Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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Terry R. Baughman
“Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples, Give to the Lord glory and strength. Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!” (Psalm 96:7–9).
Thanksgiving is a “God celebration!” It is an occasion to glorify the name of the Lord for everything that He is and all that He has provided. The passage from the Psalm above is just a portion of the song of praise exalting the one God of Heaven who created everything and brought us salvation. He has performed many wonderful works among us. Every praise we offer to God is deserved and appropriate; it is “the glory due His name!” So whether we gather with family and friends or just spend the time alone, during this season let us celebrate God!
Often Thanksgiving is more about us. We ask for our favorite dishes or forbidden desserts. We eat too many calories and find ourselves on the couch in a food coma after an excessive meal. Many have a day free of work, or the entire weekend off, and make plans to celebrate with recreation, road trips, or go shopping to take advantage of Black Friday specials. For others it is football games, or other sports activities for entertainment. Among the myriad events and activities surrounding the annual celebration we often make it more about our desires: gluttony, self-gratification, and entertainment. We are all guilty of at least some of these things.
During the holiday this year let us take some time to reevaluate how we celebrate. Let us make Thanksgiving a celebration of our great God who supplies such bounty and has blessed us with peace and prosperity that we do not deserve. When we put God first and bring glory to His name, He graciously responds with more blessing and allows us to participate in His celebration.
In ancient Israel the feast days were celebrations around the tabernacle and occasions of great joy as the people gathered to honor God. The people brought appropriate offerings and the priest offered sacrifices. They offered the first fruits of grain and baked special loaves to offer to God in worship. Depending on the particular purpose of the sacrifice there were portions given to sustain the priesthood and provide their living. In some occasions there was a celebration and the bounty that was offered to God was in turn shared with the worshippers that had come to honor God. They were indeed feast days!”
The principle extends to us today. While we are not required to bring the lamb or calf for sacrifice, we are encouraged to offer the sacrifice of praise! The psalmist wrote, “Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6), and, “I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good” (Psalm 54:6). In the New Testament the writer of Hebrews continues this theme of thanksgiving to God and the sacrifice of praise, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:15–16).
As we celebrate God, we can celebrate with one another and we can share with others in need. This brings the favor of God. He is “well pleased.”
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4 NKJ).