We are already involved in the holiday preparations for the year 2001; where did the time go?
It seems like just yesterday that we were worried about the computer glitches that were inevitable for the turn of the century; and here we are at the end of 2001 already. My folks told me time would go faster as I got older, now I believe it.
I want to share a few stories with you about the attitude of thanksgiving that should be evident in our lives 365 days a year, not just one day a year. The first story is about a man named Matthew Henry, a Bible scholar and commentator.
Matthew Henry was once mugged by thieves and robbed of his possessions. He wrote these words in his diary, "Let me be thankful first, because I have never been robbed before; second, because even though they took all I owned they didn't take my life; third, although they took my all it wasn't much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed."
Many think we are only to be thankful for the good things we have, but we forget that if it were not for the hard times we would not be all that we are today. The book of James says of hard times: "My friends, be glad even if you have a lot of trouble. You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested. But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything." Thank you Father, for allowing us to experience the hard times to teach us to rely on you.
"There was once a household in Asia that was so happy that for nine generations none of its members left except for the daughters who married and moved away. The fame of such domestic bliss reached the ears of the Celestial Emperor, so he sent a messenger to inquire of the secret. The old father of the house, taking a piece of paper and a brush, printed many characters, then laid the paper in the hand of the Imperial Messenger.
"When it was unrolled there was nothing there except for the character representing 'patience' written 100 times."
Because of our rushed lives we are sometimes too impatient to wait for the answers we need from God, and so we substitute our own answers instead. Thank you, Father, for helping us to be patient when that is the last thing we want to be.
During the memorable days of the Battle of Dunkirk, a vicar walked into the church on a summer's evening to find a small boy on his knees. After a while the boy got up and hurried to the door. At the door, the vicar smiled and asked the boy what he had been doing. "Sir," came the reply, "I've been coming every day of this week. You see, I was afraid my daddy would be left on the beaches of Dunkirk, so I came to ask God to bring him home safely. He has, and so I came along this time to say, 'Thank you, God.'"
We all experience hard times in our lives, and most of us don't hesitate to ask God for help when we are in trouble. But, how many of us take the time to thank God for the answers he has already provided? Father, we just want to say, "thank you" for all the answered prayers we have received, even if they weren't all answered the way we wanted them to be.
A little girl was playing with her dolly while her mother was busy writing. When she had finished writing, she said, "You can come here now, Alice; I have done all that I wanted to do this morning." The child ran to her mother exclaiming, "I am so glad, because I love you so much."
"But I thought you were happy with your dolly," said her mother.
"Yes, mother, I was. But soon I got tired of loving her because she can't love me back." "And that is why you love me -- because I can love you back?" asked her mother. "That is one why, but not the first and most important why," answered the little girl. "What is the first and best why?" asked mother. "Because you loved me when I was too little to love you back," replied the little girl.
One of the greatest gifts we have been given is family, and maybe one of the least appreciated. In this holiday season, take time to thank God for your parents, children, spouses and church families.
One Christmas Day a young African woman came to church to give her sacrificial offering of thanksgiving. African Christians are extremely poor and can give only a handful of vegetables or a bunch of flowers. The young woman handed the missionary a coin worth a whole dollar. The missionary was amazed and at first refused to accept it, but finally did.
At the close of the service, the lady missionary asked the woman, "Where did you get such a fortune?" Smiling, the woman said, "I went to a neighboring planter and sold myself as a slave for the rest of my life to obtain that coin. I wanted to give Jesus an offering that satisfied my heart." She had brought the equivalent of her life and laid it down in a single gift at the feet of her Lord and Savior. The ultimate "thank you" should be to God for purchasing our lives with the life of His Only Son, Jesus.
It is a debt we can never repay -- except by laying down our lives for His use. Thank you, Father, for my salvation.
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