How do you start your day? In our house either the alarm goes off or our dog starts barking. I’m always the first one up and the kettle goes straight on. We simply have to start the day with a couple of cups of English tea – coffee comes later!
Sir John Templeton was a world famous financier and philanthropist. His object in making money, he said in an interview, was to give most of it away. Every year he gave millions of dollars away to organisations and charities all over the world. Every morning when Sir John awoke he lay quietly on his bed and though of five new ways in which he has been blessed! He maintained that he found this simple procedure enriching and believes that this is one of the chief reasons why so much peace and contentment flooded his life! He chose to be thankful.
So how does your day begin….coffee, radio, TV? You can wake up feeling great (some of us do!) and yet after exposing ourselves to the news, if we’re not already fear filled enough by worlds events, the pandemic or the latest murderous attack then we watch countless adverts telling what we need or must do to be happy or reminding us that we are overweight, in debt, need a new car, new sofa, at risk of covid or cancer, an underachiever….or if you simply won the lottery….
Maybe we would be better off adopting Sir John’s method of lying on our beds and thinking of five new ways we have been blessed!
The Apostle Paul said:
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
Whilst this year has been incredibly tough for pretty much all of us in so many different ways, I still believe that we can find many things to be thankful for:
- Grace – Gods unmerited favour ‘He does not treat us as our sins deserve’
- Salvation (which continues every day!)
- Jesus “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
- Forgiveness – and the way God helps us forgive
- Freedom – ‘If the Son sets you free you are free indeed!’
- Victory “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
- Purpose in life (though this may have been put on hold for a while)
- Gifts & abilities we discover and ministries that God gives us
- Families, homes, jobs & careers & one another
- Good health (providing we continue to experience that)
Four times the psalmist says:
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,” (Psalm 107:8)
Here are five benefits of being thankful!
1. Changes Our Perspective
When you look out at your personal world what do you see? You may well be frustrated with at least one thing – maybe your lack of home, car, wages, relationship, health problem or something/someone is making you really fed up! Unthankful people are often miserable, depressed, negative, bitter, moaning, whinging, critical, fault finding, judgemental, sad…..
But thankful people are….. full of joy, lighthearted, grateful, appreciative, gracious, kind and generally fun to be around! When we chose to be thankful we stop considering what we lack and we remember everything we actually already have and we refocus on God and all He is and all He has done. Thankfulness is like a reboot of our personal hard drives! We refresh our memories and gain fresh perspective. In fact it is impossible to feel thankful and depressed in the same moment.
We live in a culture that is never satisfied & never content and always wants more! Advertisers feed on this……telling us what we must have….It can leave us constantly frustrated and needing more!
Are you focusing TOO MUCH on the ONE THING YOU LACK?!
Be thankful today and every day!! Thankfulness is a great antidote to all the negativity in our world.
2. Forces Us To See Others Differently
It’s so easy to become critical of others. We all fall into that trap at times.
Why do we focus on the one negative aspect of a person’s character rather than focus on all the positive things they offer.
Thankfulness causes us to see the BEST in people and appreciate them more.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
How should we treat others?
- Be realistic (so often our expectations of others are ridiculously high and so much higher than the demands we make of ourselves!)
- Separate the person from the behaviour
- See the good
- Honour them above ourselves
- Treat them as you yourself would want to be treated
‘I marvel at the humility of a God who descends to live inside His flaws creatures, but do I show the same attitude toward people of whom I disapprove?’ (Philip Yancey)
Is there anyone in your world who irritates the life out of you? Why not pause for a moment &focus on their good points and ask God to allow you to forgive and let go of their bad points.
Thankfulness causes us to see others differently!
3. Leads To Contentment
I wonder how content are you with your life??
‘Gratitude turns what we have into enough’ (US Thanksgiving poster)
I believe Paul’s thanksgiving caused him to experience contentment.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Contentment leads to peace of heart & mind. Advertisers target our discontentment! They are so smart and convincing. The antidote is to be thankful for what we actually have rather than what we don’t. Striving stops and contentment & peace flow from within.
Can I encourage you today to be thankful for what God has given you.
“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-10 NLT)
Are you content or discontent? Choose contentment today….be thankful!
4. Causes Us To Consider The Needs Of Others
When we are thankful – we become aware of everything God has actually blessed us with remembering that there are others who don’t enjoy anything like what we have. This should create a desire to bless others out of the blessing we have received. We’ve been blessed to be a blessing!
“Not what we say about our blessings but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.’ (Anon)”
I’m so excited to be part of a community that cares and that is generous in serving, helping, clothing, feeding, listening, loving and supporting local people. Thankfulness should not simply be a state of mind – but an action word! There is so much joy in giving to others.
5. It Emboldens Faith
Everyone reading this will be facing different circumstances. Paul said:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Maybe not too easy right now. Life can be very tough at times.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
Thanking God and worshipping God during a difficulty or trial is an act of faith and a declaration of trust that:
- God is faithful and in control and will bring you through.
- The outcome will be enlarged faith and maturity.
God rewards faith and I believe He loves it when we give thanks in advance for what He is going to do even when we can’t see it. In fact you can actually change the spiritual atmosphere by being thankful in the midst of trial. You can reset the tone in your own home from misery and negativity to one of faith & victory.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)
So stop going over old ground and start to give thanks and you can change the atmosphere! Quit focusing on what you don’t have or have lost in this season, stop talking about what doesn’t appear to be happening and start thanking God for what He is about to do – something changes! This also causes the enemy to flee. The forces of darkness can’t stand to be around hearts that give thanks and honour to God. Try it!
HOW SHOULD WE BE THANKFUL?
It’s actually God’s will that we express our thanksgiving. George Herbert (17th Century Anglican Poet) wrote this prayer:
“Thou hast given so much to me – give me one more thing – a grateful heart”
God has given us so much – how can we express our thanksgiving? Here are three simple ways:
1. Appreciate others and say thank you verbally!
We live in such an ungrateful world! We have all experienced ungrateful people who don’t show appreciation when we help someone, hold a door open, let them have our car parking space or buy them a present
Paul was always giving thanks for people and appreciating them!
‘I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.’ (Ephesians 1:16)
So let’s be people who are continually thankful and express it. Ralph Marston said:
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.”
Our thankfulness should not simply be heartfelt – it needs to be expressed.
2. With Our Worship
Every time we come together to worship God – we should come with thankful hearts and even more so if you’re struggling – remember all that God has done!!
“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20)
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,” (Hebrews 12:28)
Worship and thanksgiving refocuses us, reinvigorates us, refuels us and energises us.
3. Thank Offering!
The Jews used to bring their tithes and regular offerings to God each week. This was the way in which they expressed their trust and commitment to God. But they also on occasional gave free will offerings or thank offerings just to say ‘thank you’ to God (Lev. 7:12).
This was an optional offering under the Law of Moses. The people would bring this to express thanksgiving for deliverance or blessings granted. How about the next time you’re in church giving something extra to God simply to say ‘thank you!’
“Those who sacrifice thank-offerings honour me, and to the blameless I will show my salvation.’” (Psalm 50:23)
Thanksgiving is a special time of year for those in North America however God desires us to be thankful at all times. As God’s people we have s much more than others to be thankful for. Whether it’s a special occasion such as Thanksgiving or any day of the year, let’s ‘be thankful.’
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