A Pastor's Ponderings: I AM Blessed; I AM Thankful
lthough I see my favorite holiday in my rearview mirror, my thankfulness should never subside. This holiday is a day of giving thanks, thus "thanks-giving," but thanks to whom and thanks for what? Don't misunderstand me; I am thankful for a day of turkey and dressing, corn and cranberries, green beans and pumpkin pie. Yet, history offers us context and deeper meaning.
One of the first acts of President George Washington was a proclamation concerning thanksgiving. He urged Americans to express gratitude to the Almighty for the happy ending to the country's war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
So, I thought the best way to communicate my heartfelt thanks was by considering my God-given freedom and independence. I know what I used to be. And I know I am incredibly blessed because of the change that took place in my life 40 years ago. Considering "Who I am" and "What I am" causes me to express my thankfulness to God because I am no longer what I was.
When Moses inquired how best to describe God to the Israelites, he received a simple answer: "God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 3:14). Jesus, during His earthly ministry, identified Himself as the same God that Moses talked to: "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). One God in three persons.
My thankfulness always begins by considering the impetus that allows for a victorious Christian life. "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:14a). I am victorious in a multitude of ways because of who and what I am. Take a glimpse into what the scripture says about ME (and all believers):
I AM accepted, chosen, complete, forgiven, healed, justified, quickened, redeemed, saved, strong, and victorious. I AM a son, a new creature, a child of God, a joint heir with Christ. I AM the light of the world and the temple of God. I AM compassed by God's mercy, filled with joy and peace, free from sin, seated together in heaven.
As though that is not enough: I AM more than a conqueror. I AM God's workmanship and joined unto the Lord. I AM accepted in the beloved. I AM an ambassador for Christ. I AM like a tree planted by the rivers of water, and I AM wonderfully made.
The Bible references every one of these elements. That list should make every Christian thankful for their change. When I stop to count my many blessings, it reminds me to exclaim, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15). For this reason, God wants us to include thanksgiving as an aspect of every prayer.
"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Philippians 4:6).
Pray "with thanksgiving"! I know it helps me when I list the ways I am thankful. For instance, right now, I am thankful for you, the reader that made it through to the very end. May God richly bless you as we close out another year. Goodbye 2021! Hello 2022!