November is the month we usually associate with Thanksgiving.  But have you ever thought about how appropriate this word is for both November and December?  The word “Thanksgiving” carries within it two different words: Thanks and Giving.  On the fourth Thursday of November we observe a national day for giving thanks.  I read the other day that some stores are not going to be open this Thanksgiving.  Instead they will open extra early (some at 4:00 AM) the following day.  I would like to think that is because they recognize the importance of taking a day to offer thanks for God’s blessings.  At least that used to be the way America approached this day.  The second word, giving, reminds us of the meaning of Christmas.  December is the month in which we remember that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  December is also the month when we will give gifts as expressions of our love to our families and friends.

As we approach these final two months of 2016, let me challenge all of us to make sure that we focus on these two themes, Thanks and Giving.  In the coming month, take the opportunity to give thanks, not just on the fourth Thursday, but on each day.  Try this exercise.  Take a notepad, a journal page, or open a word document on your computer and each day make a point of expressing your thanks to God for at least one thing.  Then on Thanksgiving Day, take turns sharing with others around your table some of what you have recorded and offered thanks to the Lord.  Make this your “thank offering” to the Lord.

In December, not only remember God’s gift as expression of His love for you, but let your love, as a representative of His family, cause you to be generous to those in need.  This might take the form of a gift to any number of projects,  such as Operation Christmas Child, or food for the Salt Mine or Teen Challenge.  Or it might be a gift to a neighbor, without family and alone this Christmas.  On that first Christmas day, Christ entered our world that we would not be alone and without the love of God.  This Christmas let your love enter the world of someone in need of God’s love incarnated through your life.  As the Apostle John put it, “We love because He first loved us”  (1 John 4:19).  Let these final two months of 2016, truly be a Thank Offering in the name of Christ.            – Pastor Mike