We have entered the time of season where the leaves are off and we know what that means – November has arrived. In the North Country November is kind of like April. It is a month where there is less beauty in nature because of the barrenness of the landscape. There are many things we tend not to like about winter (the cold!) but the dazzling snow is always a wonder to see and November usually lacks that for the most part. But even though the scenery of this month is not our favorite, one of the biggest holidays of the year falls in this month. That of course is Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving ever celebrated took place between the Native Americans and the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in the early 17th century. The Pilgrims marked this day as one of thanksgiving to God as he empowered them to cross the Atlantic Ocean and enter the New World in America. The Thanksgiving holiday became official in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln set it aside as a day of gratitude to God for our many blessings in America. This is the history of this holiday. In the present day if you ask people what they are most thankful for they will likely leave out the elephant (God) in the room. People may say their family, their job, health, or hobbies but typically the Giver of these gifts is left out. This thanksgiving I want to encourage you to approach gratitude in the right manner. This of course is not only for this month but also for every month out of the year. As Christians our lives should be full of thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18), but November is a good time to give special attention to this holy practice.
The first area we should thank and praise God is for who he is and what he has done. The Lord is worthy of our praise because of his greatness and goodness. King David wrote, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised” (Psalm 145:3). Then he wrote in another place, “I give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness" (Psalm 138:2). The Lord is worthy of our praise because he is the greatest being there is. There is none greater than he. We should also give him thanks because we experience his goodness on a daily basis.
Every genuine Christian reading this can tell of his great works in your life. You have experienced his goodness toward you firsthand. The greatest work he performed is saving you when he sent his Son Jesus to die for your sins (John 3:16). We need to continually thank him for rescuing us from the dreadful position we were once in (Ephesians 2:1-3). The apostle Paul knew the glorious work that God performed in saving us. In gratitude he wrote, "Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:12-14). We come into this world as enemies of a holy God (Romans 5:10), but His grace shown in Christ is what delivers us from that hopeless state. As Paul writes, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). The gift of salvation is the greatest gift we will ever receive. We should thank the Lord for rescuing us and bringing us into his eternal happiness (Matthew 25:21).
We should also thank the Lord for his earthly blessings. As we look at God's daily provision for us in the details of our earthly lives we have so much to be thankful for (Ephesians 5:20). In your present life, God cares for you (Matthew 6:25-34). We do not have to fear lack of rain or lack of sun (Matthew 5:45). We should thank him that we can live and eat and go on with our lives. In fact, Scripture tells us, " he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:25). Jesus in his instruction on the vine and the branches tells us that, "apart from him we can do nothing" (John 15:5). That particular context is referring to spiritual growth, but like the verse from Acts mentioned above we can do nothing apart from God. I met a man a few years back who had Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS). This is a ruthless disease that slowly takes away muscle strength to the point where people can no longer breath, leading to death. This gentlemen was relying completely on God with his condition. What he told me was the Scriptures that teach we can do nothing apart from God were so real to him. He was so thankful when he was able to do the simplest tasks of life. The fact that we can do anything in our lives is because of God. It is so easy to go through your life and not recognize the one who created you and sustains you. How tragic it is if we do not thank him.
One evidence of maturity is to be a person full of thanksgiving. People who live lives dominated by sin are ungrateful people, while those closely following the Lord realize their life (physical and spiritual) is a gift from him. May we be a people that continually gives thanks to our wonderful God.
Grace and Peace,
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