It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already on us. Yet, the time has come for families to come together, gorge themselves on home cooking and fall into a food induced nap while the Cowboys game carries on in the background. With all the traveling, food prep and catching up with family we can struggle to find ways to be thankful for what the past year has brought us.
Some may find it difficult to be thankful in a year that we have lost someone or something – family member, job or our own health. It can be hard to be thankful in a painful season of life, but there’s always good news for the believer to celebrate. As you scan the pages of Scripture, there’s a thread of thankfulness that spans from Genesis to Revelation.
So as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, take note of God’s grace in your life and be truly thankful. Let thankfulness be more than just something that happens in your heart and mind, but let it show itself in how you pray, live and speak. Here’s a few jumping off points for you to walk in thankfulness for God and His grace:
Be thankful for God Himself
“Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” ~ Psalm 32:11
May our hearts be glad in God alone for who He is alone. Even if He never moves in mighty ways in my life or if I am in a season of life where I am constantly drinking of a bitter cup – He is still worthy because He is still God. He’s still glorious and He is still on the throne in spite of what the circumstances of my life say.
Take some time to day to go to God in prayer and thank Him for who He is: His glory, His attributes and His character. Be thankful and glad in the One who is meant to be the sole treasure of our hearts.
Be thankful for God’s gospel
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
The gospel isn’t just the entry point into Christian life, it is the lifeblood of the believer. It is by that good news that I pass from life to death, but it is that gospel by which I live my life.
Preach the gospel to yourself everyday – and start by preaching it to yourself today. Be thankful of that good news by reminding yourself that you did nothing to save yourself. You are saved by grace. Then as you become a well-versed preacher of the gospel to yourself, you can give thanks of that glorious grace by sharing it with others.
Be thankful for God’s Word
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” ~ Psalm 119:105
Can I say that’s true of my life? Is God’s Word as useful to me as a flashlight illumines a dark path? We can’t say we are thankful for the Word of God if we only know it through the words of others.
Be thankful for God’s Word today by using it as your lantern in this dark world. Read it, memorize it and then speak it. Let His Word display His beauty in your heart and then be faithful to shine that beautiful light by speaking it over others.
Be thankful for God’s church
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints” ~ Colossians 1:3-4
Talk about being gracious. To the Colossian church, the church marked by heresy, Paul begins his remarks to them by being thankful for the church and their love for their brothers.
Many of us can more easily pick out the flaws of our church than we can find the strengths of our church. Take a step back from your unmet expectations and be thankful for the Bride of Christ. Go to God in prayer and thank Him for your local church. Pray for your pastors and elders that they may lead you in a wholehearted pursuit of Christ.
Be thankful for God’s people
“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,” ~ 2 Timothy 1:3-6
Paul was beyond thankful for his spiritual son, Timothy. Through his prayers and words Paul takes care to express his love and thankfulness for Timothy at the beginning of 2 Timothy. Be thankful for the people God has put in your life. Don’t wait for a funeral to say what you should have about the people in your life.
Send a text or a card. Grab a cup of coffee with your best friend. Mute the halftime of one of the NFL games tomorrow to tell grandpa how much he means to you. Whoever God has graciously put in your life – tell them exactly what they mean to you.
Be thankful for God’s gift of your family
“The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.” ~ Proverbs 23:24
Familiarity breeds contempt, right? Our families see the worst of us and we see the worst of them. If we aren’t careful, we can start to lock in on the warts of those who share a home with us. With sanctification being such a slow process, we can bypass God’s slow and steady hand in the lives of those we love.
Take stock of the last year for all the people you love. See how God has grown your family – parent, spouse, brother, child, etc. – and take great care to point it out to them. Give thanks for your family by rejoicing in the work God is doing in their lives.
Be thankful for God’s good gifts
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” ~ James 1:17
You woke up today didn’t you? You most likely have eaten something, right? You are reading this on some sort of device? All of those are great gifts God has given you today. Every single good thing you experience today – the silly jokes, loving words, generous gifts – all come from God. Take note of them.
Jot down every little bit of grace you have experienced in the last few days. Stash that list away for the days that seem bleak. As you read through the list again you will start to see that God is far more gracious and good than what your present circumstances dictate.
If anyone can give thanks tomorrow, it is the adopted sons and daughters of God. Take some time over the holiday weekend to voice that thanks to our gracious God.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.