Give Thanks

Rainbow rays, yellow maple leaf

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — in my opinion at least. Autumn is here and with it comes the harvest fully gathered in, trees vibrant with color, cooler weather, and times of thanksgiving. For many of us this is Thanksgiving week. How are we fairing? Are we getting a bit stressed yet? With all the preparation for our family feasts, church outreach activities, and of course homeschooling our kids, this time of year can get to be a little overwhelming. On the other hand, though, perhaps we’ve learned lessons from the past and have grown wiser, such as doubling art projects for decorations, having the children help with cooking and cleaning as home economics, or deciding that keeping things simple is indeed best. Whatever your household is going through this week, I pray that you are blessed with heavenly peace and that you, above all, remember to give thanks.

Speaking of such reminds me of my favorite Scripture verse about thanksgiving. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV. This is not the first verse that comes to mind, I suppose, for others when they think of thanksgiving. Nevertheless, for myself, I believe it conveys the epitome of thanksgiving. A full study of Scripture shows that the truest biblical definition of thanksgiving is always attached with a sense of worship. (Please forgive me for not displaying all the Scriptural references and Hebrew and Greek meanings of the word “thanksgiving” to back up my stated conclusion. I figured you’ve got more important things to do with your time today. However, it is a fascinating study, and I highly recommend it when you have the time.)

“In everything give thanks.” Yes, we give praise and adoration to our Heavenly Father for all the blessings He has bestowed, but do we thank Him for our hardships as well? Why should we give thanks for everything — which indeed could entail a range of things, good to bad? This is the answer given: “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Whatever our circumstances, we can know that it is our Heavenly Father’s will through the infinite love of our Savior personally for us. What a promise; what comfort! When we fully understand and accept that, then we can truly worship Him in the fullest depth of thanksgiving.

I challenge you, dear ones, that at this time of thanksgiving to remember to give God thanks for all things, knowing that He loves you with an everlasting love. It is traditional by some to compile a “thanksgiving list” of things they are grateful for over the past year. If this is something your family or self does, I pray that in thoughtful consideration you include some of your trials or difficulties you’ve encountered. Perhaps, you may be impressed by the Spirit of some conclusion or personal growth regarding the matter that will be beneficial to you in your walk along this life’s journey. And, in doing so, then give thanks of heartfelt worship to our God for all His wondrous love and care.

Blessings upon you all I pray and that “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,” 1 Thessalonians 5:28 KJV.

“Teach Them Your Children”

Poster in our home of the Ten Commandments

There isn’t a vast range of Scripture that specifically covers what to teach our children. Sure, there are several passages that discuss wisdom, knowledge, and important principles, as well as the words of our Savior. However, we may often overlook verses which explicitly deal with what our Heavenly Father has commanded His people to teach and how to instruct their children. One of these passages, located in the book of Deuteronomy, I believe is of great interest. “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth,” Deuteronomy 11:18-21 KJV. These are some pretty hefty verses; nevertheless, I would like to point out a few of the highlights.

Firstly, we are instructed to place God’s Word in our heart and soul. “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul…” This of course is a foreshadowing of the new covenant relationship with our blessed Redeemer as mentioned in the following Scriptures: “…but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people,” Jeremiah 31:33 KJV. “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them,” Hebrews 10:16 KJV.

Next we are told to “bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.” To understand the symbolism here, we need to look at some well known verses dealing with signs/marks upon foreheads (frontlets) and hands. “And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof,” Ezekiel 9:4 KJV. “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,” Revelation 14:9 KJV. These verses are commonly interpreted to mean of some truth or error settled in our thoughts (forehead) and shown through our actions (hands). With this in mind it speaks of having God’s Word and Truth placed in our thoughts as well as being lived out in our lives.

Now that the groundwork has been laid, the educating of children can commence. “And ye shall teach them (God’s Word) your children, speaking of them (God’s Word) when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” We are to instruct our children His Word while we are at our homes, traveling about completing errands and what-not, as we prepare for bed, and as one of the first things we do from waking in the morning. We should be speaking God’s Word throughout the day to our children, not just at worship time and Bible class.

Then the verse gets interesting: “…and thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates.” Honestly, this part had me stumped for awhile. That is until I started practicing what many other families already do of placing Scripture verses throughout their homes. My personal observation is that ones placed at focal points are more easily read and memorized. Such areas include above the kitchen sink, around the dining room table, and especially doors — places where our eyes are drawn while we are moving about our day.

Poster in our home of 2 Peter dealing with character training

Lastly comes the promise, “that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.” Interestingly enough is how similar this promise is to the one found in the Ten Commandments dealing with respecting our parents: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee,” Exodus 20:12 KJV. These blessings are not only physical, as in this world we live in, but more importantly spiritual, looking forward to the world to come.

Sometimes we can get so bogged down trying to educate our children to the state’s and society’s standards, that we just might lose sight of the importance of true education. However, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Numbers 23:19 KJV. His Word is clear! As parents we must seek and serve Him daily as we co-operate with the divine agencies in the growing of our relationship with Him. Then, we teach our children His Word by presenting it throughout our daily activities and placing it readily in their sight. By doing so we can do no harm, but instead bring great blessing upon our loved ones and ourselves.

May our Heavenly Father bless and guide you in your endeavor to raise children for His service in this life as well as the one to come, that you too may proclaim as the beloved apostle John did, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth,” 3 John 1:4 KJV.