Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Pathway to the Knowledge of God

Giving thanks helps us in knowing the Lord.

The Heart of Thanksgiving (7) 

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks… Romans 1.21 (ESV)

Two paths
We conclude this study on the heart of thanksgiving with the same passage of Scripture with which we began (only here, from the ESV rather than NKJV). Paul’s teaching in this verse is foundational for understanding the times in which we live, and for knowing what we can and should do in such times (1 Chron. 12.32).

We saw that failing to acknowledge God and give Him thanks is the hinge on which unbelievers turn away from God and descend into His wrath, as He gives them up to deeper and deeper snares of sin and corruption. The failure to give thanks is the first step on the path to rebellion, drifting from God, and the inevitable consequences of a life of sin.

Since failing to give thanks marks the pathway to separation from God, can a more consistent practice of thanksgiving light the path to a deeper knowledge and love for the Lord?

I believe this is so, and the reasons for it should be obvious.

God and His blessing
First, we need to make the desire to give thanks a priority in our relationship with God. Set your mind and heart to give thanks, and call on the Lord to help you fulfill this discipline, until thanksgiving begins to be a more constant affection in your heart.

Since we can only grow in the practice of thanksgiving as we grow in our relationship with God, the desire to be obedient in giving thanks in all circumstances will lead us to spend more time with the Lord, meditating in His Word and seeking Him in prayer. Because we want to do the will of God in giving thanks, we will seek the Presence of God throughout the day, to fill our minds and hearts with Him, making us thus better prepared to give thanks in everything.

We can’t “gin up” thanksgiving just because we want to; it must flow from within our minds and hearts – from our desires – where we faithfully nurture the knowledge of God and love for Him through the disciplines of Scripture and prayer.

Further, the more we practice thanksgiving, the more we will be aware of the blessings of God on every hand. The whole cosmos depends on the Word of God (Heb. 1.3), and that includes every moment and detail of our lives. He is manifesting His glory and power continuously (Ps. 19.1-4). As we reflect on the everyday blessings of God, our sense of His Presence and our understanding of His wisdom, power, beauty, goodness, and love will grow. The more these grow, the better we will know and love Him; the more we will discern His Presence, glory, and gifts; and the more inclined we will be to give Him thanks and praise, thus reinforcing what is becoming an upward spiral of growth in the knowledge of God.

Practice does not make perfect, as is said; rather, it makes permanent. The practice of thanksgiving throughout the day will make the presence of thanksgiving a more characteristic feature of our heart, leading to more giving of thanks and continuous growth in the knowledge of the Lord.

The more we learn of the Lord through thanksgiving, the more we will want to know of Him by every other means. All the disciplines whereby we grow in the knowledge of God – our daily devotions, public worship, reading and meditation, paying attention to creation, talking with other believers – will be strengthened and enlarged, so that we can gain greater access to His glory.

God will draw us to Himself as we walk in obedience to His Word; when we seek Him with all our hearts, He will be found by us, and no small part of that seeking entails faithful obedience in giving thanks.

The power of thanksgiving
If you wish to know the will of God for your life, begin by giving thanks. If you wish to grow in the knowledge of God, which is eternal life (Jn. 17.3), persevere in giving thanks. If you want to keep your heart with all diligence and train your soul for continuous growth in Christlikeness, give thanks in everything; for this discipline will teach the other affections, thoughts, and priorities of your soul how to keep their proper place before the Lord.

Thanksgiving is the solution for spiritual confusion, anxiousness of soul, and uncertainty of direction in life. Thanksgiving enlarges our souls, enriches our daily experience, and extends the grace and goodness of God to fellow members of the believing community. Because it sets us in the very Presence of God, thanksgiving dissolves our fears, leads to joy and rejoicing, and engulfs us in the peace of God.

Is it possible that a lack of thanksgiving, or a lackadaisical attitude toward this  most practical affection, is keeping you from a more fulfilling experience of Jesus Christ? A more joyful and peaceful walk with the Lord? Greater faithfulness in seeking Him? Indeed, it may well be.

Thanksgiving is the solution to a multitude of spiritual ills, but we must be willing to take the medicine. Do not wait to feel thankful before you start practicing thanksgiving as a way of life. And don’t wait to be invited to give thanks; let thanksgiving rise from you naturally, sweetly, specifically, and consistently at every opportunity, in every situation.

Your Christian life will be dramatically transformed if you will take Paul’s simple exhortation to heart: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5.18). Let your heart be filled with the heart of thanksgiving, and you will know the Lord, and love Him and serve Him more joyfully and faithfully every day.

For reflection
1.  What does it mean to know God? What does it mean to grow in the knowledge of God? In what sense are the knowledge of God and eternal life one and the same?

2.  How does following the path of thanksgiving help to keep us off the path of drifting from the Lord?

3.  What can keep you from becoming a person who gives thanks to God with greater consistency and joy?

Next steps – Transformation: What will you do to begin practicing thanksgiving more consistently throughout the day?.

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
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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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