What will you and your family experience over the days of Thanksgiving? More to the point, how might we intentionally make these days a fresh expression of gratitude to God?
On recent CCC Sundays of worship, we heard the Spirit of God remind us that genuine gratitude is giving PRAISE to God. One out of ten healed lepers returned, fell on his face before the Lord Jesus, and worshipped him for his remarkable, life-changing healing (cf. Luke 17).
Romans 12:1-2 speaks of genuine gratitude for the mercies of God results in giving OURSELVES to God. Bringing my living to God for His daily use. With conviction, refusing simply to express Christ-less ways of thinking and living. Rather renewing our minds with God's words and ways, and living out the very heart and desires of God each day.
When investigating 2 Corinthians 8-9, we discovered that genuine gratitude is giving GENEROUSLY to God, disciples of Jesus whose giving to the Lord is an expression of His grace flowing through us, a desire to "want in" to giving when there is need, a generosity that goes beyond what is reasonable or expected. The early Christians in Macedonia (vss.1-6) were such givers, stimulating us to follow in their steps.
THIS THANKSGIVING, WHY NOT...?
...Why not take those three categories with those you gather with this year and "do Thanksgiving" with some expressions of genuine gratitude. Here are some suggestions.
GIVING PRAISE - (1) find a hymnal, copy off several songs, and sing to the Lord together; (2) put in a favorite praise CD and sing the songs together; (3) have each family member and/or loved one make a list of 5 blessings each is grateful for, and take 30-60 minutes and share stories of what and why; (4) if you have enough in your family, re-enact the Luke 17:11-19 story! Designate one as Jesus, a few as lepers. Copy the passage off and make a "play" of it. Afterwards, talk about the lesson, and then spend time together being the "one who gave thanks," each thanking Jesus for something He's done in their lives.
GIVING OURSELVES - Read the Romans 12:1-2 passage from several translations [You can copy different translations of this by going to www.biblegateway.com, and choosing different translations when looking up the verse. Then, copy them off for those gathering with you.] Take a moment to discuss what a "sacrifice" was (you can find descriptions in Leviticus 1-6). Or, talk in simple terms about "renewing" our minds to think like the Lord. You may well find this to be a great way to explore specific was of "giving ourselves" to the Lord.
GIVING GENEROUSLY - Is there someone that you know whom you could surprise with a generous gift of some kind? (1) A gift certificate to a local grocery store (Fareway, HyVee)? (2) A spray of flowers and a note of thankfulness for them, for the goodness and joy that they have brought into your life? (3) Perhaps a gift for an unsuspecting neighbor or co-worker who has been going through a difficult time of loss or challenge? (4) Why not call someone connected with the Matthew 25 house or the Butterfly House and invite someone to join you for Thanksgiving dinner and joy? This kind of expression could be a great way for you to show the generous love of our Heavenly Father, who gave us His Son in such a surprising and life-changing way.
Giving Praise. Giving Ourselves. Giving Generously.
Sons and daughters of a generous Father.