The three children stood before their mom, like recruits in front of the drill sergeant. The fifteen-year old daughter towered over her ten year old sister and five year old brother.
“When I get back home this evening I want to see all your rooms cleaned and chores done,” she said sternly.
“Now, I’m not saying when you have to do it,” she continued. “When you feel led, you get up from your video games or from watching television and go clean your room.”
The five-year old held up his hand uncertainly, “What does ‘feeling led,’ mean mama?”
“When you get that feeling that you think comes from God and you have a deep desire to go wash the dishes and clean your room, well, you’re being ‘led.’”
That evening mom came home and nothing was done. She was mad but what could she say? Not one of the three had felt “led” to do their chores the whole day long.
Are you surprised? Kids usually have an epiphany when they’re threatened with consequences that seem worse that the pain of having to clean their room.
An attitude of thanksgiving and gratefulness towards God is a bit like that. We keep waiting for a feeling to propel us to give thanks, but usually this attitude grows in us because we decide to be thankful.
Our natural state isn’t thanksgiving, it’s griping, or “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately?”
Thankful people reap the benefits of this attitude because they’re intentional. They’ve decided they are going to be thankful and they “work” (scary word) at it.
They may even put a note in their pocket that says, “Don’t forget to be thankful.” Or when they go to graze at the frig they might find a reminder on the door that says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.”
These people might even put a message on the bathroom mirror to remind them. That doesn’t sound very spiritual does it? Nope, but often I’m not very spiritual. The decision I make when I don’t feel “ spiritual” leads me into spirituality.
If you want to be thankful, you need to plan for it. How does that look on Monday morning at 10 a.m.?
1. “Count Your Blessings.” Ah, I used to deride this song. “Old-fashioned. Silly.” Well, I don’t know, but sometimes the best way to come out of a self-centered funk is to sit down, get a sheet of paper (or a computer) and just start listing your blessings. Then you THANK the Lord for them. If you’re really serious, you begin to appreciate the Lord AND the people He’s put in your life.
You see, thankful people aren’t just thankful to God. They’re thankful to those around them. Paul told the friends he wrote to in Ephesus and the surrounding area, (I) “Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers …” (Ephesians 1:6)
Can I tell you an uncomfortable secret? If you’re not thankful for lots of people around you, you’re probably not really thankful to God either, no matter how many spiritual goose bumps you feel in the worship service on Sunday.
2. Use God’s Word as a thankfulness guide. For example, Psalms 107 tells us to thank God because He’s good, His love endures forever, He satisfies the thirsty with good things, He breaks our prison bars, He saves us from our distress, He heals us with His Word, and, and, and … (Hey, I’m not going to do all the work for you. Read it for yourself!) We see God in His Word and I’m so glad He is who He is. I thank Him for that.
A powerful way to thank God is to use the Spirit-charged Words of the Bible, “Lord, I thank You because,” then simply read what His Word says and really think about what you’re saying.
The last couple of years the Lord has given me a word or an attitude as a theme for my year. Four years ago, I think it was, the word was “thanksgiving.” I’ve tried to become that person who continually gives thanks. Maybe the Lord gave it to me because I have a tendency to feel sorry for myself and concentrate on what’s not going right instead of what is right about my life.
This year I was surprised to find that “thanksgiving” popped up again as the theme for my year. Yup, I’ve still got a long way to go. This year I want to share this attitude with others, though. If I could, I’d like to be an “apostle” of thanksgiving.
I’ve asked the Lord for the gift of a really thankful heart.
So, I’m super thankful to the Lord for you, my Coffee Stains friends and family. You’ve encouraged me and taught me by your responses. You’re special people.
“Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.” (Ephesians 5:4, The Message)
Next week: Desert treasures—rattlesnakes and richness
Have a Think—
“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now.”- Zig Ziglar
Bonus: “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”
A pastor friend in eastern France is having serious issues with hepatitis, a sickness that even threatens his life. Pray for Pastor Michel and his family.
Continue to pray for the launching of the Victoire website
We’ll be in Argenteuil (Paris suburb) Sunday for services. God knows the heart of each person who will be there. Pray that He will heal them, fill them with His Spirit and His joy, and send them out to tell others about His Son Jesus.
I’m so thankful for those of you who stand with us in prayer. I wonder how many times we’ve broken through and didn’t realize that it was a direct result of praying people.
photo: http://www.everystockphoto.com/ marc emer uganda 345