Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Gratitude - a study at breakfast

Photo: Lord, help me to lead with gratitude today...

#LoveGodGreatly #GratitudeRevolutionPhotogratitude post

So, how does gratitude work out? According to, the word thank appears 133 times in the Bible; thanks appears 100 times; 'thanks to' 76; 'thankful' 6 times - mostly in the Epistles; 'thanksgiving' 30; and 'thankfulness' 3.

Interesting that the verb 'thank' is much more common than the nouns 'thanksgiving'  and 'thankfulness'.   Why?

Could it be that, although it is good to be thankful or to have thankfulness, it is better to do thanks? Perhaps it is in the action of thanking that we become thankful and gain an attitude of thankfulness.

How can we do this? It is easy to be thankful for a present we really like, but what about those we really wish we'd never been given? Those that we deem inappropriate or useless, wanting to deliver them straight to a charity shop or jumble sale, but feel ungrateful if we do so? Can we thank God in the bad as well as the good? Do we feel ungrateful for our rejection of his present of circumstances to shape our character, as Paul says in Romans 5:
"We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient.  
This patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady." (Romans 5:3 - 5)

We can, often, thank God for good coming out of bad - perhaps after the event? But thank God while we are IN the bad?

What does the Bible say? 
Over and over again, the Bible says that God is good and His love endures for ever. 

A friend of Jonny's has just written, dealing with his mother's recent brain injury from a horrific traffic accident: "I hear people say things like "God is good" when they get a pay rise or when someone they know is healed or even when they find a parking space in a busy car park. It's true then but it's also true when everything around looks terrible. God is always good. He isn't good because he meets our wants and desires or even our needs. He is ALWAYS good. I don't always understand, or even like what is happening but in all this, He has been my strength and my comfort. He has been the assurance of a better day. Maybe in this life, who knows. But if it's not in this life I know, not hope, not guess or wonder, I KNOW that one day mum will be healed and whole. There is a day coming where there is no more sadness, no more tears, no pain, no suffering. I'm believing for that day. I know I will follow Jesus into that life and my mother will too one day, because I know we both follow Jesus, I can be sure of this."

Our response: should be like David's, when he had brought the Ark of the Covenant into the tent David had set up for it: "They brought the Chest of God and placed it right in the center of the tent that David had pitched for it; then they worshiped by presenting burnt offerings and peace offerings to God. When David had completed the offerings of worship, he blessed the people in the name of God. Then he passed around to every one there, men and women alike, a loaf of bread, a slice of barbecue, and a raisin cake.

Then David assigned some of the Levites to the Chest of God to lead worship—to intercede, give thanks, and praise the God of Israel. Asaph was in charge..and from then on, as well as David, Asaph wrote many of the Psalms.

What do we notice about thanks in these psalms?
Psalm 9:1
[ Psalm 9 ] [ For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David. ] I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Thanking God is sincere and open: we openly share what God has done because we are so grateful.

Psalm 35:18
I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.
Thanking God is public: we don't do it in secret, but with many others. Thankfulness encourages thankfulness in others.

Psalm 69:30
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 95:2
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
We can sing our thanks. Thanking God brings him glory.

Psalm 100:4
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

And we encourage each other to do this together. We thank God for each other, for this encouragement. Ephesians 1:15 - 19 says:"That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for youevery time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks."

Thanksgiving leads to encouragement and intercession: "But I do more than thank. I askask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!"Than

Thankfulness turns us to consider others' needs. It turns us to want to help. It turns us to prayer - not for ourselves, but for others.

So how do we 'remember' to thank God?

Remember WHY we thank Him, then do it!
  • Study what God has done for us. Find verses in the Bible which talk about thanking God.
  • Write/print these verses to go into a 'gratitude jar or box'.
  • Start a gratitude journal: take time at the end of every day to find things to be thankful for: perhaps start with three things.
  • Keep a notebook to jot down what you are thankful for at odd times throughout the day.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I come across mention after mention about thankfulness. One in particular, about gratitude, has inspired me. The key note: always be grateful.

I like the word grateful. It is more than thankful. Thankful is being grateful and appreciative, conscious of benefits received; grateful is 'warmly appreciative and thankful of kindness and benefits received'.

Gretchen Saffles, in her post The Mystery of Gratitude, says: "Thanksgiving is at the core of the Bible. It is an overflow of our response to the gospel. In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul explains to the church of Philippi that he had learned the secret of contentment. He had faced hunger as well as abundance, danger as well as safety, and need as well as satisfaction. Through every circumstance that he had faced, one thing remained the same – Christ’s love for Him. Paul was truly grateful. His eyes had seen the glory of Jesus through His death and resurrection on the cross and he was never the same. Paul’s secret to contentment in every situation was a heart of thanksgiving that trumped even the most dismal of circumstances.

Gratitude is a way we worship the Lord everyday. Psalm 69:30 tells us “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” We make much of Christ when we give Him praise, even through suffering, trial, and need. Gratitude changes us and it also changes our vision. Instead of seeing life through the temporary sight of a human, we can see through the holy lens of the gospel. And that, my friends, is the secret. ...Gratitude shields us from bitterness, emptiness, and worthlessness. It gives us life when an illness hits us, it gives us hope when the world betrays us, and it gives us peace when our surroundings fall around us.
The mystery of gratitude is this: Christ gave up His life so that we might truly live. And that is enough to keep us singing, praising, and dancing until we get to be with Him one day! The more we sink our hearts deeply into that truth, the more the praises will keep rising and the songs keep flowing, no matter the circumstance. "

Nancy Leigh de Moss: “Thanksgiving really should be thanksliving—a way of life—day in, day out, morning, noon, and night—continually, forever giving thanks to the Lord.”

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