This past Sunday night’s sermon was on the giving of thanks as an evidence of a Christ-filled life as well as “a significant weapon in the arsenal of spiritual warfare.” Pastor Brooks challenged us from Ephesians 5:1-21 to “be imitators of God,” walking in love, truth, and wisdom.
Thankfulness is not only in direct contrast to impure living and conversation, but it is commanded by the Lord. “Jesus is the Object AND Means of Thanksgiving.”
Pastor challenged us to do three things as we enter this week of Thanksgiving (adapted from Jerry Bridges’ The Practice of Godliness):
- Develop a grateful heart by meditating in Christ’s character and work (see Psalm 111).
- Express your gratitude frequently (e.g., as you rise and as you rest).
- Journal your thanks specifically.
As I contemplate these things, I am encouraged to begin journaling again. Journaling has always been a blessing to me. I have journals for nearly every year of my life, beginning around the 1st grade. It’s good to look back and rehearse the blessings and challenges and see God through every step–especially the ones I thought I’d never make it through.
So tonight, I journal. God has been so gracious–I am overwhelmed by this fact! I am thankful, first and foremost, for my salvation. I am an unworthy wretch, and yet God looked down and, in lovingkindness, chose me to follow Him. He is my wisdom, my righteousness, my sanctification, and my redemption (I Cor. 1:30).
Secondly, I am thankful for my family–for a Christian heritage, and an extended family of likeminded believers. I am also overwhelmed with gratitude for my loving husband. God brought two sinners together and it is by His grace that we are best friends and united in Christ. I do not take that lightly, and I want never to take that for granted.
Also, I thank God for my past–for the education, the experiences, the opportunities, and, yes, even the trials. I am thankful for the opportunities to trust Him, though I have not always seen trials like this. I am thankful that He has not given up on me–and promises to never do so! What a great God we serve! I was reminded last weekend that when we are sinned against, it is an opportunity to grow in grace; it is an opportunity to remember the story of God’s grace on us and to return that grace to the offender; it is a chance to show and share the love of God Himself in our responses. And my responses have sometimes been all too human. So I am reminded to be thankful for those who “wrong” me, because it is not me they wrong, but Christ. And it is not me that should be put on display or defended, but rather Jesus. So I am thankful to be reminded of my salvation and God’s great grace to me.
I am thankful for so many things. I am thankful for God’s provision–of friends, of freedom, of protection, of basic necessities, like food and shelter. And God has done more than just provided the needs, but He has supplied “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20) with good things, great things–not just shelter above our heads, but a comfortable home that we can share with friends and family; not just nourishment, but delicious, belly-filling, soul-warming food. We have so much compared to the majority of the earth’s population. And yet we complain and compare ourselves among ourselves, like fools (II Cor. 10:12).
I am thankful for my health. I am reminded of this more and more every day, as I see cancer and other disease and afflictions strike young and old alike. I know that our frames are but dust, and that health is fleeting (Psalm 103:14). I know that God is sovereign, and that His definition of “good” is our conformity to His Son, and sometimes that means sickness or pain (Rom. 8:28ff). But for now, I have good health, and my family has good health, and I thank Him for that.
I am thankful for my work. I would say “job,” but it is more than that, as it is quickly becoming my passion and my ministry, all rolled up into one. I get to work with fellow believers, helping in the effort to share Christ and “advancing the Gospel in the world’s difficult places” at Frontline Missions. It is thrilling to see what God is doing! The Gospel is alive and well, and God works not just through us but so often inspite of us. He is building His church, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). I love it! I actually enjoy waking up each morning, and I don’t even notice the clock passing or the sun setting, as I work on mailings, or filing correspondence, or proofing newsletters or answering the phone, or even vacuuming the office. God is teaching me so much and allowing me to enjoy this work–even the simple things, like having similar tastes with coworkers for dark chocolate, good coffee, and Christ-centered conversation.
My heart is full! And my God is great! And I am thankful…as I enjoy this journey He has me on!
Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for?!