GIVE THANKS (WITH A GRATEFUL HEART)


Here’s one from Lee.  Enjoy! -anita

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GIVE THANKS (WITH A GRATEFUL HEART)

If someone does something nice for you, do you always think to say “thank you?”  Typically, the answer most of us would give is a confident “yes.” Of course we want to acknowledge a kind act by family members and those around us that benefits us in some way.

Yet, when you stop and think about it, God metes out kindness to each of us by the bushel every single day. And I wonder if we remember to thank Him on a regular, daily (or even hourly or moment-by-moment) basis. And maybe with an extra measure of “thank-you” on the special occasions when some harmful act involving us fails to come to pass. Like when the driver pulls out in front of you and you are barely able to stop. Or the time you had your head turned away at the ballgame and a baseball rocketed past your head into the stands. Or…well, you can fill in your own incidents where bad things could have happened to you but didn’t. You can disregard those incidents as simply happy but chance occurrences if you want to, but I see them happen to me and others nearly every day—sometimes more than once in a day. For me, that’s God’s protective hand around us. “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” [2 Thess 3:3] And this passage is another example: “…My help comes from the Lord…the Lord watches over you…the Lord will keep you from all harm; He will watch over your life….” [Ps 121 NIV]

As I pondered God’s seemingly ever-present protection the other day, I began to think about worship again (I’ve been thinking about worship a lot lately, and especially how maybe I should do a better job of worshipping my God.) Giving thanks, both for God’s provision of the things I need to live and for His protection in an increasingly hostile world, seems to me to be a part of worshipping Him. As so often happens when I think about God and how good He is to me (us), negative thoughts creep in. I’m not sure exactly where those thoughts come from but I have a suspicion the Evil One might be involved.

One such thought that cropped up during prayer the other day was this: Is God on an ego trip when He says He wants us to worship Him? After all, God says in Exodus 20:5 that He is a jealous God and that we should worship Him alone. After being rather aghast at myself for even thinking such thoughts, my thoughts then turned to thoughts like, “Why are we even here on this earth? Did God put us here just so He would have people to worship Him? Did God create the universe just to show off to us His great power?”  I’m sorry, but I can’t deny I have thoughts like that; maybe you do, too.

As I mulled over these thoughts, some other thoughts began to form in my mind. “God created a lot of work for Himself, just watching over His flock, given all the troubles we get ourselves into due to sin. He didn’t need to create the universe—or us in it—but He created a beautiful world for us in which to live.” And then a big one (thought) for me: “I’ve always felt God was always there for me—even when I denied Him and refused to worship and acknowledge Him during a period of my life.” As I continued to think more on this, it occurred to me that, even with all that He did for our benefit, God didn’t just create us as automatons that robotically honor Him: “Thank You, Lord [reset]…Thank You, Lord [reset]…,” on and on forever. No, God took a bit of a chance and gave us free will. He knew that some of us would never thank or honor Him, yet they still get to enjoy and benefit from His great provision just the same.

So God doesn’t force us to thank Him or be grateful. But He does “quicken” the spirit of some of us to make us more aware of Him and His love for us. Out of that awareness, I believe, some of us will begin to love Him in return and want to honor Him with the conduct of our lives. Hence, worship takes flight. We want to thank Him, to praise Him, to honor Him with the path we choose to take each day. As well we should!

I’m still not clear why God would go to the great trouble to create the universe and put us in it, but I have come to believe it was all for love. He is a God of love, in fact, He is love itself. [1 John 4:8] He deserves our loving worship and I, for one, want to do a better job each day of worshipping Him. I doubt you can name one other person who does more for you every moment of every day than the God who loves you!

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