It’s that time again, Thanksgiving is upon us and a nation is taking time to consider what they are thankful for. Many are thankful for friends and family, food on their table and a roof over their heads. Others are thankful for life through trial and challenge. Still others find gratitude in the small things which bring joy.
A time to place a name to that which we are thankful, we can “thank” our ancestors of more than 400 years ago who spent three prayer-filled days eating and giving thanks for their blessings.
Prayer? Yep, you heard it right, our ancestors were not only feasting but praying. Thanking God for their deliverance and provision.
So what of us? What are we thankful for? And why do we wait for Thanksgiving to give thanks?
Is it actually possible to live a life of thankfulness?
Thankfulness is defined as “feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative.” But more than just any feeling, we have the choice to apply thankfulness in any and every situation.
A heart full of gratitude is greater than a heart full of attitude.
So how do we apply thankfulness in our everyday life?
Recognize The Creator who gives life.
Breathe in, breathe out . . .
Life is everywhere- in nature, in the eyes of our loved ones and flowing through the organs which help us through every day. As we breathe in and out we are taking part in one of the greatest miracles ever performed. Life. In the beginning, we are told that The One who created the heavens and the earth breathed the breath of life into man made in His Image, man who would then become a living being. (Genesis 2:7 paraphrased) From our very first moments, we share life with The One who gave us life.
Recognizing our Creator places new perspective on our journey. No longer is life about self-fulfillment but instead we begin to see our life as part of a greater purpose. Nothing seems impossible as we realize everything is possible through The One who performed the very first miracle within us. And not only did He breathe life into us, but He gives us life each and every day.
To Do: Every day, recognize your Creator, His gift to you as He wrote you into His story and thank Him for the life He has breathed into you.
Take inventory of your blessings every day.
What inspires you? Where do you find your blessings?
They are everywhere, in everything, but sometimes we have to go deep to find them. Just like the horse with blinders on, I can be so focused on the task at hand that I miss the beauty all around me. This morning as I was sitting at a traffic light it was just a brief moment that I witnessed a perfect gaggle of geese overhead. There must have been 20 in line! But I could have completely missed out on this gift from my Father had I not looked up. I am so very thankful for my Father’s little gifts which bring me joy. Thankfulness unlocks joy within us, joy which our Father so longs to give us.
What brings you joy?
To Do: There are small and large gifts sent your way every day, take the blinders off and enjoy the moment in each one! Your Father longs to bring you joy! Write down each blessing as a praise and thank your Father for each one, both large and small.
Give thanks in the challenge.
Yes, even in the challenge we can give thanks. Just like the bodybuilder who faces challenges to grow in strength, we also face challenge which builds our faith muscle. James says it like this, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-5)
Did you catch James teaching? When we face trials, our faith is tested, but this produces perseverance and perseverance makes us mature and complete.
A co-worker told the story once of a time when he was on the way to the airport and his car broke down, on the interstate. His response could have been to worry or allow anger to set in, but instead he sang worship songs. The joy of this moment is not lost on me, by singing a worship song he had the opportunity to give thanks to our King who provided for Him. And yes He did provide a tow and a ride to the airport to catch his plane, on time.
To Do: In the moment of a challenge, thank God for getting you through it and ask Him to show what He has for you to learn. If this is a struggle, write it down so "in the moment" you have something to pray.
Perform at least one act of random kindness every day.
Jesus left us with (2) commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” I believe there to be a transaction which occurs when you serve (thereby loving someone.) Almost like an electrical connection, God’s Love pours into you and when you serve another, His Love transfers from you to the person you serve.
When we perform an act of random kindness, we essentially are thanking our Provider by obediently serving another. In an act of obedience God serves to bless us as He blesses the one we serve.
To Do: Find someone to serve every day and thank our Provider for the opportunity to serve Him and others.
Pray every day
Our ancestors chose three full days to feast and give thanks to their Creator. But I am certain that they spent the other 362 days of the year in prayer as well. Prayer has the opportunity to bring Heaven to earth. God already knows what we need, but in our prayer we are acknowledging our need and placing it in His Hands to provide. In reverse, our thankfulness returns the praise to our Father who provided for the need in the first place filling our heart and minds with the reminder that God is good and He always will provide.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
To Do: Pray continually and watch Heaven fall to earth in your own life!
So what are you thankful for? Are you missing the joy of a life of thankfulness? There is so much to be thankful for, just open your eyes, open your heart and do it. You will be amazed at the things you will see clearly when you are thankful for them.
Father, we thank You for life, we thank You for love and we thank You that in all things You provide for Your creation. I thank You Lord for Your Son Jesus and the beautiful gift He gives in salvation. I thank You for the wonderful people You have placed in my life to pour into me and for me to pour into and I thank You Lord that I am never alone, that You are with me and that I can leave my cares and worries at the foot of the Cross giving praise and thanks to You who will provide.
In Jesus’ Name