Gratitude

Gratitude is foundational for believers.  Of all people, we have the most reason to be thankful because we know Christ.  More than that, he knows us, loves us, forgives us, dwells in us, transforms us, and empowers us.  Our reason for thanksgiving is grounded in the person of Jesus Christ.  We’re thankful for what he’s done, is doing, and will do in our lives and world.  Every day, moment, and breath invites us into an encounter with the living God—living in us, abiding among us.

I’m coming to believe that gratitude is the foundational attitude of the believer.  Before we can be loving, caring, devoted, or whatever else it might be, we must be grateful.  Gratitude is the prerequisite to authentic discipleship.  Are you thankful for the gift of salvation?

It’s easy to get bogged down by pressures of life: confusion, loss, fear, conflict—many things can affect us.  Unfortunately we can too often let these concerns become predominant in our minds over the grace of God and the abiding presence of Christ within us.  Gratitude means starting each day with sheer and simple joy.  But is that possible?

If beginning each day with joy is possible, then that joy and gratitude must not be dependent upon circumstances or possessions or any other transitory reality.  Gratitude requires looking beyond the surface of life to the true reality of the in-breaking kingdom of God in our lives.  Gratitude beckons us into the grace all around us, in every circumstance.

Grace moves around us in all places at all times.  We’re never far from his mercy.

Forgiveness always finds us, turning painful confession into liberation and hope.

How could we possibly be ungrateful, wasteful, or indifferent in the presence of such abounding grace and strength?  I guess when we look at the messes around us we sometimes forget that our lives were once incredible messes too.

This Thanksgiving, gratitude is coming to life in me and I pray the Holy Spirit will keep me constantly alert with a attentive eyes and thus a grateful heart.  First, I’m grateful for Christ.  I’m thankful for his mercy toward me.  I’m glad that no matter how much I mess up, I’ll be with him forever.  I’m thankful  that no matter how much crying and hurting I have now, I’ll have infinite and eternal joy even still.  I’m glad that the sun rises again each day to bring an end to the night, and that new life awakens in me to bring an end to my soul’s dark nights.

I’m thankful for my beautiful, loving, and gracious wife—I couldn’t describe how much she means to me if I wrote till my fingers fell off.  And I don’t want my fingers to fall off.  Honey, I am so grateful for you.

I’m grateful for my parents, for their continued love, prayers, support, and guidance.  I’m thankful for my sister and that she is growing in grace (and is a Steelers fan).

I give thanks for sunsets and trees, coffee and tea, football and card games.

I’m thankful to pastor a congregation that inspires me with their growing passion and patient love, for forgiving shortcomings and celebrating victories.  I feel for you what Paul felt for his congregation in Thessalonica: “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2 Thess. 1:3).

May we continue to grow into the grateful and generous lives God has called us to in Christ.

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