If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably getting ready for a big Thanksgiving feast about now. I am! Maybe you aren’t feeling particularly thankful this year. For whatever reason, it’s been a forgettable year for you. Or maybe you’re kind of lukewarm on Thanksgiving and ready to jump into the Christmas season. Or maybe you’re really excited about giving thanks and would like to know more about what that can look like. No matter where you are in your life these days, I’m confident you will be inspired by what God has for us in Nehemiah 11-12 where we discover…
Three Ways We Can Give Thanks to God
1)We Can Give Ourselves to God. (Nehemiah 11:1-12:26)
Throughout the book of Nehemiah, we see lists of people involved in the work again and again. Now, in chapter 11, the list of all the people who would inhabit Jerusalem and fulfill God’s plan and purpose there. Why are these lists of people throughout the book of Nehemiah important? Why take the time to name these people? A couple of reasons stand out:
All who stepped up to help in the work were sincerely appreciated!
Nehemiah appreciated what they did and wanted these people to be known. They counted and their efforts mattered.
God sees what His people do to faithfully serve Him.
Your work for Christ’s sake does not go unnoticed or unappreciated by our heavenly Father. Even if others may not always recognize your ministry, I can guarantee that God does, and He will reward you accordingly.
There is a lot of ministry that happens at Watermark Church! I am so thankful for the extraordinary people at this church who do extraordinary work to make an impression and leave a mark for Jesus Christ! In the sermon on Sunday, I spent some time sharing some of the amazing ministry happening just this week at Watermark.
One of your greatest abilities is your availability to serve the Lord and honor Him with your life. We can give ourselves fully to Him and to His service! Giving ourselves to God is one way to give thanks to God!
2) We Can Give Our Praise to God. (Nehemiah 12:27-42)
We know that during the construction of the wall, for their protection Nehemiah put watchers on the wall; now for the wall’s dedication, Nehemiah put worshippers on the wall! It was time to dedicate their work to the Lord and give Him the praise He deserved for all He had done.
This was not going to be a solemn, quiet, contemplative service; it was going to be a joyful celebration! Reminds me of the joyful celebration we had at Watermark on Sunday with the 17 people marking their commitment to Christ with baptism! It was truly awesome to witness. We can praise God for His greatness, His goodness and His graciousness!
When the people of Jerusalem gathered to dedicate that wall, they celebrated with songs of thanksgiving, literally marching on the same wall their enemies claimed wouldn’t even hold a fox (Neh. 4:3). The people were bearing witness to all the Gentile nations of what God had done and were giving Him the praise He rightly deserved! What a testimony of what God can do with people surrendered to His leadership.
Also, as these people marched on this wall, they were literally taking “steps of faith” illustrating the steps they had taken to trust God in rebuilding this wall from the beginning; trusting Him to overcome all the challenges they faced along the way, and there were many!
You and I can take those same steps of faith everyday, even when we’re not feeling thankful or when we don’t feel like pressing on. We can place our trust in Him to help us overcome whatever struggles, challenges, opposition we face. There are plenty of joy-stiflers, thanksgiving thieves in life… like despair and depression, heartaches and headaches, disappointment and disillusionment. Don’t let the opposition win! Turn your heart, your mind, your focus toward the Lord, trusting fully in Him. He is worthy of your praise and thanksgiving! (Colossians 3:1-3)
When the Israelites did that, their celebration was a testimony to all… 43 …The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away. Nehemiah 12:43
To give thanks, we can give ourselves to God; we can give our praise to God and…
3) We Can Give Our Gifts to God. (Nehemiah 12:44-47)
The people were supporting the ministry of the temple just as they had promised and as God expected. The result of this joyful dedication service was a plentiful supply of produce to sustain the work of this ministry. The people didn’t give grudgingly or under compulsion, they gave joyfully, just as God expects. (2 Corinthians 9:7).
For much more on how to give thanks to God, click here to listen to: Resolute: Part 9 - Gave Thanks!