We've arrived at what some believe to be the greatest month of the year: Thanksgiv...I mean November. Thanksgiving is certainly the highlight of November for many. It's certainly a highlight in my family. For my high school sons, it's about the upcoming Thanksgiving break. For my wife and I it's about the opportunity to gather with family and of course our annual Black Friday recon mission. We're not big shoppers but we love watching people so every year we venture to some of the most crowded locations and just watch the chaos unfold.
Regardless of your favorite aspects of the Thanksgiving season, let's pause for a moment and reflect on a few areas where we would do well to remain thankful...since after all, that's kind of the point of Thanksgiving. I'm sure each of us is thankful for family, friends, our job, our kids, our stuff, etc. but let's look a little deeper than what floats to the surface.
Thankful for Trials: This seems like a ridiculous idea but let's not forget where our trials lead us. James says it like this, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." - James 1:2-4. Let's reframe our thinking and start the process of harnessing our trials for God's glory. Be thankful for what comes your way, the good and the bad.
Thankful for Instruction: I'll admit it: I don't like receiving instruction. I like managing myself, I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I'm sure I'm not alone in this thinking because receiving instruction is humbling. It communicates, sometimes verbally and sometimes nonverbally, that we don't always have our acts together...that's tough to hear right? As tough as instruction can sometimes be, it's vital for our development. Paul says it like this to his young protege' Timothy "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right." - 2 Timothy 3:16. Instruction from those above you, around you and even below you is importantly but nothing is more important that receiving instruction from God's Word.
Thankful for Grace: The statement I'm about to make will come as no surprise to you: no one is perfect. I for one am in desperate need of grace. I need grace from my wife, my kids, my friends and certainly from God. Here's the risk we run in our constant need for grace, it becomes so common that we cease to give thanks for it. Grace, if we're not careful becomes commonplace and we forget the miraculous nature of God's grace.
Paul says it like this in his letter to the church at Rome, "We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins." - Romans 3:22-24
Don't forget about the miraculousness of God's grace and forgiveness in your life.
Thankful for Victory: Here's my favorite part. I have victory. You have victory. We have victory, true victory not in ourselves but in what God has done on our behalf. Paul says it like this, "But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 15:57. You and I can have victory when we fully grasp what God has done for us in the person of Jesus Christ. Tough times will come but victory is yours.
Be encouraged and keep moving forward.