With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, it’s common to see words of gratitude on decorative flags, mugs, and plaques in the stores. It’s a season were giving thanks for our blessings is acceptable, popular, and expected.
God instructs us to give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to sacrifice praise (Psalm 50:23).
Thanksgiving is thanking God for the specific gifts and blessings that He has done for you and others, either in the past or present. The core of thanksgiving is gratitude.
Praise is the act of complimenting God for who He is and for His virtues, attributes, and excellence. We praise Him when we acknowledge His perfections. As we gain insight into God’s character, praise becomes admiration.
Praise and thanksgiving are closely related and are interconnected as well. One who praises God thanks Him, too. Ultimately, learning to praise God activates the plans He has for you.
Let’s face it. Thanksgiving comes more naturally when we get the new job we competitively fought for, or we get the singing solo in the choir presentation, or for that delicious hot cup of soup on a cold night. But choosing to be thankful becomes a sacrifice when our world appears to be caving in around us—like hearing the news that your best friend is moving away, you’re facing a serious health problem, your child has become a prodigal, your marriage is in need of restoration, or there’s no money to pay the bills.
When we’re frightened and broken-hearted and don’t know which way to turn, we need to run to God. Enter His presence with thanksgiving and praise Him for His faithful character and His promises—the promises that He will walk through the trial with us, stay faithful, bring good from bad, and never leave us.
Praise and thanksgiving enable us to focus on the character of God and His abilities. When we begin to see things from God’s perspective, we are changed.
How great is the love of our Father who knew that the acts of praise and thanksgiving would bring healing and hope… like a dose of good medicine.
I invite you to start this project and continue it throughout the year:
- Using a large poster or piece of paper make 23 columns or boxes with enough room to write what you are thankful for.
- Decorate this calendar so it grabs the attention of all who come into your house.
- Home schooled students can create this project and use it as a writing project.
- Other children in the home can help decorate the poster. My children are all grown so I will decorate the poster myself with colorful leaf and pumpkin stickers.
- Hang this poster where it can be seen. I will tape mine to the kitchen door.
- Each day family members write what he/she is grateful for.
- Invite any house guests, visitors, playmates, neighbors, teen friends that visit to do the same.
After 23 days you will have told God “thank you” at least 23 times. In addition, it will:
- Bless God.
- Model for family the act of Thanksgiving.
- Create an atmosphere of gratitude.
- Show visitors in Whom you put your trust.
- Create a habit of giving thanks and choosing a heart of gratitude.
- Bring the sacrifice of praise.
Years ago I did this same project on a bulletin board in the hallway outside my college classroom. The instructions were simply stated beside the board: Each day write one thing you are grateful for.
The experience was amazing. Students were late to class because they were absorbed in the opportunity to write what they were thankful for. But there were also tears and laughter over another’s gift of thanksgiving because they were able to relate and empathize. They realized that life isn’t so bad and they definitely weren’t alone.
A dose of good medicine…that’s what it felt like to me.
Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 (NIV)
I will praise the name of God with a song, and magnify Him with Thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30 (NKJV)
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT).
Debbie is a published author, national speaker and workshop presenter, co-founder of Shine! Ministries and a partner with the Polished Conference L.L.C. She facilitates an online Bible study page on Facebook, teaches Bible study in her church, and blogs at Living Life Together. Debbie has written Shine! Radiating the Love of God, a Bible study designed exclusively for young women ages 13-18. Additionally, she has articles in the Divine Moments series, and is a monthly contributor to Refined Magazine. All books are available at grace-publishing.com. She would love to speak at your next women’s event, teen event, or at the college where she brings an inspirational message to teachers in training called, “A Christian Perspective for an Inspirational Classroom.” Debbie is married and has three adult children. She travels from Asheville, NC. Visit her website at www.debbiepresnell.com, email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shineministriesnc/