Thanksgiving is an amazing time of year, isn’t it? It’s a holiday filled with family, good food, and the season’s kisses of color on every turn. But although Thanksgiving is an amazing day of the year, it should be for all of us a continual state of being. It is not just an event, but a lifestyle.
I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I think often times, especially this time of year, we pluck that verse out of its context. Notice what verse 19 says:
“Quench not the Spirit.”
Isn’t it interesting that God places a verse about quenching the Holy Spirit right after dealing with the subject of Thanksgiving? What do you believe God is trying to teach us? I believe He is teaching us that one of the greatest hindrances of the Holy Spirit’s work is an ungrateful heart.
So how can we continue in gratitude and truly implement Thanksgiving Living? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few simple practices that have immensely helped me live a lifestyle of gratitude all year long:
1. Remember the little blessings.
We are so prone to forget, aren’t we? Especially when it comes to the little things:
Someone slips you $100 bill when the grocery budget falls short.
You get a gift card to take your spouse out to a much overdue date night.
You find a note on your desk from your little girl saying, “I love you, Daddy!” (And then of course melt into a puddle on the floor.)
These small handfuls on purpose are God’s precious reminders of His grace and love. They are purposeful, not menial; initiated by a God Who knows your every need and desire.
Something that helps me not forget these small acts of kindness is to simply talk about them. Yes, actually talk about your blessings to other people. Someone asks you, “How are you?” You can respond with, “I’m so blessed! Let me tell you about it!” There is enough negativity in our world and often times we are quick to complain or gripe. Psalm 107:1-2 reminds us,
“O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.”
One of the greatest testimonies for Christ is a thankful heart and a willingness to express it. Don’t keep the blessings to yourself, share it!
Something else that really gets the juices flowing is to write the blessings down. My motto has often been, “If it is not written, it is forgotten.” Make a list of the things you are thankful for. Maybe do this as a family and ask everyone to say something they are thankful for. Write them down in a journal or “Thanks” book and watch it become such a source of encouragement to you later!
2. Praise Him even when you don’t feel like it.
This is not so easy. They are a lot of things I have to do even when I don’t feel like it sometimes, but this one...yea, it gets me! Praising God is hard to do sometimes when you’ve been up all night with a screaming child, or when you get rear-ended by an oblivious man who is trying to drive with his knee while eating a burrito and gabbing on the phone. It’s not easy praising God through such inconveniences, but I want you to consider the words of Jesus.
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;” (Matthew 26:27).
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
Okay, Jesus gave thanks before they ate. What’s the point? That’s what everyone does.
Think for a moment what Jesus was about to do. He was about to take sin onto His shoulders and bear the agony of the world. Notice again, “...And he...gave thanks.”
In the face of His darkest trial, Jesus gave thanks to God. It was this heart of gratitude that paved the way to absolute surrender. Maybe we would be willing to sacrifice more for Jesus if we were grateful for the blessings He has given us.
3. Stay close to Calvary.
So today I want you to take a trip…
You might have to fight your way through the curious crowd, but can you see Him? They have placed the cross on His tattered back. Follow Him. Walk with Christ as He bears the heavy load of sin to Golgotha. What do you see? The crown, the lashes, the bruises. And to think all of this has been done for a world that hates Him. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not."
He is despised and rejected so that He may wash us in His eternal love. This was His plan from the very start. He knows what has to be done to satisfy a holy God, and He will not shy away from it. His love will not permit it.
Can you see His arms stretched out wide as they place the nails of iniquity into His hands? The agony of the world bearing down on His body. The Son of God, out of breath, suffering to give all men life. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Who is them He is speaking of? It is not just those around the cross with Him, but it is you and I. It is our sin that has initiated Calvary. It is our bruises that are being passed to the spotless Lamb.
Now stand under the man that hangs upon the tree. Look into His eyes as He has just paid for your redemption and say to Him: “Jesus, I deserve more!”
No thought would ever enter the mind of a man who truly realizes what he is looking at. What more could Christ give than to give His all? “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
And yet sometimes we find ourselves wishing to have more than the love He gives us. We do not think that Christ is sufficient enough. If we recalled Calvary more often in our minds, I truly believe we could do nothing else than give thanks!
Philippians 3:7-10 challenges us, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
When we join ourselves into the fellowship of His sufferings, complaints and inconveniences will begin to diminish into nothing. The smaller we become the greater our God reveals Himself to be.
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place” (II Corinthains 2:14).