Vol. 8-47 – 11-19-2023 – Thankfulness

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olives fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places. –Habakkuk 3:17-19

We will gather this week with family. Our traditional Thanksgiving Day feast. The passage does not seem to fit, does it? There is a portion that is acceptable, but the events of the day would lead people to view despair.

When we gather at our table, I am usually asked to pray. I always welcome that opportunity. Usually, the table is set with the “fixings.” In another room is a table with ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, casseroles, and often hot rolls. Oh, I forgot there is gravy. And the pies.

The discussion around the table reflects how the year past has gone. I do not get pushed during prayer. Just speaking a few words of thanks does not seem to be a proper way to express our thankfulness.

Compared to the greatest percent of the world, we would, as a family group, be defined as wealthy. Many people groups of the world live in abject poverty and do not have a great layout for the meal.

The prophet Habakkuk was in want, waiting. Awaiting the destruction of the land of Israel by the merciless Chaldeans. Interestingly, the Chaldeans were called by God—bring your armies. God had been pushed, rejected, and the abominations brought against Him were not light fare. The Israelites were warned. They were taught from the covenants (Abrahamic and Mosaic) that when their behavior came against God, with what was defined by God as sin, they were subject to judgment and/or death.

They were positioned for punishment for their disobedience and evil ways. It was coming.

Notice Habakkuk’s response to the sin outcomes due to the people’s evil. The fig tree. The vines. The olives. The fields. The flocks. The herds. Everything had been cut off. Yet Habakkuk speaks that he will rejoice; it was another word for being thankful. That would quiet many Thanksgiving tables!

When you read the words of Habakkuk, who is saying that he is going to be thankful regardless, how does that compare with your thoughts as you approach Thanksgiving Day? Would you respond only according to what God gives and with a view of what He withholds?

In the list Habakkuk displays are items that represent material blessings. They did not have those things in recent times. If you lived in their community, you would be able to hear them whine. People are well-founded in the ability to whine. This people even rejected God in favor of nearby nations’ idols. Idols in the high places, often with some type of Temple.

However, Habakkuk speaks that he will be thankful, taking joy in the God of his salvation.

We can give thanks in every trial

And say, “Your will be done,”

For God is at work in everything

To make us like His Son. –Anonymous

Here are some Scripture verses that you can choose to use in your conversations about thankfulness, and thanks:

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him. –Psalm 28:7

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. –1 Corinthians 1:4-8

Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the Lord by Asaph and his brothers. -1 Chronicles 16:7

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your name, O Most-High. –Psalm 92:1

And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, He took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks He broke them and gave them to His disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. –Matthew 15:36

And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” –Matthew 26:27-29

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. –Romans 6:17-18

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places., far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. –Ephesians 1:16-21

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. –2 Thessalonians 1:3

I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all Your wondrous deeds. –Psalm 26:6-7

Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! – Psalm 95:2

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. –Philippians 4:4-6

And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” – Revelation 7:11-12

Circumstances might change, but God remains the same. Yesterday. Today. Forever.

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Written by Dr. Larry Lightner

November 19, 2023

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