Hopefully by now you have most of your Thanksgiving plans in place. You know what you will be eating, where you will be eating and who you will be eating with. Many of you have planned how you will decorate your home and arrange the seating to accommodate all of your family and friends. I’m sure there are a few over-achievers who already know what clothes you will wear and even what time you will be dressed and ready. The first Thanksgiving in 1621 was a celebration of the abundant harvest that God had provided for the Pilgrims that settled in America. With all of the planning that goes into this day, how are you planning to make sure your celebration is God-honoring? What can you do to honor God in addition to asking Him to bless food and family?

Since thankfulness drives out grumpiness, it is wise to keep your family and friends focused on being thankful by sharing Scripture that emphasizes being thankful. 1 Chronicles 16:25, ”For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is also to be feared above all gods.” 1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” 1 Corinthians 1:4, “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 4:4-5, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Since God loves the praise of His people, give your family and friends an opportunity to share what they are thankful for. (1) Things God has provided. (2) Things God has removed, pruned or weaned us from. Teach your family to be generous. Encourage family to invite a person who is lonely or a family in need to your gathering. Because we are all human and this has been a tough year be ready to redirect any conversation that begins to veer in the wrong direction: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger — Proverb 15:1. If the conversation turns to social media drama or partisan politics, don’t argue and don’t allow arguing. Be careful not to let the light of Christ be dimmed by conversation that condemns men rather than celebrates God.

Do you want your Thanksgiving gathering to be God-honoring? If so, bathe your gathering in prayer. Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying for us that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains, that I may it manifest as I ought to speak — Colossians 4:2. Pray for your family members. Pray for their hearts, their witness, their discipleship, your unity with the Holy Spirit and each other. Your family gathering should serve as a time to inspire you and your family to live for Christ and witness to others. Begin praying today for your family members to be able to make Christ known to others. Perhaps this year you will be able to thank God for a family member or friend that moved from death to life on Thanksgiving Day.

Chuck Sprouse, a lifelong resident of Greenwood, is the Senior Pastor of the Ninety Six First Baptist Church. You can reach Chuck at csprouse@fbc96.org or 864-543-2333.

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