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This Bible Study by my son Charles delves into nuances found in the original Hebrew and Greek words. I hope it blesses you, as it did me.



The Ministry of Giving Thanks
by Charles Finney Shepherd

The American Heritage Dictionary defines thanks
as to give acknowledgement of gratitude.
In the October 2007 edition of the Readers Digest, an article on being thankful caught my eye. The article is called "How the new science of 'thank you' can change your life." It is about two professors who did a study on having a grateful mindset and came up with very beneficial results. Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, also has a PHD. Dr. Michael McCullough is also a psychology professor but at the University of Miami. Together, they conducted a study about having an attitude of gratitude and came up with these results: people who have a grateful mindset felt better about their lives, were more optimistic, were more joyful, exercised more, had fewer illnesses, got more sleep, and were more likely to help someone in need. These are not all of the benefits, in fact, "related studies have shown benefits that can be arguably linked to a grateful mindset: clearer thinking, better resilience during tough times, higher immune response, less likelihood of being plagued by stress, longer lives, closer family times and greater religiousness."

It pleases me to know that science is being used to reaffirm God's biblical truths. God is well pleased with those who are thankful. In Phil. 4:6-7 Paul tells us to "Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus." And then again in I Thess. 5:16-18 Paul tells us to "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." We would be remiss if we didn't consistently give thanks for the beautiful creation God has put in our care. Just like the Psalmist says in 33:5 and 117:15, 43 the more we give thanks, the more we are blessed by the creator of the universe. (Isaiah 51:3)

Word Focus
Give Thanks: "The Hebrew word yadah means "to make public acknowledgement." (Psalm 105:1, 122:4, 136:1)(Reference New King James Version Bible page 988 and Strong's #3034) Surprisingly in the Hebrew language, there is no verb that means "to thank" in the way the English word thank you is used as a common expression of gratitude between people. The meaning of the Hebrew word is "to make public acknowledgement" and its association with the Hebrew noun yad, meaning "hand" suggests hands out stretched toward God. The word is used regularly in the Bible to God's person and attributes, and the public testimony to what he did on the cross for His people. This is the core meaning of praise. Old Testament believers such as Leah [in the book of] Genesis the 29th [chapter starting in verse] 35, and David in 2 Chronicles 7:6, the psalmist(7:17, 42:5, 118:21) and prophets (Isaiah 25:1, Jeremiah 33:11) all gave thanks, praising His mercy toward them."

Colossians 4:2 tells us to "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving."

Thanksgiving: "The Hebrew word for thanksgiving is todah. (the title of Ps. 100; 69:30, 100:4) Strongs #8426 The Hebrew word todah is derived from the verb yadah. In it's simplest form yadah means 'to throw' or 'to cast' and common forms of the verb mean to 'acknowledge' or 'confess' or 'praise'. Thus todah is an "acknowledgement" or confession either of one's own shortcomings or of God's goodness. (100:4, 107:22) Another meaning of todah is 'thanksgiving offering,' which was an optional sacrifice made to express thanks to God. (Lev. 7:12-15, 22:29) Psalm 100 is a typical psalm for use when giving such an offering, praising God's righteousness in contrast to the people's in (as in Psalm 51:14) and confessing God's greatness as through singing as in Psalm 147:7.

The title of Psalm 145 is also a title of thanksgiving. Psalm 145 is a Psalm of King David and since we know that David was a man after God's own heart (I Samuel 13:14) we know that giving thanks is highly esteemed [by God] emphasis mine.

Joy: The Hebrew word for joy is simchah (Psalm 16:11, Neh. 8:12, 17, Proverbs 21:15, John 4:6) Strong's # 8057: This Hebrew word is one of several frequently occurring Hebrew words that express exceeding gladness, or rejoicing. Like its synonyms, this word can apply to a disposition of the heart. (Proverbs 14:10, Jer. 15:16) it is in prophecy concerning God's singing over Jerusalem (Zeph. 3:17). The word is also used for senseless happiness of the enemies of the Lord's people (Judges 16:23, Ezek. 35:15, 36:5) of the foolish (Proverbs 15:21), of the lazy (Proverbs 21:17) and of the hypocrites (Job 20:5). However, joy in the Bible is usually associated with the people of God, who celebrate God's blessing at a number of occasions feasts, coronations of Kings, victories in battle, and the dedication of the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem (Number. 10:10, I King 1:40, 2 Chr 20:27, Neh. 12:27) In fact, Moses exhorts the Israelites to serve God with joy, so that they would not loose their blessing (see Deut. 28:47).

Psalm 16:11 "You will show me the path of life, In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forever more."

Having an attitude of gratitude is difficult when you are not happy. It is very demanding and can be hard to maintain on a daily basis. So how do we develop being thankful all the time? Well, there is prayer of course. God will be pleased if we ask Him to help us to be more thankful. Then there is recording our thanks. Keep a nightly journal before bed, writing down three things that you're grateful for. For example, we can read and write, we have a family that loves us, [in the physical and in the spiritual] and a Savior who died for us. We have a lot to be grateful for.


Charles Finney Shepherd
Oregon Department of Corrections - Inmate Mail
Institution: OSP SID: 16760136
2605 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97310-0505


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