Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Discipline & Joy of Thanksgiving

It’s hard to overestimate how important it is to learn the discipline and joy of thanksgiving.

This morning I read Nehemiah 9 which tells the story of the people of Israel gathering to read the Law of the Lord and confess their sins. The majority of the chapter is a prayer that was prayed by the Levites, a rehearsal of what God had done for the people of Israel and a rejoicing in his goodness, patience, and steadfast love. In the middle of the prayer (vv. 22-25) the Levites mention some of the blessings of the Lord upon Israel, even in the wilderness, and they conclude with this thought: “So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness” (v. 25b).

Here is the principle: to delight in the blessings of the Lord is to delight in the goodness of the Lord.

And the thing opens our eyes to this fact is thanksgiving. When we learn the discipline of giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:20), we learn the joy of the goodness of the Lord. When we neglect this crucial discipline, we may have a kind of joy in the blessings of God but it is an inferior joy that is taken in the things themselves. In other words, it is a worshiping of the created thing rather than the Creator.

Indeed, what’s at stake in thanksgiving is rightful worship. This is why I started out by saying that it’s hard to overestimate the importance of this issue, both the necessity of it and the joy that springs from it.

Oh Father, please give us a heart that is disciplined this day to give you thanks always and for everything, and please give us the joy of heaven as we learn to do so. Please give us eyes to see your goodness in all things, to acknowledge that goodness, to rightly worship you, to take joy in you alone, and to give you the honor that is rightly due your name. Oh Father, make us Christians this day!

“And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!” (Psalm 107:22)

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