Christians are thankful people.

To be thankful is not to be glad, nor content. Thankfulness is relational. At its worst, thankfulness is a polite response. At its best, it’s a natural reflex to someone else’s kindness extended to us, usually in the form of a gift. People give thanks in response to a gift, and ultimately to the affection demonstrated by the giver.

You are at all times receiving all sorts of gifts from God, especially if you are a Christian. For the Bible tells us that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17 ESV).

Every good and perfect gift in your life, though perhaps indirectly, came from the generous heart of your loving Heavenly Father. The “Father of lights”—the “Creator of the ends of the earth,” who “determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name,” who governs the sun, moon, and stars, and the daily turn of our world—lets you call him “Abba” and treats you as a child he dearly loves (James 1:17; Isaiah 40:28; Psalm 147:4; Romans 8:15).

His gifts are one reminder of his affection. For his generous heart remains eternally extended to you. The same God who created the heavens bestows on you good and perfect gifts. What are these gifts?

Let’s think on it. If you belong to Jesus Christ by faith, God has given you little gifts, big gifts, eternal gifts, and “packaged gifts.” I pray this article would initiate thoughtful reflection on all God’s good gifts to you, such that your heart would swell with genuine thanksgiving.

Alright, let’s start with the little things.

Little Things

I admit, the little gifts God gives to us aren’t little. They’re only small by comparison to some of the other gifts God bestows on us.

We daily swim in the gifts God showers on us. The Bible moves us to thoughtful reflection by asking, “what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV). And if we remember the verse we read in James, it says every good and perfect gift comes from our Father. That leaves no gifts out. Any good you experience in life was ultimately given to you.

Did you put on socks you like this morning? Did you drink something hot on a cold day or cold on a hot day? Did you use a toothbrush? Are there foods you enjoy? Was someone kind to you today? Did you get to work safely? Did you sleep? Did you enjoy music?

Anything good, everything good in your life is a gift, albeit indirectly, from God. Only you could name the daily little gifts you enjoy. So why don’t you? Take a minute to write out fifteen  little things God has given you to enjoy today.

Big Things

Now for big things. Cozy socks are nice, but God has done more for you than afford you with small pleasures every day. Matthew 5:45 reminds us that our Father, “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (ESV).

Now, we assume the sun will rise, only because the Father of lights so consistently blesses us with a new day that we fail to recognize each one as a gift. Imagine if the sun didn’t rise tomorrow and it never rained again.

This little statement in Matthew reminds us of God’s promise in Genesis 8:22 that, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (NIV). God sustains the world, and your life, moment-by-moment.

Where do you experience God’s sustaining gifts?

Can you see? Can you hear? Do you have feeling in your fingers? Can you walk? How about run? Do you live in a home? Do you have a job? Do you have transportation?

You don’t maintain the presence of these gifts in your life, just as you don’t maintain the solar system. God does. “He upholds the universe by the Word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3 ESV). God daily extends unconditional generosity toward you through every natural function of the human body, every second that he keeps the universe going, and every routine good you experience.

We say that some gifts “keep on giving.” In truth, we have a Giver who keeps on giving. What are the gifts that you enjoy from the Father’s hand over and over and over again? Pause and try to think of ten constant gifts you enjoy.

Eternal Things

God gives us simple pleasures to enjoy and recurring gifts that sustain us. But oh, brother or sister! Do you remember God’s greatest gifts?

The “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 1:3 ESV).

If you have put your faith in Jesus and know him truly as your Lord, Savior, and Friend (ponder at the gift of that sentence alone!)—then you have been saved from God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). You’re not going to hell, nor destined to suffer for your sins. Every one of your sins has been nailed to the cross where Jesus hung in your place, and then they have been thrown into the sea of forgetfulness, where God promises to never fish them out (Colossians 2:14; Micah 7:19). You have hope beyond this life, for you have the promise of receiving a resurrected body in the new heavens and new earth (1 Corinthians 15:50-56). You have the living God dwelling inside of you, never to leave or forsake you for all your days (1 Corinthians 6:19).

I could go on for pages, but you have a Bible, wherein lies the innumerable great and precious promises that have become yours in Christ (2 Peter 1:4). If you were to set a timer and give two minutes of thought to one of these blessings, your heart would swell in awe and thanks.

In short, “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11 NIV). You have life everlasting, friend. You have life in its fullness, now (John 10:10), because you are at peace with God (Romans 5:1).

This life comes with a new identity as a child of God. Only because of what Jesus has done for us can we call God our Father. We know that God our Father loves his children (Romans 8:38-39; 1 John 3:1).

Dear friend, God loves you.

God loves you.

God loves you.

Think on that.

God’s generosity toward you endures into eternity. And from now until then, he has not just given you gifts, he has given you himself.

Don’t make a list this time, take a moment. Set a timer if you need. What is one spiritual blessing God has given you in Christ for which you could ponder and thank him for the rest of your day (Ephesians 3:1)?

Packaged Gifts

God gives us tender mercies, enduring gifts, and eternal life, but he also gives us gifts in strange packages.

The verse that tells us all that every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17) lives in a paragraph that talks about the trials of our lives.

And so by God’s wisdom, we come to understand that sometimes God gives us gifts that, at first look, we would not choose for ourselves (James 1:5). Matthew reminds us that trials are not a treacherous trick that our Father plays on us (Matthew 7:9-11). Rather, in Romans we read that our troubles are key ingredients to God’s recipe to bring about ultimate goodness in our lives (Romans 8:28). Hebrews tells us that God our Father intends, through these gifts, to make us mature sons and daughters who look more like himself (Hebrews 12:11).

God has beautiful gifts prepared for you, his child. They are gifts of the soul. God has supernatural gifts to bestow on you like contentment, peace, patience, wisdom, love, forbearance, endurance, and joy. But often these rich gifts come in strange and unattractive packages. God may wrap some of the most precious gifts he has for your soul in loneliness, miscarriage, death, unemployment, sickness, and distress.

Such things would happen whether we acknowledge God or not. But God, our Great Redeemer, has such a generous heart towards us, that he promises to take those trials bound to come our way in a sinful world, and redeem them to bring us gifts of grace out of them.

This is why God encourages us to rejoice when we encounter a trial of any kind, for the trial is only the package for some good and perfect gift God wants to bestow on your soul (James 1:2-4). Without God, you would fall prey to the destructive power of pain, but with God, you not only are given strength to endure, but the promise of that pain serving you in some mysterious way.

Think of your greatest difficulty at the moment. Perhaps the pain is too fresh and the trial too intense to think on how God may be at work in it. Even in our greatest pain, we know God has not left our side, that he is good, and promises to do us good (Nahum 1:7). Take a moment to ask God to help you persevere in faith that he is good. Thank him for the day when faith will turn to sight and you will see his goodness (Psalm 27:13-14).

Give Thanks

If we pause and ponder God’s generosity toward us, displayed in his little, big, eternal, and packaged gifts, we will quickly become thankful people. So with joyful hearts, let’s “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV).

You can speak outload in your car, count on your fingers as you walk, jot down with a pen in your journal, or just stop where you are and think.

What little gifts has God given you today? What gift are you enjoying today that you enjoy every day? What’s one spiritual blessing God has given you in Christ?

Thank him for them! And then thank God for his grace to sustain your faith even in the seasons where thanksgiving is very hard because you cannot see the good he is doing. Thank him that he is good, despite the clouds of suffering that might overshadow that truth.

Our lists may end, but God’s gifts do not. God will surely keep his gifts coming—little, big, eternal, small, and packaged—and so we always have reason to give thanks.

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