Gifts

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed

Thankful, grateful and blessed.  I do my best to be and act like all three. What’s the difference? Probably really not much at all. Some have suggested that being grateful is about appreciating what one has, as opposed to what one wants. Being thankful or thanking someone often implies you are acknowledging your thanks for something that someone has given you. Blessed acknowledges the Divine favor you have received from Almighty God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

So, at this busy time of the year I offer a short meditation on these with some of my favorite Bible verses. As we face traffic, travel, difficult family members or loneliness and grief, cling to these three foundational principles of true joy and contentment.

thankful

adjective

feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.

 

Ephesians 5:19-21

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

Colossians 2:6-7

Spiritual Fullness in Christ

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

 

Hebrews 12:28

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

 

grateful

adjective

warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful:

 

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs. 

Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

 

Psalm 147:7

Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
    his understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble
    but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp.

 

blessed

adjective

divinely or supremely favored; fortunate

blissfully happy or contented.

bringing happiness and thankfulness:

 

Matthew 5:3-11

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

 

Psalm 118:26-27

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.
The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.

 

Ephesians 1:3

Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

 

There is always something to feel thankful, grateful or blessed about! I am thankful for all the encouraging comments I get on these devotionals. I am grateful to be a part of a kind, loving, faithful church community. And I am blessed to be able to serve. I know God has his hand of favor over us all!

Blessings to you and your families at Thanksgiving,

Jen

 


Let Us Be Thankful

Let Us Be ThankfullDon’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! ~Hebrews 13:2

As Thanksgiving approaches, I think it's appropriate to consider our many blessings. We truly live in one of the richest countries in the world, and although we still have many who are food insecure and living paycheck to paycheck or are dependent on social services, even our poorest are better off and more cared for than most people in the world today.

Most Americans are in the top 10% of worldwide wealth.  According to CNBC, “To be among the top 10 percent worldwide, you don’t even need six figures: A net worth of $93,170 will do it.

And even if you have just $4,210 to your name, you’re still richer than half of the world’s residents.” (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/01/how-much-money-you-need-to-be-part-of-the-1-percent-worldwide.html)

Here is what world poverty looks like, in numbers:

  • Over 1 billion people live on $2.50 per day or less, including 280 million people in extreme poverty who live on less than $1.25 per day.
  • More than 75 percent of the world’s poor populations live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
  • In developing countries, the poor spend 60-80 percent of their income on food. Americans spend less than 10 percent.
  • Over 800 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat and more than 3 million children die from malnutrition each year.
  • Nearly 1 billion people live without electricity.
  • 40 million children worldwide live without adequate shelter.
  • More than 750 million people lack adequate access to clean water.
  • 270 million children have no access to health services.
  • Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read or write.
  • 1.7 billion people do not have a bank account or access to basic financial services.

(https://finca.org/campaign/world-poverty/)

The most basic needs that we take for granted: security, literacy, electricity, clean water, availability of medicine and health services, access to banking, and adequate food, are major issues for most of the world’s people.  While we argue over how to pay for and adequately deliver these necessities to our population, many countries simply don’t provide them.

And yet, as essential as these basic physical needs are, their need for Jesus is even greater. Food and water will save their body, but only Jesus can save their soul. And we are abundantly blessed to be able to address all their needs. Missionaries, aid organizations like UMCOR, Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International, World Vision, Bread for the World and many others take Jesus’ hands and feet and saving message of Grace all over the world to every tribe and every nation. The needs are great, and the cost is greater still.

Even in our great country, so abundantly blessed with wealth and ‘stuff,’ we face a spiritual desert. For many Americans, especially young adults, faith is not a concern.

Americans' membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup's eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.

U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21st century.

The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.

Church membership is strongly correlated with age, as 66% of traditionalists -- U.S. adults born before 1946 -- belong to a church, compared with 58% of baby boomers, 50% of those in Generation X and 36% of millennials. The limited data Gallup has on church membership among the portion of Generation Z that has reached adulthood are so far showing church membership rates similar to those for millennials.

(https://news.gallup.com/poll/341963/church-membership-falls-below-majority-first-time.aspx)

So, as we give grateful, unending thanks to our Creator and Almighty Father for the many blessings in our lives, let us also consider how to share those blessings with those who have such great needs. How can we serve God by serving others? How can we bring life-saving food, medicine and infrastructure to poverty-stricken areas? How can we bring the soul-saving message of Jesus’ work on the cross to generations without faith? We have what they need, let us open our hands and hearts to share generously.

She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.

~Proverbs 31:20

Blessings,

Jen