The first Thanksgiving after I trusted Christ over forty years ago, I remember feeling like I wanted to do something different on Thanksgiving. My only problem was that I didn’t know the Bible very well. Now that I’ve been studying the Bible for a lifetime, I have discovered many passages that work perfectly for a Thanksgiving Devotion. Here’s one of my favorites. I hope it helps you focus on the God and His grace this Thanksgiving:
When My Heart is Full of Thanks
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4).
James says, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” As we walk in close fellowship with Christ, His good and perfect gifts of grace to us fill our lives with joy and blessing. God’s goodness to His children is so great we often feel a deep need to express our personal appreciation.
So many privileges!
So many blessings!
Such wonderful grace!
Such awesome opportunities!
And then there are the little things He does just to let us know that He is there and He is watching over us.
How do we say thanks? We know we should and we want to. But sometimes a simple, “Thank you God” just doesn’t feel right. We want to communicate our gratitude more fully, and even in ways that would please and bless our Heavenly Father.
What do we say when our heart is full of thanksgiving?
One place the Israelites turned throughout their history is Psalm 100. The inspired title of the song is “A Psalm of Thanksgiving.” This unknown writer invites God’s people everywhere to approach the Lord with joy. His words define the type of thanksgiving that most blesses God because it comes from a thankful worshiper according to the Lord’s definition:
Whenever my heart is full of thanksgiving—I will serve you with joy and worship you with gratitude!
The psalmist’s expression of thanksgiving has more to do with the life of the worshiper than it does with his or her words.
Here’s my outline of Psalm 100. Feel free to use this as your guide as you invite the Lord Jesus into your Thanksgiving family traditions:
Truly thankful Christians will serve the Lord with joy (Psalm 100:1-3).
- All the people of the earth can thank God by serving Him gladly because He is our Creator and Shepherd (1-3).
- Call to Joyful Service: The psalmist invites the congregation from all the lands to praise the Lord (1-2).
- The title in our English Bibles is the first verse of the Hebrew Bible, the inspired categorization of this song as “a psalm of thanksgiving.” The Hebrew concept of thanksgiving was more confessional, declarative and demonstrative than our typical western notions—joyful shouts (1), singing (joyful songs, jubilation, 2).
- Psalm 100 is the doxology, the hymn concluding the “Yahweh (Lord of Israel) is King” collection of Psalms 96-99. The invitation to the people of all the lands confirms His Kingship and anticipates the global worship of God in the ages to come (Church, Kingdom).
- c. The expressions of joyful thanksgiving come from those who serve the Lord with “gladness” or “joy” (2).
- Cause for Joyful Service: The psalmist reminds the congregation that the Lord created them and they belong to Him (4-5).
- Know that the LORD, He is God. This is a call to acknowledge what you already know, what you have come to know through personal experience: He indeed is God; He alone is God (emphatic pronoun, 3a).
- The One True God is our Creator and our Shepherd. These words emphasize His ownership of His people (3b)
- Worship is a lifestyle, not an event! True thanksgiving flows from a heart that serves the Lord with joy.
- The way to become a more worshipful saint is to be a more joyful servant!
- What is one change you can make in your attitude toward serving Christ that will make you a more thankful worshiper next Thanksgiving?
Truly thankful Christians will worship the Lord with gratitude (Psalm 100:4-5).
All the people of the earth can worship God with gratitude because He is good and faithful (4-5).
- Call to Grateful Worship: The psalmist invites the congregation to enter the place of worship with thanksgiving and praise that blesses the Lord’s name (4).
- Enter His gates…and into His courts was probably an invitation to enter the gates of the city of Jerusalem expressing the praise of the joyful thanksgiving in their hearts. This later became the song the congregation would sing before entering a “place” of worship—the city, the temple, a court, a home, even the synagogue.
- Bless His name is a common phrase from the Psalms describing expressions gratitude praising God for His deeds and gifts (16:7, 34:2, 66:8, 68:26, 96:2, 103:1-2, 104:1).
- Cause for Grateful Worship: The psalmist reminds the congregation of the Lord’s goodness—especially His loyal love and faithfulness (5).
- For the Lord is good. This is a call to acknowledge what you already know, what you have come to know through personal experience: He is good to His people. This phrase could be translated with a question, “How good is the Lord?”
- The two most common attributes of the Lord emphasized in the Old Testament are offered as evidence of His goodness—His loyal love (mercy) and faithfulness (truth).
- Worship is lifestyle, not an event! True thanksgiving flows from a heart that has experienced God’s goodness to His people by relying on His loyal love and faithfulness.
- The way to become a more worshipful saint is to be a trusting servant!
- What is one change you can make in your willingness to trust God’s goodness rather than your strength that will make you a more thankful worshiper next Thanksgiving?
Question: Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition that is meaningful for your family? I’d love to hear your story