By: Bryan Sampson
Last year, for the first time in my life, I got to spend my Thanksgiving holiday with my dad’s side of the family. It was a nice transition from the normal routine that I was in. I am always intrigued by the different ways that people celebrate holidays. The one aspect that I found most interesting was the prayer before the meal. Everyone (in this case 15 people) was asked to give thanks for something. As could be expected, the most common thing that was mentioned was being with family and in second place the food. It almost seemed like no one could think of anything original to thank God for. Though family and food are great things to have, ones which we should be very thankful for, I do believe that they are far from the most important things for which we should be thankful.
Paul writes in Ephesians “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1:3 ESV). Through Christ we have received every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. This sounds absolutely amazing, and something we should be extremely thankful for, yet if my family is any indicator of what most people will be praying for this Thanksgiving, then I fear that we may be missing what we should truly be thankful for. So what are these spiritual blessings you might ask? There are too many to number here, it will probably take all of eternity to discover every way God has blessed us, but here are a few to ponder and resonate on:
- We have been chosen before the foundation of the world to be Holy and without blame before Him in love (Eph 1:4). All because of His love he chose to give us a gift and make us something we could never become on our own. He chose to forgive us of our sins! By His grace we are saved. Even when we were dead in our sins, he made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:5). We are not just physically alive but spiritually alive because of His grace and mercy. There is no greater gift that He could give us. This is an immeasurable gift because Christ is immeasurable and until this becomes a reality in our lives, we can’t be truly thankful the way we should. Lets take a moment to ponder all that we have been forgiven for and our need for God’s grace and mercy and let this fill us with praise and thanksgiving.
- We have been adopted as children of God through Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5). With the most common prayer at my families’ Thanksgiving, giving thanks for family, it should be surprising that no one thanked God for bringing them into His family. How much more thankful should we be for our Heavenly Father? How much more thankful should we be that we were estranged and orphans but God chose to adopt us? We are now heirs of the kingdom of heaven and when we realize just what family we have been adopted in, all because of His good pleasure, grace and love, then we can begin to be truly thankful to our Father.
- In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Eph 1:7). Not only have we been forgiven for our sins, but God has given us freedom from that which has enslaved us. I pray we all are experiencing this type of freedom in our live’s today and are still aware of the slavery that God had freed us from. Just imagine the joy and thankfulness that filled the hearts of the African American community in the South when they received the news that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Imagine how thankful they were that they were set FREE! We should be experiencing this same freedom, joy and thankfulness. It isn’t hard to reflect at what our lives could be without the freedom that we have in Christ. As Paul writes “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed (Jhn 8:36).
It is hard to be thankful for things that we aren’t experiencing isn’t it? Today let us take the time to meditate on these spiritual blessings and experience what God has done for us, so this Thanksgiving we will be able to celebrate it properly, being truly thankful for that which truly matters.
“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” – Psalm 95:2