanksgiving, then enlist others to help you carry out your plan.

T. M. Moore

Your soul in the Kingdom of God
All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here.

Jesus has conveyed us into the Kingdom of God. It is in the context of seeking the Kingdom that we can grow strong souls. Our book, The Kingdom Turn, can help you understand and begin making yourself more at home in the Kingdom of God. Order your free copy by clicking here.

Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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