Psalms 100:1-5 (AMP) Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness and delight; Come before His presence with joyful singing. Know and fully recognize with gratitude that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving
And His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, bless and praise His name. For the Lord is good;
His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting, His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.

We are four weeks away from Christmas. This year my church has picked a family from the local domestic violence intervention center to shop for Christmas. We were given a list of items they would like and have created ornaments for people to get so they know what to shop for. Some items are candles from a well know chain, jewelry, clothing, gas cards (for the mom), and then there are the big items like an ipad and a Canon G7X. Wow! You may be saying that is too big of an ask. Some even judge and say how dare they ask for something that big. They were asked though. Many of their friends have them, why should they not dream of having one themselves.

I was raised by a single mother with three small children. My sisters were three and I was five when my mother got out of an abusive marriage. We lived in some cramped spaces and spent evenings on the stairwell of the night school. That did not keep her from enrolling us in things like dance classes and softball. We were close to family and they would step in and help at times. We never felt neglected.

Not everyone will have that support system. That is why it is important to seek out others. It is not just a one way seeking. I was reading an article about why it was believed that Christians are not giving their best at this time of year. It is because we look at obvious opportunities to give and do not like to be stretched to give. We need to seek out extravagant giving opportunities.

What does that have to do with the above verse? I believe the level of your thanksgiving and gratitude is gauged by the words that come out of your mouth. My husband and I started our marriage out with a two income family. Within a few months I started back to college full time and he stared full time ministry (making not even a third of what he was before). That year we bought our first house, we signed the papers with his college degree being his work history and he was still in the other job. Our first Christmas in that new house was not what you see now. We had a tree, but that was it. We made sure to get for others, but when it came to each other, we just did not have it. We are tithers. We would rather do without, and have, than not honor God with the tithe. Then there was a knock on the door by our realtor. Since we had recommended her to so many people, and they bought houses from her that year, she wanted to gift us. She blessed us with three hundred dollars.

Do you want to know my secret for attracting things like that? We never complained about what we did not have. We praised God where we were. Thanksgiving was always what we showed. Nobody knew how much we were struggling, not even my family. We did not try to credit card our way to looking better (even though I had to put bills or groceries on them sometimes). We did have to borrow money from family once, and paid it back. Never did we give up on God and putting Him first. We did not throw in the towel and say, “this putting God first thing does not work.” Who am I to limit God on how He sustains us? We are to look at His face and not His hands.

Matthew 6:33 (AMP) But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.

Let us remember to put Him first in our lives. Where your heart dwells that is where your treasure is. My circumstances are never going to be better than my praise. My life is not perfect, but that does not mean His goodness is not always on my lips. Give Him your praise and thanksgiving! This is the secret to living the abundant life.

Will those kids get everything on that list? Yes!

Father, I praise you for who you are. You are a good, good father. You know every detail of our lives and desire to shower us with your love. When you sent your Son you gave the ultimate gift. Thank you for the reminder today to be thankful and to look for opportunities to bless others. Whatever I have is yours. Let us see each other the way you desire us to. We are not against each other nor competing, but encouraging each other to grow deeper in our relationships with you. Thank you for your Word, that it is life giving. Let it change me and mold me. Let it reveal your character so that when other options come my way I will know which voice to listen to. Thank you for the people you have placed in my life. Thank you that everything you placed in my hands I will choose to glorify you with. Let your light burn brighter through me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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