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The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. 

-Psalm 28:7

Whenever I am confronted with a person who doesn't understand the power of joy, this is what I always simply say, "If you don't understand joy ... then just be thankful because thanksgiving and joy are not so very far apart."

Joy is that supernatural vitamin that bestows a weak human being with strength.  Joy is nourished by thanksgiving, it is nurtured by forgiving and it is sustained by heartfelt giving.

Joy can powerfully be spelled with the letters "G-I-V-E".

... I am going to wring the joy out of these three words ... thanksgiving ... forgiving ... and giving from the heart.

Today - let's start with giving.

When you give to others, you will be the recipient of an unexplainable, dynamic and vibrant joy!

If you lack joy, give what you don't have to someone else.

If you don't understand joy, give a smile to someone in need.

If you resent others who have joy, buy a person a cup of coffee.

Give when you don't feel like it.

Give when you have nothing to give.

Choosing to give to others is the prerequisite for receiving the inheritance of joy. 


(Keep reading here...

Carol is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. She hosts a daily radio program called, "Defiant Joy Radio", has written 5 books - "The Rooms of a Woman's Heart", "Defiant Joy!", "Holy Estrogen!",  "No More Ordinary!" (which hit several of Amazon's best seller lists), and her most recent, “Refined … Finding Joy In the Fires of Life!”. She has also written several devotionals for the popular Bible app, YouVersion.  She is the mom of 5 grown children, Marmee to 6 grandchildren and is married to her college sweetheart.

More of Carol McLeod: http://www.justjoyministries.com/

God is Good! Give Thanks!   

  

Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever. —Psalm 106:1 (NLT)

 

It’s Thanksgiving-eve today and whether it’s a travel day or you are getting ready for tomorrow’s celebration, you will probably be busy. In the hustle and bustle of this day, there will likely be more reasons that you can count for why being thankful might not be on the top of your list today. Here are a few possibilities:

 

• You need to drive the family 60 miles to get to your T-Day celebration and there is a 10-mile back-up of stop-and-go traffic.

• The turkey is thawing in the kitchen and you didn’t know that your dog loves raw turkey until you noticed him gnawing on one of the drumsticks in the living room.

• You are hosting a dozen people tomorrow for dinner, and all of your three kids have just come down with an explosive intestinal virus.

 

Whatever your day-before-Thanksgiving brings, allow me to simply remind you that there is always at least one good reason to give thanks, whatever your circumstances, and it is this: God is good.

Here are three of my favorite ways that God displays His goodness:

 

1) God is good because He gives us free gifts. Everyone loves a free gift, right? God is good because His gifts are amazing! We read in Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God is so rich in mercy, He loved us so much, that He gave us back our lives again when He raised Christ from the dead. Only by His undeserved favor have we been saved.”

Do we deserve God’s kindness? No. Do we deserve His mercy?  No.  Do we deserve His forgiveness?  No.  God loves us and He gives us these free gifts.  This is a reason to be thankful!

 

2) God is good because He loves us unconditionally. God loves us not for what we’ve done, but for who we are. This is a core truth about God and worthy of our embrace. God's love isn’t based on our income. It’s not based on our job. It’s not based on our looks. It’s not based on the way we dress. God's love for us has no strings attached. There’s nothing you can do to earn God's love. This is a reason to be thankful!

 

3) God is good because he offers us life forever. In the midst of all of the craziness happening in the world, we can be thankful that God wants our future to include real life! He offers us life to the full—here and now (see John 10:10) and someday, life in heaven. We read in 1 Peter 1:4-5, “and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” This is a reason to be thankful!

 

God is good! He gives amazing gifts! He loves you unconditionally! He gives us life now and a future in heaven. So, what are you waiting for? Thanksgiving Day? There’s no need to wait! Give thanks!

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. What are the most personal and meaningful ways that you are thankful for God’s goodness to you?

2. Wherever you find yourself today, take some moments to thank God for His goodness.

 

FURTHER READING:

1 Chronicles 16:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:18

DOUG FIELDS is the senior director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University and the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com. Doug has been a youth and teaching pastor at Mariners Church and Saddleback Church for 30 years and has authored more than fifty books. He is a passionate speaker reaching thousands of leaders, teenagers, and parents every year. Doug resides with his wife and three children in Southern California. 

More of Doug Fields: www.homeword.com

Giving Thanks -  

This devotional was written by Jim Burns

 

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. —1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

Happy Thanksgiving! I love this holiday as it is especially well suited for Christians, for God has blessed us in so many ways through Christ. Yet, life at times is painful and it would not be a stretch to understand on this Thanksgiving Day why some people might feel like crying out, “Thanks for what?”! And if we are not careful, we can easily slip into a pervasive attitude of negativity. When we choose to focus on the bad experiences of our lives, our shattered dreams and on our losses, we can become ungrateful and take for granted the many blessings God has given to us, reducing Thanksgiving Day into just another family gathering and meal.

 

Christians have every reason to be thankful because Jesus Christ was willing to sacrifice his very life in order to set us free from the constraints of sin. Paul explained it this way: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us," (Romans 5:8). We have a special reason to adopt the attitude of gratitude, because we know that whatever comes, our times are in God's hands. It was Jesus who said, in effect, "So don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow, too," (see Matthew 6:34).

 

It was the apostle Paul who said that we should "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." But for many of us, the attitude of thankfulness does not come easily. We've learned from our past to complain our way through most circumstances.

 

In studying thankfulness, I've learned a very helpful idea: thankfulness is a key that unlocks your depressive emotions. You cannot be both thankful and depressed at the same time. They are opposite emotions. You can be sad, hurt, or angered and still be thankful; but you can't be depressed and still be thankful.

 

We can't make the decision about whether some of life's negative "stuff' is thrown our way; but we can decide to be thankful, even in the midst of a not-so-perfect world. Deciding to become a thankful person can transform your life!

 

Thankfulness is an attribute that transcends your circumstances. No matter what your circumstances, I believe there is reason to be thankful in them. Your circumstances may never change, but your attitude toward them can change and that will make all the difference. Today, may you truly experience a happy Thanksgiving!

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Make a list of reasons you have to be thankful today.

 

2. Spend some time in prayer, giving God thanks for the items on your list.

 

FURTHER READING:

Romans 5:8; Luke 17:11-18; Psalm 95

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family @ Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com. 

Some of his recent books include: Faith Conversations for Families; Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Jim and his wife, Cathy and their three daughters Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi live in Southern California. 

More of Jim Burns: www.homeword.com

The Value of Gratitude -   

This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. —Psalm 100:4

 

The movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released in 2005 and starred Johnny Depp as the famous Willy Wonka. In the movie, five lucky children were exclusively invited inside the chocolate factory. Veruca Salt, Augustus Gloop, Mike Teavee, Violet Beauregarde, and Charlie Bucket were the lucky five who found the golden tickets.

 

If you have seen the movie, you are probably aware that each of the children who entered had character flaws. Veruca was selfish and self absorbed; she thought that she deserved everything. Augustus was a glutton; he could not seem to stop overindulging, no matter what warnings were thrown his way. Mike had no respect for authority and a quick temper. He bullied his parents and anyone else who was around. Violet was highly competitive and would do anything to win, even if it meant being blue for the rest of her life. And then there was Charlie. What was he? Grateful.

 

People who are grateful are the people who you see walking around life with joy written on their hearts and shining through their eyes. These are the people who have learned to appreciate what they have been given and, normally, are not focused only on stuff or things. They are thinking about friends, family, loved ones. Take a look at what the Bible, in the book of Romans, says about the ungrateful.

 

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:21)

 

The Bible tells us that we come into the Lord’s presence when we are grateful and give thanks. It is gratefulness that softens each person’s heart, helping him or her to be aware of the blessings each has been given.

 

The character Charlie understood. He did not need all the money or all the chocolate in the world to be happy. He had a life overflowing with the love of those who were around him. He did not dwell on what he did not have, but focused on all he did have. He was grateful. Truly, it is those who are grateful, no matter their circumstances, which end up with uncountable blessings for eternity.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Make a list of 5 things that you are thankful for in your life.

 

2. Why does it sometimes get hard to be happy with what you have or your circumstances?

 

FURTHER READING:

1 Samuel 25:37-40; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Philippians 4:19

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

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