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November 30, 2015

A Season of Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Day in America, and you know what that means? For many people, the ready answer is food, football and family. Holiday tables will be jam-packed with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, pies and other delectable delights.

And, in millions of homes, apartments and condos across the country, people will pause for the tradition of each person at the table saying what he or she is thankful for this year. Whether the answers given are serious or silly, this time of sharing helps us to reflect and to hear each others stories, if only briefly.

So, what are you thankful for?

Really good friends? A loving family? A steady paycheck? A new boyfriend? Living in freedom and peace? A hot shower? Eyesight? Gravity?

On Thanksgiving, we gather to eat, pray and give thanks. We remember God’s merciful provision to the first American settlers hundreds of years ago, and reflect on his goodness to us today. 

And yet, by nature we are often self-centered more than other-centered. We take things for granted—and people. Often we take for granted the ones we love the most.

We are so human.

But that’s no surprise to God. After all, He made us. And He beckons us to turn from our preoccupation with self and ingratitude to a better place. He calls us to a place of surrender and selflessness that transforms us into people who are loving and kind, compassionate and giving.

God longs to transform our dark places to light, redeeming our ugly sin into a beautiful new way to live with the promise that the old has gone and the new has come. 

I am grateful for new beginnings. Thankful, that when I as a teenager reached up to God, He was already there reaching out to me.

I am thankful that when I pray, He listens and acts. He moves heaven and earth to accomplish His good purposes.

And I get to be an integral part of His story.

I am grateful that God meets my needs—and the needs of those I love. It may not always be the answer I want or happen in my timeframe. But God Almighty, in His divine wisdom and sovereignty, knows better than I do.

Much better.

I am grateful that God heals. And understands. And works His mighty power in us to make real and lasting changes—changes we never could have done in our own human strength. Like beat an addiction or bad habit. Or forgive someone who’s wronged us.

Thankfulness leads to contentment and joy. And so, on this celebration of Thanksgiving, my grateful heart cries, “For all You are, and all that You have done for me, Lord—thank you!”

As you ponder what you’re thankful for at this time of year, take a moment to reflect on a few Bible verses about thankfulness:

Give thanks because God is good. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;        his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1)

Give thanks for God’s unfailing love. “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.” (Psalm 107:13-15)

Give thanks because we have the ultimate victory. “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)

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