A Year-Round Attitude
November 1, 2003 - Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. For the past several years, my husband and I—along with any of our children and their spouses who can join us—have celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents' home. My sister-in-law and I usually share the cooking of an abundant, delicious feast—turkey with dressing and gravy, ham, green beans, corn pudding, sweet potato casseroles, pies with real whipped cream, sweet iced tea—my mouth waters just thinking about it!
by Anne Graham Lotz
But the highlight of our Thanksgiving is the fellowship around the dining room table, as each one shares what he or she is most thankful for. As precious as those moments have been, I am convicted that our gratitude to God is not meant to be measured out once a year around a dining room table. It is to be translated into genuine "thanksliving."
The concept of thanksliving seemed to escape the early Israelites. They had been delivered from bondage in Egypt by the supernatural power of God. Yet within days of their deliverance, they apparently had forgotten His power and, in terror, were blaming Him for delivering them from Egypt so they could die in the desert (Exodus 14:11). Instead of letting them die, once again God exerted His mighty power, parting the Red Sea so that the Israelites crossed safely on dry ground while the pursuing Egyptian army was annihilated.
Shortly thereafter, when they became hungry, instead of asking God to provide for their needs, they whined in self-pity that it would have been better to die in Egypt as well-fed slaves! God, nonetheless, met their needs by sending manna fresh every morning.
For the next 40 years, as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, they whined and complained. Their focus always seemed to be on themselves and on their immediate problems, instead of on the God who had delivered, cared for and guided them.
Finally, all but two of the men who had walked out of Egypt were dead. God called Joshua to lead the second generation of freed Israelite slaves out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land. Once again, the Israelites experienced God's power as He rolled back the waters of the Jordan River, enabling them to cross over on dry ground and take possession of all that God had for them. And to help ensure that the Israelites did not regress into the old pattern of whining doubt and complaining unbelief, they were challenged in a unique way to keep their focus on God through thanksliving.
READ JOSHUA 3 and 4
Literal Thanks | Joshua 4:1-9
- Where did the stones of remembrance come from? See Joshua 4:2-3, 4:5, and 4:8.
- In Joshua 4:6-7, why did God say that the stones were to be collected and carried to the riverbank?
- What has God done for you as recently as this past week for which you have yet to thank Him?
- What are some practical, literal things you can do to help remember what God has done for you, in order to cultivate and maintain an attitude of gratitude?
- From the following passages, describe other visuals God gave His people and what each represented: Genesis 9:12-16; Exodus 12:1-13; Matthew 26:26-29; John 20:24-29.
Living Thanks | Joshua 4:10-18
- What was necessary before the Israelites could experience God's power? See Joshua 4:10.
- What was the living proof of God's power?
- What do you think the crossing of the Jordan symbolizes in the Christian life?
- Did the Israelites believe that their experience of God's power meant their lives would be easy from then on? Give a verse to prove your point.
- What is significant in Joshua 4:18? How would this affect the Israelites?
- Who are the "living stones today," and what is one of their primary purposes? Look at 1 Peter 2:4-5 compared with 1 Peter 2:9. Also consider Ephesians 2:19-22 compared with Ephesians 1:4-6.
Lasting Thanks | Joshua 4:19-24
- What did the stones mean? See Joshua 4:22-24.
- What were the Israelites to do with the memories of their experiences of God's power? Read Joshua 4:6-7, 22.
- When others look at your life, do they demand an explanation for what they see? What explanation do you give them?
- What object could you place in your home or office that would be a conversation starter, giving you the opportunity to tell others about your experiences of God's power?
- What testimony are you leaving behind for your children or grandchildren, and how will you be sure they get it?
- What are at least two reasons for us to give verbal testimony to what God has done for us? See Joshua 4:24; Luke 1:1-4; John 4:28-42; John 20:30-31; 1 John 1:1-4.
- How do nine of the 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19 illustrate living thanks but not lasting thanks? How does the one leper illustrate both living and lasting thanks?
During His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus proclaimed that if those who love Him did not praise Him, the stones would cry out! Why would we allow a stone to have the privilege that is ours? Has a self-centered focus silenced your praise this Thanksgiving? Completing the following sentence with as many attributes of God as you can: I praise God for His __________.
What will you do now, not just to celebrate Thanksgiving this month, but to practice "thanksliving" throughout the year?