Colossians 3:15-17, “Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body to have peace. Always be thankful. Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and instruct each other by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.”
When I say Thanksgiving usually everyone's mind begins to think about the Pilgrim story, the feast of Turkey, stuffing, apple and pumpkin pies. We think about the time we'll have off work, make travel plans and spending time with family. It's a holiday we all look forward to each year in America. Our blessings and what we are thankful for fills our hearts and lives.
Knowing and loving God is our ultimate goal. So how does this fit into Thanksgiving? If you can list blessings off all day but don't inch closer to God, then your thanksgivings are incomplete. If your perspective changes and you can turn lemons into lemonade yet you can't turn gifts into gratitude, something hasn't clicked. Thanksgiving is a time to get our eyes back on God and turn our grumblings to gratitude and to know our Giver of good gifts.
Psalms is full of thanksgivings and can teach us ways to be thankful. Today let's begin with a good blueprint for gratitude. Psalm 103
1. All that I am, praise the Lord; everything in me, praise his holy name. My whole being, praise the Lord and do not forget all his kindnesses. 3 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. 4 He saves my life from the grave and loads me with love and mercy. 5 He satisfies me with good things and makes me young again, like the eagle. 6 The Lord does what is right and fair for all who are wronged by others. 7 He showed his ways to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. 8 The Lord shows mercy and is kind. He does not become angry quickly, and he has great love. 9 He will not always accuse us, and he will not be angry forever. 10 He has not punished us as our sins should be punished; he has not repaid us for the evil we have done. 11 As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is his love for those who respect him. 12 He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from west. 13 The Lord has mercy on those who respect him, as a father has mercy on his children. 14 He knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust. 15 Human life is like grass; we grow like a flower in the field. 16 After the wind blows, the flower is gone, and there is no sign of where it was. 17 But the Lord’s love for those who respect him continues forever and ever, and his goodness continues to their grandchildren 18 and to those who keep his agreement and who remember to obey his orders. 19 The Lord has set his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over everything. 20 You who are his angels, praise the Lord. You are the mighty warriors who do what he says and who obey his voice. 21 You, his armies, praise the Lord; you are his servants who do what he wants. 22 Everything the Lord has made should praise him in all the places he rules. My whole being, praise the Lord.
Thanksgiving is not only about being grateful about our blessings as we said over the last few weeks, but also about being grateful to someone including giving thanks to God. Thanksgiving is not just a feeling, but our words should include praise to God for all He is and has done for you.
The more we practice things the stronger our gratitude muscles grow and we can begin to find joy in any circumstance. When we give thanks in everything, we have a chance to rejoice in God and the more we rejoice in God the easier our giving joy becomes.
Yet there are times we forget God's provisions, care, and blessings. This is when we begin to grumble instead of letting our thanksgivings to God be our anchor in the storms. When in doubt and the grumbling begins, list out your blessings or go to the blueprints provided in the Psalms.
When you grumble you begin to listen to your sinful heart too much yet when you begin thanksgivings you begin to speak truths to your heart. Philippians 4:4-7 can help us in the midst of anxiety or difficult circumstances to find a level of peace by giving thanks to God.
“Thanksgiving offers Gods people a way to know, trust and rest in Him. By looking up and giving thanks, grumbles become grateful, and the grouchy finds joy.” -Dustin Crowe
Lastly, we need to recognize, reflect, receive, look up and look around. In order to grow in gratitude, we have to replace the things in our life that keep us busy and distracted. To give thanks to God we need something to be thankful for. It's hard to give thanks when you're not thankful for anything in particular.
So, we begin first by recognizing what prohibits or limits our gratitude. Perhaps we're too busy, we are distracted by worldly things, we may be too prideful to recognize the blessings, or feel a sort of entitlement that we deserve the blessings, so why be grateful when we get them. Begin by recognizing God is in the world and Word. See the gifts and ignore the white noise we take for granted. Think about things that keep you from noticing or considering reasons for gratitude.
Next, reflect on those blessings in your life. Maybe things in this world, God’s Word, friends and family, your life. Ephesians 1:3-14 gives us many things to be thankful for from our Savior and Friend.
After you reflect, look around and look up- Psalm 95. Thanksgiving isn't just about naming off blessings, it affirms blessings in our lives and allows us to appreciate the person who gave them to us. Think about how you can stir up a life of gratitude when you believe all things come from God and He is at the center of your life- James 1:17.
“The gifts around us aren't a matter of luck, fortune, how the cookie crumbles or where our cards land. They are from God. Faith fuels gratitude because it pinpoints God as the font from whom all blessings flow. Our gratitude increases our faith as we see and taste God's goodness firsthand.” -Dustin Crowe
Finally, receive with joy all God has given and who He is in your life. Praise Him with a grateful heart and He will always be there to provide, bless and heal in all circumstances. Allow Jesus in this Thanksgiving and all year long.
1 Chronicles 16:34, “Thank the Lord because he is good. His love continues forever.”
Isaiah 12:4, “At that time you will say, “Praise the Lord and worship him. Tell everyone what he has done and how great he is.”
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