Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 26, 2010

A Thankful Life

I know it may be a little early, but once we step out of summer and into the cooler days of autumn, my thoughts turn to Christmas. That’s right – Christmas! I am all for enjoying the beautiful fall season and Thanksgiving is still one of my favorite holidays, but I also know that Christmas is just around the corner. That means it is time to start making my Christmas list and deciding what I want to get everyone for Christmas.

I love giving gifts at Christmas. I like trying to think about each person and trying to decide on a special gift just for them. I thought about that this morning in church. We gave a birthday gift to one of our little guys in Sunday School. This little fellow is a little on the shy side and usually kind of quiet, but his eyes fairly danced when he saw the wrapped gift. As he tore off the paper and saw his gift, he smiled from ear to ear and exclaimed, “This is just what I always wanted!” He thanked us, hugged us, and sat and smiled as he looked at his new gift.

As I thought about how thankful this child was for his gift, I was reminded of how important it is to live a thankful life. Numerous Scripture passages encourage us to give thanks to God – for who He is, for His wondrous works, for His creation, His mercy and grace, for the gift of His Son. Thankfulness runs like a cord through the Bible from the thank offerings that the Israelites were encouraged to offer as they sojourned to the Promised Land, to prophets and kings that offered thanksgiving and praises for all the wondrous works of God. It runs through the gospels with Jesus Himself offering thanks and then to Paul and others in the early church that encouraged thankfulness in all things. It culminates in the book of Revelation with the heavenly chorus “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.” (Revelation 11:17)

As I looked through these passages, however, it occurred to me that the thankfulness was nearly always directed not to others, but to God. “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1). “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). The prophetess Anna gave thanks to the Lord for Jesus (Luke 2:38).The leper thanked Jesus for making him well (Luke 17:16). Jesus thanked God for the fish and bread before He broke and distributed them to the people (John 6:11). Paul advised the Ephesians to give “thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Often Paul offered thanks to God for people who encouraged and helped him or who were faithful to the Lord.

I feel this is the key to truly living a thankful life – giving thanks to God in all things, thereby recognizing Him as the true source of all our blessings. While we can appreciate what others do for us and express our thanks to them, we need to recognize that the true source of their gifts or acts of kindness is God Himself. As James stated: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). People and events in our lives do not just appear or occur by chance. They are planned and designed by a Sovereign God who loves and cares for us.

I admit that I have not always expressed my thankfulness to God with the same exuberance that my young friend expressed his thankfulness for his birthday gift. I feel ashamed over the way I have so often taken God’s gifts for granted, or thanked the one who gave the gift but not the One from whom it ultimately came. I pray that I will live a more thankful life and express my thanks to God continually for all His gifts. I pray I will delight in His blessings and praise Him for His goodness. Maybe I’ll even be able to  joyfully exclaim: “Thank You, God. This is just what I always wanted!”

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