“God delights in loving-kindness, justice, and righteousness. Rejoice when you see these things evidenced in this world and in your life because you know your Father is very pleased.” – Jeremiah 9:24
Have you ever thought about what Thanksgiving looks like for God? Your mind could immediately go wild with excitement thinking about the most lavish of celebrations. The most perfect day with golden sunlight showering through the trees, and a light cool breeze to make all the senses fire with delight. Can you imagine walking in the room to see the most epic and massive dining room table piled high with all your favorites? Fruits of all kinds, the most perfectly paired cheese plates, finger licking good mini appetizers everywhere, and then in the middle of the table – gloriously golden turkeys and sweetly dripping ham. Or if your vegan, a perfectly baked and garnished Tofurkey, hahahaha. And my favorite: those campfire looking perfectly browned marshmallows on top of the most fluffy brown sugar sweet potatoes! Wow, is your mouth watering now too?
But what I wanted to share with you today, is not what God’s physical thanksgiving might look like, but what is it that actually makes God thankful. We spend much of the Thanksgiving season thinking and talking about how we can be more thankful or how we can better express thanksgiving, which is never a bad thing, but this year I felt compelled to take us all on a journey in a slightly different direction. To actually look at “what makes God thankful?” And there are a handful of verses in our Bible that talk specifically about what makes God thankful. There are not a lot, so it’s important to look at these notations carefully and my prayer is that bringing these powerful verses into light this year, will lead us a bit in a different direction of celebration.
So what does God’s Word and our Bible specifically say about “what makes God thankful”?
First, God is thankful to simply call you His child: “And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. “For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people.” – 1 Samuel 12:22
Wow, what a powerful place to start. Pause and reflect on this for just a minute, and maybe it will even change your perspective on a lot of things right now. The simple and profound fact that one of the first things that makes God thankful is to call you His son, or His daughter.
Secondly, God is thankful for those who love Him, and put their hope in His love: “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” – Psalm 147:11
This is one of those classic double-sided verses. First it says that God is thankful for people who love Him, and also spend their time living upon His unfailing love for them. It goes both ways – we love God and He loves us. But this verse also distinctly clarifies one significantly important thing that we can’t miss: his love never fails.
Thirdly, God is thankful when His people live out their lives in a way that honors God and all we have been given: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:12-13
I love this verse as it even goes to the next level and says a double emphasis here, that it brings God not only pleasure, but “good pleasure”. It is almost as if Paul is saying that when we live out our lives in a way that honors God, and work hard at it – that God is doubly thankful. It brings him “good pleasure”.
And lastly, the verse we started with at the top of this newsletter, that God is “very pleased” when our lives give evidence of “loving-kindness, justice, and righteousness.” – Jeremiah 9:24
I love love this verse as it is a double again. Which gives me liberty to say that I love love this verse. That God is “very pleased” when we live out these three things listed above.
This thanksgiving, I am going to make every effort to think about “what if I was able to set a table for God himself, for thanksgiving?” What would I set the table with, would I set it with food? The more I thought about it, I would set the table for God with something even more special than food, I would set it with the things that I know make God thankful. I would set it with my life that lives under the powerful understanding that I am a child of the living God of the universe. I would set the table with a life lived on loving-kindness, justice, and righteousness, being lived in a way that honors all God has done for me.
And if could I leave you with just one more? “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” – Hebrews 13:15-16
What makes God thankful is when His people “do not forget to do good and share.” And so on that final truth, we want to say thank you to each of you that even now, will make a decision to do good and to share, and support us in a way that allows us at River of Life Mission – to live these things out with all our friends on the streets. And to be honest, we are just getting going, in this new season where God is bearing much fruit. So thank you in advance for all you have done, are doing, and will continue to do.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at River of Life Mission. May this be an extra special year as you consider all you are thankful for, but also most importantly – what makes God thankful too.
Pastor Paul Gates