Day 1- Thanksgiving: What’s the difference

I’m writing this to you, to help you maximize your Thanksgiving holiday as a family. You could choose to do this from Wednesday-Thursday, Thursday-Friday, in one sitting, or not at all. Whatever you choose, please meet with God over this Thanksgiving and I would recommend doing this with me.
Scripture Reading:
Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 100:4-5 ESV

Know that the Lord, He is God! It is he who made us, and we are his;we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good;his steadfast love endures forever,and his faithfulness to all generations.
This holiday season you will see many requests and online appeals to “be thankful”, hoping to dial down the noise of busy lives and vitriolic discourse that has been plaguing our society. That is good, we could definitely use that. However, while we will hear some uplifting messages, have a more peaceful sounding season overall, and all behave suitably Christmassy (and less Grinchy), it all grossly falls short of what a grateful believer in Jesus can really step into concerning their life with God. God is calling us to an awareness of His work in our lives. Mere platitudes and generic good thoughts don’t cut it. Even attending church services and christian deeds won’t accomplish it. He is calling believers in Jesus to a live a life with the constant awareness of Him; knowing Him and of His salvation, not just our awareness that we have “much to be thankful for” in some generic sense.
Before we go any further, I need to draw a clearer distinction between what is generally understood as “thanksgiving” and what the Bible calls “thanksgiving”. Hopefully, you will see what I mean in a second. When we ask people around the table “What are you thankful for?”, we get responses like “’I’m thankful for family” or “I’m thankful for good health”. Most, if not all of us, smile and move on to the next person. What we heard was really good! The person just expressed that they are aware of something they have. However,  if you pay close attention, we are in a culture that promotes an awareness of what we have without an acknowledgement of a source. So, is a person wrong when they say things like that? Absolutely not! Awareness of what we have is a great place to start. We have just not been trained to be intentional or directional with our thanks in light of this awareness. When I jokingly summarize this state, I often reference the fact that if you ask some kids in cities where cheese comes from, they will say “Walmart” without skipping a beat. This kind of thinking is indicative of a condition that is bigger than we imagine and we are all affected by it. In daily life, there is almost no necessity to attribute a clear source to what we have, we just assume that we have it when we want it.. For some this is an intentional exclusion, because attributing credit elsewhere means they are less of a “self-made man/woman” in their own eyes. Now, most of us don’t see life like that, and we truly are thankful for those around us who make us better, and we’re thankful for the things we enjoy through other people’s work. But still, we find ourselves throwing out the “walmart” answer when it comes to seeing and acknowledging the true source of the little and big things we have. To help myself and my family grow in this area, I use a simple fill-in-the-blank statement, that helps us with intention and direction. This practice might help you as well
I AM THANKFUL TO________ FOR _________.
“I am thankful for family”
now becomes
“I’m thankful to God for His faithfulness to our family”
That directs our thanks to God and acknowledges His faithfulness. When I think through that, I’m reminded of all the things He brought me through. Man!<mind blown> Am I thankful for my family story in God or what?!
“I am thankful to you (Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa), for raising us a family”.
Giving honor where it is due on earth as well is a principle that helps us build strong relationships on trust. We grow the people around us into confident givers of the little or much that they have from God.
Both intention and direction matter. A well directed statement, made just for the sake of saying it, is useless. I’m just parroting something people expect. In the same way, a well intention-ed statement with no direction (where most of us are) keeps us thinking good thoughts, but honor and thanks is never given where it is due.  But, when direction and intention are married, we begin to mean what we say, because we’re actually chewing on what we’re saying before we say it. We become less callous and self centered and more thoughtful and openly others-centered.
Can you practice this with me today? If you are with family, without going into as much detail, you can help them be intentional and directed in their thanksgiving by giving each one this simple fill-in-the-blank statement cue.
I AM THANKFUL TO________ FOR _________.
Let’s be thankful people! Happy Thanksgiving!

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