"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Leaves are falling, warm drinks are being poured, and the days are growing shorter and shorter. (For those of us in California we're just wishing it'd be a little cooler so we can have a warm beverage).
It's Fall, one of my favorite times of the year. This year, though, I am realizing, perhaps more than any other year, that it's not so much the weather that I love (since it is still hitting 100 degrees occasionally!), but the way the season captures the attitude of my heart. It's as if it's jumping up and down, waving its hands in the air, saying, "be thankful!!"
It's a season of thankfulness.
At least it should be. I know just as much as anyone else, how it can be difficult to be thankful sometimes, but it is God's will for us to give thanks.
That's why I love to spend time writing a series on giving thanks to God for the many, many blessings He's given me.
I AM THANKFUL FOR THE CROSS.
If you are a Christian, then there is not a doubt in your mind that you are thankful for the cross. We know that it is the loving sacrifice which Jesus offered to save us from our sin.
But I think we often are as thankful for the cross as we are thankful to the stranger who held open a door for us when in reality the cross is the greatest thing someone could ever do for us.
I was "...dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), and the wages of my sin was death (Romans 6:23). And God did not leave us with no hope, but "in this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (1 John 4:9).
"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the circumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Colossians 2:13-14).
Jesus loved us enough to become flesh and dwell among us (John 1:14), and his sacrifice was not an easy one, my friends. On top of the physical pain He experienced, we can only imagine the spiritual torment he must have endured. Isaiah 53 paints a picture of what Christ went through on our behalf.
"Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD's presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected- a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all" (Isaiah 53:1-6, NLT).
And Isaiah 53 keeps on going. Jesus suffered. And He suffered for me.
When I look at these pieces of Scripture, I am reminded of what a gift my salvation is. My salvation is so much more than a simple prayer I prayed one night at church. It is what Jesus did on my behalf. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
I am thankful for the cross.