19 Nov A Heart of Thankfulness
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. –1 Thess. 5:18
Are you struggling to be thankful right now? Does it seem nearly impossible to give thanks in ALL circumstances? Did you grow up giving thanks at the dinner table every night and it seemed stale? Did your mom require you to say “please” and “thank you” regularly but you weren’t really thankful? Unfortunately, when we allow our circumstances to determine our attitude of thankfulness, we often don’t feel thankful.
A heart of gratitude is underneath feeling thankful. “Developing the habit of constantly whispering thanks to Him– no matter what the situation– is in fact a mustard seed of life-changing power…When we really give God thanks in everything, we are acknowledging that He is sovereign and that we trust Him. And we find that it changes us” (Radical Gratitude, Vaughn 44). If we really want to alter our ability to be thankful, we need to follow what God’s word says. What does the Bible say about “giving thanks” or “thanksgiving”?
1 Tim. 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
Col. 3:17 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.
Ps. 106:1 Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever.
Ps. 69:30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.
Those are just a few of the many verses you can reflect on as the Lord creates a heart of gratitude in you. In the Old Testament, the word thanksgiving is closely tied to the verb “to bless, to praise, to confess,” and the Israelites had a thanks offering as part of the sacrificial system. Just like us they needed a reminder to be thankful to God for His provision and blessings. Many of David’s Psalms are thanksgiving as well. Paul begins each of the New Testament books he wrote with a blessing of thankfulness:
1 Cor. 1:4 “I give thanks to my God always for you…”
2 Cor.1:1-2 “…To the church of God that is at Corinth…Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Gal. 1:2-3 “…To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ,…”
Eph. 1:1-2 “…To the saints who are in Ephesus…Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Phil. 1:1-2 “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi,…Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Col. 1:1-3 same beginning greeting as Paul’s previous letters and adds, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…”
Also, Jesus set an example of giving thanks, as we often do, before eating a meal in John 6 when he was feeding fishes and loaves to the 5,000, he “took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.”
As Phil. 4:6-8 explains, when we offer prayers “with thanksgiving the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” God’s peace comes as we set our minds on things above and “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
As we head into the week of Thanksgiving (or any time of year) let’s remember to get into the habit of being thankful! Try starting your day with one of the scriptures mentioned or writing out 5 things each day you are thankful for. Instead of complaining or getting upset about something that happens, try looking up to God and thanking Him for what He will do or teach you through it. As Christians, we have the most important thing to be thankful for…Jesus! So let’s stand out from the negativity all around and have hearts of thankfulness.
Highlight book for the Month of Thankfulness
Radical Gratitude by Ellen Vaughn (habit of thankfulness)