“O give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 118:1
An old motivational story concerns a breakfast of eggs and bacon and the difference between the commitment of the chicken and the pig. The chicken is involved, but the pig is fully committed. You can now use the story in a variety of ways to encourage people to be fully committed, no matter what. No one likes a half-hearted commitment. If you are going to engage in any endeavor, if it is worthwhile, give it your best! Be wholehearted!
I want to apply this to thanksgiving. I believe that gratitude is a spiritual discipline on the order of prayer, study, service, etc. God wants us to be thankful, not for His benefit, but for ours! The more grateful we are the closer we draw to God who is the source of all blessings. Our annual celebration of Thanksgiving should be a time when we strengthen the bond between what we are, or what we have, and God’s blessing in our lives. We should become more deeply aware of how greatly God has blessed us
The challenge we face is a great one! For some reason, thanksgiving sounds juvenile, perhaps a childhood hangover from parents making us write those notes. Maybe the problem is that we retain at least some suspicion that our blessings came from our own cleverness or ability. So why should we be thankful for all this stuff we bought? Of course the main reason for lack of gratitude is that we have moved along too quickly to the next worry. We seem uniquely suited to forgetting that as God has acted in the past He will act in the future. Just as the heart shapes the life, so also the life shapes the heart. If you are given to doubt, to fear, to criticism, complaint, anxiety then you will likely grow to be wholehearted in those areas.
Take worries for example. You may have a main worry this morning, something that is taking up a great deal of your heart and mind. Everyone struggles at this point to some degree, but here is what I want you to notice about worry. It seldom gets solved. Oh, most all worries are resolved, but for most people worry is like a Pez dispenser. Take one off the top and another rises to takes its place. Without realizing it, you may have become a wholehearted worrier!
As we look at God’s Word this morning and think together about it, let’s open our hearts and minds and ask God to solve some our struggles at the deep level where the Holy Spirit meets our hearts. This survey requires a great deal of honesty. Look for ways to embrace wholehearted Thanksgiving. Be intentional.
We make our choices, then our choices make us. On choice I challenge you to make is to focus on the blessings of the “inner man” or to give us blessings in the “spiritual places.” The major flaw in all of our requests to God is that we aim too low. We are all closet “prosperity gospel” proponents, but how many of us would be completely satisfied with God’s saying to us, “I will bless you richly. You may not see the blessings right away, but trust me that I am preparing you for success in eternity, not here on earth.”
We all have a fundamental decision to make concerning the direction and intent of our lives. Do you want most of all the spiritual blessings that God wants to give you? Or are you almost exclusively focused on the material blessings?
Dr. Terry Ellis
November 21, 2011