“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” ~ Psalm 107:1 CSB
The Bible says a lot about being thankful. In fact, it is commanded often.
Even though I know should be thankful and have much to be thankful for, I struggle with having a thankful heart. Nearly everything in this world seems to lead me down a path of seeking my own happiness. A self-inflating culture stands in opposition to true thankfulness.
For years I’ve been told I am always right and I deserve things to be “my way, right away.” There are few attitudes that are as anti-biblical and anti-Christian as these. (For this writing I am speaking from the consumer side, not the customer service side – much could be said of the value of these approaches as a customer service professional.) As followers of Jesus, we are to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than [ourselves]… [looking] out not only for [our] own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) When we are truly looking out for others, it will be hard to be consumed with our own selfish desires. A common side effect of shifting our focus from ourselves to others is a grateful attitude for what we already have.
James 1:17 reminds us that “every good and perfect gift is from above… .” Gifts such as air to breathe, clothes to wear, a roof over my family’s head, healthy kids, a job that provides for my families needs and many of our wants, an incomparable wife whose depth of service to her family is immeasurable, friends and family who encourage and challenge me to follow Jesus and live a holy lifestyle, and so much more.
I have much to be thankful for. So much in fact, I should easily be able to follow Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything.” So what prevents me from having a thankful heart? Discontentment.
Discontentment is the enemy of a thankful heart. With the world around me telling me to pursue my own happiness at all cost, discontentment is always close by, lurking in the shadows. Paul tells the church in Philippi “in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” So what’s the secret? The answer is found in verse 13 – in Christ. Paul’s contentment was the result of a lifestyle of not worrying about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, as the peace of God surpassed all his understanding and guarded his heart and mind in Christ Jesus. He recognized that his life is dependent on Christ, and in Christ, he can do all things. (Philippians 4:6-7,11-13)
One of the prayers I pray with and for myself and my kids is that we will constantly pursue a thankful heart through contentment. Not just during the season of Thanksgiving, but all year ’round. As we follow Jesus, our lives, like Paul’s, should be marked by contentment and a thankful heart.
For a little #ThrowbackThursday fun, check out the VeggieTales video below “The Thankfulness Song”
“I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple.”
~ Psalms 27:4
This verse became a frequent prayer of mine several years ago. Sadly too often, I find myself coming back to this prayer after having allowed my gaze to move off of God and onto something temporal. I need this prayer, often daily, to remind me where my priorities should be focused. It’s a prayer to realign my priorities within my heart and mind, as well as, for strength to ensure that which my heart and mind determine as priority will be lived out in my schedule.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
~ Matthew 6:33
“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
~ Colossians 3:1-2
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
God, may I be so captivated by You that seeking You is my top priority.
“So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. . . God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.” Genesis 1:27-28a, 31 (CSB)
By setting in motion the minutest details of creation, God demonstrated His right to rule over the matters of the family from the very beginning. Did you notice the repetition in verse 27? “God created…he created…he created.” An emphatic point is being made here. God is Creator and set all things in motion according to His plan. Not only did God set all things in motion, but He also sustains all things by holding them together (See Colossians 1:17).
Have you ever thought about the following fact? God had infinite options at His disposal when creating families. He did not have to make man and woman the way He did. Within His design, God set forth a specific plan to create the human race as a replicable species with a special place within creation – His image bearers. Note that after creating mankind God “saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.” What happened next? He rested. He was satisfied and content with His perfect design.
As Creator God exercised His authority in His master plan. As His creation, our job is to submit to His plan. That’s easier said than done, of course, but let’s pray for the strength to humble ourselves before Him.
God, help me recognize Your authority over me and give me the strength and wisdom to willingly submit to Your created plan.