Thanksgiving. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read or hear that word? Is it a day, a family meal, or perhaps a specific menu of foods? Is it an attitude that comes and goes based on how you feel? Or is it a way of life which flows from you regardless of your circumstances? These devotions I will be sharing this month were originally written throughout November 2019 and then edited/updated during the summer of 2020 for a 31 day devotional journal, “The Heart of Thanksgiving: Living a Life of Thankfulness”. I will be re-sharing them here this month to encourage each of us to pursue a greater spirit of thankfulness in all we do.
Here is day ten with an important reminder that living with a heart of thanksgiving should cause us to be thankful in ways that are noticeable.
Thankful Among People
“I will give you thanks in the great assembly;
among throngs of people I will praise you.”
Psalm 35:18 (NIV)
Who knows just how thankful you are? Are you sure? How do they know? Do others know how thankful you are for God? Why?
Today I am reminded to give thanks among the gatherings of people I am part of. I suppose there are a few things required in order for that to happen. One, I must be present in the great assembly before I can give God thanks within it. Two, I must have something to be thankful for. And, three, I must be willing to express my thanks when given the opportunity.
While I’m pretty confident David had a specific assembly in mind when he wrote the above Psalm, I would propose that any assembly with God at the center of it is a great assembly. I am thankful for the opportunities I have to gather with fellow believers to praise God. Whether it is in a meeting with 2 or 3 people, a small church gathering of 25 to 30 people, a mid-sized church gathering of 150 people, or a conference center with 8,000 or more people offering praise to God, each one becomes a great assembly as God is being praised. Yet in the midst of all these opportunities, I am also thankful that these are simply preparation for the true Great Assembly when I will gather with God’s children before His throne for eternity.
The chapters of this devotional serve as reminders for me, and perhaps for you, that there is indeed plenty to be thankful for wherever and whenever I gather with others. Over the years I have found it is possible to give thanks and praise God in the great assembly while in the midst of heartache, joy, grief, disagreement, wonder, discouragement, satisfaction, sorrow, contentment, and so many other things. When I focus on God in the midst of all the emotions of life, I discover that He is present and understands all I am going through. It is when my eyes remain fixed upon Him that I remember He is working for my good whether my circumstances are of my liking or not.
It is that reminder that gives me cause to give thanks to God whether I feel like it or not. And it is in the doing so that I discover my own mental and emotional attitude is changed into one that can’t help but to praise God in the midst of all circumstances. Choosing to be thankful isn’t always easy, but it has proven to always be a transforming decision in my life. So, whether the assembly is large or small, believers or unbelievers, happy or sad; I choose to find fitting ways to give thanks. It is my prayer that you also would be one who chooses to give thanks and praise to God among whomever the people are who surround you.