(2 Corinthians 9:15) – Those who receive emails or texts from me know that I often close with this Scripture. It’s a great place to begin, end and fill all things in between with gratitude…“Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift (Jesus).” Parentheses added
I must wholeheartedly confess that I’m a Grade A, #1, certified Holiday junkie! I’m especially known in my family and circle of friends as a “CHRISTmas freak” and I do overlap CHRISTmas with Thanksgiving. I don’t do it to diminish Thanksgiving but to add to it! I begin decorations the 1st weekend of November and usually don’t take them down until mid or late January! I know there are many who start much earlier and end much later…I know there are some who only to 1 day for Thanksgiving and one evening and day for CHRISTmas!?! I fully get the longer period and don’t understand at all the 1 or 2 days but I know you have your reasons! Just don’t hate on me for how I do it as I certainly won’t hate on you for celebrating Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas as you deem best for you and your family!
I know there is often much pain in life and relationships, hardships and losses, and it is especially more so at this time of year! I want to be sensitive to that, and am even more so, as this will be the first year in my life and in my family without my dear Mother who passed away just a few weeks ago on September 7 and my wife’s stepfather who passed away on October 19. There will be memories and recollections that will bring tears with them gone but there will be much more laughter and thanksgiving because of so many wonderful years together! I hope this message encourages you, no matter what you’ve been through or are going through, to be a person of gratitude…a thankful person.
Everything in my life that I love and hold dear I owe thanks to my Savior and Lord who left all of Heaven to become fully God and fully man so He could die on a cruel cross to pay a debt of sin that I could never pay and give me the gift of freedom and eternal life in Him that I could never earn! More on this as we move through Thanksgiving and specifically into the CHRISTmas season.
For now, I simply want to give you my reasons (and I pray they are or will become your reasons) for giving thanks in all things (Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
- Give thanks to God because He is God…there is no other and we can rest assured that His promises and presence will never fail us (Joshua 21:45; 23:14; 1 Kings 8:56). No matter what we may face, He is good for His Word…not based on how we think it ought to be but much better for how He knows it ought to be! You can always count on Him even when you’re not sure. He is sure and always has your best in mind. In line with this…
- Give thanks to God because He is Sovereign, Faithful and Good – we see God referred to as Sovereign (ruling over all) nearly 300 times in Scripture. All are powerful either in those who recognize and honor His Sovereignty in their lives, the events around them and in all of creation…or in the consequences of those who fail to recognize Him as such. One of the most touching, personal and powerful to me is found in Luke 2:29 when the righteous and devout Simeon who had been promised and waited on The Lord to allow him to see The Messiah. Sovereign. Faithful. Good. Even when we don’t see it, feel it, understand it or agree with it…God is Good and we can count on Him (Romans 8:28). So give thanks to Him for Who He Is in your life and in all of creation!
- Give thanks because of all His wonderful provision and blessings (Romans 5:17; Philippians 4:19). He will provide everything you need according to all He has given us in Christ. One of the best things you can do when life and needs and others seem to be dragging you down is to simply take some time to write down, count and thank God for your blessings. If we will take the time and be honest we will find that they are many…life, breath, food, shelter, clothing, friends, talents, opportunities, successes, marriage, spouse, children, job, joy, peace, contentment, etc. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture and as we do stop to thank Him for each and every blessing it changes our hearts and attitudes allowing us to recognize and give thanks for even more.
- Give thanks for…saving me from sin and myself (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9); justifying me or making it as though I never sinned (Romans 3:21-26; 5:1); sanctifying me or setting me apart for His perfect will and good purpose (1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 10:10-14); reconciling me into a relationship with God The Father, Son and Spirit that I could have in no other way (2 Corinthians 5:18), for making me His masterpiece in Christ (Ephesians 2:10), and for giving me new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Give thanks for, and rejoice in, every trial, tribulation, struggle and setback (James 1:2-4). When I was walking totally in my flesh I blamed God for everything so it was kind of, okay, impossible, to thank Him for anything. As I have grown and continue to mature in Christ, I have seen more and more how even the toughest situations, circumstances, relationships, and even failures are simply ways that He points me to Himself and His Truth and grows me more and more to be like Him. I have learned and grown so much more in my trials and struggles than I have in my successes and victories so I have learned to truly choose to be thankful and even choose to rejoice in the midst of hardships and problems because I know He is at work for good. This also causes me to recognize Him as Lord…always!
- Giving thanks for Jesus (2 Corinthians 9:15)! Do you see a theme in this Thanksgiving? It’s all about Jesus! Everything mentioned above and so much more, I not only have but am thankful for because of Jesus leaving all of Heaven, coming to earth as a man and giving His life for me (and all who will believe in Him)! Everything, even the difficulties and struggles, give me an opportunity to know and grow more in my love for Him and become like Him!
Hebrews 13:15 in the King James Version tells us exactly what praising God for all He has given us and, done for us in Christ, should look like…it is a continual offering of praise which is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to Him!
Is there any reason or doubt as to why we should not give thanks in all things…all the wonderful things we have in Christ, all the opportunities and challenges we have because of Him, all the blessings and gifts we have in Him, yes, even all the trials and pain we face, overcome and grow in…because He came and gave everything for us? No wonder God’s Word tells us to “give thanks in everything” because when we do we not only recognize Him for Who He Is but we also are recognizing that He belongs on the throne of our hearts and lives. In giving thanks in all things we know that we can trust Him…no matter what!
I’m not saying at all that you need to celebrate Thanksgiving and CHRISTmas the way that I do. Each and every one of us has the freedom to enjoy and count our blessings the way that we would like and the way that means the most to us. I’m just saying that everything that I give thanks for in this Thanksgiving season is because He left all the glories of Heaven, came to earth to take my place and receive the punishment and payment for my sin(s) and offers me eternal life with Him. Why would I not give thanks for everything that this good, great and Sovereign God brings or allows into my life? I can trust Him in everything, therefore I will thank Him in all things!
Make it a great day and Thanksgiving season with family and loved ones in and for The Lord (2 Corinthians 9:15)!
Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – If you only give thanks when you get what you want, and/or when you avoid any tough outcomes, I question whether you really understand gratitude and Christ as Lord. Learn to give thanks in all things and let Him teach you why…this will be one of the greatest blessings of your life and especially your relationship with Him!
Love and Lordship…Action Item(s) –
- Read the Scriptures in this article and ask The Holy Spirit to teach you.
- Make a list of all the things you are thankful for.
- Make a list of all the things you wish were not in your life.
- Begin to give thanks for both the lists in 2) and 3) above.