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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Five Truths About Being Thankful All Year Long (by Sandi Kailey)

First, a note from Sharon: This post was written by Sandi Kailey, a young woman who came to the Lord several years ago. Sandi lives in our home and has been a breath of fresh air for Robert and me. Having been redeemed and transformed by the saving grace of God, Sandi is living in response to that grace. I asked her to write a post concerning giving thanks and I have been blessed by what the Lord put on her heart. It's now time to share it with you:

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalms 107:1)

1. God’s people should be the most thankful people on the planet 

As Christians, we should be giving thanks to God every day. The word "thanks" and related words come up 102 times in the Old Testament and 71 times in the New Testament. Seems that the Lord wants us to be thankful.

The beauty and joy of thanksgiving becomes evident when remembering our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our commitment to be under His authority regarding all aspects of our lives. 

Giving thanks is good for us, both in our trials and in our comfort (James 1:2-4). When we profess our gratefulness in all circumstances of life, we can be assured that we are living according to our heavenly Father's will. His will is for us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)! Obeying God not only brings joy, a fruit of the Spirit, but also strengthens our relationship with Him. And gratitdue easily allows God to continue transforming us into the image of Christ.

Christians should not only be the most thankful of all people, but will be the most thankful when we pause to remember our Triune God, not only what He's done for us but for who He is. This is why we celebrate with a grateful heart!

2. Gratefulness for God's sovereignty should be our mindset

Giving thanks is a reminder every day that God is in control. No matter how shaky the ground is beneath us, we can remember that God holds all things together and is not flustered by a world gone wrong. 

Max Lucado wrote about God’s sovereignty and control; “Is an eagle disturbed by traffic? No, he rises above it. Is the Whale perturbed by a hurricane? Of course not, he plunges beneath it. Is the lion flustered by the mouse standing directly in his way? No, he steps over it. How much more is God able to soar above, plunge beneath, and step over the troubles of the earth! What controls you does not control God. What troubles you does not trouble God. What fatigues you does not fatigue God.” 

God is at work in a suffering world, He is bigger and more powerful than your obstacles. We may ask, "Does this mean then that God isn’t moved by what troubles me? Does it imply that He has no time to be bothered by what shakes me?" Of course not! He is not like other little wanna-be-gods that cannot be sympathetic to our struggles (Hebrews 4:15-16). 

So how does God’s unshakable, sovereign character work for our good? An example that speaks volumes to me is the account of Peter walking on the lake to get to Jesus in Matthew 14:25-31. Peter says, “Lord if it’s You, tell me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said, “Come” to Peter.

Peter then got out of the boat with his eyes on Jesus and walked on the water toward Him. But when the wind distracted him, Peter began to sink. In his fear, he cried out to Jesus, "Lord, save me!". The text tells us that Jesus “immediately” reached out His hand to Peter and caught him. 

Jesus didn’t panic when He saw Peter sinking. He did not begin to sink Himself. He remained on the water, unshaken by the storm. And because He was immovable and unshakeable, He was able to save Peter from sinking to his death. 

Jesus responds “immediately” to our struggles. Yet being God and sovereign over all powers, forces, circumstances and obstacles, without being at all influenced by them, He is able to rescue us when we cry out to Him as Peter did. Though He was not disturbed by the storm, He was sympathetic to Peter’s human tendency to fear and demonstrated love and care for Him by saving him from a potential disaster. His unshakable sovereignty works in concert with His love and compassion for His children.  

"Just imagine if our Lord cowered as we do or panicked as is our tendency. He cannot for He is above and before all things. Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost both body and soul (Hebrews 7:23-24). Is this not something we can be enthusiastically thankful for?" (A quote from one of my mentors.)

3. To be real, thankfulness must happen when the rubber meets the road.

So, let me ask you, Christian, are you thankful for the control and authority God has over your life? Are you completely trusting His plan for you? I recently had to ask myself these questions.

In June of this year, I lost my job due to Covid19. It was very sudden. I wasn’t expecting it. I had to scramble to figure out what I was going to do until I could find another job. How will I deal with being home all day? Staying home and not working is not what I’m used to. 

This was a perfect time for me to put all my trust in God and know that I am exactly where He wants me. I had to thank God, even in my frustrated, confused and discouraged state. God reminded me to “take heart and have peace; Jesus has overcome the world” (John 16:33). 

Yes, we will have trials. For me, it has been a job loss. But Jesus wants His people to have peace in loss. Our God is in complete sovereign control so in our distress we can look to Him for help.

God also tells us in Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you: and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned and the flame will not consume you.” We have an assurance that the promise of God’s protection and His help is available for all who trust in His name. Can we praise Him and express our gratefulness in worship to Him for providing such comfort and aid?

4. It's helpful to look to those who are an example of giving thanks in all things. 

By way of inspiration concerning being thankful, I am including this brief story of a godly man who thanked God for what he had and even for what he didn't have.

In the late 1800s, George Mueller operated an orphanage in England that at one time housed 1,000 orphans. One morning there was no food to eat, but he called all the children and staff together and prayed, thanking God for the provision of food, even though no food was on the table.

A few moments later a baker knocked on the door. He told Mr. Muller that God had led him to bake bread the night before and give it to the orphanage. Before the bread was given to the children, a milkman knocked on the door. He said that his milk truck had broken down and he wanted to give the milk to the orphanage. 

George Muller gave thanks, even when it took faith to do so. We too can trust God to keep His promises and provide for our needs (Isaiah 49:13).

5. It's necessary to be intentional in thanking God

God is a God we can always trust and lean on in any trial we face. For many now in 2020, this means trusting and thanking Him during the current Covid19 lockdowns, etc. 

For me, this meant that I had to put my entitled pride aside and call out to God. I had to commit to pray with gratitude for this season He has me in. Thankfulness in prayer is an expression of our desire to work with God’s grace to face our problems, confident that He cares about us and will not stop loving us. The cross reminds us that this may involve hard work and hard times, but Jesus' resurrection assures us of ultimate victory. 

Unfortunately, giving thanks is too often demoted to a secondary place in the prayers of Christ’s people. We are quick to make our requests and slow to thank God for His answers. Because God so often answers our prayers, we come to expect it. We forget that it is only by His grace that we receive anything from Him.

We should be giving thanks to God for what His Son has done for us on the cross. His sacrifice was the ultimate gift! Let us praise God for loving His children so deeply!

With Thanksgiving around the corner, let us focus on thankfulness to our Savior. No matter how busy or hectic our schedules may be, let us pledge our obedience to start purposefully, daily, giving thanks for how He has blessed us and for who He is. Start right now where you sit! 

Let us adopt George Muller's mindset of gratitude 

by giving thanks even when there seems to be 

nothing before us to be thankful for!

To assist in being intentional in thanksgiving to the Lord, take a look at this post from Revive Our Hearts website: Growing in Gratitude: A 30 Day Challenge (this is a printable download, intended to cultivate a more grateful heart over a period of 30 days). 

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Five Truths About Being Thankful All Year Long (by Sandi Kailey)