November 24, 2015
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 24 November 2015
Thanksgiving Day is an integral competent of the express culture and life of the American people. Of course, for Christians, one day a year to give thanksgiving to God for all his blessings is far from satisfactory. Scripture exhorts every Christian to make music in one’s heart, “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph 5:19-20).
“Always giving thanks” is a distinctly Christian standard for living. The reason is that the word “thanksgiving” is literally the idea of the good grace (eucharistia) of God. The natural person is void of the grace of God, and consequently does not honor God or give thanks to Him (Rom 1:21). Having experienced the free and sovereign regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, the Christian expresses faith in Christ and repentance to God, and lives as one enraptured with a life of gratitude and humility by “always giving thanks” to God. A life of thanksgiving is truly exalting of God, or literally “giving thanks . . . to God, even the Father.”
The Christian life is that of thinking and thanking. “To think” in the old Anglo-Saxon language was seen also in thanks; literally, thinkfulness is thankfulness. A life of thanksgiving is always a witness to the saving work of Christ. Thanks to God is given “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christians are only able to approach God boldly because of the redemptive work of Christ on their behalf.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the crowning thought of thanksgiving. Genuine thanksgiving is confession, and living with Jesus Christ as Lord of one’s life. Living a life “always giving thanks” demands the Christian “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:15-16). Scripture exhorts us to give thanks “for all things.”
The days of our life are filled with dangers and deceptions; therefore, we need to rely upon wisdom, using our time wisely (Eph 5:15-16). The will of the Lord is for his people to live carefully and cautiously by living consistently with the wisdom of his Word (5:17). As opposed to being “drunk” (which would include any drugs that stupefy), the Christian is to “be filled with the Spirit” (5:18; cf. Col 3:16). The believer determines the will of God, and how to obey and serve Him by the Holy Spirit’s enablement.
Ephesians 5:19-21 indicate four participles — “speaking,” “making melody” (music), “giving thanks,” and being “subject” (submitting) — that modify the verb “be filled” in verse 18. The first two participles suggest the importance of Scripture and music to be filled with (or by) the Holy Spirit. A thankful attitude is the third characteristic of being filled, and the final characteristic is submission (obedience and respect) to authorities, whether internally-earned authority (Gk. dunamis) or an externally-conferred authority (Gk. exousia) (cf. 5:33; 1 Pet 3:1-6).
As we let the Word of God dwell richly with us (Acts 13:52; Eph 5:18; Col 3:16), we understand the will of God. The Holy Spirit applies God’s truth to our lives, and as we yield ourselves in obedient stewardship, allowing ourselves to be governed by the truth, we experience God’s empowerment and enablement. Whatever experiences life may bring, the grace of God compels us to express hearts and minds filled with thanksgiving. As the old hymn teaches: “Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done; Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
Counting My Blessings,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia