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In her book, Suffering Is Never For Nothing, Elisabeth Elliot recounted a time when her younger brother helped their whole family learn about obedience. In their poor family, toys were scarce, so Elliot’s mother let little Tommy take out a few toys. The rule never changed; he could play with the toys but had to put them back in the drawer when he was finished. One day little Tommy opted to not pick up the toys, so his mom reminded him, but he ignored her. Their father was playing the piano and singing hymns, so little Tommy smiled broadly and told his mother, “But I wanna sing ‘Jesus Loves Me.’” The music suddenly stopped as the father used the moment to teach a profound truth by saying, “Tommy, it’s no good singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ when you’re disobeying your mother.” Elliot’s father went on to explain, “the best way to worship God is with obedience.
As we approach one of the most unique Thanksgivings in modern memory, we would do well to remember that principle and apply it to our Thanksgiving attitudes. There is ample temptation to get distracted from worshipping and thanking God by complaining, but the best expressions of gratitude will come from obedience to God in thought, word, and deed – even during times of change and inconvenience. From his prison cell, the Apostle Paul offers this “Thanksgiving verse” to the believers in Colossae that we would be wise to obey and apply this week:
(Colossians 4:6-8) The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.