This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Pastor Brent
What Are You Thankful for This Year?
Over the next week, Christians around our nation will take time to reflect on things for which they are thankful. This is a wonderful exercise and one that should not be confined to a few days a year. One of the most important responses to the gift of salvation is gratitude to God for all he has done for us. High on the list will be gratitude for a year of health and material stability or prosperity. These are things for which we should be thankful indeed. I get around to different places in the world enough to see that we are uniquely blessed as a people with nearly every material blessing we can imagine. Part of the exercise of gratitude is not taking these things for granted.
However, might I suggest that as Christians there are more important things for which to be grateful that we often neglect? As pleasant as material comforts can be, do they not pale in comparison to the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ? How often do we give thanks that we have been adopted into God’s family, are given the right to be called his children and share a spiritual inheritance with Christ? Or that we can be confident of an eternity to spend with him? Or that we have the fruit of the Spirit, exemplified by love, joy, peace, etc.; qualities that are otherwise so elusive in our world today? Do we express gratitude for the fact that God chooses to use us to serve the Kingdom? The list of spiritual blessings could go on ad infinitum (as will the very blessings themselves). If we are thankful for the temporal blessings that end, at the latest, when we die, so much more should we be grateful for the spiritual blessings that last for all eternity.
And there is one other object of gratitude that is commended to us in Scripture: One another. In nearly all of his epistles, the Apostle Paul starts by expressing his thanks to God for other believers who have encouraged and sustained him by their acts of kindness, prayers, or example of faith. This would be a wonderful exercise for us this Thanksgiving: To give thanks to God for those believers He has placed in our lives for our encouragement, friendship, and prayer. Why not make a list of people who have been encouragers and sustainers in your life for whom you can thank the Lord? Thank the Lord for them and let them know that they are, for you, a reason for gratitude to God. Tell them specifically why this is so. Don’t merely say: “I thank God for you,” but rather: “I thank God for you because of the many times you have encouraged me,” or, “I am grateful for the obvious faith you demonstrate in the midst of your challenges.” This doesn’t require a carefully-crafted, 30-page missive. A quick word in the lobby at church or a text message can be a great encouragement. Try it this year and see. …