Tag Archive for thankfulness

The Outlook that Erodes Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingThanksgiving planning is in full preparation. I’m looking forward to my kids coming home from college, decorating, baking, and the general loveliness of the season.

Social media is in full fledged “thankful mode” with people recounting their “thousand ways” they are thankful. Psalm 100, the Pilgrim Psalm, is being shared and I envision the first thanksgiving, the romanticized version of course, complete with brown transferware, well-behaved-praying-thankful rosy-cheeked children, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. 😉

But Psalm 100 is not to be romanticized and dismissed, but deserves a closer look, this time with our rosy colored glasses removed, because, honestly, I need this psalm. I need the reminder to give thanks and rejoice with a heart that’s right.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes praise isn’t what comes out of my mouth. This past week alone I complained about our broken heat, a tight budget, and the busy demands that leave me exhausted.

And I don’t always enter into His gates–or in our case, the church–with a heart full of thanksgiving, because many times I’m still frustrated over the craziness that is getting to church with many children. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the needs that await me when I walk through the door of the church. (Ministry life.) 

So, this week, being the part-time philosopher that I am, I thought about the attitudes that keep me from praise.

The bottom line is this: discontentment. (Remember, contentment is a choice!)

Thanksgiving stems from a heart that is truly content with all that God has provided. A discontent person always wants a little more. Or a little less. Or a little easier.

A discontent person has unfulfilled expectations.

A heart that praises God believes that He has given me more than I deserve and just what I need. 

A greedy heart inwardly aspires to have more. A discontent heart looks at the blessings of others and complains that I should have it myself.

The spirit of discontentment kills thanksgiving in our heart, because greed for more and thankfulness cannot reside in the same heart.

I found this excellent insight  from Elisabeth Elliot in Keep a Quiet Heart on why we don’t praise God as we should.

“I have been thinking of something that stifles thanksgiving. It is the spirit of greed–the greed of doing, being, and having.

When Satan came to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, his bait was intended to inspire the lust to do more than the Father meant for Him to do–to go farther, demonstrate more power, act more dramatically…

The snake in the garden struck at Eve with the promise of being something which had not been given. If she would eat the fruit forbidden to her, she could “upgrade her lifestyle” and become like God. She inferred that this was her right and that God meant to cheat her of this. The way to get her rights was to disobey Him…

When there is a deep restlessness for which we find no explanation, it may be due to the greed of being–what our loving Father never meant us to be.

Peace lies in the trusting acceptance of His design, His gifts, His appointment of place, position, and capacity.

The quest for MORE is like a spiritual leprosy, eating away your happiness, isolating you from people you should spend time loving, not competing with.

Praise flows when we have spiritual eyes that see all we have in Christ: salvation, justification, power over sin, and daily forgiveness when we fail.

Ask yourself, “What is it that I really want?” the next time you are complaining inside.

  • Do you want people to love you and accept you unconditionally? You are already loved that way by God.
  • Do you want to be “somebody” in the eyes of everybody? You are somebody in God’s eyes. He sent Jesus to DIE for you to rescue you.
  • Do you want to be recognized and applauded and promoted? You are already a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Joint heir. How could we want more?

 

I have all that I need for life and godliness.
Like I tell my kids, and find myself preaching to my own heart, if God withheld it from you, it is for your good–it is somehow a mercy to you. No good thing will He uphold from them who walk uprightly. We can trust this.

Thankfulness: Contentment’s Kin

Still meditating on contentment, and realizing that when I am discontent (or when I grumble) I am raising my fist at God– not physically, mind you, because I know better than that. But, in my heart, it is just that. I.am.blaming.God.

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for your life” is violated when I complain. This sin spirals quickly into envy (why did they get it?), self-pity (poor me, I want _______) and covetousness (I need to have it). Sin in the life will quickly kill all joy. A joyless Christian is SO not a good commendation of the gospel!

The remedy: Thankfulness.

Thankfulness is contentment’s kin. They always go hand in hand producing joy.

Thanksgiving recognizes that all that I have is from God’s good hand–that I am totally dependent on Him for life, breath and all. He gives me good things when, in fact, I deserve hell. To not give Him thanks must be such an assault to His character.

So today, I will be focusing on the goodness of God and will count my blessings.

Why don’t you count yours, too.