Thursday, November 28, 2013

"The Art of Thanks-giving ... Why only those who know Jesus can really DO it!"

You've seen the ads for blood donations:  "Give the gift of life!"  I used to donate blood because I have a rather rare blood type and it always made me consider the person or persons who might receive my blood.  It was a very humbling experience to think that in giving a small amount of my blood God might use me to quite literally save a life.  I could have said, "Someone else will do it," but then I would have missed the opportunity to be an instrument of God to touch the life of another human being in a way that really made a difference.

So it is with those who know Jesus Christ!  The Bible tells us that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22), because the life of a person or an animal is in the blood.  The writer of Hebrews explains that the Old Testament sacrifices did not cleanse the conscience of the worshipers because it was not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.  The blood of the sacrificial animals could not "atone" for sin ... could not pay the penalty for sin before a holy God.  Rather, they pointed to the perfect sacrifice that Christ would make.

Jesus "entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood ..." (Hebrews 9:12).  Because Jesus is the eternal Son of God, who took upon Himself a human nature through His birth, He offered His blood as the perfect sacrifice for sin and now all who receive Him as their Savior and Lord are washed, cleansed, made perfect in God's sight through faith.  HIS blood gives us LIFE ... eternal life - spiritually and, when He returns, physically.  We, of all people, have reason to give thanks for our God and Father "has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).

As you give thanks, first on the list should be Jesus, our Redeemer, who purchased all who believe to be His very own.  "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (I Peter 1:18-19).  Give thanks for God's marvelous gift of life through Jesus Christ, who gave His blood that YOU may live!  But don't stop there ...

Our calling as believers in Jesus Christ does not stop when WE are saved by His blood.  In a remarkable statement shortly before He ascended into heaven Jesus said to His disciples, "All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to Me.  Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you until the very end of the age"  (Matthew 28:18-20).

We who have received God's grace, who have been born again by the Spirit of God, who by faith have received Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, trusting in the shedding of His blood for forgiveness and life ... WE are now called and sent into the world as "ministers of a new covenant" (II Corinthians 3:6).  We are now Christ's "ambassadors" (II Corinthians 5:20) ... sent out into the world to proclaim LIFE in HIS blood!  WE are called and sent to GIVE the gift of LIFE!!  It is not OUR blood that we offer, but the blood of Jesus, and all who receive our message will live FOREVER!!

THIS is the "art of thanks-giving."  As with a rare blood type, only certain people can give blood to others.  God knows who they are.  We are sent to offer Christ's blood to all, knowing that those who have been chosen to be part of God's family will receive God's gift of life through the blood of His Son.  Others will reject our message and reject God's offer of life, just as the bodies of some will reject your blood or mine.  God knows those who are His and He has determined to use US ... to use you and me who know and love Jesus, to be His instruments to offer the blood of Christ to others.

The humbling joy and satisfaction of donating blood is surpassed by the joy and satisfaction of giving the gift of life to another human being!  Who is it that needs to hear the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, from YOU??  Thanksgiving is a day set aside for giving thanks.  It is a tradition and people celebrate it in different ways.  But thanks-giving is a privilege reserved for those who know Jesus.  Only we can offer thanks to God by giving hope to others through the Gospel of Jesus.  Every time we share the good news with another person there is a possibility that the angels will be rejoicing over one sinner who repents and believes and is saved, receiving God's gift of life.

Will YOU be an ambassador for Christ?  Will you be a minister of God's new covenant, confirmed through the blood of His Son, Jesus?  Give thanks to the Lord, today, for He IS good!  Then give God's gift of life by sharing the good news of Jesus' blood shed once for all on the cross for the forgiveness of sins for all who believe.  Who knows what God will do because YOU gave thanks by engaging in the art of thanks-giving!

Be an instrument of God to touch the life of another human being in a way that really makes a difference!  You'll be glad you did!!

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