The gifts have been given, received and unwrapped. Some were just what we wanted, others, well, maybe a candidate for regifting, just not our style. Whether we welcomed the gift or not we should receive it well. We can miss the significance and importance of the gifts we receive. Did you receive your gifts well? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We are in that ever dwindling time of year, the offseason. How do we choose to use the time we have apart from the racing season? There are opportunities to race, many indoor events across the country allow us to keep racing. Let me encourage you not to lose sight of the gift of downtime. Downtime gives is time to reflect, recharge and renew so that we can be ready when the time comes.

We are often guilty of moving forward at such a fast pace that we barley acknowledge the present, yes the pun is intended. I have an image in mind of Christmas morning, unwrapping present after present. We look briefly, toss it in the pile and look for more. We can be guilty of not receiving gifts well.

How much thought do we put in our gift selection? Some of us are great gift givers, we take the time to listen, observe and figure out the person we are giving the gift to. The hope is that the receiver will appreciate not only the gift but the thought and care that went into the process. At times that is more valuable than the gift itself. Do we take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the effort?

As we look forward with hope for what the new year has in store it is important for us to realize what we have been given. Think about what have the opportunity to pursue, racing and other endeavors in life, and acknowledge the effort that is being made on our behalf.

How have we received the gifts that have been provided for us? How have we expressed our appreciation? Have we expressed our gratitude? Some would say giving is the more rewarding part and I agree, but there is work to be done on the receiving part. 

Have you ever seen the face of a child on Christmas morning? They cannot hide their emotions, no matter what they say their true feelings are written on their face. You can see the approval or disapproval without children saying a word. Their actions speak louder than their words.

That image helps us see that receiving the gift has a right and wrong aspect to it.  We need to have a thankful attitude. Being thankful takes practice; it is not something that comes naturally to us. Oh we can say the words, but our actions speak volumes.

365 Thank Yous: The Year A Simple Act Of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life, by John Kralik; is about a lawyer whose life was miserable. He was on his second marriage and that was in divorce court, his kids from a previous marriage were estranged, he was being sued, his firm was on teetering on the edge of failure because clients weren’t paying the bills, he lived in a little apartment while his ex-wife and wife enjoyed the larger homes they had bought to build their life together, he was a mess, angry, depressed, wondering what his life had become, even the thought of ending it all crossed his mind from time to time.

He then realized one thing, he was focused on the wrong thing; he focused on what went wrong. He decided to change that and focus on what went right each day and write at least one thank you note to someone. This helped change his attitude, perspective and life.

I ask again, how good are we at responding to the gift we have received? Do we even look at it as a gift? Do we even realize the blessing? Life is what we decide to focus on; it can be a blessing or a curse. We have the control over what we choose to respond to. Believe it or not each way takes practice. 

We train ourselves to see things a certain way, some of us always see the negative and some of us always see the positive. That comes from repeated action, practice; we just didn’t get this way by accident. We won’t change by accident either. We need to learn how to receive and give the gift we have been given.

1Thesolonians 1:2-3; We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Paul writes to this Church he reminds them of the things he is thankful for and what he sees in their service to God. We can extract a few things from these verses to help us learn how to be thankful for the gift God gave each one of us in the birth of our Savior.

Work, Labor and Endurance, three things that do not come naturally to us. We must motivate ourselves to do them. But what will motivate us? To practice responding properly to the gift we have received in Christ we must be motivated by, faith, love and hope. Those three will help us overcome our natural tendencies to take things for granted.

To use the gift of life we have been given in the Lord Jesus Christ we must have Faith, Love and Hope. There are blessings that come from our practice, Peace, Joy and Eternal Life. From faith we receive peace, from love we receive joy and our hope inspires us to embrace eternal life. It all fits together, but only if our actions match our words.

We need to practice being thankful. We need to appreciate what was done for us. We need to focus on the right motivators, Faith, Hope and Love. We need to remember Peace, Joy and Life.

We can only demonstrate our thanks to God for the gift of a Savior when we act thankful. Then and only then do we realize the significance of the gift. Remember the gift was given first; we need to receive it well. We receive it with thanksgiving in our heart, true appreciation for the gift that was provided. We need to acknowledge and practice the activities of being thankful.

Isaiah 9:6; For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.