“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who has made us, and we are his;
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 100

“Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good for his mercy endures forever.” How many thousands of times have we spoken these words? More importantly, how many times have we spoken them with our hearts and minds actually engaged?

This month the United States observes its national Day of Thanksgiving, and we as Christians join in. For many—most?—Thanksgiving means family gatherings, turkey or ham, pumpkin or pecan pie, overeating, football, and Christmas sales. Christians might add a worship service and likely include a mealtime prayer focusing on the material blessings the Lord has given us. It is important for believers to recognize God’s earthly bounty, to thank him daily for his generosity, and to be good stewards of all he’s given us.

Yet all this pales against the magnitude of God’s spiritual blessings to us. Look more closely at the words of Psalm 100 – what is its focus? Words like “worship”, “joyful songs”, “the Lord is God”, “his people”, “sheep of his pasture”, “Lord is good”, “faithfulness continues”—all have a spiritual focus, not a material one.

Of far more worth than food, shelter, jobs, vacations, good education, retirement funds, health insurance, high tech gadgets, the latest fashions—far more valuable is salvation from sin and eternal death. In God’s boundless, undeserved love, WE have been called to a living faith in Jesus who lived, died, and rose again for us. Therefore, WE have forgiveness; WE have the sure hope of heaven; WE know that God will meet our every need; and WE need not fear anything!

How can we possibly repay him for his gift of a peaceful heart and mind in all circumstances? What can we possibly do to repay our God for all that he has so graciously given us? Absolutely nothing! Yet, what we can do is to be good stewards not only of his earthly gifts, but also and even more urgently of the gift of his gospel, which he has firmly placed in our hearts and minds. Not sure how to do this? The answer is clear:  keep God first in your life; set priorities based on his will; be faithful in your personal use of his Word and sacraments; and share this precious gospel with your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers around the world. But, wait, you say—how can you possibly carry out that last item? By supporting missions far away through your prayers and gifts

This Thanksgiving, thank the Lord for his earthly gifts, as you normally do. But also make time to ponder the eternal blessings received by faith in the Savior of the world. Pledge with God’s help, to make your personal use of the gospel and the spread of it high priorities in your own life and in the lives of your children. May we ALL “shout for joy to the Lord…for his faithfulness”.