How thankful we can be for what God has given us! We have physical blessings, of course, but our most important blessings are spiritual and eternal. A few are listed below. It would take pages to describe them in detail, but just consider what a great blessing each of them is:
- Jesus Christ — our Savior and Lord
- Jesus' teachings — the words of eternal life
- His example of love and compassion and suffering
- His sacrifice that paid the debt our sinfulness has incurred
- Jesus' victory over the power of sin and Satan, which frees us from their bondage
- Faith that we are justified in Jesus and declared righteous by God
- The loving God who has imputed Christ's righteousness to us
- The Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life
- Assurance of our resurrection and our reward
- Our merciful High Priest who intercedes for us
- A Judge who is both righteous and merciful
- God's love that is greater than we can imagine
The value of these blessings is further magnified by the fact that we experience them throughout our Christian lives. God never fails us; he is always near to us, able and willing to help.
What God has given us is beyond our ability to fully comprehend! We do not deserve such blessings, even for a moment. All we can do is fall humbly before our generous God and give him thanks, such as Paul did in Ephesians 1:3: "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."
God chose us in Christ before we had done any works, either good or bad. He assigned our destiny in advance, that we would be his children, doing his will, praising him and his grace (verses 4-6). It is in Christ Jesus alone that we have these blessings: redemption, forgiveness and the knowledge that it is God's will to subject all things to Christ (verses 7-10).
How can we respond to such grace? What can we give in response to what God has done for us? His generosity overwhelms our ability to respond adequately, doesn't it? All our money, all our time, all our life, could never even begin to pay for such grace!
But our prayers are like pleasant incense to our Father. He enjoys our prayers — that's something we can give him — perhaps a bit like a thank-you card. What we return to him is of far less value than what he's give us, but because Christ lives in us through faith, we love to do it. Each day, we dedicate time to give him some sweet-smelling praise and thanks, as well as intercessions for others.
Our prayers should never cease. Throughout the day, we can converse with God, to be thankful for what he has given us, thankful for the wonderful destiny he has invited us to, thankful for the sure hope of salvation that he has given us in Jesus Christ. Throughout the day, our lives are dedicated to him. We put to death the deeds of the flesh, live in holiness in the present of God, in his service — whether on our jobs or in our families or in recreation.
The Gospel of John tells us that the Father has given us to Jesus Christ. We belong to Christ; our allegiance is given to the one who gave himself for us. We give him all that we are. It's not much, but it is a token of our love for him and our thankfulness for the cleansing, forgiveness, imputed righteousness, and eternity he has given us through his Son. Our lives become a thank-you card. The Holy Spirit helps us in our hearts, in our actions and in our words to glorify God in every way we can.
All our time, all our thoughts — our whole beings — God has given to Jesus Christ, but all too often we try to take some of ourselves back. How thoroughly are we given to our Savior? Are we devoted to him? We all fall short, I know, so we can all improve. We should ask ourselves some hard questions: Am I striving to please Christ or myself? At the end of each day we should ask: Has this day been a living sacrifice for the One who sacrificed himself for me? Am I doing his will, or my own? Am I serving his brothers and sisters, or only myself?
The church is another blessing that God has given us. He has put us here where it pleases him — and he is pleased to put us where it is best forus. We are to edify one another, pray for one another, help with one another's burdens. We are to grow with one another and learn with one another. And we are all called to help; we are all fellow-laborers. We are thankful for your help and support of the church and for your generosity in financial contributions — for helping us preach and live the gospel of Jesus Christ so that many more people will yet experience the unsurpassable blessings God gives us in Jesus Christ!