I had the opportunity on Thursday, November 16 to be the speaker at the November JOY (Just Older Youth) meeting. (They surprised me with an amazing “thank you” video for Diane and me. It was very moving, and I had to regain control of myself so I could speak.) They asked me to speak about Thanksgiving and I was more than happy to do that.
I am concerned about what appears to be a societal trend of rolling directly from Halloween into Christmas, pretty much by-passing Thanksgiving. For instance, Black Friday Sales used to be on Black Friday. Now, you can get Black Friday deals in October. Christmas Movies start running in October. Rather than Thanksgiving, many just refer to this day as Turkey Day. For some, it is about football or going to the movies. It’s time to remind ourselves that it is all about being thankful.
Psalm 103:1-2 says, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; in all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” I spoke to the JOY folks about some of those benefits. Here they are:
Jesus is a wonderful Savior. I know how much I need a Savior. For sure, I have sinned, missed the mark, failed, and fallen short. I am thankful that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus is there with reconciliation, redemption, justification, and salvation. I am very undeserving, but grateful to be adopted as his child.
The family. Beyond any question, I am the most blessed guy on the planet in terms of family. Diane is a wonderful wife, best friend, mother, nana, and partner in ministry. I thank the Lord daily for David and Joy, Jonathon and Heather – and those beautiful grandchildren – Nehemiah, Caleb, Nathan, Zeke, Grace, Delaney, Silas, and Titus. The names will be different for you, but I know you are grateful for the people the Lord has put in your life. Tell the Lord, and remember to tell them as well.
Extravagant, abundant provision. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to go on many mission trips, only to be reminded of the greatness of God’s extravagant, abundant provision. I have seen people hungry and children malnourished in Haiti, Honduras, the bush of Africa, and in the Gypsy villages of Romania. Contrast that with my experience – I only miss a meal when I am praying and fasting. Never once have I involuntarily gone hungry. The cupboards and the refrigerator are full. We live in a warm home, I sleep under a weighted blanket, there are clothes to wear, and dependable transportation to ride in. I have all of my needs and many of my wants. It is all from the Lord’s gracious hand.
Madison Christian Church. What an enormous privilege it is to serve Madison Christian Church. Madison is an amazing church where people understand the true nature of ministry. There are so many faithful people in this church. I love the people, I love the leadership, and I love being part of the ministry team here.
Tough times. James is the one who instructs us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I thank God for the tough times in my life that have strengthened me, built my character, and grown my faith. We need the struggle, and we thank God that he uses all the tools in his toolbox to conform us to the image of Christ – including trials.
Here’s the great opportunity, not only for Thanksgiving Day – but for every day of the year: “Take a moment to think through the good in your life—the things and the people you love and value. Then spend some time thanking the One who sends us “every good and perfect gift.”