What are some of the most powerful Scriptures having to do with thanksgiving? What are some of your favorite Scriptures about giving thanks to God?
The Offering of Thanksgiving
For years I taught a children’s Sunday school class and I asked them if Thanksgiving was in the Bible? Most of the time they said no, but it actually is. Not the holiday named after it but a gift whereby believers give to God the thanksgiving of praise. This is actually commanded as we will read.
Leviticus 7:11-13 “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the Lord. If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread.”
Notice that thanksgiving is mentioned three times in these three verses. The law of the sacrifice of the peace offerings to God can be offered for a thanksgiving or a giving of thanks to God and can be done with unleavened bread. Unleavened bread symbolizes the absence of sin as we read in the New Testament where leavening represents sin as it spreads and puffs up, and so we can offer God thanks giving but not if we have unconfessed sin because we lose our fellowship with God. So the unleavened bread is a sinless offering and having oil covering it, may represent the work of the Holy Spirit in having us be unleavened (or confessing our sins and thus, having our sins forgiven which is mentioned in 1 John 1:9).
First Chronicles 16:8 “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples.”
This also sounds like a command but we should give thanks to God because we have the great privilege of calling “upon His name” and we ought to “make known His deeds among the people” by telling them what He has done for sinners. We shouldn’t need to feel obligated but want to give thanks out of pure gratitude because we have been cleared of guilt and now have peace with God (Rom 5:1) for God now sees us as having Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us. This certainly should make us shout out thanks incessantly to God (2 Cor 5:21).
Psalm 107:22 “And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!”
Here we see direct evidence that the giving of thanks is an offering we can make to God and as in 1 Chronicles 16:8, it ties directly into telling “of His deeds” but this can be done verbally and “in songs of joy!” Did you know that you can sing worship songs to Him and be giving an offering and an offering of thanksgiving can be given to God in worship songs that declare His deeds? This is pleasing to God.
First Timothy 2:1-3 “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.”
How hard is it to pray for kings (today for the president) or those “who are in high positions” (Congress, the police…anyone in a position of authority) in this day and age of political corruption? No harder than it was in Paul’s day because the kings in Judea were puppets of the Emperor and Nero was one of the most wicked, evil men who ever ruled on the earth, yet here is Paul “urging” people to pray for those in authority, good or bad, so “that we might lead a peaceful and quite life” and be able to live a “godly and dignified” way. Praying for politicians is hard to do, especially when you don’t agree with them but we are commanded to do so and Jesus even expects us to pray for our own enemies (Matt 5:44).
First Corinthians 1:4 “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul was big in giving thanks. One of my favorite uses of giving thanks is that I thank a person for what they have done for me or the church and then I thank God for them. I often tell that to their face or in a letter, card or email. Paul gave thanks “always” because of the grace that was given to the church at Corinth and we ought to be giving thanks to God for our salvation and the fact that what is free to us (Eph 2:8-9) was of supreme cost to Christ (John 3:16).
First Thessalonians 1:9 “For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God.”
Paul was one of the most thankful men in the Bible, Old Testament and New. Here we read that Paul is saying our thanksgivings can be “returned to God for” the church at Thessalonica. Why? It was because of “all the joy that [Paul felt] for [their] sake” and it being given “before our God” doesn’t have to be only in prayer but in walking, working, driving, kneeling, worship music, and wherever you go and whatever you do.
Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
This might be one of the hardest things to do; not just to pray and give thanks for something but “about anything” and praying with thanksgiving, even in times of anxiety. This is so difficult to do, but somehow in praying and giving thanksgiving, we become less anxious because we are letting our “requests be made known to God” so that He can be glorified in answering them. Then we offer Him more thanksgiving for answered prayer and really, for prayers that are unanswered because we don’t always know what to ask for. In this we show that God is the Author and Source of all good things and that He knows better than we do what we need. For this we need to thank God that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning’s too deep for words” (Rom 8:26).
What are you thankful to God for? What list can you write down for which you can thank God for? What are your favorite Bible verses about giving thanks to God? I thank God for my salvation for sure, but also for my wife, my children, the church members, the job I have, the food, shelter, car, and so on. The list can go on. One of the greatest sins in our society is that of ingratitude. We err when we fail to give thanks to God and I thank God that He has revealed Himself in His Word so we don’t have to wonder what His perfect will is. The Holy Bible is truly one of the things that I give thanks for? What thing do you most thank God for besides Jesus’ own Son dying for us?
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon