Saturday, November 17, 2012

Give Thanks 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. But God knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). God is always faithful to provide for the physical needs of His children (Psalm 37:3, 25; Matthew 6:25-33).and showers them with good and perfect gifts (James 1:17). Even for those who do not recognize or love Him, He is the source of all blessing (Matthew 5:45).

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 like that of Job -- to question God or to be angry with Him, even though we lack wisdom and He knows all (Job 38:1-4).

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). Paul is our role model not only of being thankful, but even joyful, in the midst of tribulation including persecution, punishment, imprisonment, deprivation, and physical infirmity (Philippians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-30)

How is it possible to be thankful in trials? Clearly not in our flesh, but only through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He 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; Philippians 3: 10-14).

As the infinitely good Father, God always gives us what we need, even if it is not what we think we want. We would not allow our children to gorge themselves on candy until they got sick, or to play with fire or broken glass, even though they might cry and even say hateful things in a vain attempt to change our mind. They lack the wisdom, experience, and perspective to know what is best for them, and we love them too much to allow them to get hurt.

Similarly, God will not answer prayers motivated by selfishness or lust or that are not in accordance with His will, for to do so would be harmful to our spiritual growth (James 4:3). Instead, as we find joy in our relationship with Him, He grants us the desires of our heart, for those desires become conformed to his perfect will for our lives (Psalm 37:4).

If we trust and love God, we can be thankful in all circumstances. 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 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Romans 1:1-6; 1 Corinthians 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 all our blessings and in all our circumstances, but especially for the ultimate Giver Who is our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer (Psalm 103:3-5; 104:1-15). He loves us enough to give His only Son to save us, to clothe us in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), and to give us eternal and abundant life in His presence (John 10:10).

As if that were not abundantly more than we could ever dream of (Ephesians 3:20), He adopted us as His children (Romans 8:14-17), made us joint heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:6-7), and appointed us as His ambassadors on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20) and joint rulers with Him in eternity!

It is not about what He gives us, but about Who He is. Thank you, God, that You are all we need!

© 2012 Laurie Collett


 

48 comments:

  1. Dear Readers,
    This started out as a repost from last Thanksgiving, and ended up as an expanded and edited version. Hope you enjoy it, and may you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  2. Amen my friend. Have a blessed thanksgiving.

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    1. Thanks, Denise! May you have a blessed Thanksgiving also!
      Laurie

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  3. Laurie--such great wisdom here and perspective. Wonderful post!

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  4. Timely reminder. Beautiful reminder. Thanks:)

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  5. Thank You for encouraging post. That's true, it's difficult to see blessings, which aren't "good" from the world worldview. We will have troubles in this world - but not always! Greetings and blessings to You, dear Laurie.

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    1. Amen, Zim -- one day He will wipe every tear from our eyes! And in the meantime, He works everything together for our good and His glory!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  6. Ah Christmas!
    You wrote, "we should give our loved ones, especially our children, what they need rather than we think they want.."
    I recall my childhood days when I excitedly unwrapped the "main" Christmas present and found an electric train set. I was excited over it, but did I really need it? How would I have responded had I found, say, several pairs of well-wrapped socks?
    This was brought back to reality when on the morning of my birthday (can't remember which one but certainly before my 10th) when I lay excited over the present I was going to receive. It turned out to be a pair of short trousers (USA -pantaloons?). I politely thanked my Mum and Dad for them, but I fell on the bed disappointed. I cannot recall putting them on when it was time to get up.

    I tend to think that there are times as adult Christians, we may look at the free gift of God's salvation in a similar vein. Would you agree?
    A great post, God bless,
    Frank.

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    1. Excellent point, Frank! I think sometimes even believers want instant gratification, which is reinforced by what the world values. Eternal life may seem to some to be so far off, especially if they don't realize that eternal, abundant life begins at the moment of salvation, and that the joy and peace of eternal security far, far outweigh any transient pleasure linked to sin. Praise God that He knows far better than we do not only what we need, but what we truly desire, and that He offers it freely.

      Thanks as always for your thought-provoking comment and illustration, & God bless!
      Laurie

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  7. Thanks for linking up with us at the Social Hop =)

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    1. Thanks so much for hosting & following! I'm following you back!

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  8. This is a great post. I always enjoy what you write. And I'm sure glad some of prayers don't get answered, let me tell you! :)

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    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement, mail4rosey! And you are so right -- looking back on some things I've prayed for, my response is "What was I thinking?" and "Thank God He knows best!"
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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  9. What a beautiful post. Happy Thanksgiving!

    My entry.

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    1. Thanks so much, Cafe au lait! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!
      Laurie

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  10. Great post. Laurie.

    Sometimes we find it hard to "in everything give thanks," because we forget "this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

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    1. Amen, Donald -- everything that happens in the life of a believer is what God's permissive will has allowed, and it is also His will that we express our gratitude to Him. Thanks as always for your kind comment, & God bless!
      Laurie

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  11. Wonderful post that gives serious food for thought Laurie. We must trust in God at all times and remember that " Gratitude is the best attitude!" Have a great Thanksgiving and God Bless.

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    1. Thanks so much, Judy, for your kind comment! Trust and gratitude are indeed meant for all times, and not just the holiday. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving also!
      Laurie

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  12. Ordinary Words....I concur....May the Holy Spirit guide you in all your endeavors♫♪

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    1. Thanks so much for your visit and comment! May we all be yielded to the Spirit in all our thoughts, words and deeds.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  13. What a thoughtful and meaningful post. Such thoughts always go through my head when it's time to find that perfect gift. I tend to make homemade goods like cookies or jam. I love the last line you wrote! Thanks so much for sharing at Sweet Saturday :) Have a lovely holiday :)

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    1. Thanks, Jessica, for your sweet comment and for hosting! It's hard to find a perfect gift for someone, but I'm partial to something homemade as it shows the time, thought, and personality of the giver. Amen that He is all we need!
      Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

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  14. Being thankful in all things is sometimes difficult... I like when you reminded us what Paul said, "Clearly not in our flesh, but only through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He teaches us that God is sovereign and all-powerful." Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. It's true, Kelli -- it's not only difficult, it's impossible in ourselves to be thankful in all things, but with God, all things are possible!

      Thanks so much for your visit & comment. May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving!

      Laurie

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  15. We have so much to be thankful for. I've often thanked God for a lack of money that has kept me dependent on Him. Yes, James says to count it all joy when we encounter trials...

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    1. Amen, Susan! Trials bring us closer to Him as we realize that without Him we can do nothing, but that with Him, all things are possible. Thanks so much for your comment, & God bless!
      Laurie

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  16. Laurie, very good post for this time of the year. Being thankful is so needed in this day and age when so many expectation are not met. Grateful He always meets our expectation and more. Happy Thanksgiving

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    1. Thanks so much, Betty, for your visit and comment! Praise and thank God that He answers our prayers exceeding abundantly beyond what we could ever imagine or ask!
      May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!
      Laurie

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  17. Yes, yes! That Ephesians 3 scripture is one of my fervent prayers. For I have experienced first hand the extravagance of His love. Happy Thanksgiving, Laurie. What a blessing you are.

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    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Laura! I am always blessed by your encouraging comments and beautiful writing. Praise God for His infinite, abundant, extravagant love!

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  18. Count me as one who has given up trying to find the perfect gift for someone. Now they receive CASH to shop as they please and pick out their favorite what ever. Your post is a thoughtful one and thanks for reminding us to have the proper thankful attitude toward God as he showers us with His gifts. Thank you for sharing at "Tell Me A Story."

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    1. You're right, Hazel -- cash gifts avoid disappointment on the part of the recipient, and simplify life for the giver. Praise God that He always gives us exactly what we need, according to His riches in glory!
      Thanks for hosting & for your kind comment and have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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  19. So nice to see someone who isn't ashamed to proclaim the Lord.

    New follower from Friday Chaos.
    http://musingsofamommabear.blogspot.com/

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  20. Wow, Kim, your comment really blessed me! He is my All in All and I love writing about Him! Thanks so much for following -- I'm following you back!
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  21. Being thankful in trials. That comes with maturity in faith for sure!

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  22. Amen, Samantha! May we be able to follow Paul's example of rejoicing always and giving thanks in all things. Thanks for your comment & God bless!
    Laurie

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  23. Another beautiful post Laurie! Thanks for sharing with my NO RULES Weekend Blog Party :))

    Paula
    lifeasweknowitbypaula.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Paula, for your kind comment & for hosting!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  24. Laurie, amazing. Again, I always think you're talking to me. The Holy Spirit is definitely moving in your life. Thank you for your words. I have been treading water for a long time, but I haven't thanked God for keeping me above the waves. I can't expect to get out unless I am thankful for just living.

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    1. Wow, Michelle, I am really blessed by your comment! If the Spirit can use me to encourage another, that is an amazing blessing indeed! He gives us so much to be thankful for -- every day is a gift and another opportunity to realize the infinite extent of His love and grace, no matter what the circumstances.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  25. what a beautiful reminder. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog hop xo

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    1. Thanks, Katherine, for your kind comment & for hosting!
      May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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  26. I can sure relate to the first part about Christmas gifts. It's gotten so much better since we started giving alot smaller gifts and now there are no big expectations. Just fun and enjoyable gifts. But anyway I know there is so much more to your message but that just stood out for me. Have a great week!

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    1. Hi Nicole,
      Giving several smaller gifts works better for us too. Thanks so much for your comment & for hosting!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  27. I am so glad to read this as the Lord has directed you to write. It is a reminder to me to remember that it is the LORD not the gift to get and stay excited about. If we lose the gift, are we still joyful and in love with our Savior?
    I love it when you link-up and share with the ladies of Deep Roots :)

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    1. Amen, Jacqueline, He is all we need! Whenever we experience loss, we should remember that we still have the Source of every good and perfect gift, and that He loves us infinitely! Thanks so much for your sweet comment and for following Saved by Grace, and for hosting Deep Roots.
      Love in Him,
      Laurie

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