In 1609 the Italian scientist Galileo used a new invention called a telescope to become the first man to see craters on the moon. His telescope used glass lenses to magnify objects up to 30 times larger than could be seen with the naked eye. Around the same time, Hans Lippershey, a German spectacle-maker, invented binoculars, two similar telescopes, one for each eye, mounted on a single frame. Rightly enough, Hans called his new invention a “looker.”
Though not many of us are astronomers, advancements of the same technology produce riflescopes that enhance our aim and binoculars that improve our ability to peer deep into the woods, in search of that big buck deer. Of course, lens magnification does not change the size of the object; it just enlarges our view of the object. The binocular makes things appear larger to the viewer, revealing details that were previously hidden.
So, when we magnify God, the thing that is changed is our view, understanding, love and appreciation of Him. We know from Scripture that He is the same—He doesn’t change. He is perfect—He doesn’t need to improve. He is complete—He needs nothing else. But when we magnify Him, our perspective of Him—our view of Him—is enhanced and enlarged. As we focus more closely on who He is, what He is like, what He has done, and what He plans to do, our appreciation of Him is enriched. Our view of Him is expanded. And, our lives will be blessed if we magnify the Lord—“O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:3). The more we learn of Him, the more precious the Lord will become in our lives.
One way we magnify God is by giving genuine thanks to Him. The psalmist David wrote, “I will praise the name of God with song, and magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the LORD better than an ox or a young bull with horns and hoofs” (Psalm 69:30, 31). One prescribed way to magnify God is to give private and corporate thanks to Him. Offering God sincere thanks glorifies Him, and displays the work and person of God. These verses teach that when His people practice genuine thanksgiving, it magnifies God far better than giving offerings. God prefers your praise and gratitude to your money and sacrifice.
This practice of praise, appreciation and thanksgiving to God ought to be continual. The Lord is so worthy that thanks should never cease to be expressed from our hearts and lips, no matter what circumstances we face. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians that, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Do you want to do God’s will? Begin by being grateful and thankful all the time.
As you observe Thanksgiving this week, why not stop and count your blessings?
The first American Thanksgiving in the fall of 1621 came about because the Pilgrims desired to specifically thank God for His bounty and care of them. Their first winter in America had been harsh, resulting in the death of almost half the settlers at Plymouth Rock. But the following spring and summer, they saw a bountiful harvest. Quite naturally, those God-fearing people declared a special holy day with a season of thanksgiving to God. There was no menu of deep-fried turkey at their feast, but they had plenty of venison, corn and vegetables for their three-day celebration.
The Pilgrims set a pattern by celebrating Thanksgiving after the fall harvest that continued through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and is still practiced today.
One hundred and sixty-eight years after the first Thanksgiving, President George Washington signed a proclamation on October 3, 1789, that read in part:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor …we recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God ….That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks.”
Most of us have a tendency to seek God in humility and thanksgiving only after difficult times come our way. That was true with the Pilgrims on the first Thanksgiving. It was true of Jonah, who cried to God from the belly of the great fish, “I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving” (Jonah 2:9). And it may be true of you as well. Offering thanks to God is the right response to tough times. But we do not have to wait for catastrophe to offer praise. We can always glorify Him—no matter what!
During Thanksgiving this year, be sure to remember God and His abundant blessing and protection, and thank Him for it. As your family or friends gather around your table Thursday or Friday, why not stop, hold hands, and offer a public prayer of gratitude to your God, Creator and Savior? Your family will be blessed, God will be praised, and you will be glad. That is what Thanksgiving is about!
Let’s follow the Psalmist’s encouragement to, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:4, 5).
I pray that your Thanksgiving celebration honors your Lord, strengthens your faith, blesses your family and energizes your service to Him. Remember: It magnifies God when we give Him thanks! Happy Thanksgiving!