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Jesus Christ publicly thanked God on several different occasions. He thanked God for five barley loaves and two small fishes, and then proceeded to multiply them so that a crowd of more than 5,000 people was satisfied, and 12 baskets of bread were left over.
He thanked God for hearing his prayer and then raised Lazarus from the dead. He thanked God for revealing truths to “babes” while hiding them from those who were wise and prudent.
And he thanked God with the disciples before distributing the Lord’s supper to them just before he was to die. He also taught that if we only love those who love us, we will receive no thanks from God. He seemed grieved when only one of a group of 10 lepers he had healed turned back to give thanks to him and glorify God.
The apostle Paul thanked God for the indescribably good gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, and for giving believers victory over sin and death through Christ. He thanked God for putting him into the ministry, even though he previously had been in his own words “a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.”
He thanked God for the growing faith, hope and love of the churches he served. He was grateful that believers received the Bible as God’s Word and not just as the word of men. He was thankful for believers who obeyed God and his teachings.
Once, in a terrible storm, Paul gave thanks to God in the presence of 275 people for the food that remained, and they took heart at his courage and ate food themselves for the strength needed to swim or float safely ashore during a shipwreck. Later Paul thanked God and took courage when believers from Rome traveled several miles out of the city to meet him.
Paul gave believers several exhortations to be thankful. He said we should be giving God thanks “always for all things,” and that we should give thanks in everything because this is God’s will for us. He said that we should not be anxious about anything, but that “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving” we should let our requests be made known unto God.
As a result of thankful prayer, he promised that “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” would guard our hearts and minds. He said that we should let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, and that we should be thankful. He said we should give thanks in our prayers for all men, especially all those in positions of authority, so that we might live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.
Peter noted that it is thankworthy if a man out of a good conscience toward God endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
Believers are to come into God’s house “with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise;” they are to “be thankful unto him, and bless his name,” because God is good; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations.”
We are to give thanks at the remembrance of God’s holiness, because if God were not holy, we could not trust him to always do what is best in our lives.
If you are a believer in Christ, is your life filled with thanksgiving?
Bob Lanning is pastor of Cornerstone Bible Church