Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving

“Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” (Ephesians 5:20)

Thanksgiving is upon us. A day that we set aside to give thanks for the abundance of blessing that we each have received. We each have reason to be thankful for the breath of air we just took in to the marvelous creation of God that has been given to us. Many of us focus on the trials and tribulations that we face as we journey on in this life but as we pause to count our blessings and name them one by one we realize that in the providence of God we find we have received more than we are worthy of. As we measure the plus and the minus I believe that even those of us who face the greatest of hardship in this life will find that the measure we have been given far exceeds that which has plagued us. That is why when we approach our Creator we should do so with a humble and thankful heart.

The wind strengthens the root of the tree, the waves moving across the sea strengthens the arm upon the rudder, and the resistance of our trials increases the steadfastness of our resolve. Our character is developed by our perseverance to reach the yonder shore that when we have finished our journey we will have been perfected by the fire of the trial. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7) In all circumstances of life we should be thankful, both the good and the bad, for our Father in heaven knows our trials and has prepared a way for us that will work for the good according to His plan and purpose. (Romans 8:28) With this truth planted within our heart a spirit of thankfulness should flow freely from our hearts and mouths.

Our Creator is not a sadistic deity who dangles us as puppets upon a string but is a God of love and has given His best for each of us. His goodness is toward us and His words of truth are life to our spirits. “The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:9)When all else in this world has passed away and our lives have departed this world we shall dwell in His house abiding in His love which endures forever. “Give thanks to the Lord of lords, For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (Psalm 136:3)

Our Creator sacrificed Himself that through His death we might find life. And through His resurrection we can have life eternally. We were once lost and dead in our sin bound for the grave but in His love for us, even while we sinners, pulled us out of the pit that we have dug for ourselves. “O LORD, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.” (Psalm 30:3) For this on that great Day of the Lord we shall ever be thankful to our everlasting Father.

At creation the world was in perfect harmony. It was a world of perfect community and all lived in God’s order. The world was given to man to have dominion over and to rule and care for. Has anyone given you a perfect universe to live in? But man fell to disobedience to God’s order and we have been living under the curse and the shadow of death, the result of man’s sin. Job was a righteous man and lived according to God’s Word and was blessed by his upright living. Job was unshakable because he knew from where his blessings came. Satan was allowed to test Job with great trial and tribulation to the point that Job lost all his possession. Not only that he suffered great physical destress and was covered from head to foot with boils. But Job’s faith in his Lord remained unshakable and he approached God with a thankful heart. “He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21) Today how easily man, including me, can be turned from having a thankful heart towards God to anger Him for what we ourselves have wrought.

We must remember the hope that we have, the inheritance we shall receive. Many of us are only thankful for what we have already received. That what we have that can be seen. But what we have to come through our faith is assured as that which we have already received. Many times I ponder that place that has been prepared for me by the carpenter of Nazareth. As He promised, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3) Can you imagine that! A place in the Kingdom of God that is prepared just for you and with you in mind. A perfect place that will be your eternal dwelling. A place in the Holy City of God that is not imaginable, that no place on earth can compare to, and a place of peace, joy, and love. This is the assured hope that the Christian lives in each and every day now and for now on. This is something to be thankful for each and every moment of each and every day. “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28)

We know that it will be beyond anything that we can imagine. It is beyond anything that we have seen, beyond anything that we have experienced. For the world has not seen God’s complete perfection and order since the day before the fall of man. It will be perfect for all and it will be perfect for you because He has prepared a place for you with you in mind. It will be perfect because God gives nothing less than His very best. “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17)

Living with a thankful heart towards God for the abundance of blessings that He has bestowed unto us changes our focus in a darkened world. Our focus is no longer upon our own selfish desires for this world that we live in but upon the greater eternal wonders of the future. Being thankful to our heavenly Father takes our dependence off our own frail achievements and places them upon the God through whom all things are possible. “And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

This tent that we live in shall also pass away. It was only meant for our passage through this physical world. It grows older and weaker as our time here travels on. Unless the Lord comes to call us up into the sky our body will one day fail and die. Our spirit is eternal because we were created and brought to life by the breath of God. (Genesis 2:7) The greater gifts from God are those He gives to our spiritual life. Let us no forsake remembrance of those and give thanks to Him each day for these eternal blessings. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)

A Pastor friend told me that we are either coming out of a storm or going into one. That is life here in this world. It is a life filled with trial and tribulations. As it is, this is ultimately a good thing as we are all the stronger for them and for this we should be thankful, for the trial and the peace that follows. We still can have peace with our God knowing that His Love and Mercy endures forever and that our final destination is the joy of being with Him in eternal thankfulness. He has rescued us from the place that was not created for us but for the fallen angel who thought he should be as the Most High. I do not want to think of life in his eternal destination and I am thankful that I do not have too. For God has prepared a home for His own and it is far greater that any we have known. It is a place where we cannot help but live in eternal gratitude. And because of His gifts to me I am spiritually equipped to overcome this world because my Lord and Master has also overcome this world. As I walk in the security of His truth I fear not as with God all things are possible. It is a good way to live in thanks towards my God and Savior, as it keeps my eyes focused upon Jesus. “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, November 25, 2015

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