“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before God’s presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD is God: it is God that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are God’s people, and the sheep of God’s pasture. Enter into God’s gates with thanksgiving, and into God’s courts with praise: be thankful unto God, and bless God’s name. For the LORD is good; God’s mercy is everlasting; and God’s truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100
There is a tradition many of us have of taking time on the week before Thanksgiving to share some of the things we are thankful for with each other. We actually did this on Thursday evening during our Prayer Group Meeting
I want to share a few thoughts about thanksgiving from God’s word. Spend the next few minutes thinking about what you are thankful for so that you can share it within your heart with your family and friends and us in http://thespiritualfamily.chatango.com later. I really think that taking time to openly share with one another what we are thankful for is a great thing to do. Verbally, declaring what we are grateful for is a very biblical thing to do.
What does it means to live a life of thanksgiving. How can we take this annual holiday and turn it into a constant attitude? How can we live a life of gratitude and praise? I know that many of us are not from the U.S.A., but I do know that Canada and the Philippians also have a celebrated day, although a different day. Those from countries who do not have a recognized day, I encourage you to take this message to heart and to live it because the message is for everyone.
A youth mission statement in many churches is “to honor God in all we do, say and think.” Today I am going to talk about being grateful in all we do, say and think. I want to start by talking about what it means to think thankfully. Gratitude starts with our thought life. It begins with taking captive our every thought. It grows out of an attitude of appreciation, humility, and proper perspective.
One of the best biblical descriptions of how thankfulness needs to be infused into our character is in Colossians 3:12-17…that reads… “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
It’s clear from this passage that thankfulness is supposed to be a regular part of our lives. Gratefulness is emphasized here because it is the perfect antidote to pride and selfishness and a host of other sins. After all, what is the opposite of thankfulness? Things like, complaining, arguing, selfishness, a sense of entitlement. Our sin nature wants to try and convince us that we deserve more, that we are in the right, that we have been taken advantage of, or that we really have it bad. Witnessing that kind of mentality can be frustrating. We all have run across a few people in ourlives who always seem to be victims; they always seem to feel like they should get more; they always complain about what they have or what they are given.
That’s not what we are supposed to be like as believers.
Thinking thankfully involves three things- First, prayer: Philippians 4:6 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
In this passage the way in which we keep from anxiousness and worry is through prayer. When we present our requests to God and give control over to Him, our load gets a lot lighter. When we pray with thanksgiving, we are thanking God for the ability to pray, we are thanking him for answering our prayers, we are thanking Him for freeing us from worry. When we pray with thankfulness to God it has a way of adjusting our thinking so that it falls in line with what God wants.
Worship also has a way of putting us in a mindset of thankfulness. Verse 16 of that passage in Colossians is a great example of that. ”. It’s hard to be grumpy, and bitter, and selfish when we are singing joyfully to the Lord, although sometimes we might try. Singing lifts our spirits, focuses our attention on God, and puts us in an attitude of praise. No matter how down we are, singing and smiling will lift our spirits.
Finally, thinking thankfully involves dwelling on the good. Our minds can sometimes be uncooperative. They keep wandering back to that nagging money problem, or to the liquor store, or to past failures, or other unproductive things. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you are just chilling out or relaxing or spacing out in church, how a weird, random thought will cross your mind? Sometimes the strangest stuff just shows up there Then you snap out of it and say to yourself, “What was that about?” Because of natural inclination towards evil, we have to train our minds to think about good things. We have to purposefully dwell on the good.
Philippians 4:8 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.
This is a great thought filter. Ask yourself; are my thoughts true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable? If not, it might be time to make an adjustment.
Well along with thinking thankfully, we need to talk thankfully. It is important to express our gratitude from time to time. Talking thankfully involves praising others, praising God, and sharing our gratitude. When was the last time you told your spouse, “I’m really thankful that I’m married to you.”? Do you tell your kids that you appreciate them? Do you let God know how thankful you are for what He has done in your life? If you are a believer in God, saved by grace, you have a lot to be thankful for. No matter how bad life gets, you still can’t complain. It is also important that we verbally tell others what we are grateful for.
If you would like to, when you are finished reading this message, you are welcome to come back to thespiritualfamily.chatang.com and share your thanksgivings. And we all would love to hear about what you are thankful for. It is so amazing what God is doing in our lives.
Now, let’s think about acting thankfully. We need to demonstrate a life of thankfulness in everything we do. That begins with a heart of service. Serving is a demonstration of appreciation, respect, and love. It can be done in a selfish, ungrateful way, but when it is done right, it is a blessing both to the server and the servee.
1 Timothy 1:12 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.
Are you thankful for the area of service that God has called you to? Acting thankfully also involves sacrifice. It requires us to give something of ourselves. This is best demonstrated in our financial offerings to God. Giving back to God is a way of thanking Him for his blessing and provision. Even if we don’t have a lot, or a lot to give, when we give back to God we show that we understand that He owns it all anyway. Don’t give out of guilt or compulsion. Every time you write an offering check or put a dollar in the offering plate, take a second to say, thank you God for everything you have given me.
Finally, we can act thankfully by sharing what we have. This might take the form of sharing some of our abundance with those who don’t have as much. It might be sharing with the homeless or needy. People who really understand thankfulness and appreciation usually are very good at sharing with others. They know how great it feels to give. This doesn’t just apply to sharing our stuff, but, more importantly, sharing our faith. If you have a real understanding of who Jesus Christ is, what He has done for all mankind, and what He has done in your life, you are going to be looking for every opportunity to share that with others. We can best show our appreciation for our salvation by praising God and telling others. If our faith is truly transforming, and valuable, and important, we will share it with those who don’t have it.
The best thing about living a thankful life is that it helps us put things into perspective. When we focus on the great things that God has done for us, the annoying junk in life has a way of losing its importance. During this thanksgiving seasons let’s begin to train our minds to think thankfully. Let’s take the opportunity to talk thankfully, and let’s demonstrate our appreciation by acting thankfully.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
If you are not giving thanks, you are out of focus to God’s will. Let us rejoice and give thanks, show thanks, and present ourselves in a way that shows the love of or Lord.
Let us Pray: Almighty God, Thank You for my life, for my faith, for my love of You. Amen