Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I certainly know that I have so much to be grateful for. It's our first Thanksgiving as a family of 5, and that is just the tip of the iceburg. We are blessed with our church family, our friends, our home, and so many other things. God has been good to us far beyond measure. It's easy to be thankful when things are good, but what about when they're not? Well...we need to learn that gratitude is not tied to God's blessings, but much rather to his unchanging nature. Regardless of our circumstances, God is still God, and he is worthy of our thanks and praise. Even if things are hard this year, not just tomorrow, but every day be sure that you show God your heartfelt thanks in both word and deed.
Hey everybody, and welcome back to the Set Your Mind Above Podcast! I’m your host BJ Sipe – I’m a Christian, a preacher, a husband, and a father. In this podcast we take everyday, ordinary events and explore how they can teach us extraordinary, eternal truths. I’m so glad that you joined me for this episode. Now, let’s open up our minds, our hearts, and our Bible’s together.
It’s hard to believe that we are already here, the eve of Thanksgiving, 2022. Aside from work, today has been spent in preparation for tomorrows Thanksgiving meal. Kylie sent me off with a list of things that I needed to pick up from the store on my way home, which luckily wasn’t a whole lot. While we usually go all out for Thanksgiving with other members of our extended family gathered around the table, this year we are just doing a quiet and cozy holiday with us and the kids at home. But that’s not going to stop us from preparing our favorites – I’m making the Sipe family’s famous whipped, buttery potatoes & Kylie is going to make her Vaughan famous homemade roles. Throw on a ham and some green bean casserole, then top it all off with a chocolate pecan pie from Cracker Barrel, and we are all set for tomorrow. Kroger was an absolute madhouse, which was to be expected, but I safely navigated my way around the masses to gather up what we needed, including the last two bottles of Martinelli’s. I double fisted it out of there, headed for home and thinking about how wonderful tomorrow is going to be. This year is very special for us, because we have one more little face that will be sitting around our table. As you know, our youngest daughter Finley Grace was born just a few months ago, and this will be the very first major holiday that we celebrate as a family of five. I know that when we sit down around the table I am bound to get emotional as we hold hands and give thanks to God. As I give thanks for my wife: my rock, my anchor, and my best friend. A woman who brings me closer to God each and every day, and serves our family with patience and love. For my oldest daughter Ava – who brings me so much joy each and every day. For her heart that so desperately wants to please her mom and dad, care for her siblings, and just can’t wait to grow up. For my son Dane – who has an endless spirit of adventure. His fearlessness and strong will are both challenging and inspiring, and I cannot wait to see the kind of leader that God will mold him into being. For my youngest daughter Finley – who has the most gentle and quiet spirit. Holding her close as she falls asleep in my arms reminds of the beauty and purity in the innocence of a child that we should all long for. Undoubtedly, I have so much to be grateful for. I don’t know where I would be without my family, both immediate and extended, and God has been so gracious to me in blessing me with every one of them. But it’s more than simply my family, I am overwhelmed in the way God has provided and cared for us in every area of my life. I’m thankful for our incredible church family here in Danville – which we have been adopted into purely by God’s providence. I’m thankful for our shepherds, who guide and protect our family as they watch over our souls. I’m thankful for our beautiful home and wonderful neighbors. For my dear friends. For my coffee shop & my baristas. For my health. My mentors. The list goes on, and on, and on. As I share these things with you, I’m sure that many of you could produce a very similar list of people & things that you are beyond grateful for. We truly are blessed by God, and he is worthy of our thanks and our praise.
However, what about when things are not going well in our lives? What about when our loved ones are gone, or our jobs or our homes have been lost, and our friends have deserted us? I believe that as Christians, we can fall into a pattern of giving God thanks for when things are going well (as we should) but that stops happening when things go south. We praise God for the blessings around us, but when those blessings are taken away or disappear, our tone quickly changes from gratitude to complaint. Suddenly our prayers turn from beautiful thank you notes to God to nasty hate notes we offer up in their place. Is this the way it’s supposed to be? Let’s begin by considering Colossians 3:15, which states, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Paul very clearly tells us that Christians are to have an attitude of gratitude. Graciousness is a direct result of a Spirit led child of God. But now go back and look again, when does he say to be thankful? Well…he doesn’t, he merely says to be it. In other words, when should we be grateful? The answer is always. This is confirmed elsewhere by Paul when he writes, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) You might hear this and think, “Really Paul, in all circumstances?” How in the world are we supposed to be grateful in all circumstances, even in the times when everything is falling apart and crumbling around us? That is a very good question, and the answer to that question is found in both the Chronicles and the Psalms. Let’s begin in 1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” What is our thanksgiving to God connected to here? Notice what the text says, it’s not to his blessings, but his nature & his character. God is worthy of our gratitude simply because of who he is. Psalm 95 also speaks to this nature in vv. 1-7, “Come, let’s shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! Let’s enter his presence with thanksgiving; let’s shout triumphantly to him in song. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. The depths of the earth are in his hand, and the mountain peaks are his. The sea is his; he made it. His hands formed the dry land. Come, let’s worship and bow down; let’s kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep under his care.” We enter his presence with thanksgiving because the Lord is great, the King of kings and Lord of lords. His greatness is unchanging, which means that regardless of our circumstances, he is worthy of our thanks & praise. Our gratitude is tied to the fact that he is our creator and the sustainer of all life. As such, he is worthy of our thanks and praise in all circumstances. Our gratitude is tied to the fact that he has purchased us with the blood of his son, and as such we are a people for his own possession and care. As such, we should bow our head in thanks even if everything else in our life is falling apart around us. This is the point: God is worthy of our thanks and our praise always. We do not merely give thanks to God on this holiday, much rather gratitude should live in our hearts, flow from our lips, and be expressed through our conduct each and every day. But since it is on our minds, as you sit around a table tomorrow, even if the circumstances you find yourself in this year are more challenging than ever, don’t neglect to still bow your head in praise and thanks to God. I’ll leave you with the wise words of Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Thank you for tuning in for this week’s episode, and I would invite you back every Wednesday for a brand-new episode each week. If you haven’t already, be sure to find us on Facebook for occasional announcements and special video sessions. If you have benefited from this podcast, please if you’re able to be sure to share it with someone else that you think could benefit from it as well. Until next time, know that I love you, that God loves you, and may we all each & every day set our minds above.