THE POWER OF A THANKFUL HEART

Dear Friends,

In a week and a half Americans will be gathering all over our nation to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  While we call it “Thanksgiving Day” maybe a better name would be “Turkey Day” or “Football Day.”  How much of the way we celebrate Thanksgiving Day is actually us giving thanks to God for His provision, protection and providence?

Failing to give proper thanksgiving is the first step away from God into a life of depravity.  Notice how the Apostle Paul explains the role of thanksgiving in falling away from God,

“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.  Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools” (Romans 1:21–22).

When people fail to give God the thanks He deserves, they tend to create their own gods flowing from their “dark and confused minds.”  Notice how thanksgiving is connected to right thinking.

If thanksgiving is not a part of your everyday lifestyle you become a bitter, complaining, selfish, hypocritical, materialistic, pretentious, self-indulgent, stingy, vain, uncaring, ungrateful workaholic.  You believe you never get enough or have enough.  You are constantly straining after more and more so that you can feel either significant or secure.

GREAT THANKSGIVING QUOTES:

Billy Graham spoke of the power of thanksgiving:

  • “A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian”

Here are three quotes about thanksgiving from G. K. Chesterton:

  • “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

  • “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

  • “Without gratitude it is impossible to enjoy anything.”

These are quotes from people who experienced the Holocaust:

  • “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.” –Ellie Wiesel (Holocaust survivor; author of Night)

  • “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”  –Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German pastor who resisted Hitler)

  • “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that, I still possess.” –Corrie ten Boom (a Christian who hid Jewish people from the Nazis)

AN EXTRAVAGANT ACT OF THANKSGIVING:

For an example of the kind of thanksgiving that I believe God desires for us to have is found in the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with the expensive perfume (read the story in John 12:1-11).  This was a Thanksgiving Celebration to Jesus for raising her brother, Lazarus, from the dead.

The perfume she used was called nard is extracted from a plant that grows in the Himalayas of Indian, Nepal and China above 10,000′.  It was a part of Mary’s dowry and was worth approximately $59,000 in today’s value.  By this extravagant act of devotion, Mary may have lost her chance for having a husband.  It is interesting that Mary’s name was actually Miriam meaning myrrh.  Her action expresses an aroma of intense personal thanksgiving to Jesus.

3 BENEFITS OF A THANKFUL HEART:

  1. THANKSGIVING BRINGS THE INCONCEIVABLE PEACE OF GOD.

Philippians 4:6–7 (NIV84) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  1. THANKSGIVING CHANGES HOW YOU SEE THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE. Thanksgiving changes the direction of your focus from yourself and your stuff, to God and His stuff—that is, all He has to offer you through the fruit of the Spirit!  When you’re focused on the challenges you are facing they seem to grow larger and larger until you are overwhelmed.  But by focusing on giving God thanks, the Lord grows larger and larger while your problems shrink smaller and smaller.

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

  1. THANKSGIVING GROWS YOUR FAITH. The more you give God thanks, the more you notice God at work in your life. This leads to an increase

Colossians 2:7 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

SO WHAT WILL YOU DO?

  1. Keep a Thanksgiving Journal to record your highlights and blessings
  2. Take a few moments every day to specifically thank God
  3. Pray about doing some extravagant act of thanksgiving

There is incredible power in learning to life a Thanksgiving Lifestyle.  Thanks be to our Lord who has provided every blessing.

Onward with thanksgiving,

Pastor Gary