How Thankful Are We?

It’s the week of Thanksgiving here in the United States. It’s a time that we stop and think about how thankful we are. At least that’s the idea. But with family, food and football it’s difficult to squeeze in much time to think about thankfulness.

The question that I have is: How do you gauge thankfulness?

Is it a warm feeling deep down inside? The warmer the feeling the greater the thankfulness? Sounds too mystical.

Is it an assertion that says I’m thankful? And the more confident your assertion the more it becomes a reality? In that case A type personalities will certainly be more thankful than the rest of us.

Is it an attitude, a way of thinking? I think therefore I am. Doesn’t sound right.

Is it something that we just say so it must be true? Sort of like, I’m the best basketball player in the world – so I automatically become the best basketball player in the world. That would send Lebron James into fits of laughter.

So how do you gauge thankfulness?

Is it even possible to gauge thankfulness?

There must be a way to determine, say on a scale of 1 – 100, how thankful you really are.

As it turns out, there are several ways that you can gauge your thankfulness.

You can gauge your thankfulness by how generous you are.

God loves generous people.

Psalm 112:5 says It is well with the man who deals [with other people] generously.

In other words, God wants us to be generous.

I seriously doubt that you can give generously without being thankful for what you have.

And I believe that when you are thankful for what you have – knowing that it all came from God (Psalm 24:1, James 1:16-17) you will in turn be generous.

You can gauge your thankfulness by how much your generosity costs you.

Do you remember the story of the widow in Luke 21? After the wealthy people had dumped their bags of money into the treasury in the Temple in Jerusalem, she put in her two coins. They gave out of their abundance – which is better than not giving at all, but it didn’t cost them anything. They had plenty more where that came from. There was really no generosity in what they did.

Then she put in her two coins. They were all she had. Her generosity costs her everything.

Jesus’ commentary on it was this: I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.

Giving generously is not the same as giving extravagantly. But when you give generously it will cost you something.

You can gauge your thankfulness by your satisfaction in the difficult times of life.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God.

Being thankful in the good times of life doesn’t tell you anything about yourself except that life is good.

It’s when you can be satisfied with what God is doing in your life as the sky falls in that you know you are a thankful person.

The difficult times in life reveal a lot about us.

Being thankful is more than just saying you’re thankful. Saying it doesn’t make it so.

Being thankful is about what you do. It’s about your actions.

Thursday is coming. It’s time to be thankful.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

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Why You? Why Now? Why Here?

This is the season of Thanksgiving in America. It’s a time to reflect on our blessings as a nation and as individuals. As I’ve thought about the blessings of life two questions often come to my mind. The first is Why was I born at this time in history? The second is Why was I born in this country of the world? I think these are important questions for Christians to contemplate especially during this time of the year.

From a purely secular point of view any of us could have been born at any time in history and we could have been born in any country. Think about how different your life would have been if you had been born to a struggling peasant family during the middle ages somewhere in Europe. You probably would have lived in a small hut made out of branches and mud with a dirt floor. No lights. No running water. No central heat. No bath or shower. No indoor plumbing. One change of clothes. Bread and porridge once a day. No doctors or medicine. And no prospect of a better life – if you even survived childhood. If your parents were peasants you would be a peasant. That’s how the class system worked.

Yet we (especially American Christians) live in prosperity. All of the things that peasants lacked throughout history we have. And more. We are free. We are rich. We are healthy. We are fat. We are spoiled. Not only do we have one of the most enviable lifestyles in the world, we have one of the best lifestyles in human history. Why?

The simple answer is that God put you where He put you. I asked a dear pastor friend in Haiti if he had ever wondered why God had him born into a Haitian family instead of into an American family. He replied that he had thought about it – often. And the conclusion that he came to was that God had a purpose in the circumstances of his birth. He understood that God had placed him into a country of immense suffering in order to make a difference.

There is a Biblical principle that comes into play here. Luke 12:48 says for everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required. Although this statement is found in the context of eternal rewards and punishment, it states an eternal principle. We will answer for how we use what God has given us. Those of us who have been privileged to have been born into prosperity and health are those to whom much is given in a material sense and we will have to answer for how we use our blessings.

This is no small matter. If it is true that we are among the most prosperous and blest people in the history of the world, and there is great evidence for this, then what is/will be required of us is immense. We have a greater responsibility to minister the grace of God than any other generation has ever had.

God has put you here, now because He has a purpose in the circumstances of your birth. He wants you to make a difference with your life. How that plays out in your life will depend to a large extent on how you view the ownership of your life and possessions. If they belong to you, you will most likely make a small difference. If you see them as belonging to God then you will probably make a great difference.

Being thankful is more than simply reflecting on the blessings of the past year. It’s an understanding of the source and purpose of our blessings that motivates us to action. Never forget that we have been blest to be a blessing.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

Some Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. I’m not sure why – it may be the crisp fall air and the beauty of the leaves changing colors (for those of us blessed enough to live in the colder climates); or it may be the great holiday feasts with family and friends; or it may be the blessings of faith and freedom that we as a nation enjoy. Whatever it is, I like it.

But I have to admit that there are several things wrong with Thanksgiving. One thing that’s wrong is that I don’t always feel thankful. I know that I’m supposed to, but there are days when I just don’t feel that way. Another thing that’s wrong with Thanksgiving is that it’s not always easy to be thankful. In fact sometimes it’s difficult. And then there’s the whole idea of being thankful for the difficult things in life. Maybe if I was completely sanctified I could – but I’m not and I can’t (at least that’s what I tell myself). If you are like me (and I think most of you are), you’ve struggled with these same issues.

The reality is that Thanksgiving is not about your feelings – it’s about your heart. You don’t have to feel thankful to be thankful. And you can be thankful even when it’s not easy. And yes, you can be thankful even for the difficult things in life without being completely sanctified. It’s all a matter of the heart and a heart that has been changed by the love of Christ is a heart that can be thankful in any situation. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is still true: In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.

Another thing that we need to remember is that Thanksgiving is not about your circumstances – it’s about your God. As Christians we’re thankful, not because life is great, but because God is great. As long as He is in control we have nothing to fear and we can be thankful to Him no matter what happens in life. O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endures forever. Psalm 136:1 (also 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 29, 136:2, 3, 26).

Thankfulness is a spiritual quality that every Christian needs to cultivate. We of all people have reasons to be thankful. Our feelings should not matter. Our circumstances should not make a difference. All that matters is our hearts and our God.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

All That Matters is Our Hearts and Our God

The title of my sermon yesterday was Thankfulness is a Heart Issue. It’s not about our circumstances or our problems, it’s about our hearts. As I prepared to write this morning I looked back over some of the things I’ve written to our church family (and friends) over the past four years. I want to share what I wrote on November 22, 2010 because it’s relevant to Thanksgiving and it goes well with yesterday’s sermon.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. I’m not sure why – it may be the crisp fall air and the beauty of the leaves changing colors (for those of us blessed enough to live in the colder climates); or it may be the great holiday feasts with family and friends; or it may be the blessings of faith and freedom that we as a nation enjoy. Whatever it is, I like it.

But I have to admit that there are several things wrong with Thanksgiving. One thing that’s wrong is that I don’t always feel thankful. I know that I’m suppose to, but there are days when I just don’t feel that way. Another thing that’s wrong with Thanksgiving is that it’s not always easy to be thankful. In fact sometimes it’s difficult. And then there’s the whole idea of being thankful for the difficult things in life. Maybe if I was completely sanctified I could – but I’m not and I can’t (at least that’s what I tell myself). If you are like me (and I think most of you are), you’ve struggled with these same issues.

The reality is that Thanksgiving is not about your feelings – it’s about your heart. You don’t have to feel thankful to be thankful. And you can be thankful even when it’s not easy. And yes, you can be thankful even for the difficult things in life without being completely sanctified. It’s all a matter of the heart and a heart that has been changed by the love of Christ is a heart that can be thankful in any situation. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is still true: In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.

Another thing that we need to remember is that Thanksgiving is not about your circumstances – it’s about your God. As Christians we’re thankful, not because life is great, but because God is. As long as He is in control we have nothing to fear and we can be thankful to Him no matter what happens in life. O give thinks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endures forever. Psalm 136:1 (also 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 29, 136:2, 3, 26).

Thankfulness is a spiritual quality that every Christian should cultivate. We of all people have reasons to be thankful. Our feelings should not matter. Our circumstances should not make a difference. All that matters is our hearts and our God.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

Thoughts on Thankfulness

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. I’m not sure why – it may be the crisp fall air and the beauty of the leaves changing colors (for those of us blessed enough to live in the colder climates); or it may be the great holiday feasts with family and friends; or it may be the blessings of faith and freedom that we as a nation enjoy. Whatever it is, I like it.

But I have to admit that there are several things wrong with Thanksgiving. One thing that’s wrong is that I don’t always feel thankful. I know that I’m supposed to, but there are days when I just don’t feel that way. Another thing that’s wrong with Thanksgiving is that it’s not always easy to be thankful. In fact sometimes it’s difficult. And then there’s the whole idea of being thankful for the difficult things in life. Maybe if I was completely sanctified I could – but I’m not and I can’t (at least that’s what I tell myself). If you are like me (and I think most of you are), you’ve struggled with these same issues.

The reality is that Thanksgiving is not about your feelings – it’s about your heart. You don’t have to feel thankful to be thankful. And you can be thankful even when it’s not easy. And yes, you can be thankful even for the difficult things in life without being completely sanctified. It’s all a matter of the heart and a heart that has been changed by the love of Christ is a heart that can be thankful in any situation. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 is still true: In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.

Another thing we need to remember is that Thanksgiving is not about your circumstances – it’s about your God. As Christians we’re thankful, not because life is great, but because God is. As long as He is in control we have nothing to fear and we can be thankful to Him no matter what happens in life. O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endures forever. Psalm 136:1 (also 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 29, 136:2, 3, 26).

Thankfulness is a spiritual quality that every Christian should cultivate. We of all people have reasons to be thankful. Our feelings should not matter. Our circumstances should not make a difference. All that matters is our hearts and our God.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve