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Thanksgiving Meditation (and Family Update)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

It’s hard to be thankful sometimes. Sometimes, giving thanks is an exercise; it’s work. Of course, that’s when there are lots of things not to be thankful for. It’s like that, too, when things are mixed, as they often are.

That’s why we always have to be immersed in the story of the gospel and of God’s work in the world. It’s why we have to come to church every Sunday and sings songs of praise and worship. It’s why we have to be reading our Bibles and praying. It’s not that these things are a new law, a requirement you should feel bad about not doing. No, no, the world has changed since Jesus was raised from the dead. It’s not like that anymore.

Think of it like this: you can forget about all of those things—the prayers, the Bible reading, etc.—and you can just live your life. Yeah, you’re saved; nothing is going to change that. But you certainly won’t enjoy your salvation. You certainly won’t find the peace of God flowing through your veins, as it were. You will find yourself grumpier and more anxious, poking around for another quick fix. You’ll live your life how you might want, but after a while, you’ll find gratefulness is pretty far from you, and dissatisfaction on the back end of every good time.

God doesn’t want that kind of life for us. That’s not the life that he died to give us. On the contrary, it’s the lovely, the beautiful, the pure, the good—these things are ours by grace. They are gifts from God. But we still have to work for them. Not in the sense that we have to earn them; they’re most certainly free. But in the sense that we have to attend to them to actually receive them.

When things are going our way, when all the things are falling into place, it’s easy to be thankful. But when things are out of sorts, when we’re sick, or when relationships are a challenge—that’s when it’s an exercise. That’s when it feels like work. The gifts are all still there. But apprehending the gratitude for them is a practice. “Think about these things.”

So I encourage you to practice thankfulness for all that is lovely, honorable, pure, just, commendable, and good in your life. Look for it. Search it out like treasure. And thank God for all that he has given you in Christ.

As a church, we can be thankful for all of the new life that’s here with us, all of the new people that have come into our church body, and all of the babies that we’re waiting to meet. And in fact, I’m pleased to say that the McDaniels family will be adding to the bunch with our own little one, due next June. Yes, we will be adding our own little cry to the mix of new babies on the way. What a gift of God. What a blessing.

So lift your prayers of gratefulness and thanksgiving to the Lord, whatever your circumstances might be.

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7)

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