The fruit of lips that confess his name.

A seventeenth-century German pastor is said to have buried 5,000 of his parishioners in one year, an average of nearly 15 a day. Yet, although his parish was ravaged by war, pestilence, and an invader’s economic oppression, he wrote this table grace for his children:

Now thank we all our God

With heart and hands and voices;

Who wondrous things hath done,

In whom His world rejoices.

Who, from our mother’s arms,

Hath led us on our way

With countless gifts of love,

And still is ours today.

In 1636, amid the darkness of the Thirty Years’ War, Martin Rinkart drew spiritual strength from a spirit of thanksgiving for God’s past and present goodness.

Fifteen years earlier, when the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in America, they, too, were acknowledging their gratitude to God for his “countless gifts of love.” Whether expressed in the ecstasy of jubilation or the agony of desperation, it is a good thing to give thanks (Ps. 92:1). Jesus regularly gave thanks to the Father. Thanksgiving is a necessary and natural part of the Christian life. Thanksgiving sanctifies all aspects of life, including suffering (1 Thess. 5:18).

Thanksgiving encompasses the whole of the Christian life. God commands us to thank him for everything he brings into our lives (Eph. 5:20). We can do this because we have confidence that God is working everything together to the specific good of conforming us to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:28–29). The condition for enjoying our Christian liberty is that we receive everything with thanksgiving (1 Tim. 4:4).

There are at least 140 references in Scripture to thanksgiving. Many passages link thanksgiving with praise, often through music. In fact, to “prophesy” through music meant ...

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