Jesus Calling Bible Christmas Devotional - Week 4: Thankfulness

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  • 8/3/2019 Jesus Calling Bible Christmas Devotional - Week 4: Thankfulness


  • 8/3/2019 Jesus Calling Bible Christmas Devotional - Week 4: Thankfulness

  • 8/3/2019 Jesus Calling Bible Christmas Devotional - Week 4: Thankfulness


    Week Four: Thankfulness

    Introduction to Week Four:

    When we begin to grasp the boundless love of God that brought Jesus to earth so

    many Christmases ago, our hearts naturally well up in praise. It is no accident that Isaac

    Watts' carol, "Joy to the World!" has become such a favorite of Christians all over the

    world. Ponder again those familiar words: "Joy to the world! The Lord is come: Let earth

    receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing, And

    heaven and nature sing, And heaven, and heaven and nature sing."

    Christmas and the joyful giving of thanks go together like evergreens and

    presents, like children and laughter, like frankincense and myrrh. And yet . . . too often, it

    seems, our longing to thank God for His good gifts gets swallowed up in unexpected

    trials or unwelcome surprises. The wisest and most joyful of Christians through the

    centuries, of course, learned how to give thanks despite their circumstances. How can we

    join our voices to theirs? That's what we want to consider this week, and so make this

    Christmas a time of thanksgiving like no other.

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    Day Twenty-Two: Let Thankfulness Flow

    Read Micah 5:2-3; see also Psalm 90:2; Colossians 1:27; Colossians 3:15.


    How can I begin to give You thanks, dear Jesus? You came down from the glory

    of heaven to put on the body of a human beingas a baby, no less. You grew up, fell and

    skinned Your knees, ate good food, drank from cool streams, enjoyed the breeze on Your

    face. You experienced the joys of this earth that You Yourself created, as well as the

    sorrows and sadness that came as a result of sin so many aeons ago. You went through it

    allenduring my temptations, feeling my happiness, weeping my tears. Why? So that

    You could return to heaven and forever be an advocate. So that You could know my

    frame, understand my struggles, and be able to say, I died for her so that she might live.

    I died so that sin and death might never hold her. I rose again so that she, too, could one

    day live forever.

    What can I say to such love? I am overwhelmed. I did nothing to deserve it. In

    fact, I pushed and pushed and pushed You away until one day You finally won me over.

    And my life has never been the same. Thank You, Lord, for Your indescribable gift!



    I speak to you from the depths of eternity. Before the world was formed, I am!

    You hear Me in the depths of your being, where I have taken up residence. I am Christ in

    you, the hope of Glory. I, your Lord and Savior, am alive within you. Learn to tune in to

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    My living Presence by seeking Me in silence. Whenever you consider the wonder of My

    birth, celebrate your rebirth into eternal life. This everlasting gift was the sole purpose of

    My entering your sin-stained world. Receive My gift with awe and humility. Take time to

    explore the vast dimensions of My Love. Allow thankfulness to flow freely from your

    heart in response to My glorious gift. Let My Peace rule in your heart, and be thankful.

    (From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)


    In what ways has the Lord already been good to you this Christmas season? Write

    down as many of His blessings as you can think of, and then spend some time praising

    and thanking Him for His goodness to you.

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    Day Twenty-Three: The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

    Read Hebrews 1:5-6; see also Psalm 116:17; Jonah 2:9; 1 John 1:7.


    I always want more than I have. Or better than I have. And Ive been that way

    since I was a child, Lord. Never quite satisfied, never willing to count the blessings I do

    have for fear that Ill be frustrated at how many things are missing from my must-have

    list. Is it just me? Why am I never happy? When I was little, I thought that having that

    great bike in the store catalog would do the trick. As a teenager, I was sure that designer

    labels would suffice. Then I figured getting married would fill the void. Then children,

    then a nice house, then . . . The list just goes on and on. Even now, I catch myself

    thinking, Once this problem is laid to rest, Ill be happy. Or,If only I could go on that

    cruise, Id have my dream vacation!

    But Im starting to realize that none of these things is the answer. And I can tell

    that this growing realization is from You. Im not sure what the solution is for this

    problem of mine, but I do know this: You have the answer, and You can change my




    Bring Me the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Take nothing for granted, not even the

    rising of the sun. Before Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, thankfulness was as

    natural as breathing. Satans temptation involved pointing Eve to the one thing that was

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    forbidden her. The garden was filled with luscious, desirable fruits, but Eve focused on

    the one fruit she couldnt have rather than being thankful for the many good things freely

    available. This negative focus darkened her mind, and she succumbed to temptation.

    When you focus on what you dont have or on situations that displease you, your

    mind also becomes darkened. You take for granted life, salvation, sunshine, flowers, and

    countless other gifts from Me. You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until

    that is fixed. When you approach Me with thanksgiving, the Light of My Presence

    pours into you, transforming you through and through. Walk in the Lightwith Me by

    practicing the discipline of thanksgiving.

    (From Jesus Callingby Sarah Young)


    You've focused on the reasonsyou have to be thankful this holiday season; now

    expand your vision outward. Ask your family members or closest friends to tell you what

    they have to be thankful for as Christmas approaches. Ask them to describe specific

    answers to prayer, blessed surprises, long-term faithfulness. And together, if it feels

    appropriate (or otherwise by yourself), spend some time thanking God for His provision.

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    Day Twenty-Four: Gifts of Supernatural Proportions

    Read Hebrews 13:15; see also Luke 24:36; Matthew 28:20; Acts 18:10.


    Im ashamed to confess that I thank You only when times are good. I forget to

    thank You in the rough times. Like now, when Im having to endure such physical and

    emotional pain. But theres no time like the present, is there?

    So, thank You, Lord, for this hard lesson. Without it, I would never have

    experienced Your presence like Ive experienced it in these past few weeks. When I was

    alone and in pain in the middle of the night, You whispered a word of love and blessing

    to me. When I despaired and was tempted to complain in the middle of the day, You

    reminded me of a praise song that spoke of how You would never forsake me. And then

    You proved Your promise by immediately having a friend call me just to say she was

    praying for me. I wanted You to take away the pain. Oh, how I argued and railed against

    You! But rather than giving me what I thought I wanted, You chose instead to give me

    more of You. This was a gift I didnt appreciate even a week ago. Now I do. Thank You.



    Thank Me throughout this day for My Presence and My Peace. These are gifts of

    supernatural proportions. Ever since the resurrection, I have comforted My followers

    with these messages: Peace be with you, and I am with you always. Listen as I offer you

    My Peace and Presence in full measure. The best way to receive these glorious gifts is to

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    thank Me for them. It is impossible to spend too much time thanking and praising Me. I

    created you first and foremost to glorify Me. Thanksgiving and praise put you in proper

    relationship with Me, opening the way for My riches to flow into you. As you thank Me

    for My Presence and Peace, you appropriate My richest gifts.

    (From Jesus Callingby Sarah Young)


    Take a tour through your favorite Christmas carols, noting all the times they

    praise God for His grace and love and good gifts. As you read the lyrics, treat these

    thanksgiving sections as prayers, and lift your voice in adoration of your King.

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    Day Twenty-Five: Take the Sting Out of Adversity

    Read Philippians 2:5-7; see also Ephesians 5:20; Psalm 89:15; 118:1.


    Dear Lord, You know how I am struggling and how bleak everything looks. Im

    not only finding it difficult to be grateful; its nearly impossible for me not to be bitter all

    the time. Yet I know that my emotions are deceiving. They reflect only a portion of the

    whole story. So despite my dark frame of mind, I choose to follow Your command in 1

    Thessalonians 5:18: In everything give thanks.

    Hear my heart when I say thank You that the sun is shining brightly today and

    shows the beauty all around me. Thank You for the people You have placed in my life

    who bring me laughter and comfort in hard times as well as friendship and love in good

    times. Thank You for providing for my needs. Even when Im not sure how You do it,

    You supply the things I truly require. Thank You for the interests and hobbies that give

    me pleasure. Thank You that I need not fear for my physical safety. Thank You for the

    possibility of hope in all situations. And especially, thank You for loving me enough to

    die for me!



    Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to

    give thanks foreverything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give

    Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your

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    circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedienceat times, blind obedience. To people

    who dont know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me

    for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably

    blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

    Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts.

    You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances; but it is as if a

    light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of

    My Presencethat removes the sting from adversity.

    (From Jesus Callingby Sarah Young)


    Take a quick trip to the mall or some other public place where you're likely to see

    a lot of people. Notice the individualswhat they're doing, how they're talking, the state

    of their emotions. Really lookat them (without staring!), and then begin to pray that God

    would break into their lives in a way that they, too, could find the secret of thanking Him.

    And if the Lord should promptyou to bring some cheer into their lives, follow His nudge.

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    Day Twenty-Six: A Safeguard Against a Deadly Sin

    Read John 1:14; see also 1 Corinthians 10:10; Ephesians 5:4; Hebrews 12:28, 29.


    Today I thought about what has happened to me over the past few weeks, months,

    years. I recall a lot of pain. There has been heartache, hurt feelings, betrayal, and even

    some anger. Slowly, as despair crept into my heart, I began to wonder why You would

    allow such distress to invade my life. But then my thoughts turned to the recent accounts

    of some visiting missionaries. They related the day-to-day situations of those to whom

    they ministerfrom persecution and sickness to abject povertyand I realized how truly

    blessed I am.

    I recognize that You allow each one of Your children to experience exactly what

    You know we can endureand no moreso that we may one day be a help and a

    blessing to others. I have no right to complain, do I? In Your infinite wisdom, You know

    how each experience will shape me and mold me into someone who will be an effective

    witness for You. Help me to always be thankful, even when I feel despair tugging at the

    corners of my heart.



    Let thankfulness temper all your thoughts. A thankful mind-set keeps you in

    touch with Me. I hate it when My children grumble, casually despising My sovereignty.

    Thankfulness is a safeguard against this deadly sin. Furthermore, a grateful attitude

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    becomes a grid through which you perceive life. Gratitude enables you to see the Light of

    My Presence shining on all your circumstances. Cultivate a thankful heart, for this

    glorifies Me and fills you with Joy.

    (From Jesus Callingby Sarah Young)


    The only thing better than cultivating a heart of thankfulness is to help others

    cultivate it in their hearts, too. How can you be an encouragement and a model for others

    to express their gratitude to God? Who in your life might need some unexpected

    encouragement from you in order to develop a thankful heart? How can you partner with

    God in the ministry of nurturing thankful hearts, especially as we prepare to celebrate the

    birth of King Jesus?

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    Day Twenty-Seven: The Language of Love

    Read Luke 2:13-14; see also 2 Chronicles 7:1-3; Habakkuk 3:17, 18; Psalm 46:1.


    Sometimes I just long for heaven, Lord! What a wonderful place that will be.

    Certainly I have more questions than answers about what it will really be like, but Your

    Word gives enough information to excite me about going there. What joy to one day look

    into Your face, to sing with the angels, to praise You forever!

    Where I struggle is in the here and now, when I have to come back to reality.

    Knowing that the world is not a very nice place most of the time, I strain to reconcile the

    promise of heaven with the realities of earthand to feel grateful about what we

    encounter while were here. The glimpses of heaven that I see in the smile of a child or

    the majesty of creation are shrouded by the sadness, the pain, the evil, the suffering all

    around me. The discrepancy is too big for me to solve. I almost feel guilty dreaming of

    heaven when I am surrounded with so many in-this-moment needs. How can I bring

    heaven to earth? That is, how can I bring an eternal mindset into my daily world? How

    can I bring my promised future into my present?



    A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven. Spiritual blessings fall freely onto

    you through those openings into eternity. Moreover, as you look up with a grateful heart,

    you get glimpses of Glory through those windows. You cannot yet live in heaven, but

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    you can experience foretastes of your ultimate home. Such samples of heavenly fare

    revive your hope. Thankfulness opens you up to these experiences, which then provide

    further reasons to be grateful. Thus, your path becomes an upward spiral: ever increasing

    in gladness.

    Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which

    enables you to communicate intimately with Me. A thankful mindset does not entail a

    denial of reality with its plethora of problems. Instead, it rejoices in Me, your Savior, in

    the midst of trials and tribulations.. I am your refuge and strength, an ever-present and

    well-proved help in trouble

    (From Jesus Callingby Sarah Young)


    Spend some extended time today just focusing on the Lordnot on His gifts, His

    benefits, or any element of His good creation. Focus your attention on Jesus Christ

    Himself. What does He mean to you? Why? When you get to heaven, what do you think

    you'd like to say to Him first? Soak your mind on thoughts of the Master. And then thank

    Him for everything He is to you!

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    Day Twenty-Eight: Let Thankfulness Rule

    Read Isaiah 12:1-6; see also Psalm 100:4, 5; Colossians 3:15; Revelation 19:36.


    Father God, I love You so much! My life has been mightily blessed, and I am

    grateful for all that You have done. Yesterday I was reminded of one of those huge

    blessings: Your answer to a prayer that I prayed five years ago. I was so burdened at that

    time, and I cried out to You, God, I want to be free! You not only answered that days

    prayer, but You have been answering it every day since. As I reflected on that, I could see

    all of the ways You have been moving in my life to bring me to freedom through the gift

    of redemption.

    My heart is overflowing with Your goodness and kindness. I am overjoyed at the

    many ways You have rescued me. Yes, there is more that needs to change in my life;

    however, I trust You, God. I trust that You will continue to answer prayer. And I will

    continue to praise You until the end of my days.



    Let thankfulness rule in your heart. As you thank Me for blessings in your life, a

    marvelous thing happens. It is as if scales fall off your eyes, enabling you to see more and

    more of My glorious riches. With your eyes thus opened, you can help yourself to

    whatever you need from My treasure house. Each time you receive one of My golden

    gifts, let your thankfulness sing out praises to My Name.

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    Hallelujahs are the language of heaven, and they can become the language of

    your heart. A life of praise and thankfulness becomes a life filled with miracles. Instead

    of trying to be in control, you focus on Me and what I am doing. This is the power of

    praise: centering your entire being in Me. This is how I created you to live, for I made

    you in My own image. Enjoy abundant life by overflowing with praise and thankfulness.

    (From Jesus Callingby Sarah Young)


    Make sure you do your best to celebrate the birth of Jesus in the company of

    fellow believers. Whether it's a Christmas Eve candlelight service, a special worship

    service, or just a few Christians gathering to say "thanks" to their Lord, join your voice

    with those who also love Jesus, and let your overflowing hearts pour out your gratitude

    and praise to God. Regardless of your current circumstances, make your celebration of

    Christmas this year into a soul-lifting, rafter-shaking expression of joyful thanksgiving.

  • 8/3/2019 Jesus Calling Bible Christmas Devotional - Week 4: Thankfulness