Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanks Giving

As we make plans for the Thanksgiving holiday, let's extend our thankfulness into a daily remembrance. We tend to take so many things for granted, so I decided to make a list of some of them and post it on my refrigerator. This daily reminder includes the Bible verse, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

I encourage you to make your own Thanks Giving list. Here's mine:

Thank you, Lord,
...for strength to walk, work, and write
...for sunshine and shadows and the beauty of God's creation
...for family, friends, and even foes
...for encouragement from my readers
...for the freedom to write about Jesus in secular newspapers
...for the freedom to own and read my Bible
...for pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets, and apostles whom God uses to bring
souls into His kingdom
...for the privilege of sharing God's Word with others
...for Christian fellowship with other followers of Jesus
...for the faith to believe in God's infallible Word
...for the testimonies of other believers
...for the power of God's Word and Spirit
...for His great love, His many gifts and blessings, and His discipline


A Grateful Heart
A recent article I read spoke about the physical and emotional benefits of having “an attitude of gratitude” (a phrase coined by Oprah Winfrey years ago, I believe). Even before Oprah’s time, Norman Vincent Peale wrote a book about the power of positive thinking. Many churches criticized his teachings. The truth is, much of the Bible encourages—even commands—us to have a positive, thankful attitude.
Scientists have proven that a grateful attitude causes people to be happier and feel less stressed by raising levels of their body chemicals associated with pleasure and contentment. In fact, our serotonin and dopamine levels elevate even when we only pretend to be grateful.
It’s helpful to write every day what we’re thankful for. If you’re like me, it’s easy to lag behind in that habit when tough times come. A diagnosis of cancer; a divorce; or the loss of a job, our belongings, or a loved one can shift our mental gears into a state of misery and ungratefulness as fast as a blink of the eye.
And then there’s the issue of facing an enemy. How can we possibly be thankful when someone has just given us the royal once-over for something we said or did? Isn’t it easier to respond with a scathing remark or to take offense? Too often, our pride prevents us from responding with love and understanding. You’ll notice that the central letter in the word pride is I. Our selfish feelings and desires often generate stubbornness, anger, and resentment as we face our enemies.
Jesus taught us to love our enemies. A thankful heart helps us do this. Paul wrote, “(We must) give thanks always for all things to God the Father….” (Ephesians 5:20) “All things” includes the tough stuff, such as problems or people. It includes confrontations with our enemies or those with whom we disagree.
It’s a good idea after all to make a daily list of things we’re thankful for. Followers of Christ should daily thank God for sending His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. And for His resurrection which gives us the promise of life spent with Him now and for eternity.
Lord, give us grateful hearts for all things every day. Help us to see beyond the tough times into Your perfect will. Give us the desire to follow Your example of unselfishness and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, amen.