Give Thanks to God

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When we walk the path of faith in this spiritual desert, sometimes our hearts are disturbed by the circumstances surrounding us, where we can easily be prone to grumbling and complaining rather than giving thanks. However, God wants us, His children, to live a life of thanksgiving and teaches us to always be thankful, through the Bible.

In the Bible, there is a thank offering among many offerings made to God. A thank offering glorifies God and is acceptable to Him like Abel’s sacrifice (Ps 50:23). As believers in God, we should learn to give thanks in any unfavorable or difficult conditions and circumstances.

A generation that has forgotten to give thanks

One day, a middle-aged woman visited a family after buying a small basketful of fruit. Giving it to the lady of the house, she picked up a pretty apple from the basket and gave it to her son as well. After receiving the apple, however, the child did not say anything about it. When the child’s mother saw this, she said, “What have you learned to do when you receive this kind of thing from someone else?” Only then did the child say something to the woman, looking at her.

“Peel this apple for me, please.”

This story vividly shows how ungrateful people are today. In the old days, people repeatedly expressed their thanks even for something small that they received from someone else. These days, however, most people forget to give thanks. When I heard the story of the child who asked the woman to peel the apple instead of saying “thank you,” I felt bitter because it seemed to reflect the dark side of this generation.

We, people of Zion, must not do so. If we are thankful for everything, whether big or small, we can make sure that we are living in Zion and serving God.

Izaak Walton, an English writer, said, “God has two dwellings: one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.” God has said that He is with us always, to the very end of the age (Mt 28:20). So, we need to always give thanks to God.

Here is another story. In the kingdom of heaven there are two baskets—one is the basket of wishes, and the other is the basket of thanks; angels put the prayers, which people on the earth offer to God, in the baskets and carry them to Him every day. The basket of wishes is overflowing every day, but the basket of thanks is so poor that the angel, who carries it to God, always feels sorry toward God and cannot even hold his head up before God. People on the earth send so many wishes to God, such as: “God, please grant me this,” “Please grant me that.” However, they rarely offer thanks to God in heaven. We are living in an age where there is a lack of thanksgiving. I think that is why everyone cannot help but think and live in such a selfish and self-centered way.

Zion overflowing with thanksgiving

God dwells in the hearts of those who are thankful. Heaven is a place where those with a thankful heart dwell, and on this earth it is Zion where God dwells. We, who dwell in Zion, should first learn to give thanks, so we can always give glory, thanks and praise to God.

Look upon Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes broken. There the LORD will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them. For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us … No one living in Zion will say, “I am ill”; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven. Isa 33:20-24

Those who dwell in Zion must have a thankful heart. The forgiveness of sins, salvation, the blessing of eternal life, and much more—we lack nothing in Zion because God is with us there. “Thank You for giving us salvation,” “Thank You for giving us the forgiveness of sins.” Zion is a place which must be filled with such thank offerings every day.

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD … The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.” Isa 51:1-3

The Bible says that joy and gladness will be found in Zion, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. It is thanksgiving that cannot be omitted in Zion.

3,500 years ago, when the Israelites were living in the wilderness, they were grumbling rather than being grateful. As a result, the people who had departed from Egypt failed to enter the land of Canaan; they were all destroyed. Destruction accompanies those who grumble, but for those who give thanks—the kingdom of heaven is always all around them. Not forgetting this fact, we should try to find things to be thankful for in all our circumstances, although the circumstances surrounding us sometimes make us sad, give us a hard and painful time, and prevent me from moving forward vigorously.

Say the words of thanksgiving

During the Second World War, a British soldier lost his military shoes which he had taken good care of. He had put his shoes in the cabinet for safe keeping after wearing them only a couple of times, but they suddenly disappeared. So he became very angry and started to look for them, saying that if he found out who had stolen his shoes, he would not forgive him.

Then he was very surprised to see a soldier with his two legs wrapped in bandages singing a hymn under the shade of a tree. He was full of resentment and anger just because he had lost his shoes, but the wounded soldier was singing a hymn of praise to God with a peaceful mind even though he had lost his two legs which were even more important than the shoes. Seeing him, he came to realize how ungrateful he had been in his life.

So he changed his mind and tried to think in a different way: ‘I didn’t lose my shoes; I gave them to someone poor, who needs them, as a gift.’ As he changed his mind like that, he felt great and his heart became peaceful. From then on, his life totally changed. Whatever happened to him, he did not just focus on the situation itself; instead, he tried to look at it from a different point of view. No matter what happened and how difficult and painful it might be, he learned to give thanks even in such a hard situation. As a result, he became a great person later on.

The sacrifice we should offer to God in Zion is the “thank offering.” God has taught us that joy, gladness and thanksgiving must always exist in Zion.

God dwells in the hearts of those who are thankful; and He says He is with His children, who dwell in Zion, always—to the very end of the age. So we, people of Zion, should always have a thankful heart. Through the Bible, let’s find out what are the consequences for ungrateful people.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Ro 1:21-25

Those who are not thankful—God has given them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity. The Bible teaches us that God will give the souls of those who grumble to impurity, and that He will call all the people, who give thanks, to Zion and teach them to have a heart full of joy, gladness and thanksgiving.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Eph 5:1-4

Look around you. There are some people who spend today with a resentful and furious heart, and there are also some who spend each day thinking of God and giving thanks to Him. The Bible says that nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving in any and all circumstances. This is what God has taught us.

When we lose a grateful heart, all kinds of iniquities begin to dwell in our hearts. Feelings of distress, pain, suffering, and loneliness—we pour out all these feelings when we lose a thankful heart. So, thanksgiving must not cease in Zion. When thanksgiving ceases, the beautiful unity of brothers and sister cannot be achieved and love cools down and we come to insist on our own thoughts, so Zion will be filled with discord.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Php 4:6-7

If we have wrong or mistaken thoughts, we can easily fall into temptation like Judas Iscariot. At first he followed Jesus diligently, but he became greedy for money and he betrayed Jesus overnight for 30 pieces of silver. This great mistake of Judas came from his wrong thought.

The Bible says that God will guard the hearts and thoughts of those who are thankful. So, let us not lose a grateful heart. When we have gratitude in our hearts, joy wells up from within and our faith in God—instead of negative thoughts—can grow day by day. If we fail to grow in faith quickly and feel no joy in faith, it is probably because we have not learned to give thanks. The Bible says that if we say the words of thanksgiving all the time and pray to God always with gratitude, God will guard our hearts and minds, so that we will not be tempted by Satan. How important it is to be grateful!

Overflow with thankfulness

Even though we have already entered Zion, we should not just feel at ease or satisfied, but we need to reflect on ourselves to see if we give thank offerings to God every day.

I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col 2:4-7

The Bible tells us to overflow with thankfulness every day, strengthened in the faith, as we continue to live by faith in God. Today, let us think about how grateful we are to God and about whether or not the angel in heaven feels sad when looking at the basket of thanks. If we lack gratitude, from now on let us reflect on ourselves and fill the basket of thanks with offerings of thanksgiving, so the angel can joyfully carry the basket to God. Zion is always overflowing with thanksgiving, joy, and the sound of singing. So, Zion is the place where God dwells, and those who dwell there receive eternal life and salvation and all other blessings.

Those who receive blessings must not forget to give thanks. If we receive something from someone else, it is proper for us to say “thank you” to him or her first. God gives us salvation, the greatest gift of all. Nevertheless, if we do not fully express our thanks to God through our offerings of thanksgiving, saying, “Thank You for giving us eternal life,” if we feel distressed and get angry easily, being full of complaints, can we say it is Zion?

Zion prophesied in the Bible is the place where resentment and complaint have completely disappeared. Let us never forget that we have now come to “Zion” (Heb 12:22-24).

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 1 Th 2:13

The saints of the early Church continuously gave thanks to God, and they accepted whatever they heard from God as God’s word and obeyed it. The Biblical teaching on thanksgiving is also God’s word to us. So, let us accept it with a thankful heart. If we have lived without knowing how to give thanks or being fully grateful, from now on let us live a life of faith overflowing with thanksgiving in all of our God-given circumstances.

Start and end each day with gratitude

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. 1 Th 5:15-22

Shouldn’t we give thanks to God just for the fact that we can smell the sweet scent of such gracious words every day? Let us give thanks to God for everything, whether we have received words from God or blessings from Him. Even though we encounter obstacles, hardships and sufferings in our lives, we should give thanks for them as well. It is also God who gives us such obstacles and difficulties. If there is no obstacle, we cannot learn how to overcome it. Sometimes God puts us in difficult situations to refine us like gold and silver and to finally make us shine more brightly than pure gold.

Do not think, ‘Why are these unfortunate things happening to me?’ You are supposed to be thankful for whatever circumstances you are in. Give thanks to God first, and ask for wisdom and strength to overcome any difficult situations. Then God will surely help you. If you understand the profound will of God with God-given wisdom, you will overflow with thankfulness all the more.

Start each day with gratitude, from the moment you wake up in the morning. When you go to bed, give a thank offering to God, “Thank You, God, for allowing me to live such a wonderful life today, too.” Then you can have a peaceful sleep. So, start and end each day with gratitude, filling the basket of thanks with offerings of thanksgiving to God.

Let us always express our gratitude to God, shouting, “Thank You, God!” I would like to earnestly ask all you people of Zion to give thanks to God, rejoice and sing praises every day in Zion where God dwells, walking with God forever and ever.