Happy Thanksgiving! I pray that your holidays are filled with thanksgiving for God’s love and grace appropriated for power to overcome every circumstance in life. For me, I’ve moved to San Diego, California, where I’m settling into a new program, which is going well.
“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1
In Everything Give Thanks…
I’m not thankful for prison, but I’m learning to be thankful in every circumstance, not thankful for everything, but thankful in everything.
During almost fifty (50) years in prison, I’ve been through persecutions, slander, backbiting, ministry attacks and troubles, and even a stabbing, while in peace thanking God for His amazing grace. The Lord says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”2
Today, my heart goes out to those affected by the shootings in Las Vegas and other places, the fires in California and Europe, the hurricanes in Texas, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean, the tornadoes, the terrorists and wars. We don’t blame God, nor thank God for these, but in these things, we thank God for His love and grace to comfort and carry us through these horrific things when we turn to Him in faith and prayer.
Walking by Faith…
Thanksgiving, praise and worship are the languages of faith for those who know God’s unconditional love and believe in His marvelous grace. Are you thankful for your salvation, and His presence in your life? Unless “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”, 3 it’s difficult for us to be thankful in everything.
The late J. Vernon McGee shared the following story in his booklet, “From the Top of the Mount of Olives on a Clear Day You Can See Forever”, writing:
“A little boy was invited out to dinner for the first time in his life. He was just going next door, but to him it was a big event. So when the time came to go, he made a beeline for the house next door. When they sat down to the table to eat, the boy automatically bowed his head to offer thanks for the food because he came from a Christian home. Suddenly he realized he was the only one with a bowed head and the rest of the folks were passing food back and forth. He opened his eyes and, not having any inhibitions, said, ‘Don’t you thank God for your food?’ There was embarrassing silence for a moment, and then the lady of the house said, ‘No, we don’t.’ The little fellow thought for a moment and then said, ‘You’re just like my dog – he just starts right in!’”
Don’t You Thank God?
Sadly, many households never take the time to thank God for the little thinks such as food, so how can we expect thankfulness in painful situations? As a result, often we find those who are unthankful blame God for their circumstances, like it’s an act of God. Remember, Jesus said: “The thief (Satan) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” 4
The Lord desires for us to have an abundant life regardless of our situation. For instance, I’m saddened about my past, but there is absolutely nothing I can do about it except turn to God for His power to overcome, make amends and share His Good News. This is true humility; surrendering our will, view and opinion to the will and view of God. Remember, it is God’s will that we give thanks in Christ Jesus for everything. He has provided our salvation, rescue, freedom, healing and deliverance.
The Attitude of Gratitude…
This little boy came from a Christian home where the Spirit of God was present. He had learned the attitude of gratitude, as evidenced by his desire to give thanks for the food. Being thankful was embedded in his heart and mind, so “automatically [he] bowed his head to offer thanks…” Oh, that we’d be like this little guy, giving thanks in whatever situation we find ourselves going through.
This attitude of gratitude is a prerequisite for thankfulness in everything. In a spiritual sense, we thank God for Jesus, the Bread of Life. It begins by thanking God for our salvation and then renewing our mind with His love and grace, which results in an overflow of thanksgiving in praise and worship. This is a progressive relationship, as we “…grow in grace, and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” 5
A Prayer for You…
Dear God, thank You that even right now, Your forgiveness and Your perfect love are raining all over me because of Your Son’s finished work in my life. Take away every lingering sense of ugliness, guilt, and condemnation in me. I believe with all my heart that right now when You look at me, You see me in Christ Jesus. I am clothed in His robes of righteousness, favor, and blessings. Thank you for Your abundance of grace and Your gift of righteousness in my life. Through Jesus, I will reign in this life over every sin, addiction, and failure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Scripture References (NKJV):
- 1 Thess. 5:18, KJV
- 2 Cor. 12:9a
- Rom. 8:16
- Jn. 10:10
- 2 Pet. 3:18, KJV