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  • Writer's pictureWilson Lim

The Importance Of Thanksgiving


A ship was wrecked, and the only survivor washed up on a small uninhabited island. He was exhausted. He cried out to God to save him. Every day he scanned the horizon, searching for help. Finally, he managed to build a rough hut and put his few articles in that hut.  One day, coming home from hunting for food, he was stung with grief to see his little hut in flames and a cloud of smoke. The worst had happened. But early the next day, a ship drew in and rescued him. He asked the crew, "How did you know I was here?"  They replied, "We saw your smoke signal."

 

Maybe the difficulties we have now may be the smoke signal that leads to great blessings. Certainly, for the Israelites it was the case when they were stuck in front of the Red Sea with Pharaoh breathing down their neck.  Their crisis against insurmountable odds turned out to be the gateway for great blessings from God.  They were overjoyed!  This overflowed into song and thanksgiving of Exodus 15:1-21.

 

A national anthem of a great country expresses and affirms their great heritage, victory, triumph and journey to becoming a nation. Likewise, Israel’s first great affirmation of faith, their journey and God-given victory over the Egyptians was expressed in this song.  Moses probably wrote the song and may have led Israel as they sang it.

 

Through this song we discover some elements about the importance of thanksgiving and why we should develop an attitude of thanksgiving and continually give praises unto God. 

 

THANKSGIVING REINFORCES GOD’S PAST ACTS

 

This triumphant song describes the power of God as Israel’s defender. This is evident in the destruction of the Egyptian army and in the deliverance of Israel by means of the Red Sea.  It reinforced in the Israelites hearts’ 2 key aspects of what God had done.

 

It reminds of God’s might

 

Exodus 15:4–6 (NIV) 4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. 5 The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone. 6 Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy.

 

The song declares about the might of God which is majestic in power.  The might of God which shattered the enemy.  The mightiest army in the world, obliterated.  What a God we have! 

 

We can be such forgetful beings. Many times, when we are under the pressures of difficult situations, the pressures can squeeze out of the way, our memories of God’s goodness.  We forget!  The Israelites were a classic example.  After all that God had promised and done for them, they still lacked faith.  They needed reminding.  Psalms 106:7-8 (NIV) 7 When our fathers were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea  8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.


Thanksgiving helps us to reflect upon, be reminded about and recognise God’s might.

 

Could you have forgotten about the might of God?  Are you under pressure from your circumstances and the reality of God’s power has faded into some distant past?  Thanksgiving helps us to reflect upon, be reminded about and recognise God’s might. God is God! He is the Almighty God!

 

God’s Word is a frequent reminder of God’s past acts, a guide for the present and hope for the future. Let us cultivate a thanksgiving attitude of God in and through our daily devotions. Let the Holy Spirit and God’s Word be a constant reminder for us!

 

It reminds of God’s deliverance

 

Exodus 15:9–10 (NIV) 9 The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.’ 10 But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.

 

Pharaoh and the Egyptians thought they had the Israelites in their hands. In the face of incredible odds before a fierce Egyptian army, the Israelites had no hope.  Except to hope in God.  It was God who supernaturally delivered them in their hour of crisis.  God is not one who gives His word and fails to deliver. He is not some overworked pizza chain that forgets to deliver our food.  God delivers!


Thanksgiving helps us to recount and restate the times when God intervened.

 

Thanksgiving helps us to recount and restate the times when God intervened.  Before Nehemiah approached the King Artaxerxes, he thanked God in prayer for His past deliverance and asking for God’s help in his current situation.  Neh 1:10-11 (NIV) “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.

 

When we give thanks to God for His deliverance, 2 things will happen. It keeps us humble because we recognise who truly delivered us and it reminds us that God is still very much active now and in the future. 

 

“A thankful heart enjoys blessings twice--when they're received and when they're remembered.” Croft M. Pentz,

 

Whilst we are reminded of God’s past acts, we can grow to respond to God by extolling Him through thanksgiving.

 

THANKSGIVING EXTOLS GOD

 

Thanksgiving praises God. After declaring God’s deliverance for the Israelites (v2-10), Moses began to exalt God and His attributes.

 

Fuelled by admiration of God’s attributes

 

Exodus 15:11–12 (NIV) 11 Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you — majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? 12 “You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies.

 

Verses 11 and 12 summarise the implications of the mighty acts of God at the Red Sea, by ascribing it to God’s nature and character.  The greatness and holiness of God were recognized by the Israelites as they reflected on God’s victory over their enemies, the Egyptians.  Before leaving Egypt, God told Moses that Pharaoh would not release the Israelites until God compelled him “with a mighty hand”. Now, after their passing through the Red Sea, Israel finally praised God for what His “mighty hand” had done.

 

God revealed through Moses that He was about to “bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12). Now, after the exodus, Israel proclaimed, “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?” (v11). And the answer is a resounding “no”.  For God is the Almighty God!  God’s intention was for Israel to realise that there is no other gods that is greater than YHWH! This song is a realisation of God’s objective.

 

The song also declares about the holiness of God for they recognised that what God did comes out of who He is.  God was just in His actions. He judged the Egyptians for their wickedness. God was faithful to His promises. 


Our thanksgiving reveals our admiration of the person of God.

 

Our attitude reflects and reveals how we really feel about God. Our thanksgiving reveals our admiration of the person of God – how great and how holy He is.

 

Leads to praise

 

Exodus 15:20–21 (NIV) 20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her and, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

 

Miriam, a prophetess and the sister of Aaron led the women as they repeated the first refrain of this song. Quite a feat for a woman who would have had to be around 90 years old! It is important to note that Moses’ first response after the crossing of Red Sea was to give thanks and praises unto God through a song! He set the pace and then Miriam & the rest followed his example. 


 Thanksgiving is the gateway to our praise unto God. 

 

A thankful heart will lead to praising God. Thanksgiving is the gateway to our praise unto God.  Psalm 100: 4 (NIV) “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”  The very first place we enter in God’s house is the gate. The Scriptures commands us to enter it with an attitude of thanksgiving!  Hence, a natural outcome of thanksgiving is to praise God.  This includes through song.  That is why we usually start off our church service with songs of praise declaring the greatness of God and giving thanks because of His great deeds for us.  This is why the worship leader would normally encourage the congregation to shout, clap and giving thanks to God during the time we are singing praise songs to God.

 

Jesus also taught His disciples to open their prayers with thanksgiving to God and acknowledging God at the start of the prayers. Matt 6:9 (NLT) “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored.”  This goes to show the importance of declaring God’s praises personally and corporately wherever and whenever there is an opportunity.


 Thanksgiving and praise should be our lifestyle.

 

In fact, thanksgiving and praise should be our lifestyle. Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV) 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV) And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


The power of praise can bring us spiritual victory.

 

Though praise is due to God, we also reap benefits when giving thanks and praise unto God in all situations especially at difficult times. The power of praise can bring us spiritual victory. King Jehoshaphat won the victory in the war against the Moabites and Ammonites because of their praise unto God. 2 Chronicles 20:21 (NIV) After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." Scriptures record that God brought infighting amongst the enemies of Jehoshaphat.  The result was the entire armies of his enemies killed each other by the time they arrived!  Praise is our powerful weapon in spiritual warfare!

 

There was a pastor, during the church service, had a vision and saw a big demonic spirit hovering over the church. The demon was trying to resist and suppress the church. As the church began to praise God, the demon began to be unsettled. The more the church praised God, the more unsettled the demon. As the church praise rose to a victorious crescendo, the demon fell off his perch.

 

In Acts 16:16-28, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison for preaching the Gospel. But in prison they praised God.  They sang and prayed.  Suddenly there was an earthquake and the prison doors busted open. The prison busted open because of the power of their praises unto God. They didn’t complain about what happened to them nor how terrible it was to be in a jail. But their hearts were so full of praise that the prison couldn’t hold them!

 

What about us today? Are we grateful or grumpy towards life, people around us and even God? Thankful people know how to praise God!

 

Nick Vujicic, in his book Life Without Limits shared how God changed his outlook in life. Vujicic was born limbless yet learnt to live his life without limits.  He is a man that has every reason to be grumpy and depressed.  But God changed him, and he discovered how to be thankful to God and to use his life for God instead! The next time you feel like complaining about your situation, think about Nick!

 

Thanksgiving should be our lifestyle.  Even in heaven, thanksgiving is the very thing we will continue to do. Revelation 11:17 (NIV) "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.”  So let us begin today and continue until we reach heaven! 

 

THANKSGIVING PREPARES FOR GOD’S LEADERSHIP

 

This God-given victory at the Red Sea is seen as a guarantee of the fulfilment of God’s purposes for Israel in the future. It means the sure defeat of their enemies and in their possession of the land of Canaan. Such thanksgiving prepares our hearts to continue under God’s leadership.  For thanksgiving helps to reinforce in our hearts the greatness and faithfulness of God as seen in His past actions and in who He is.  It prepares our hearts to continue to move further on under God’s leadership.

 

How does thanksgiving do this?  There are 2 aspects highlighted here.  Thanksgiving reinforces in our hearts, by giving us:

 

Assurance of God’s ongoing deliverance

 

Exodus 15:13–16 (NIV) 13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. 14 The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. 15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; 16 terror and dread will fall on them. By the power of your arm they will be as still as a stone— until your people pass by, Lord, until the people you bought pass by.

 

The song moves from declaring what God did to what God will do.  Just as God dealt with the Egyptians, surely God will deal with Philistines, Edomites, Moabites and Canaanites. None of them will stand in God’s way! Not too long ago, in chapter 13 verses 17-18, God did not take them through the Philistine territory because they would be totally undone if they had to face the Philistines then.  But now they had more faith!


Thanksgiving reminds us of the past to move us forward into the future. 

 

Thanksgiving reminds us of the past to move us forward into the future.  2 Corinthians 1:9 - 10 (NIV) 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 

 

God’s is faithful in His leadership.  He will not let us down but will deliver us in order that we may continue to move on in His purposes.  Songs of praise have the power to lift our hearts in troubled times and bring assurance of future deliverance by reminding of past deliverance.  That is why so many psalms were written declaring about God’s deliverance. Psalms 63:7 - 8 (NIV) 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

 

Hence, should you ever feel low in spirit, it is a good thing to give thanks.  To sing songs of praise unto God.  Note only do the words lift our hearts, but when we enter into God’s presence, God will minister to us as well.

 

Assurance of fulfilling God’s promises

 

Exodus 15:17 (NIV) You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance— the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.

 

The song further declares about the bringing in and planting of God’s people in their place of inheritance, the Promised Land. In other words the thanksgiving is declaring that God will fulfil His promises.


Thanksgiving can also serve to help us look forward to the fulfilment of God’s promises to us.

 

Thanksgiving can also serve to help us look forward to the fulfilment of God’s promises to us.  It reinforces in our hearts that God is faithful to the very end.  God will lead us to completion of His purposes. 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Thanksgiving is an essential part of our relationship with God.  It reminds us to look back at the goodness of God, at His might and deliverance.  It helps us extol God in his majesty and righteousness.  Even as our praises helps lifts us towards God, it is also a powerful spiritual weapon.  Thanksgiving also prepares our hearts, to be further led by God in our journey of faith.


 

Copyright©️2024 by Wilson Lim. All rights reserved. Materials are free to be distributed in whole or part as long as proper acknowledgement is given to the author and not sold for profit.

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