When Noah came down from the Ark after his life and that of his family were spared from the deluge, the first thing he did was to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving onto God. He did not wait until they were all settled, neither did he wait to cultivate the land and raise his livestock in order to replenish all they lost to the flood before giving thanks to God. He understood that thanksgiving is a priority that must not be delayed. Please read through these verses of scripture below.
And God spake unto Noah, saying,  Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee.  Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.  And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him:  Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.  And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord ; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:15-22 KJV
Similarly, ten lepers came to Jesus asking for healing and Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priest, but as they were going to show themselves to the priest they discovered they have been healed. One of them with a great shout glorified God and went back to give thanks and express his gratitude to Jesus. He did not delay his thanksgiving in anyway. Note that he went back to Jesus to give thanks before any other thing. Yes, he must have gone to show himself to the priest as commanded by Jesus, but this was after he had given thanks to God. It is possible that the other Nine were not entirely ungrateful, but intended to come and give thanks at a later date. Unfortunately for them, God doesn’t like that. He doesn’t like it when you delay appreciating him or giving him thanks. Read through and see yourself.
 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,  And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.  And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.  And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. Luke 17:14-19 KJV
If you read through carefully, you will discover that our Lord Jesus was also scolding the other nine that did not come back to give thanks for taking him for granted. They had become so familiar with him that they considered it unnecessary to appreciate him. The one that came back was a Samaritan. Jesus said,” Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” God frowns at those that have become familiar with him. He is not happy with those who would not carry out his instructions with urgency, accuracy and alacrity.
Thanksgiving is a priority in our relationship with God and He wants us to see it that way. In Palms 100:4-5, the Bible says,” Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” The fiftieth Psalm also commands:
“Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:  And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Psalm 50:14-15 KJV
Apostle Paul could not be more emphatic in his first letter to the Thessalonians. He wrote, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV
It is in the light of these that we have set aside July 4, the day we shall return to our regular in-church service schedule, as our Back to church Thanksgiving Sunday. In July 4, we shall specially appreciate God for keeping us through the pandemic, COVID-19. We have counted, and none of us is missing. This pandemic was devastating to many people, businesses and nations, but in the midst of it God did not only preserve us, he prospered us as well. Many of our members moved into their own homes and many got their dream job. Others prospered in their jobs and businesses. More importantly, contrary to the expectation of the devil, God has enlarged the coast of His word via this church during this pandemic. It was during this pandemic that YouTube and Facebook became part of our platform for reaching out to the world. God was faithful to his promises, particularly the ones stated below:
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Psalm 91:7 KJV
When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person. Job 22:29 KJV
But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. Exodus 1:12 KJV
God has truly been God to us and we are going to let him know we appreciate him by coming to his presence looking gorgeous, we are going to sing praise to him and dance in his presence. We are also going to give our thanksgiving offerings and rejoice in his presence this 4th of July. We are not going to be named among the nine that did not come back to appreciate him, neither are we going to take God for granted nor become familiar with him. Like Noah we are going to offer God the best; the best of our singing, the best of dancing, and the best of our giving.
It is pertinent to note here that every time we give thanks, God smells a sweet savor and always pronounces a blessing.
“And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake;  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
Thanksgiving also brings about perfection or completion. When that Samaritan came back to give thanks to the Lord, Jesus responded, “And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” To be made whole is different from being healed. Someone that is made whole would have no trace of the sickness, or disease he was healed of. In the case of this leper who was healed and came back to appreciate God, the scars left on his skin by this disease were wiped out. It also ensures that the disease will not return.
We also know that that thanksgiving is the key into his presence. The Bible say, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” We must be able to get into his presence before we can make our demands or have any meaningful fellowship with him. Thanks giving and praise is the key to that.
And let us not forget to mention that when we give thanks, we engage God to keep, to bless and to intervene in our affairs in the future. Psalm 50:14 and 15 say, “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:  And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” It is important that we understand that although the word ‘thanksgiving’ denotes appreciating God for what he has already done, the purpose of thanksgiving is more of keeping God engaged in our lives. The logic here is, if we want God to continue with us, we must appreciate, thank and praise Him for all He has done already.
We want to therefore encourage you to bring your friends and loved ones to celebrate and appreciate God for His manifold blessings and mercies on us. We also want you to come with gratitude in your heart toward God for keeping you throughout COVID-19. We encourage you to come looking your best, and be ready to sing praises and dance in His presence. Let us glorify His name in thanksgiving, in praises and in the dance. Come also with a seed offering, and I see God blessing you beyond your wildest imagination.
Thanks for reading through.
Pastor Ebi Thourn