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Every year during the month of November I try to jot down a few things for which I am thankful. It is a healthy practice. Before you know it, you will have thanked your way right out of the mullygrubs. I invite you to try it.
I am thankful for the Triune God. A loving Father gave His Son for me. A loving Son gave His life for me. A loving Spirit sought me out and brought me into the life of God to share in these manifold blessings.
I am thankful for the Holy Scriptures which were able to make me wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
I am thankful that our God gives His beloved sleep, and that while I sleep He doesn't. He is ever wakeful, ever watchful, and busy preparing new mercies for every new morning.
I am thankful that, by the grace of God, I rose to meet the sun one more time. “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me" (Psalm 3:5). Thus far 13,833 times. Thanks be to God!
I'm thankful for colors, an today I happen to be especially grateful for baby blue. God graciously paints the universe for us just so we can know the meaning of beauty. Think of the various shades of those glorious sunrises and marvelous sunsets. The deep hues of the rough hewn mountains and rolling plains etched on the canvas of creation are nothing short of spectacular. Kaleidoscopic waterfalls churn and pitch rainbows in every direction and the trysting place where the ocean meets to kiss the sky in the evening causes the heavens to blush like young lovers. In seeing something of their transient beauty we learn something of His transcending beauty. Blessed be the God who condescends that we may apprehend.
I am thankful for the unfailing faithfulness of our covenant-keeping God. This morning my mind turned to the 8th chapter of Genesis where we read those wonderful words, "And God remembered Noah…and the waters subsided." God remembered His covenant, thus, He remembered His child. He didn't desert him and He didn't destroy him. Thank God He remembers me! Noah only had a boat; I have the Beloved. Noah was in the ark; I am in Him! To borrow a few lines from Toplady, "My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase; Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace. The work which His goodness began, the arm of His strength will complete; His promise is Yea and Amen, and never was forfeited yet.”
I am thankful for homemade bread, apple pie, red wine, and bacon grease. That is, I am grateful for food and feasts. More to the point, I am thankful that God was so good to us that He put taste buds on our tongues and flavor in our food. God could have made us mere machines unable to appreciate the savory or the sweet. Instead, He chose to satisfy our mouths with good things. Food is good because God is good. Just so, the saving work of God is pictured, not in terms of intellectual fulfillment or quiet piety, but as an extravagant feast. “And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined” (Isaiah 25:6). God calls us to live for Him and enjoy the living while we are at it. In tasting these good things we are able to more fully “taste and see that the Lord is good!”
I'm thankful that I get to go to heaven. I don't mean when I die; I mean every Lord's Day! I get to "come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Heb 12:22-24). Our Elder Brother leads worship before the Throne and says, "Behold, I and the children which Thou hast given me!" I'm thankful that I don't just "go to church," I get to go to Heaven every week.
I am thankful for the invisible hand of Providence. God is exhaustively and meticulously sovereign. His governing hand plots the courses of empires, establishes dynasties, and plucks kings from their imperial thrones. Exhaustive sovereignty rules over the little things as well as the big things, since all things are "little things" to an infinite God. Providence is good and merciful; just and righteous. Remembering His sovereignty allows us to retain our sanity. Providence is a soft pillow. Rest easy. Thank God that He actively and perpetually controls all things, whether they be the stars in their courses, or the shifting grains of sand on the seashore.
Sovereign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise;
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at thy command.
His decree who formed the earth
Fixed my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by him.
He that formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb:
All my times shall ever be
Ordered by his wise decree.
Times the tempter’s power to prove;
Times to taste the Savior’s love;
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.]
Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till he bids, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.
I am thankful for the relentless pursuit of a merciful God in the life of rebellious sinners. The goodness and mercy of God pursued me with a fleetness of foot too swift to outrun. Grace overtook me. Grace overwhelmed me. I was hiding. He was seeking. He found me and forgave me. He sought me and bought me. He brought me into His banqueting house where His banner over me was love. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Be glad and rejoice, if He can save the chief He can save the whole tribe! I am brought near, adopted, accepted in the Beloved, made to sit together in heavenly places. He raised me from the dunghill and seated me among princes.
I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.
I oft read with pleasure, to sooth or engage,
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But e’en when they pictured the blood sprinkled tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.
Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu—’twas nothing to me.
When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.
My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life giving and free—
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.
Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!
I am thankful for prayer. I am thankful that I can go boldly to the throne of Grace to find mercy for my wickedness and grace for my weaknesses. But I'm most thankful for the prayers of Christ. My life depends upon those. Satan desires to have me that he may sift me as wheat but Jesus is praying that my faith will not fail. I am saved eternally, to the uttermost, because "He ever lives to make intercession for me." He prays for me constantly, lovingly, earnestly, and efficaciously. Perhaps the greatest of all of His prayers for me is this one found in John 17:24, "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." Let thanks arise! He's praying this for all of His people—that’s what He lives for!
I am thankful for books! I love books—big books, little books, short books, long books, new books, old books—I really like books. I like the way they look on a shelf, stacked on a nightstand, piled on the floor, or held in someone’s hands. I really like books. Nothing beats the smell of ancient pages telling some timeless story and beckoning me to join in on the adventure. Did you know that God really likes books too? He wrote the story of our lives before He ever fashioned the everlasting hills. He jotted down our our few defeats and our many victories before ever an angel wing disturbed the hushed stillness of eternity. The Psalmist says of God, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” God likes books. An He likes to write names in His books. There is one volume that stands out as the brightest jewel in His treasure house, a book inscribed with the names of all of God’s ransomed children, the Lamb’s Book of Life. Thank God, He has a page with my name on it, written in red before the foundation of the world. God guards this book with His life!
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in God's excellent Word!
What more can be said than to you God hath said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
for I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be near thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake.
I am thankful for my grandparents. They have been the most stable people in my life. They have modeled integrity, hospitality, charity, an duty as well as anyone I have known. To my grandmother, I rise up and call you blessed. To my grandfather, may your children and grandchildren be for you a crown of rejoicing. I praise God for both of you.
I am thankful for the vision given to Peter in Acts 10. We can now enjoy ham and football on thanksgiving.
I am thankful that a three-fold cord is not quickly broken. Solomon, in his wisdom, tells us, "Two are better than one, for they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one shall lift up his fellow. But woe to him that is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! If two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? Though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a three-fold cord is not quickly broken." True friends are gift from above. Many people are never fortunate enough to any friends. Oh they have acquaintances, and many names in their "contact list,” but they don't have true friends. Solomon tells us in another place that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother, one who loves at all times. I am thankful that God, in His grace, has given me a few such men. We don't always agree, but that is part of their great value. As iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen one another. These types of friends know you better than you know yourself. They are the ones walking in when everyone else is walking out. They are those men who will just sit there, quietly, when you want to be by yourself but you do not have the strength to be alone. They have the courage to fight with you in your presence and to defend you to the death in someone else's presence. I have been blessed to have a few such friends. I thank God for each of them.
I am thankful for the assaults of my adversaries. That is not to say that I enjoy them. But I am grateful that God ordained them for me. They have weakened me so that His strength might be made perfect in my weakness. They have exhausted my resources so that I could learn to lean more upon His inexhaustible grace. They dismantle my foolish thoughts of self-sufficiency and teach me to hurl myself into His everlasting arms. I find myself, ever so slowly, all too slowly, becoming more compassionate toward others who are battle worn and wounded from similar attacks. These wounds cultivate wisdom. The pain works patience, a much needed virtue in my life. Through enduring personal attacks we are made partakers of the sufferings of Christ; we are made conformable to His death. To all of my enemies and those who have opposed me, thank you. I could not enjoy today's blessings without yesterday's battles.
I am thankful for wheated prairies, royal roses, steep giraffes, cool breezes, crackling fires, loyal dogs, tall corn, short ribs,
indoor plumbing, plastic toothbrushes, zippers, cream sauces, tri-tip steak, marinated mushrooms, and extra notches on our belts!
I am thankful that the mercies of God are innumerable and I cannot even begin to count them.