I was reflecting that here in the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving before we celebrate Christmas. I don’t think many people have really given this much thought, but if we think about it, it makes sense for us on this side of the Cross to take time to pause and consider how grateful we are, not only for all the earthly blessings that God bestows on us every day, but also on the heavenly blessing that he has given us for all time in the person of his Son, who was born, died and rose again to absolve us of our sins.
This is a great mystery. Why would the God of Heaven step down from his throne into a world that has been tainted and warped by sin? Why would he become like one of us, even though he never sinned? What does this tell us about the character of God the Father and of his Son?
Surely this means, as 1 John 4:8b reminds us, that God is love. And surely this tells us that we are the objects of his love, even though we do not and cannot deserve it.
Jesus' brother James wrote that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17 ESV). The Father of Lights sent his only begotten Son into this dark and imperfect world to rescue us from death by giving his life in exchange for ours at the Cross. Jesus defeated death so that we could enjoy eternal life. That is an immeasurable gift, and God gave the life of his heavenly Son, so that he could give eternal life to his earthly children.
Every gift that we possess in talents and anointings - a beautiful singing voice, a love of numbers, a compassionate heart, athletic ability, skill in writing or public speaking - all come from God.
All of the earthly things that we enjoy - family, health, wealth, freedom, happiness, love and peace, a sunrise after a long dark night, a cool breeze at the end of a hot afternoon, a quick nap, a bird in flight, the love of a pet, the laugh of a child - originate in God.
And the things we need to sustain our bodies - air, water, food, clothing, shelter - come to us through our heavenly Father. We have many things to be grateful for. But without the main thing, none of these has any meaning.
The 'good gifts' that God gives us are his earthly treasures, all the things we enjoy and need that are good for us and keep body and soul together. And the 'perfect gifts' he gives us are his heavenly treasures, the breath of life, the bread of life, the water of life, the oil of anointing: His Son, his Word, and his Spirit.
As Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year race toward us and our holiday honey-do lists get longer and longer...let's begin by being grateful. Yes, for all of the earthly gifts that God has blessed us with, but most of all for his mighty gifts of grace - the perfect gifts that our Father sends down from heaven - the saving presence of his Son, the truth in his Word and the guidance of his Holy Spirit.
As this year draws to a close, let's remember to invite God into our homes, our hearts and our families as we gather together to celebrate his blessings. And then, let's remember to take those blessings back out into the world as his ministers and ambassadors, so that in being blessed, we may also be a blessing.
That, Beloved Friends, is how we give back to God. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, "You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through [your generosity] will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God" (1 Corinthians 9:11-12 ESV).
May you have peace and joy in Christ during this holiday season, and may God bless you and your families in every good and perfect way, and keep you safe.
Happy Thanksgiving, with much love from the Speak Comfort team!