This is the week of giving thanks. And this is a time of remembering all the things we are thankful for. In many homes, there is a simple tradition of going around the Thanksgiving table and taking turns sharing what we are grateful for.
In your small group: Go around quickly in your group and share one thing that you are thankful for.
So, Thanksgiving is a time of remembering. It’s an exercise of looking back into our lives and seeing how our lives have unfolded. And for the Christian, this exercise is a faith exercise. It’s a stretching of our faith muscles and seeing the work of God in our lives.
In fact, remembering what God has done in our lives is a very important stretching of our faith.
I am reminded of Psalm 103:2 where it says: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
Here, King David commands his own soul to remember all the benefits that God has given him. The truth is that our hearts often need prompting. And it is our faith that can stimulate our hearts to give thanks.
And so, David gives thanks by remembering God’s benefits. I find this world “benefits” to be a surprising concept in the original Hebrew Scriptures. I remember studying it and being caught off guard when I learned that “benefits” has the idea of payback. That’s a stunning concept when you think about how we understand payback today. For us, payback is a direct response to something good or bad.
If someone is treated badly, there is usually a negative payback. And if someone is treated well, the payback is definitely a positive one. In other words, the payback is directly tied to what the person deserves in return.
That’s how today’s movies tell the story. From Charles Bronson to Steven Segal, the movie is a predictable drama of being treated very badly and then the rest of the movie is payback time! And everyone who behaved badly is paid back just as badly. And watching these popular movies, such payback makes a lot of sense to us.
But God’s payback is unlike any movie we have seen. The story is told over and over again about how man sins against God, but God stunningly pays us back with love and forgiveness and blessings. And so, his story is like a shocking movie where the bad guys are forgiven and loved. And when I see that God does not pay us back like the world pays us back. I begin to understand the word, grace.
Now, don’t misunderstand. God is a holy God, and he does judge his people. But the powerful truth is that his grace is greater than our sin.
Thanksgiving is Remembering
Today’s devotion is about not forgetting all his paybacks. It’s about remembering all the blessings that have come to us even as we don’t deserve them. And most all, it’s about not forgetting the ultimate payback when he gave his son, Jesus, to die for our sins.
In your small group: reflect and share God’s grace on your life (your salvation, your spiritual journey, His forgiveness)
Take time today to think back and reflect and forget not all his benefits to us.
Until next time, remember, there is a greater purpose for your life.