Thanksgiving is a special time of year. For some, it brings together family and friends around the table. Others will savor delicious food, wonderful company, and make new memories. Some years, you may sit at a full table with loved ones, while other years, the holiday may feel lonely.
What makes this time of year meaningful, regardless of our situation, is that it teaches us to pause and give thanks. It is the season that we carve out time to reflect on the goodness of the year past. While some years we might feel that we have less to be thankful for than others, when we look at this holiday through a biblical lens, we begin to recognize that gratitude begins with the Lord.
I invite you to make your way through this seven-day Thanksgiving journal, which will take you through Psalm 145. This psalm teaches us about the foundation of thankfulness and serves as a humbling reminder of what Thanksgiving can really be about.
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Day 1 - Psalm 145:1-3
"I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom."
When we long to develop a heart of thankfulness, we must first look to the Lord God our King. He is the very essence and creator of everything good and worthy. It is God alone who is deserving of our praise. When we consider His goodness, His unconditional love, and His greatness – none of which ever lessen or fail – we are moved to the deepest sense of gratitude.
Have you had a time in your life when you were utterly captivated by something? Perhaps the birth of a child, a long-awaited answer to a prayer, or the stunning view at the top of a mountain. This same type of amazement, and even more so, is felt when we turn our hearts and eyes toward the King of kings.
The Psalmist begins this song of gratitude with a heart inclined to the Lord. We do not know what is going on in the life of the psalmist while this was written, but whatever the circumstances, the psalmist was putting praise and thanksgiving first. We often let our situations dictate our level of thankfulness. We get distracted by people, work, and things. This psalm teaches us to first set our hearts and praise on the Lord.
Today, read over these three verses several times. Make the words your own prayer; write them down and post them somewhere, or even try to memorize them. Then, set aside five minutes to praise the Lord and give thanks for how good and faithful He is, just as the author of this psalm inspires us to do.
Make a list of 2-3 things about God that you are most grateful for.
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Day 2 – Psalm 145:4-7
“One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”
Our culture celebrates athletes, celebrities, influencers, and the like. There are awards given to the best directors, actors, and vocalists. The world honors its own talent and good deeds done. Yet little attention is given to what the Lord is doing. You will not often see glory given to God when you turn on the television or scroll through social media.
In this part of Psalm 145, the psalmist affirms the significance of telling others about the glorious splendor of the Lord. God’s works are miraculous and perfect, they are unselfish and bold, they are loving and powerful. These are the works that we should meditate on. These are the good things we should celebrate and tell the world about.
It is easy to spend time admiring what other people are doing and accomplishing, but Scripture challenges us to speak about God’s mighty acts. We should proclaim God’s goodness and righteousness. Part of giving thanks and cultivating a grateful heart is to talk about and share the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in our lives.
Today, read through this passage a few times. Write down 2-3 ways in which God has done good and beautiful things in your life over the past year. Then, take five minutes in prayer to thank God for these works He has done in your life. Pray for the opportunity to tell someone about one thing God has done for you or helped you with. It is important to share your story of how God has made a difference in your life and to tell of His awesome works.
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Day 3 – Psalm 145:8-9
"The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made."
It does not take a person long in life to learn that people make mistakes, hurt each other, and lack understanding for one another. People will let us down, seem to love with strings attached, and put unreasonable expectations on each other. God is different, though. He is much, much different and in all the right ways.
Scripture teaches time and time again that God is gracious and kind. God is full of compassion and has never-ending love. He looks on His children with mercy. Sometimes, we think God must be upset with us or disappointed because we make mistakes, hurt others, and sin. God is not up in heaven, waving His finger sternly at you or shaking His head in disappointment. In fact, He is slow to anger and rich in love.
These two verses encourage us that we can give thanks because we have a God who loves us deeply. He is good to all, and He is good to you. If you ever wonder or worry if God’s grace will run out, look to Scripture to affirm that His grace is like a fountain that can never run dry. God is gracious and compassionate all the time and nothing will change that. God is slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all. Nothing you do or that happens in this world will cause Him to change His mind about being good. We can trust who God is and that He will remain who He is even when we mess up and the world around us seems chaotic.
Today, read through these two verses several times. Try to memorize them, and then write them down and focus on a certain aspect of God’s character in these verses that means the most to you. Make these verses your own prayer of praise to the Lord, giving thanks for the goodness of God.
For the day, commit to being slow to anger and rich in love. You can do this by being patient with others and reacting to situations with a more loving and gentle response.
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Day 4 – Psalm 145:10-13a
"All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations."
Here we find encouragement to give thanks because God’s kingdom will endure all generations. God’s kingdom is glorious, it is everlasting, and filled with praise. God has a kingdom that is unshakable. It withstands the greatest tragedies and evil. It endures through the ups and downs of human history. It is a kingdom that those who follow the Lord can enjoy.
We live in a world plagued by wars, poverty, hunger, corruption. At times, you may wonder, what is there to be thankful for anyway? Life can get discouraging or sad, and we wonder if God is still in control. We can be grateful that even though evil may seem to win each day, God’s kingdom is everlasting and His mighty acts will never cease. We can trust that God remains sovereign and in control of all things.
As believers, we await the return of Christ and the fullness of God’s kingdom come. We pray, we wait, and we hope for an eternity in God’s kingdom. The Lord will reign forever more. When life seems hard, we can put our hope in the day when Jesus will return and He will once and for all rid the world of evil, suffering, and pain.
Today, read over these verses a few times. Write down 1-2 things that excite you most about God’s kingdom. Spend five minutes in prayer to thank God for His control over everything and that there will be a day when evil is defeated in totality. As you give thanks, your trust and hope in God will deepen.
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Day 5 – Psalm 145:13b-16
“The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does
The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”
This passage shows us that we can give thanks because God is faithful to keep His promises and provides for our needs. God takes care of those who are struggling or having a hard time. God does not disappear when we go through life’s hardships, rather He is drawn to those who are in need. He deeply values and loves humanity and has not left us on our own.
Consider a time, perhaps it is now, in which you struggled to have what you truly needed. Maybe you couldn’t keep up with rent, you didn’t have enough food to feed your family, or you did not have reliable transportation to get to work or school. God understands the challenges we face. God knows that we live in a broken world, which sadly means that many people lack access to basic needs and necessities. God is not unaware. God has not forsaken us, and He has not forsaken you.
Scripture teaches that God meets our needs. He is mindful of humanity and takes care of the world. We can give thanks because of His commitment to His children. Those who put their faith in God and follow Him can trust He will keep His promises and take care of them. When you are downtrodden, God will lift you up. When you are in need, God will provide a way. We can rely on the Lord when we need help. We can look expectantly to Him.
Today, read through these verses a couple times. Write down 2-3 things in your life that you struggle to trust God with or list a couple needs that you feel you are lacking. Spend five minutes in prayer, asking God to help you trust Him more, to satisfy your needs and struggles according to His good will, and thank Him for taking care of you each day.
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Day 6 – Psalm 145:17-20
“The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.”
What we learn from these verses is that we can be thankful even when we are going through a tough time. We can be thankful that God hears our cries and notices when we are hurting. We can be thankful that God is close to all those who call upon Him. When we cry out to God, He hears. He draws near to those who are hurting or suffering. God comforts us when we are experiencing sorrow. He saves His people and watches over those who love Him.
Have you ever felt alone? Did you ever feel as though no one cared? Sometimes, it feels like we are on our own in this life. We have to advocate for ourselves, take care of ourselves, and defend ourselves. We feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders and our survival depends on our own self-sufficiency. That can be an overwhelming and burdensome way to feel or think. Feelings like this are common, but they do not align with Scripture.
This psalm speaks truth when we are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. This psalm declares the goodness of God even when we are going through painful seasons in which we cry out and need saving. God is there. God is with you through it all. He is close to you and brings comfort and hope.
Today, as you read over these verses several times, give thanks for God’s presence that remains close to those who follow Him. Give thanks that God hears every prayer and sees every tear you cry. Give thanks that God watches over you and keeps you. Write down 2-3 ways God has helped you recently and then go to Him with prayers of thanksgiving for His loving presence.
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Day 7 – Psalm 145:21
“My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.”
In our final day of this journey through Psalm 145, we find ourselves back to where we started. The psalmist began with giving praise to the Lord in the first few verses, and that is the way this psalm ends. This psalm encourages us and teaches us that no matter what, we can give thanks because God really is the good, faithful, and loving God He says He is. He keeps His promises and is there for you in every circumstance.
Do you spend time each day praising the Lord? Do you speak more praises or judgments? Consider what comes out of your mouth and if praise is a priority. We learn from this psalm that praising the Lord is vital to cultivating a grateful heart and right perspective. God is present. God is with you always, and for that, you can give thanks.
We can rely on the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us foster a more grateful perspective and mindset. Scripture is filled with lament, crying out, frustration, and also, praise, blessing, and thanksgiving. Our lives our similar. We have both joys and sorrows. Through it all, we can praise the Lord and be thankful for who He is and how He is always with His beloved children.
Even though this seven-day journal is complete, your journey of thankfulness is just beginning! Commit to taking 5 minutes each day to spend time in prayer, giving thanks to God. Write down 1-2 things each day that you are thankful for, and then tell God about it in prayer as you thank Him for the goodness He brings to your life.
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A Prayer to Be Thankful This Thanksgiving Season
Gracious and compassionate Lord,
I praise You for Your goodness and faithfulness. Thank You for taking care of me and that I can trust You keep your promises. I feel overwhelmed some days, I struggle, and at times, I feel alone. I want to have a grateful heart, not just because Thanksgiving is coming up, but because of who You are. I want to find something each day to be grateful for because of You. You are the author of my life and my provider. Help me to be thankful this time of year and always. Help me to set aside time each day to consider what I am grateful for and to spend more time with You. Create in me a grateful heart that is inclined to trust and hope in You.
In Jesus’ name,
Although this seven-day Thanksgiving journal is complete, you are just beginning your journey to foster gratitude daily in your life. It starts with keeping your eyes on God and being confident in His goodness.
Psalm 145 is a bold declaration of who God is and why He is worthy of all praise. Even if life is hard, we can still give thanks because of the goodness of God. As you practice thankfulness, you can become an inspiration and witness to others. Your praise and thanksgiving can lead others to give thanks and put their trust in God, too.
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Originally published Tuesday, 14 November 2023.