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So Much to be Thankful For

I had a little trouble starting this letter. At first I began with, “Thanksgiving is over,” but that didn’t seem like a good message to send. Then, I tried “The celebration of Thanksgiving has ended.” But that sounded sad, and it also sent a wrong message. Then, I gave it a third attempt with, “The time of year when the people of the United States of America remember and give thanks for all the efforts and sacrifices of those who have come before us has ended.” And though that started out sounding good, it still sent the same wrong message. The truth is, the time for gratefulness and thanksgiving should never come to an end. 
 
I think this is a better way to start: The time of year when we remind ourselves and our nation, that we have so much to be thankful for has come and gone, and now it is time to respond to the reminder.
 
So, how have you responded to our national Thanksgiving reminder?
 
The Bible reminds us to “Give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God.” It was necessary to write this verse because God’s goodness is so consistent that we can take it for granted.

President Abraham Lincoln also spoke of how people are “prone to forget” and “habitually insensible” when it comes to God’s providence: “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.” 
 
It is a sad reality that we have to remind ourselves to be thankful. But it is true. In today’s world, we have a newly popular word that sums up this ungratefulness. That word is entitled. Entitled means, “feeling that you have the right to do or have what you want without having to work for it.” This describes us well.  We Americans have become an extremely entitled people (and it is not just the millennials— ha ha).
 
So, how does one become entitled? 
The path to entitlement is paved with privilege. Privilege is another word that has become very popular of late. Privilege is, “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.”

It is a privilege to be alive. It is a privilege to be able to breathe and think and write and read. It is a privilege to be able to eat and sleep and wake up. If you are reading this, you have the distinct privilege of reading a writing of “The David Stockton.” (Just kidding. It is not really a privilege. Most people don’t know about “The David Stockton” and wouldn’t care, even if they did.) The privilege is that you know how to read, you have a working computer, and know how to use it.

Privilege is everywhere in America. I think that is why so many want to come here. The privileges are worth the price of admission, even though some pay very heavy and risky prices.
 
So, is it wrong to experience privilege?
No way! In Luke 12:29-32, Jesus tells us that our Father in Heaven loves to give us privileges. Here it is in the Message version:
 
“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.
 
Then, how should we feel about all of our privileges?
Glad you asked. Privilege will either make you haughty or humble. Privilege will either make you greedy or generous. Privilege will either make you entitled or grateful. In case you don’t know, you should shoot for grateful, humble and generous. And I do mean shoot for it. In the wind and waves of our society today, there is no way you will reach the humble, generous, and grateful harbor without focus, fight, and the Spirit of God. 
 
So, if you feel humbled, grateful, and have a longing to be generous, you can safely say you have responded well to this year’s national Thanksgiving reminder. If not, let what you've just read be the reminder. Take five minutes right now and be still and silent, humbling yourself before Almighty God. Count your blessings with a grateful heart. And think of some way to be generous, or someone to be generous to.
 
This Sunday we will have a special message about where we have been, where we are headed, and what God is saying to the Living Streams Family today.
 
David