Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Be Thankful for the Giver!

With the Thanksgiving holiday begins the official Christmas shopping season, as stores vie for our attention and our dollars while we seek the perfect presents for our loved ones. No matter how much we try, some gifts fall short, and instead of the joyful surprise and appreciation we had hoped for, we hear a polite “Gee, you shouldn’t have,” or “It’s the thought that counts.”

Often we try to give our loved ones, especially our children, what we know they need instead of what they think they want. Classic books, educational software, warm mittens and socks get left behind under the piles of wrapping, while the child disappears into his room with the worldly video game given by a well-meaning family friend or relative. For an older son or daughter, a membership to a towing and roadside protection emergency service has a lot less appeal than a gift card to the mall, until that fateful night when their car breaks down on a dark, lonely road.

Hopefully as the child grows up he would realize that Mom and Dad gave gifts motivated by their deep love and caring, wanting to nurture him and to guide him along the right path. Better yet, he would be thankful not only for the gifts, but for the giver, realizing that he was blessed with loving parents who wanted to encourage their child to follow God’s perfect plan for his life.

It may be a lot to hope for such maturity in our children, especially if we ourselves are less than thankful for the gifts God gives us. Even when things are going well, we tend to gloss over God’s many blessings upon us. In the Thanksgiving season, and whenever we take the time to reflect on God’s provision, it is easy to give thanks for what we perceive as blessings -– religious freedom, prosperity, good health, loving relationships, quality time with our family.

But do we faithfully thank God for those blessings that are harder to recognize? When we go through trials of sickness, financial loss, death of a loved one, rejection, divorce, do we give thanks? Our first reaction may be to question God or to be angry with Him. Yet Paul tells us to give thanks in EVERY thing, for this is the perfect will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

How is it possible to be thankful for trials? Clearly not in our flesh, but only through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who teaches us that God is sovereign and all-powerful; that He loves His children infinitely (1 John 4:9); that it gives Him great pleasure to give His children good gifts (Matthew 7:11); and that He works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

This side of glory, we cannot always understand or see the amazing ways that God is using tribulation in our life to accomplish His perfect will for us. We do know that trials can strengthen our faith in and dependence on God, can build our character by conforming us more and more to the image of His Son, and can give us the compassion and experience needed to help others going through similar circumstances (Romans 8:16-18; Phil. 3: 10-14).

If we trust and love God, we can be thankful for all things. The phrase “He really shouldn’t have,” truly applies with Him, because it is beyond our comprehension that the Creator of all things would willingly subject Himself to the suffering needed to pay for our sins in full (Colossians 1:12-29; 1 John 3:16). With Him, the thought really does count, because He thought enough of us to give His only Son as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Romans 8:32), so that all who repent and trust in His death, burial, and resurrection have eternal life (John 3:16; 2 Thess 2:13-14; Romans 1:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:1-4). How amazing that as Jesus faced the agony of crucifixion and the even more painful separation from His Holy Father as He took on our sins, He thought of us and prayed for us in the Garden of Gethsemane! (John 17)

At Thanksgiving and always, let us give thanks not only for every thing, but especially for Him, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer (Psalm 103:3-5; 104:1-15) Who loves us enough to give His only Son to save us, to clothe us in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), to give us eternal and abundant life in His presence (John 10:10), to adopt us as His children (Romans 8:14-17) and joint heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:6-7), and to appoint us as His ambassadors on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20) and joint rulers with Him in eternity!

38 comments:

  1. Yeah thank God always for everything! :D Just passed by your blog and hope you can follow mine at Christ is livin' :)

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  2. I don't know what to wish You, but I wish You blessed Thanksgiving Day with nice atmosphere with friends and relatives!
    In Polish Evangelical and almost all Protestant churches we have Feast of Harvest - it is sometimes called Feast of Thanksgiving. But we celebrate it earlier - in September/October.
    Heartly greetings for You :)

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  3. Laurie, your post is very important. What is more important than thanking Him in all things, even trials, especially trials because we are being transformed into His image & likeness. An excellent thought to behold this Thanksgiving! Have a great holiday tomorrow.

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  4. HI Laurie - great post. some people find it hard to receive but I think when you don't want to receive, you steal the blessing of the giver. So its blessed to give and to receive because they receive a blessing in return. Today I am thankful for the ultimate giver, who has given me salvation and much joy in Him. Thank you for linking up Laurie, I love seeing you there.
    God bless
    Tracy

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  5. A thought provoking post. When my two neices were young, Christmas shopping was a dreaded nightmare!!!
    However I fully agree with you when you say that it is much easier to thank God for his blessings and overlook and even grumble over the tribulations. Oh dear, this is one of my greatest weaknesses.
    Thanks so much for posting.

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  6. Hi Laurie - yes, the most important gift is that He gave of Himself. The precious gift of grace is priceless.

    Happy thanksgiving to you and your family.

    Blessings,
    Joan

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  7. Dear Zim, Thanks for the comment and the good wishes! May God bless you and your ministry!
    Laurie

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  8. Dear Joy to the World,
    Thanks so much for visiting & commenting! May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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  9. Dear Saleslady371, Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Praise God that through suffering we are progressively conformed to the image of His Son!
    May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!
    Laurie

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  10. Dear Tracy, Thanks so much for sharing your insights. You're right, many do feel awkward about receiving, which keeps the giver from being blessed. God uses us to minister to and bless one another, and if we are reluctant to accept that blessing, it is as if we are insulting God or too proud to accept His gift. Thank you so much for all you do to encourage others and spread His Word!

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  11. Dear Frank, Thanks as always for your thoughtful comment. I'm with you -- I have a hard time being thankful for tribulations, especially in the midst of them. (Sometimes it's easier when trials are over to be thankful for how they really were blessings in disguise). The apostle Paul set us a wonderful example of how to rejoice and give thanks no matter what the circumstances.
    May God bless you and your ministry.

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  12. Dear Joan, Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift, and for His grace! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,
    Laurie

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  13. Terrific post! I love how you compared children receiving gifts to us receiveing God's gifts. It is definitely very difficult, well actually impossible without the grace of God, to accept trials as blessings. But through His Grace, with faith and hope in Him we can. Praise God.

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  14. Thanks Tricia, for visiting and commenting! You're right, with man this ia impossible, but with God all things are possible! (Matt. 19:26)
    May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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  15. Perfect metaphor! As we mature, we realize that ALL is a gift and blessing! Patsy from
    HeARTworks

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  16. Dear Patsy, Thanks so much for visiting and commenting, and for your kind words! May God bless you and your ministry!

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  17. Hope you had a wonderful Thanskgiving, now onto a blessed Spiritual Sunday and Advent season.
    May our hearts continue to overflow with gratitude as we anticipate the most wonderful gift... Jesus Christ.

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  18. Amen! Thanks, Whidbey Woman, for your comment and good wishes. Jesus is our all in all -- without Him, we have nothing; with Him, what more do we need?

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  19. Yes, we only need to totally trust as we put our lives and future into His hands for His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither His ways, our ways.

    Have a blessed week!
    Rina

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  20. Blessings Laurie, What a warm and wonderful, thought provoking post on giving thanks in all circumstances and beautifully written about "gifts"!

    We can only HOPE that we have instilled the greatest GIFT to others as being the Gift of Our Lord and His amazing grace!

    Giving thanks to God each day throughout November through songs and God's Word has blessed me. But reading this today was even a richer blessing!
    I am so thankful for WHO GOD IS and each day I see more! You are a reflection of God and shine His light ever so brightly!

    Thank you sister in Christ,
    Peggy
    (oh, and no way do I dance like you or would want to be videoed dancing but I do dance for One during our worship time - it just comes over me as an expression of my love to Him)

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  21. Thanks, Peggy, for your lovely comment! It means a great deal to me, and you are a blessing and an encourager!

    Thanks be to God, not only for all that He does, but especially for all that He is!

    (I never liked the expression, "Dance as if no one is watching," because One always is! Our prayer every time we are on the dance floor, whether for an audience of thousands or "alone" in our practice studio, is to dance for the audience of One, to His glory, and that our dance would please Him. I am sure that your love of God expressed through dance is well pleasing in His sight).

    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  22. Dear Rina,

    Thanks so much for visiting and commenting! Praise God that His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours, and that He is totally trustworthy and faithful!
    May God bless you and your ministry,
    Laurie

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  23. I am so thankful for God's gift of grace! Knowing that I am His is a blessing beyond words!

    In Him, Joan

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  24. I'm so glad you visited my Rock4Today blog, because I have enjoyed returning the visit! What an interesting career you have! I love that you use your dancing for Jesus. I bet if David is one of those "cloud of witnesses" that is observing you as you dance, that he is applauding with joy!

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  25. Dear Joan, Amen! Our relationship with Christ brings us joy and peace no matter what! Thanks for your comment, and may you have a blessed week.

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  26. Dear Esther Joy, Thanks so much for your visit and comment! Your encouragement in our dance ministry means so much to us. What a lovely image -- David watching and cheering us on!
    May God bless you and your ministry,
    Laurie

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  27. Just as you mentioned, how often the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts are ignored in favor of more appealing ones. Thankfully, God gives what is needed rather than what is popular at the moment. I have used the illustration before, about the preacher who told his listeners that a husband should buy his wife flowers every week to prove he loved her. Som kids who heard the message were accusing their dad of not doing so. He insisted he did and brought out a sack of flour. It meant a lot more than the flowers would have.

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  28. Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us over at NOBH! I find your words about stopping to give thanks, even in the trials and tribulations to echo inside me. It is at the darkest times when it is so difficult to find things to be thankful for.

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  29. Dear dfish, Thanks as always for sharing your insights. That's a wonderful illustration! God never promised us what we think we want, only what He knows we need.
    God's blessings to you and your ministry!
    Laurie

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  30. Dear Heidi, Thanks so much for visiting and commenting, and Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

    If we can keep our eyes fixed on Him, and His gifts of eternal life, the indwelling Holy Spirit, His Word, and so many, many, more, it helps to bring us joy and peace even in the tribulations. But thankfulness in difficulty is not humanly possible, but only through the Holy Spirit.

    May you have a blessed week!
    Laurie

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  31. Laurie, Thank you for this timely post. Last week on Gypsy Mama the word was "grateful" and thus began my wrestling with that word versus thankful. In particular, where you write, "This side of glory, we cannot always understand or see..." you express what I could not say! ~Lori

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  32. Dear Lori, Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. "Wrestling" is a good way to describe it -- it is a battle to feel thankful for trials, but if we are victorious through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we will receive a special blessing, just as Jacob did when he wrestled with the angel!
    Blessings to you and your ministry!

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  33. Beautiful, Laurie. A hard truth, but such a deep one. These trials, these hard things...they rub up against us and shape us--forming us closer and closer to His image. Thank you for sharing this valuable lesson.

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  34. Thanks, Laura, for your comment and insights. I like your description of how trials shape us into His image -- it reminds me of "iron sharpening iron," or an irritating grain of sand causing an oyster to form a priceless pearl.
    May you have a blessed week! Laurie

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  35. How like a little child I can be, not very thankful for those things God sends that He knows are more important for me than my "wants" list.
    I cannot think of who sings this right now but I have heard it several times on the radio lately- "What if Your blessings come through raindrops, What if Your healing comes through tears....What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise."
    Thank you for the encouragement to look upon everything with a heart filled with thanskgiving. So glad I found you on the blog hop I am http://tuning-my-heart.blogspot.com/

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  36. Dear Deb, Thanks so much for visiting and commenting! I know the song you're referring to -- there is a singer in our church who sings it, and it is truly beautiful!
    I'm so glad you found Saved by Grace! I visited your lovely blog and am now following it, and I hope you'll consider following Saved by Grace also!
    May God bless you and your ministry,
    Laurie

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  37. Hi Deb! I like your blog and following your Blog I hope your visit! Have a wonderful week!

    Peace & Love!
    http://mamiholisticaygenial.blogspot.com/

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  38. Thanks, S. Yissele Gallo, for following and commenting!
    May you have a blessed weekend!
    Laurie

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