This message was written when I was asked to give a message in our church years ago. Half of what’s in the message was inspired by Pastor Doug Batchelor…. my life and faith coach even if he doesn’t know it. I come across the document today looking for something else and I think it is a really good reminder for myself do I decided to share it….
THE HOW, WHY AND WHEN OF THANKS
The Why, How and When of Thanks
The more you recognized and acknowledge what you have to be thankful for, the more you’ll find that you have to be thankful for, the more thankful you’ll be, the happier you’ll be.
I’ll be talking about giving “thanks” in lot of different angles.
In some countries, they have this we call “thanksgiving day” unfortunately, the fact that we sat aside a day to celebrate something sort of indicates that it is not normal. It must be highlighted and recognized.
There was this story of a two friends who bumped each other one day. One of them was looking so sad and extremely forlorn. Then, the other said, “Bill, you look so sad what’s the matter?” and Bill said, well you know my cousin died three weeks ago and he left me ten thousand dollars. He said, oh! That’s a lot of money. Bill said, yeah! But two weeks ago another relative died and left me 25 thousand dollars. Really? And he said yes, but last week my great aunt died and she left me 75 thousand dollars. And his friend said, I still don’t understand. Why are you so sad? That’s a lot of money. And Bill said, because nobody died this week.
It sort of says or explains that we missed all the blessings we have, when we tend to focus on what we don’t have.
Even in God’s people during the last days it is foretold in the Bible that one of the characteristics of the people on the last day is ingratitude.
2 Timothy 3:1-2
You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lover of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.
Sometimes, we receive a lot of blessings and yet we still tend to complain. I am not excluding myself. It is human nature. Sometimes our neighbor would kindly give us something and yet we could still find fault to what they gave us.
Ungratefulness. We all have done it, but have we ever wonder what the angels must think about this attitude of ours?
Unthankfulness darkens the heart. Would you like your heart to be darkened? We must be more thankful. We must remember that it was murmuring and complaining that postponed the children of Israel getting into the promise land.
One of the things I think that prepare us for the return of Christ is the attitude of gratitude, recognizing all that we have to be thankful for. After all, it is part of real worship – Being thankful.
Sometimes because of our temperament, we could always think of what is missing. We tend to focus on the negative side of things. Just like Homer, the potato farmer. He is the most complaining man in town. One time, he had a bounty crop with big and really good potatoes, and one said, “hey Homer that’s a good harvest.” And Homer said, ‘YEAH! But I am not happy at all. I don’t have bad ones so I don’t have any seed.
I wonder if our church today is much different than that? Or is it the other way? Despite all that we have to be thankful for, do we sometimes still focus on what’s missing?
It tells about the story of the ten lepers, one of which is a Samaritan. And this Samaritan having been healed by Jesus could not contain his happiness and decided to return and thank Him. And if we could go back to its story Jesus said, “Weren’t there 10 cleansed? But where are the other nine?”
If percentage is the same today, that is 10% only came back to give thanks, does it goes the same for us that we are able to thank God for about 10% percent only of all the things that He has blessed us out of a hundred?
We don’t remember all the things and God is not asking us to remember everything. In Psalms 103: 2 He said, forget not all His benefits. He is not asking us to remember everything just don’t forget them all.
Sometime ago in the US there was not a single drop of rain for a long time. I think it happened in the Philippines too during the El nino phenomenon. And there was scarcity of water. And because of that the people declare a day of prayer, they held a prayer vigil for God to send them rain. And within 24 hours an intensive rain in the form a storm came. Does God answers prayer? I think He does. But do you think these people would call for another meeting to thank Him for the rain, or would they complain for experiencing the storm?
Someone said that when you thank God, you pave the way for future benefits.
Statistically, it shows that when you thank people, they are a lot more willing and likely to help when a need arises. Let’s just consider our selves, isn’t it that we like to give more to those who know how to appreciate what we are giving them in spite of how big or small we have given them. I believe that God is more inclined to bless us when we show gratitude for all His blessings.
One thing that parents teach their children is that when nice things are done for them or are given to them they should give thanks or at least send a thank you letter. Someone said that no gift is really ours until we have thanked the giver.
Why be thankful?
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks to all the circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
• in the good times, and in the bad times no matter how your week has been. I have good days this week, I have difficult days this week, we should thank God on both kinds of days.
• We should thank God that we are alive.
• Thank Him that you don’t get what you deserve. Now, what do I mean by that?
– most of the time we think of ourselves as truly deserving of all the good and the best things. But when we think about it, what do we really deserve? Jesus was nailed on the cross and was persecuted but does he deserve that? Or was it us who deserve that?
– every good thing that we have is a blessing from God and we ought to thank Him for that.
– Even the life we have, even if it is a difficult life, it is always better than the alternative.
• We should be thankful because those who don’t know the language of gratitude can ever be on speaking terms with happiness. That is synonymous to saying we can’t be truly happy if we don’t know how to be thankful.
• Thank Him for His loving kindness. Psalms36:1 it says ”Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good. We must remember that in the beginning God has made everything and pronounced them good. Every good thing is a blessing from God.
• Thank Him for His long suffering
• Thank Him for everything. Going back to Psalms 103:1-5
– Bless the Lord o my soul and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord o my soul and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
One of the devils job is to conceal God’s blessings that we might not recognize them. He hides them from us and grabs us the happiness that comes from gratitude. Part of being thankful is really being thinkful and remembering all that he has done for us. So often we are not happy because we are not focusing on the good that the devil is hiding from us. What he does is highlight the inconveniences that we have so that instead of being thankful we murmur and complain.
Just look at Israel, God delivers them from the plagues, divide the red sea for them, gave them water from the rock, and gave them bread from heaven and what did they do? They complain about the bread, manna, manna, manna; bread, bread bread, can’t we have anything else? The devil conceals all God’s miracles so that all that we see is what’s missing.
Another reason why man is not happy is the dynamics of comparison.
There was a kid; she is studying in an exclusive school. Her classmates have signature tennis shoes and so she asks her mom to buy her new tennis shoes, the signature kind. Her mother told her that she would when her current tennis shoes are already worn and when their budget permits them to do so. The kid, didn’t comment but inside her she is grumbling. One day her mom brings her along with her in a missionary camp. In the camp she saw a lot of kids some are untidy and many of them are barefooted. So when they went back home she said, “Mom I don’t need a new tennis shoes. I am happy with my current tennis shoe.”
That’s the dynamic of comparison. You will always find somebody who you think has more than what you have and if you focus on that, you will always think of yourself as less blessed than another and you’ll just end up miserable.
The Bible told us about comparing ourselves, by ourselves among ourselves; it’s not wise.
On the other hand, you could find somebody who are less fortunate and have so much less than you do and you could just praise the Lord that God has blessed you with so much.
There was a text message I receive sometime ago and it says, “I was complaining for not having shoes, until I saw a man without a feet.”
Most of us have no reason to complain no matter how hard life seems to be because God has blessed us with so much to be thankful for.
Sometimes you feel that you resent being born in this century, in this country were almost everyone in the government is corrupt and poverty is a common sight. Sometimes I am thinking of blaming Adam and Eve, especially Eve. If it weren’t for her we will be living in a paradise. But thinking about it, I just said to myself “its okay. Sooner, I know God will compensate.” Because he is moving the capital of the universe in due time to live with humans. And we’ll be honored above all other creatures made in His image with new bodies in the presence of God for eternity. Yeah, it maybe tough now, but God is going to compensate.
And just keeping this wonderful thought in my mind, I just have to be thankful for such a wonderful promise.
How are we thankful?
• Show your gratitude by generosity.
As a matter of fact, all thanks comes in the form of giving-
– giving time
– giving service
– giving of your means
– giving recognition and appreciation
Parents should teach their children to say thanks, always.
There was this kid who went in a birthday party wherein the mom of the celebrant gave giveaways to all who attended. And when the kid went home, she said to her mom, mom I went to a birthday and showed her what she got. Her mom said I hope you said thanks to Mrs. Carpenter, the child said, I was about to but while I was on the line she kept saying don’t mention it so I didn’t.
We should say it more often than not often enough. Your kids, are influenced by our own words.
-Remembering the story of Nahman – the leper.
He was healed by Elisha the prophet. He was on his back to Damascus but he took a turn to thank Elisha. He went out of his way just to show his appreciation bringing in with him about millions worth of fortune. His reaction was a natural response of a person that has just been healed of a terminal disease. You want to give something to show your appreciation.
When do we give thanks?
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks to you as I remember you in my prayers.
According to Apostle Paul, you must not cease giving thanks. Notice that Paul is not thankful for stuffs, often times we only took notice of the things that we have but Paul here is different, he is thankful for the people.
Giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
• We give thanks for our food before eating them.
In the latter part of acts it was told that there was storm and everyone was in panic but Paul asked them to stay calm. The people haven’t eaten anything yet for 14 days and Paul said, the ships going to be wreck I urge you to take some bread that you might survive and after that he took his bread and give thanks to God in the presence of everybody and break his bread and eat them.
One of the things we in our family or even within ourselves is to thanks for the food before eating them. But sometimes we are just too hungry that we forget. If you have ever been hungrier you should be more thankful. We should not only give thanks for the food but also ask the Lord to bless them especially if we didn’t saw how they were prepared.
Sometimes we don’t want to pray when people are around. But if Paul can do that, so much more are we.
In the last supper when he was about to die, before he take the bread he give thanks, before he drink the wine he give thanks. And we all know that these represent Jesus’ body and blood. Shouldn’t we thank the Lord for giving His life for us?
• If you cannot be grateful for all the good things God bless you, you should at least be thankful for the troubles that He doesn’t send.
• There was this text message that says, “Don’t be sad when all your dreams never come true. Just be grateful that your nightmares don’t.”
• If you can’t thank the Lord for the good you have; be thankful for the bad that you don’t have. It could be worse.
Here is an e-mail of a student from college to her parents in the province.
Dear mom and dad,
I’m sorry I haven’t written sooner. It’s been difficult writing with my left hand; I broke my right arm and leg when I jumped off from the second floor of my dorm during the fire. But I was lucky; a young man from the tattoo parlor saw the blazing fire and called the fire department. My books and clothes were burned but they were able to save the room. The fire had nothing to do with the marijuana they found.
Spike, from the tattoo parlor came to see me in the hospital, and he was very helpful. And because it was taking long to get the dorm room livable again he was nice enough to let me moved in with him. It’s better since the baby’s doing’ seven months. Don’t worry, Spike and I plan to get married just as soon as he can get a divorce and find another job.
I hope things are okay at home, I’m doing fine and I’ll write more often when my hand tremors go away.
Your daughter Susie
None of the above is true but I did get a C in sociology and a D in chemistry. I just wanted you to receive the news in its proper perspective.
• Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have and offer thanks for the troubles that we don’t have.
• We need to thank the Lord for taking our burdens, most of all for giving his life in order that he might save us.
• On top of all the things that we have to be thankful for, it is the passage in 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His incredible gift!” and that is His gift of salvation.