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Thanks-living: More Than Just a Holiday

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If I had a favorite holiday, Thanksgiving would be it. It’s less commercialized, a day off the normal grind, and a signal that the end of the year is near. It’s often best spent with others, and the sporting events are the whip cream on the pie (not to mention the mouth-watering menu defies the belt size)!

 Other than a holiday, let’s ask: is thanksgiving a feeling or wish? Can you say ‘thanks’ without directing the gratitude somewhere else? We tend to express thanks for something or someone. We’ve all heard the cliché “Thank God/goodness it’s Friday.” But I’ve never heard ‘Thank Friday for leading me into a two-day period wherein I don’t have to work’ or ‘Thank you, car, for getting me safely and warmly to my destination’. Whether realized or not, the point is that thanksgiving is always pointed at something.

 The expression of gratitude for some material or event is to acknowledge that there is a Source behind the object of thanks. Thus, thankfulness cannot be merely a feeling or a wish. Whether it’s a simple ‘thank you’, hand motion, song, poem, post, letter, etc., the act of thanking acknowledges that someONE has brokered a benefit for your good, and that someONE is God himself. Giving thanks is echoing to yourself and others one of the common yet majestic refrains of the Bible: “Oh give thanks to the LORD for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

 Yet, thanksgiving for the Christian is also a lifestyle. “No other religion in the world has emphasized so insistently and incessantly on thanksgiving as the normal posture of the Christian heart” (Pastor David Sunday). We don’t have to wait for a season to be more aware of our blessings. Remember that whether or not your national history has pilgrims, natives, cornucopia, cranberries and turkey in it, every day for the Christian  is “thanksgiving” because every single hour we have reason to thank God for how truly good he is.

 As a church, let’s resolve to be constantly on the lookout for signs of God’s grace in each other, in our homes, jobs and schools. It’ll get contagious. Mumbling and negativity will eventually shrivel and be gobbled up by sumptuous expressions of grace.

Happy ThanksLiving!

 P.S. For a historical reflection on what Thanksgiving is, check out Steve Nichols's blog post over at Ligonier!

 

Posted by Will Pareja with

What’s So ‘good’ about Good Friday?

It’s because of a death. And… what’s so ‘good’ about a day dedicated to observing a death? In our culture, we don’t deal too well with death. We call it other things or dance around it through a plethora of self-preservation tactics propagated by pundits, entertainers, surgeons, and make-up artists. We don’t typically wear symbols of death: electric chairs, nooses, collapsing buildings, or tombstones. Then, what makes the Roman cross any different as a symbol of goodness? Good Friday is ‘good’ because of one Person’s (Jesus) actions towards another Person (God) on behalf of other persons (us).

1. Good Friday is ‘good’ because Jesus was good.

Jesus said, “I was born to testify to the truth (John 18:23).” In his life, Jesus succeeded in every part that we failed. By his Father’s approval at his baptism, his passing the wilderness test, his obedience to God’s law, Jesus proved to be the ultimate human worthy of carrying out a divine rescue plan.

2. Good Friday is ‘good’ because Jesus had to fulfill his Father’s plan.

There was only one plan conceived before the ages began that God would enact to deal with sin and reconcile his lost people to himself. God was rightfully angry, and that anger had to be satisfied. How does a God get satisfied? Isaiah 53 answers that: “Yet is was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin…” Jesus suffered his Father’s rejection so that we could be accepted.

3. Good Friday is ‘good’ because Jesus took the place that we rightfully deserved.

Indeed, we are precious creations of God, made in his image, but we’re each fundamentally and personally bent towards sin and corruption. There is no possible goodness in us that outweighs our bad and the debt we owe to God. We needed a substitute to make our way back to God, ‘the just for the unjust’ (1 Peter 3:18).

It’s ‘good’ —yea, great—because it is about the Gospel. And, if Good Friday is good because of the cross work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then, it’s good for any day of the week or year. Thank God for that Friday, and thank YOU for the cross!

Posted by Will Pareja with

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