“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (1 Chronicles 16:8).

“Thank you!” “Thanks a bunch.” “Oh, thanks!” How common these words are! Even our common table prayers call on us to “give thanks.” And at this time of year, the United States celebrates a National Day of Thanksgiving. But have you ever stopped to think what or whom most of our countrymen are thanking? It isn’t the one true God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That information we know from secular statistics. Yet I can’t help wondering whom they are thanking – is it …the cook?…the wage earner(s) …the restaurant workers?…themselves …the government assistance programs?…the charity dinner preparers? I don’t know.

What I do know is whom we thank. And we, through the Scriptures, know how to give our praise and thanks to the Almighty God. Reading further in chapter sixteen, we hear David’s inspired instructions on how to praise the Lord. In verses 23 through 36, he gives us the following list:

Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations.
Ascribe (i.e., attribute) to the Lord the glory and strength due his name.
Bring an offering.
Worship the Lord.
Tremble before him.
Say, “The Lord reigns!”
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.
Cry out, “Save us, O God our Savior!”
Praise be to the Lord from everlasting to everlasting.

That’s quite a list, isn’t it? Many of these actions are already part of our thanksgiving, whether for a National holiday or every day. But look at some of the more unfamiliar ones. “Proclaim his salvation…declare his glory among the nations…bring an offering” – this means doing mission work! It means praying for the gospel to reach the farthest corners of the world. It means using our lifestyles and words to let everyone know that we are wonderfully blessed — we are saved. It means bringing our cheerful, generous, regular offerings to support the work of Christ’s Church. This is part of our thanksgiving.

“Tremble before [the Lord].” That doesn’t sound much like thanksgiving, does it? But it is part of our worship, which includes our entire lives, not just Sunday mornings. So, why tremble? Because the one true God is a holy God requiring holiness of his creation.

How blessed we are to know that God does not, will not, punish us for our unholiness—no, he punished his holy, almighty Son in our stead. So tremble at the perfect holiness and might of our creator God, and tremble in amazement at his incomprehensible love for us that he saved us for no other reason than his undeserved love! That is giving thanks to God.

“Cry out, ‘Save us!’” This, too, is thanksgiving. When trials, tough decisions, the everyday aggravations and frustrations of life in this wicked world assail us, where do we turn? Is it to ourselves (“get centered”, “draw on your inner strength”, etc., as the world says)? Is it to self-help books, alcohol (“just to help me relax”), or worldly pastimes? Or do we turn to God? “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving” Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “bring your requests to God.” When we turn to God for the help we need in this life and the next, we honor him, praise him, and acknowledge that he alone has to power to help. And this is thanksgiving.

Don’t let this Thanksgiving Day only be about turkey, football, and general over-indulgence. Rather, take time to focus on the many ways that God shows his love to us in Christ. Then give God your thanks, not just one day a year, but with our every breath, every day.

Lord, I give you thanks for all your mercies to me. How undeserving I am of the salvation from hell which you have given me through your Son Jesus. How undeserving I am, too, of the abundant earthly blessings that fill my life. I praise and thank you! Help me live each hour in such a way that my thoughts are not consumed by the things and troubles of this life, but instead are fixed on things eternal. Bless all who proclaim your glory and salvation among the nations, including our own, that those living in darkness may come into your eternal, joy-filled light. In Jesus my Savior’s name I pray. Amen.