I wrote this this morning for my blogsite... hope it blesses you!
THANK GOD FOR THANKSGIVING
Every year at the end of November we Americans gather together to give thanks for all that we have. We give thanks for our family and friends, for making it through another year, for what we have, etc.
Well, I have a question for you
who are we giving thanks to?? In order to give thanks there has to be someone on the other end receiving the gratitude, right?
Americans give thanks, but basically think of it in some arbitrary way. We cant say were giving thanks to God because that would be politically incorrect. Kind of like we cant say Christmas anymore, we have to say Holiday. (Most dont realize though that Holiday is a derivative of the phrase Holy Day
so the laugh is on the PC crowd)
Make no doubt about it, if you have anything to be thankful for this year it came from God. Even if you dont believe in God. Scripture says he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45) What a merciful and gracious God He is to bless even those who curse His name.
Also, in James 1:17 the Bible tells us, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Most of us can look at our lives and find much to be thankful for. But its easy to be thankful for what we see as blessings. But what about the hardships? But what about the health issues? What about the financial losses in this economy? Are you thankful also for the hard times? Why not?
Its real easy to praise God in the good times. Its easy to be thankful to God for the blessings. But if you are a believer in Christ you have to realize and appreciate the hard times for what they are! Gifts from God. Why? Because in scripture our Lord never promised us a rose garden, to quote from an old country song. In fact, He said things would usually go in quite the opposite direction for those who love Him.
Hard times build character, even though no one likes to go through them. Take for example China. A country where simply being a believer in Jesus Christ is illegal. Every single day Christians are murdered and arrested by the Chinese government for simply being Christians. Bibles are illegal in China. Sure, China put on a good face for the Olympics last year, but what you did not see was the massive crack down just prior to the start of the Olympics, especially against Christians. The ironic thing is that China is one of the strongest pockets of Christians in the world. The more they persecute Christians, the stronger the Christians are. Do you realize they pray for us American Christians because they see us as weak?
Its a far cry from the junk spewing forth from the likes of Joel Osteen on a weekly basis. Your Best Life Now? Yea
that does not sell well in other countries. God has a wonderful plan for your life? He sure does, but it probably will not be what YOU consider to be wonderful. Only in America does that gospel sell!
Your best life does not come now, it comes later. Its called Heaven.
At one point several of the apostles stood before the Sanhedrin and were beaten for preaching the Gospel. Did they despair? No! They gave thanks! Acts 5:41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. Do you give thanks when you suffer for His name? Or, let me ask you this
do you suffer for His name?
Its never easy to get bad news, especially relating to health. Ive been through that. Many people reading this have too. But God is good, and if you are a believer
your hard times are a gift from God! Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Everything that comes into our lives
IF we are believers in Him and are truly saved, come into our lives to grow us, to strengthen us
and even to break us down sometimes too. Each experience is designed by God to draw us into a closer relationship with Him and cause us to become more and more dependent upon Him.
My family has experienced these hard times right along with everyone else we know. Looking back on our lives I can tell you that I can see that with each experience it has brought my family and I into a closer walk with Him. He has predetermined before the beginning of time that those who He saves He will mold us and shape us into the image of Christ. He is making us like Jesus! (and we have a looong ways to go!) Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
So when you are sitting around this coming Thursday stuffing your face with turkey and squash and pumpkin pie (and watching the New Orleans Saints devastate the Dallas Cowboys!) remember that Gods working in our lives is often times not an easy process. Yes, give thanks for the good times and the blessings that we enjoy
but also thank Him for the bad times and the blessings that we dont necessarily enjoy