Today is the Monday before Thanksgiving ~ so appropriately, I thought I put down my thoughts about the subject with my own personal flavor. Which means that I’m already imagining the table decor and myriad of tasty dishes that await my family and I in a few days. Quite frankly, if all there was to eat was mashed potatoes with gravy, herbed stuffing, and homemade pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream ~ I would be completely happy!
At this time of year, much is written about Thanksgiving: being thankful, being grateful, having gratitude, etc. If you are new to my blog, you’ll come to know that I love word studies; what words mean, and how to put them in perfect context as to what is being conveyed in a sentence or story. To get started today…here’s a bit of basic definitions of words that I’ll be focusing on today.
Being ~ the fact of existing; existence
Having ~ to possess; own; hold for use; contain
Thankful ~ feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.
Grateful ~warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful:
Gratitude ~ the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful:
Thanksgiving ~ the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God.
Giving ~ to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow:
Do you notice that all of these words are action oriented? Whether it is physical actions or emotional/mental ones, that are all in movement; they are all in motion within or toward another person/entity.
We cannot be full of thankfulness and gratitude and be motionless and stagnant at the same time. It is virtually impossible.
has beautiful words to share with us ~ “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
This verse is clear and concise that no matter what we do or say, however we act and whatever we think about, in ALL of those things we are to be thankful to the Lord. Are we to actually thank God for bad things that happen or difficult times in our life? NO! It means that we can choose to move through our life with an attitude of gratefulness and confidence, being alert to the power of God in our life. He will be walking alongside us in all things. Some hard times in life last longer than others; sometimes years pass with a sense of darkness hovering over our life; and at times of difficulty it seems like it will never end.
How do we choose to live a life of thanksgiving when we feel utterly hopeless? I’ll tell you one thing ~ you have to fight for it! It is not easy to choose thankfulness and gratitude. It is sometimes the most difficult time to choose to be joyful. But I have lived long enough to know that when I begin to feel those daggers of doubt and fear to cloud my heart and my mind, I have a choice to make. I can be gloomy, sad, feel sorry for myself, and decide that I’m not worth it. OR…..I can ask the Lord to help me overcome those negative attitudes. He can (and WILL) do just that!! He won’t leave you lying in a puddle of sadness ~ He will scoop you up in His mighty arms and comfort you.
Better than any words I could choose…let these promises from God’s Word wash over your heart ~
Colossians 1: 9-14, 21-23: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
This is why we can choose to be grateful. We can have thanks as we give praise to the Lord for the fact that He has chosen us, to rescue us from true darkness and a life separated from Him. In the midst of the bleak moments, we have the strength of the Holy Spirit inside of us to do the battle. To wage the war against the mental and emotional attacks from satan, whose sole job is to make us believe that we are not worth Christs’ love. To make us think that we have to work hard to do things, to live a certain way, in order for Christ to love us. That when we sin and mess up, that we have lost hope of Christ really loving us.
Let me tell you friend ~ you cannot out-sin the abundant grace and forgiveness of our Heavenly Father. You just can’t!
In the same way, you cannot be good enough or work hard enough to earn that grace. You just can’t.
Psalm 98:1 “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.”
Did you see that? HIS right hand and HIS holy arm.
Not mine. Not yours.
Only the Lord can provide salvation for us and He chose that for us BEFORE the creation of the world. Before you were born, before I was born, before Adam and Eve committed the first sin ~ God put into a place a plan to have His Son Jesus live a sacrificial life and die on the cross, returning to the earth and graciously providing a way to be reconciled to God the Father. His cross, for lack of a more imaginative idea, is the bridge connecting us back to the Lord.
We must be thankful at all times ~ no matter what ~ for the indescribably gift that is the salvation that the Lord offers freely! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
We cannot pay for it ~ He already did!
We don’t put it on layaway and work it off ~ that only works at K-mart.
We cannot do one little thing to earn it ~ It is a gift!
What do you do with a gift? What do you do when someone gives generously of their resources to you? Do you pull out your wallet and offer to pay them back? Do you make a list of what was given to you so that you can make sure and give that person a “better” gift the next time around? I really hope you don’t ~ because then you’ve missed the point. A gift is not something earned. A gift is chosen specifically for you from someone who loves you. A gift is not something intended to be paid back. A gift is a reflection of the heart of a friend towards you.
I think my favorite word study definition from above is ~ Grateful: the Latin word grate or grātus means: pleasing. The other descriptive words “warmly” and “deeply” convey a cozy, peaceful, enjoyable place. Like sitting by a warm fire drinking your favorite cup of tea and reading a good book. Blissfully accepting the personal kindness someone has done to you ~ this is what it is to be grateful. To have this attitude and live it out is what it is to have thanks in giving~ offering up to the Lord a song of thanksgiving for the gift of eternal life.
So this year, at this time of Thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to choose to be grateful; choose to be accepting of the gift that you cannot earn and that you don’t deserve. Let Christ bestow on you the gift of salvation. Living as a royal priesthood and as a child of the King, does not mean that all your problems will miraculously disappear. God is not a genie! But what it means is that you have the power of the Living God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, holding you up in those times of trouble. He is your strength, He is your dignity, He is your friend, and He is your Army! God bless you with His magnificent peace and with His never-ending grace.