President’s Post: How to practice gratitude

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? How quickly our semester has flown. 

One of the unique traditions in America is that we celebrate a holiday entirely devoted to giving thanks to God for all our gifts. 

First celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims and nationally in 1789 after the proclamation of former President George Washington, Thanksgiving has long been considered a day of prayer, celebration and devotion to the Lord. 

Christians rightly acknowledge that it is to God that we must give thanks. Psalm 111:1 says, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.”

Thanksgiving is not optional. We know from Scripture that thanksgiving is an attitude and disposition commanded of every person made in the image of God. 

But while all people everywhere are called to give thanks to the Lord, sin separates us from God. Therefore, thankfulness is not something that comes naturally to everyone. 

True thanksgiving is something that only Christians who have received Christ can practice. It is the result of an inward transformation of the heart.

So, as we approach this holiday, I want you to consider four things to be thankful for as a “Champion for Christ”:

First, we should be thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we put our faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible says that we’ve been justified and made righteous before a holy God. We get to have a relationship with God and eternal life. 

We get to spend eternity with him. It is all because of what Christ has done at the cross and because of his resurrection that we have this good news. Never forget that. 

It is the first thing we should be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day.

Second, be thankful for the friends and family that God has given us. That can be our immediate family, our mom and dad. 

It can also be the local church. I am thankful for all those who have taught me the Scriptures and about the love of Jesus Christ from an early age. 

For many of you, it might be a pastor or youth leader. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders who taught you the Word of God.” 

Many of you will celebrate Thanksgiving with your family and church. Be grateful for the fellowship we have in Christ.

Third, be thankful for God’s good and ordinary gifts. These can be things like good food, a football game, a warm house and a roof over our heads. 

We must never take anything we have received from the Lord for granted.  

James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Sometimes these things can seem like ordinary things, but we should never overlook God’s provision. These things come only from him.

Fourth, be thankful for religious liberty and freedom of worship in America. Everyone has freedom in Christ, but not everyone has the blessing of religious liberty. Thanksgiving is a religious holiday, like Christmas. 

We don’t just eat on Thanksgiving. It is a day of remembrance, devotion and worship. The history of Thanksgiving speaks to the priorities of America’s founders. 

Giving thanks to God was the first priority for our forefathers. Be grateful that America still recognizes Thanksgiving as a national holiday. That demonstrates the lasting influence of the gospel on our culture.

So how should “Champions for Christ” observe Thanksgiving? Be grateful and give thanks to the Lord. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  

And on Thanksgiving Day, I will be especially grateful for our Liberty students and the entire Liberty family.

Prevo is the Interim President of Liberty University.

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