Besides sharing time with family and friends over food, the most important thing this Thanksgiving Day is you having an attitude of gratitude. You hear this all the time, and it’s certainly true, “you don’t need a turkey, dressing, greens, pumpkin and sweet potato pies to celebrate being thankful for the blessings of God”. Thanksgiving Day for people of faith represents more than an annual holiday, it serves as a reminder that giving thanks is part of who we are as believers because we demonstrate faith when we are grateful. All you need is a reason. God has given us plenty of reasons to be grateful; so why wait for Thanksgiving Day to express your gratitude to God? Develop an attitude of gratitude and everyday is Thanksgiving Day!
Thanksgiving is Important to Your Health
People who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, have more positive emotions, and are better able to reach their goals. Scientists have even noted that gratitude is associated with improved health.
More and more research is coming to the forefront, showing that gratitude and joyful laughter are connected with healthy living, while grumbling is connected with diseased living. Worry, fear, and anger are huge disease causers. Instead we should practice the healing therapy of “counting our blessings.” Remember the hymn “Count Your Blessings” it says, "Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."
An article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter, says that "expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better:"
"The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.
With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves.
As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
...People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude).
Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone's gratitude, it's a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further."
Be Careful of an Attitude of Ingratitude
As Christians here in the United States we have so much to be grateful for, more things than we can even imagine. So much that sometimes we can't see the magnitude of all God has given us. That is ingratitude.
Francis Schaeffer, who was an American theologian in the last century, said, "The beginning of man's rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart." Every read the poem “Invictus” the last stanza exhibit the attitude that many of us have, sometimes. It shows an attitude of us being the source of strength, happiness, and prosperity. It is an attitude that runs against scriptural teaching and is inconsistent with the Spirit-filled life.
"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."
We who have been born again, and given eternal life, through the blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross, have so much for which to be grateful. We should always have an attitude of gratitude.
I started the post with Psalm 100 because it tells us to thank the Lord for who He is and what He has done. It tells us how to thank Him, and when and where to thank Him.
He is worthy of praise
Psalm 100:1 (NKJV) Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands!
The writer of the psalm is Hebrew and for the Hebrew God is the source of joy. For the Hebrew, (Israelite) thanking God was the ultimate joy of his/her life. God is both the object and source of joy.
Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The writer says that we are to express our gratitude in a “joyful noise”. That means in a manner in which you can be publically heard. The word "noise" means to break forth with, or to burst. It’s like somebody being so overwhelmed with emotion that they can’t contain themselves. You know the way you get when you go to, watch or listen to a sporting event and somebody on your team makes a great play. You get excited, and enthusiastic. The word “enthused” comes from the Greek word “ entheos, “possessed by a god”.
He is worthy of service
Psalm 100:2 (NKJV) Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.
To serve God you must be:
- Humble - you can't serve someone unless you have a humble attitude.
- Faithfulness - service implies faithfulness, otherwise it would not be service but betrayal.
- Work - you can't serve someone if you don't do anything.
James 2:18-22 (NKJV)18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
He alone is God
Psalm 100:3 (NKJV) Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
God must be first in our lives. Yes, before your spouse, your children, your church, your career, your desires, before everything. Without God none of those things can bring peace. It is only by and through that your marriage, your family, your church, your ca1
Peter 1:3-9 (NKJV)3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,9 receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.
Joy that is beyond measure. This is how we can live with an attitude of gratitude, because the Lord we serve is God.
Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
We are so blessed today because unlike the Israelites who could only experience the presence of God through the Ark of the Covenant, but now, because of Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives inside of everybody who places their trust in Him for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation. For the believer, we are always in the presence of God. Our attitude should always be one of gratitude and praise.
When the Scripture tells us to bless the Lord, as this verse tells us it is saying that we must acknowledge, recognize, and confess with our words and actions that it is God who is the source of all true happiness and blessing in life. When we do this we have no choice but to give thanks.
It’s impossible to be in right relationship with God and not have an attitude of gratitude. want to know why He is worthy of our praise, look at verse 5.
God is good
Psalm 100:5 (NKJV) For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.
This is why we are to give praise to God He’s good. This is why we enter His gates with thanksgiving and serve Him with gladness. He has mercy on us. His truth is never ends. Do you know anybody about whom you can say these things?
There is no one else about whom these things can be said.
How Can You Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude?
Look around and you’ll realize how much you are blessed. If you have food in the refrigerator , if you are able to read this post, if you are clothed, if you have heat and lights, then you have more than most people in the world today. If you happen to live in the United States you have a life expectancy of 75 years. If you live in a country where the life expectancy of more than 40 years you are blessed to live longer than most of the people in the world. Most people in the world won’t have what we consider a balanced meal.
Take a good look around at the rest of the world. It may shock you but it will also cause you to be grateful.
Here are the words to the hymn I referenced earlier, "Count Blessings." by Johnson Oatman Jr
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
Have you stopped to count the blessings in your life lately?
If we focus on the bad things we will never see the good things.
Take inventory of the blessings.
Do something good for someone else. Share what God had given and done for you. He didn’t give it for you to hold on to. You are his ambassador which means you speak for Him you do for Him.
2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV) Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
Jesus said when we bless others it’s same as doing it to Him.
Matthew 25:34-40 (NKJV)34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'40 And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
Choosing an attitude of gratitude is not always easy. However it does give us a new outlook on life. So this Thanksgiving focus on the things that you have, not on what you don’t have. Most people in this world don’t even have that.
Does your life demonstrate a sense of gratitude to God? When others see you, are they aware that your live your life for Someone other than yourself? Is there joy in your life? Does it show? How have you demonstrated your gratitude to Christ lately?
Find some good to do and do it.