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Thanksgiving and Pruning: The Sweet and the Sour

Updated: Feb 26

This is our month of pruning.


Pruning is when God takes what is bearing fruit, and cuts off the withered or unproductive portions so that it may bear even more fruit (John 15:2). This pruning makes us more productive into achieving our full potential.


And although at times a rigorous process, we must remember that pruning is not to hurt us but to make what is fruitful more fruitful.


In a previous article, we talked about pruning for fruitfulness. You can read that article here.


This article will be about the pruning, and our understanding of thanksgiving.


What is the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving?


First, let’s get into the definition of thanksgiving in this context.

Thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude to God. Now, the sacrifice of thanksgiving is different (Leviticus 22:29). What is a sacrifice of thanksgiving? It is our free will expression of gratitude to God. Giving out of a cheerful heart, in genuine gratitude, as a sweet-smelling aroma to God.


We see this in Genesis 8:20-22, Noah offered sacrifices of thanksgiving out of his own free will and it was noted as something that was pleasing to God.

What are the ways we can express these sacrifices of thanksgiving?


1) We can express it through prayer.

We see this with Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1-2. Despite having troubles in bearing a child, she gives thanks to the Almighty.

2) We can raise songs of thanksgiving.

Psalms 136:1 declares “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever”.

3) We can offer thanksgiving when we share our testimonies.

Psalms 22:21-22, “Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you”.

4) And lastly, we can offer thanksgiving by bringing something to the altar.

2 Chronicles 33:16, “Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel”.


Now let’s discuss the sweet and sourness of this pruning process. In our different seasons, we are met with pruning and that can produce sweet and sour tastes in our lives.

THE SWEETNESS OF THANKSGIVING



The expectations from God of us in our sweet season is to give thanks. In the physical world, we give thanks when someone holds the door for us, or when we are given the last slice of pizza.


But how do we respond when God does things for us? We can call the response of giving thanks a Spiritual Civility. We must remember, our title as Christians is not just a title, it is not just a religion, it is a relationship with God. And in relationships we serve one another and communicate with manners (Luke 17:14-18).

What is sacrifice of thanksgiving? It is our free will expression of gratitude to God. Giving out of a cheerful heart, in genuine gratitude, is a sweet-smelling aroma to God.

This is an important element in our relationship with Abba Father. Think about it this way, your thanksgiving should be equivalent to the number of hours you put in praying for your issues/goals. When good things happen, big or small, we must remember how much we wanted it before we were given it. Give thanks. When we don’t, we become spiritually uncivilized.

 

Why is giving thanks so important outside of being civilized?


We give thanks because we are designed to give thanks to God, irrespective of what is happening. Every time we do not give thanks, we are operating out of our design. When things operate outside of their design, we witness a malfunction (Psalms 79:13).


Another reason is that God is big on honor. In Psalms 50:23 we see that giving an offering of thanks allows us to honor Him. When we honor God, he honors us (1 Samuel 2:30).


Remember, God is a God who loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. And in good relationships we encounter servitude.


THE SOUR OF THANKSGIVING


 

On to the sour...

 

When we give our lives to Christ, let’s remember it is not a sunshine and roses 24/7 experience. When Jesus said, “take up your cross and follow me”, the cross which was an experience of long suffering, is what we must carry. And despite that experience we follow Him into salvation, into resurrection, into everlasting life.

...the things that matter on earth do not necessarily matter in heaven. The priority is on what matters in heaven. Our spiritual lives are the most important thing to God

When things become sour, it is common that we have all kinds of thoughts. We may think, why are bad things happening to me? Am I out of favor with God? Am I unrighteous? What have I done to deserve this? But we must remember that in the sour seasons we must carry on with our focus still on God (1Thessalonians 5:18). Our value is not measured based on what happens to us.

 

For example, we see a case of extreme sourness in Job’s life. Some of us ask questions about why such a thing would happen to such a righteous man.


But instead, we can focus on the truth of God that the things that matter on earth do not necessarily matter in heaven. The priority is on what matters in heaven. Our spiritual lives are the most important thing to God. It is where our everlasting life lies (John 3:16).

...meditate on all the things He has done, is doing and will do. Think, “what could have gone wrong but didn’t”.

We must remember this key truth because there is always a reason to God’s seasons. Job grew mature in his spirit. Whilst in the sour of sours, we see Job in divine humility, fall to the ground in worship of a God who he acknowledges is the creator of all things (Job 1:20-22).


His loyalty was not based on only the sweet times but even in the sour he still loved and trusted God.

 

PRACTICING GRATITUDE AND THE SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING



How can we practice this attitude of gratitude and sacrifices of thanksgiving? We can have a quiet time for giving God thanks. During this time, we meditate on all the things He has done, is doing and will do. Think, “what could have gone wrong but didn’t”.

Remember God remains the same through all seasons - both the sweet and the sour. Give thanks because God is always working through our seasons

Let those moments create a fire of thanksgiving to be offered in the genuineness of your heart to the Most High. We can use Job’s honorable stance and even when we don’t understand what is going on we still remember who God is, trust that He is good, and praise His name. Ask God to remind you of who He is, to have a revelation of Him.

 

Remember God remains the same through all seasons - both the sweet and the sour. Give thanks because God is always working through our seasons (John 11:39-41).

 

Let us conclude today leaving with the understanding that God wants to prune us and give us a deeper understanding of thanksgiving. That our voices must blow sounds of thanks, no matter what season we find ourselves in.


What you do when you don’t get what you are looking for is as important in what you do when you receive it.

 

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