To stress the importance of this topic there is need to recall the firework fanfare with which people welcomed the New Year 2016 at the Times Square in New York. New Yorkers and millions of Television viewers were exceedingly happy that they were able to cross-over to the New Year. However, not all that kept vigil really knew why they kept vigil to usher in, the year of our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe Christians knew it was the height of thanksgiving to the Lord that spared their life for so many evils had claimed many people’s life and were consequently not able to witness the transition from the out-going year into the new one. Oh! what a lovely sight it was as the firework rose to sky. It was a moment of great joy. People were ecstatic just to be like others without thinking about the spiritual meaning of the ceremony.
A deeper insight into what ought to be paramount in our mind is the believer’s understanding of having succeeded in crossing over to the New Year. Many wanted to but were unable without having sinned to an extent that one could say it was due to their sin. We do not own ourselves, we belong to our creator, the author and finisher of our faith. We believe, what He says He would do and what He does, He would say. Again, it is not only that we did not die before the New Year; there are other areas of life in which we receive God’s blessings at individual level, household, co-workers, friends and relations. Indeed, any good thing that happens to any one belonging to this category brings joy to the circle of people. Other events that call for thanksgiving, include the birth of new born baby, promotion at work, house warming, birthday party, surviving a ghastly accident or getting over a critical situation that defies rational of scientific explanation. All that one can say is “Thank you Lord”. New Year celeberation we believe is a milestone in the life of every individual, because it is not as of right. There is no constitutional fundamental human right clause binding The Lord to grant us life. So, in all things give thanks.
To every Christian, we need to thank and praise His holy name for the inestimable gift of life as well as the opportunity to serve in His vineyard in the kingdom work of seeking lost souls. Besides, what of the daily blessings we receive? We pay for electricity and do not pay for the sun that shines, from where man taps solar energy that they turn around to charge fees. Mississippi River , geograpghers told us is the longest river in the world. It supplies water for transportation , irrigation and the alluvial soil it deposits along the areas it traverses. God never charges us a dime for these free gifts but man turns round to charge fees on water travel on the river, and farmers that use the aluvial soil and irrigated water in their never remit neither cash nor check to God for these free gifts while man turns round to charge fees on any opportunity created from the free gift. They have a point though, in that if there is no value added we could not have derived maximum benefit from them. Let us face it, God demands from us to give thanks as his payback for His transcendental efforts.
There is a gulf of difference between thanksgiving and praising Him. A song writer has helped to bring out the difference: “I will enter His gate with thanksgiving in my heart; I enter his court with praise “, the idea is that Thanksgiving is saying that Lord I am grateful for immediate things you have done or you continue to do that I benefit from; praises go further than that. You use praises to massage ego of someone you appreciate and revere. Praise does not have conotation for ephemeral benefits. It is more of refering to more fundamental and spiritual aspects of life. By the time we are thanking God, we are calling His attention to past goodness. The gate to His heart is being opened to receive praises for who He is as the our faithful God whose steadfast love never ceases, His mercies never come to an end , for, they are new every morning. It is from everlasting to everlasting. No wonder, at the height of Paul and Silas’ praising God in Jesus name, even in detention and under heavy stock, God caused an earthquake that shatered the chain used to hold them down in maximum prison, the locked gate flung open. When the jailor woke up he felt they have escaped and wanted to kill himself but Paul assured him not to for no prisoner escaped. We believe that the praise caused God much joy that He caused the earth to quake and made their release a foregone conclusion. When they were brought for judgement the following day the fear of he Lord who caused them to panic made them to only flog and not kill them. By hind sight one can say that by God’s acknowledging the praises of Paul and Silas, He caused the vestigies of oppression and wickedness to be broken and completely shattered.
Anyone caught in the middle of crossfire of opposing forces in any war zone and survived would really know how to thank and praise God. Such survival is more of a miracle than a mere rescue. This is the essence of Psalm 100:4-5; “Enter into his gate with thanksgiving, and into His court with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good ; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations”.(NKJV)