Archive for the “thanksgiving” Category

3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV)

“I thank my God every time I remember you,” the apostle Paul says. You know what? The Philippian Christians weren’t perfect! We’ll see in chapters 2 and 3 that there were some problems in the church. But Paul doesn’t begin his letter praying for those issues. He chooses to be thankful for His friends. He chooses to pray for them with joy. Not frustration. Not defeat. Not discouragement. Thankfulness and joy. I am challenged by this. Sometimes, even with those I love, I pray with some of those other things – frustration, defeat or discouragement. Or I am tempted to pray to “fix” something that is causing me to be frustrated with that person. That’s not how Paul prays. Paul prays for them with thankfulness and joy.

As we’ll see in chapter 2, we’re to do all things without complaining and grumbling…that goes for praying for others, too. There’s no grumbling in praying…or at least there shouldn’t be any grumbling in our prayers for others.

In the natural world, we may not see reason to pray with thanksgiving and joy. But we’re not to be looking with our natural eyes. Paul goes on to say that he is confident – confident – that God – who began a good work in the Philippians would carry it on to completion! Another translation of this verse says that Paul is “fully persuaded.” As I was studying this passage and came upon that translation, the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear – “Are you fully persuaded?” In other words, am I fully persuaded that God will finish the work He’s started in me? Are you?

God’s Word is full of encouragement that He is at work in us. If and when we believe His Word – truly believe it – we can pray with thankfulness and joy – for ourselves and for others. God is at work in us and in those around us. He is working out His eternal plan in our lives and the lives of those around us. That’s exciting stuff! Believing that overcomes fear, uncertainty and doubt about our future.

So, my friend – are you fully persuaded that God is at work in you and will work out His purposes in your life? I hope so. If you have doubts, may I suggest that you write out this verse and put it where you will see it several times a day. Say it out loud – God is at work in me and will bring that work to completion.

Let Him whisper it in your ear…

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Comments Comments Off on Thankful and Confident has included on their blog the Thanksgiving proclamations by two of our greatest presidents – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln . Each is quite short (451 and 531 words, respectively). Reading them gives insight into the origins of this holiday we celebrate each year as well as the presidents who wrote them.

You can read and use them as the basis for your own thanksgiving prayers using the links below:

President George Washington?s Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln?s Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day

Have a great day! And pause to give thanks.

16Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)


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1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
2Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
Psalm 107:1-2 (NLT)

Do you remember the Jerry Seinfeld episode “Yada, Yada, Yada”? While he didn’t invent the phrase, he popularized it. You can YouTube it if you’re not familiar with it, but basically, it’s a way to shorten a story. “A friend of ours found a dog who had been abandoned, yada, yada, yada, and now we have a large dog cage in our kitchen.”

Well, the word translated “give thanks” above is the Hebrew word “yada.” Now technically it’s pronounced differently than the English “yada” – the Hebrew version puts the accent on the second syllable. But I’m using it as reminder to give thanks. Anytime I hear or am tempted to use the phrase “yada, yada, yada” – I’m giving thanks!

And that’s what this psalm is about…in part. It’s a lot about giving thanks. It’s also about the great love of our father who reaches down, involves Himself in our lives, and rescues us from whatever situation we’ve gotten ourselves into.

Having begun the psalm with the encouragement to give thanks, He continued:

For he has gathered the exiles from many lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
Psalm 107:3

Friends – we’re included in that verse! We are described as being aliens and exiled from God in Ephesians 2 – having no hope and without God. But “give thanks for the wonderful things he has done” – He has gathered us; He has rescued us; He has brought us home, into His family. We were all once lonely – alone without God, but God…let’s continue in Psalm 107.

The Psalmist (King David) then goes on to look at different ways that the Israelites had become alienated from God or exiled. As you read each example, you’ll see a pattern develop:

Some people __________ (fill in the blank with how they became exiled). This is followed by a verse that is repeated:

“Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress.
Psalm 107:6, 13, 19 and 28

This was followed by a command that mirrors verse 1 of the psalm:

Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
Psalm 107: 8, 15, 21, 31

Finally, more details are given about how God saved His people.

Here’s the detail:

Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless, hungry and thirsty…

“Lord, help!” they cried…and He rescued them…

Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery…

“Lord, help!” they cried…and He rescued them…

Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron.

Some were fools; they rebelled and suffered for their sins….

“Lord, help!” they cried…and He rescued them…

Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

He sent out his word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death.

Some went off to sea in ships, plying the trade routes of the world. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror….

“Lord, help!” they cried…and He rescued them…

Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.

The bottom line, friends is that God works to bring us back no matter what mess we get ourselves into.

And our proper response is what? “Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.”

The word translated “praise in these verses is the same word translated as “give thanks” in verse 1 – “yada.”

Yada, yada, yada – praise, thanksgiving, praise! Thank you, Lord, for working to get me out of the jams I get myself into. Read verses 33 through 42 of the Psalm and you’ll see that God will turn dry lands into rivers and rivers into dry lands to bring us back to Him. The verses highlight that the God we serve is a powerful God who controls all of nature and uses that power to bring us to himself, whether through blessing or discipline. It is his heart to bless us, but he waits for us to turn to him. He waits for the humble cry, “Lord help!”, and then he turns and rescues and blesses.

Thank you Lord, for using both discipline and blessing to bring me back to you.

I love the final verse of the Psalm:

Those who are wise will take all this to heart;
they will see in our history the faithful love of the LORD.
Psalm 107:43

When we stay close to God’s heart through thanksgiving and praise, we become wise and we see in our own history the faithful love of the Lord. The word translated “faithful love” encompasses mercy, kindness, lovingkindness, goodness and patience. It’s the same word used in the repeated verse “Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them.”

Hallelujah! What a God we serve.

Friends, what is your history? Can you look back and see the faithful love of the Lord? More importantly, are you living that verse of praise – are you praising the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things he has done for you?

This week is Thanksgiving and it provides a perfect opportunity to not be quiet in our praise and thanksgiving.

1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
2Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
Psalm 107:1-2 (NLT)

Grow your thanksgiving muscle as you speak out your praises and thanksgiving. As you do that, you will be better able to see God working in your history to continually bring you to Him. You will see His faithful love.

Enjoy your week! Enjoy God!

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods HeartChoosing to take offense brings a seed into our lives that is the antithesis of the joy God wants us to have. It becomes a matter that occupies our thoughts, pulling us down from the heights of enjoying God’s glory to the depths of allowing satan to rent space in our head and heart. Offenses can easily take root that creates a stronghold of bitterness. Bitterness can result from two sources: disappointments of life and painful relationships. Let’s look at both.

Disappointments of Life
We will all experience disappointments in life. When those disappointments cause bitterness within us, it is because we have taken offense at the way God has dealt with us. We have ceased to practice thanksgiving. We have ceased to remember His goodness to us. Instead, the disappointment takes root and we believe the lies the enemy shouts in our ears.
You deserve better! God doesn’t care about you! God has rejected you and always will reject you! You’re not good enough for Him.
Lies, friends! They’re all lies! They lead to bitterness in our heart and soul. They rob us of all joy. Combat the lies of the enemy with the Truth of God’s Word.

It is out of God’s great love for you that He sent Christ to die for you. He has saved you and gifted you and has a purpose for you. He has gone to prepare a home for you so that one day you will be with Him. No, you’re not good enough for Him on your own – but He has credited the righteousness of Christ to you.

Make a concerted effort to practice thanksgiving – first thing every morning and last thing every evening. Praise Him before each meal. Look for His blessings instead of at what you haven’t received.

Painful Relationships
Just as we will all experienced disappointments in life, we will all experience being betrayed or hurt or disappointed by someone we love. If we take offense when that occurs, the bitterness root extends its tentacles. Those betrayals, hurts and disappointments must be released to God and healed by God. Forgiveness is not an option in the Kingdom of God.

14“If you forgive those who sin against you, [Jesus said,] your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:9-15 (NLT)

We forgive out of obedience, but the wonderful thing about God’s economy is that obedience always carries a blessing. When we forgive, bitterness has no place in our heart or soul.

And that leaves lots of room for joy. Taking offense is the root of the two causes of bitterness. When we develop the unoffendable heart, there is bad soil in our heart in which bitterness can take root. But there is plenty of good soil in which joy can grow…and grow and grow.
A joyful heart is a blessing that transcends our circumstances. It pins its hope on the deep, abiding knowledge that God is good, that He has saved us and transformed us, and He will accept us with loving arms in heaven. In fact, Jesus is eagerly waiting for us there. He longs for us to be with Him. We are His bride.

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We had a missionary visit our church about a year ago and she cited these statistics:

  • 250,000 Christians martyred for their faith each year based on a military intelligence source.
  • 171,000 Christians martyred for their faith each year based on reporting in the magazine Christianity Today.
  • Therefore during a typical church service, 30,000 people are being martyred!

Wow! If you are blessed to be a believer living in the United States, there’s a good chance that:

  1. You didn’t know these statistics; and
  2. You’ve been complaining a lot lately about how our country is sliding away from faith and embracing activities and lifestyles that are not consistent with God’s Word.

Well, as a country, our morality has been in downfall for many, many years and we still have more religious freedom and less persecution than most countries in the world. Perhaps we ought to be more thankful and pray more while complaining less.

I read the book of Amos this morning and was struck by how many of the judgments against Israel we are experiencing as a nation. Read Amos chapter 4 particularly and consider our weather patterns, the terrorist attacks against our nation, the wars in which we are losing brave young men and women, the divisiveness that characterizes much of our discourse.

I believe we are experiencing the beginning judgment of God and are drawing ever nearer to the serious judgment of God.

On this fourth of July, this day to celebrate the birth of our nation, take some time to:

  1. Remember and pray for those around the world who live in countries who actively persecute those who call on the name of Christ.
  2. Praise God for the blessings of this country.
  3. Pray that we would return to being a nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Remember that Christ set us free to become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6). Praise God for your freedom – both from sin and for living in a free country – and step into your role as salve of righteousness or slave of God. Pray, in humility and brokenness for the United States – that we would return to God – and live in submission to God’s ways.

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods HeartWe’ve been studying about a thankful heart over the past few weeks. It has helped me through some tough weeks. In the midst of a bad case of stomach flu (or food poisoning, we’re not actually sure which it was) while travelling, I laid on my bed in the hotel room restless and nauseous. I was not a happy camper. Needless to say, my mind wasn’t working any better than other parts of my body. I asked Phil to read Scripture to me. His voice was either too loud or too soft. There seemed to be no perfect volume. His voice, a sound that usually has a very calming effect on me, somehow added to my nausea. Finally, I put my hand up to quiet him and I tried to quote Psalm 92:1-2.

1It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High.
2It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening.
Psalm 92:1-2 (NLT)

I botched the verse pretty badly. As I recall, it took me quite a while to come up with the first three words. But those three words have become a stronghold for me: “It is good.” When my brain is fried from illness, emotional upheaval or just plain exhaustion, I can remember those three words. And then they start the memory ball rolling and I can come up with the next three words: “It is good to give thanks.” And then the next three words: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” That’s my stronghold. “Lord, I give You thanks.”

I don’t think I ever got the words right that night, but in my jumbled mind, I was able to recall the overall theme and it began to bring peace. Healing didn’t come for another day or so, but that peace was followed by faith. As I gave thanks for God’s protection and healing, a confidence began to replace the defeat that my body and spirit was experiencing.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus said. “Trust in God, and trust also in me.” (John 14:1, NLT)

Giving thanks changes the environment. It brings peace in the midst of chaos. It brings calm in the midst of the storm. That peace and calm are the precursor to a slowly building confidence. That confidence – well, it’s just another word for faith.

Phil was sick the few days before I was. One of the things he said to me describes the “before thanksgiving environment.” “When I’m this sick, it’s hard for me to believe I’ll ever be healthy again.” He had it much worse than me. I understood what he meant. When we look at the circumstances, it can be very hard to believe anything will change. And when we’re physically sick, it can be very hard to see past our circumstances. It can be very hard to believe that God will win.

Thanksgiving changes the environment. It reminds us of what God has done in the past. It reminds us of where our hope lies. It reminds us that with God, all things are possible. And that changes the environment. Peace and calm replace chaos and anxiety. Confidence replaces doubt. Faith grows.

The thankful heart creates the environment needed for the faith-filled heart to grow. Let me encourage you once again – be intentional about giving thanks. Even when (or perhaps especially when) everything around you is in chaos. Giving thanks grows your faith. And faith is a good thing.

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods HeartMake thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High…But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.
Psalm 50:14, 23 (NLT)

We’ve spent several weeks on the topic of giving thanks, and I hope you are all working on your thanksgiving muscle. Yet I would be remiss to leave the subject without recognizing that there are times when it’s difficult to give thanks.

There are times in our lives when our bodies, spirits and/or hearts are broken. There are times when we feel like God is very far away. At those times, it is difficult to give thanks. Yet still, the commands of Scripture remain that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances.” It’s at times like this that we need the blessings that come with thanksgiving. Yet making those thanksgivings is a challenge. That’s when we truly learn to make thankfulness our sacrifice to God. It is a sacrifice because we do it out of obedience and out of a long history of knowing God’s goodness, even if we’re not able to feel that goodness at any given moment.

So I’ve gone to Scripture recently. Because I believe that if God tells me to “give thanks in all circumstances,” He will also teach me how to do so. I’ve looked up all the verses that say “give thanks” and believe I’ve found a secret in them – God’s secret about how to be thankful, even in those times when thankfulness seems hard.

There are 33 verses in the Bible that command us to “give thanks.” Those 33 verses identify 4 things that help us to be thankful. Two of those things are reasons to be thankful. The other two things are actions that help us to be thankful. So Scriptures gives us both reasons why we can be thankful and things we can do to help us to be thankful. We’re going to look at those 4 things.

Psalm 136, verses 1 through 3 give us the reasons to be thankful:

1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2Give thanks to the God of gods.

His love endures forever.
3Give thanks to the Lord of lords:

His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-3

The two reasons are right there in verse 1 — Because God is good and because His love endures forever.

“God’s love endures forever.” Almost half of the Scriptures that command us to “give thanks” tell us to do so because God’s love endures forever.

No matter what is happening to you today, no matter what your circumstances are you can know that God loves you more than you can ever imagine. He loves you with an everlasting love and His love endures forever. That word “forever” includes all circumstances and is for all times.

He loved you so much that He willingly sent His Son, Jesus Christ to live on earth as a man and then to die on the cross so that the penalty for your sins could be paid. Scripture says that we are all sinners; that we have all asserted our independence from God, gone our own way. The Bible calls that sin. And Scripture is clear that the penalty for sin is death. But the Gospel message is that God offers us the gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus chose to die in your place and in my place so that we can live for eternity with God. That’s how much God loves us. That’s how much He loves you.

My favorite verse in Scripture is found in Romans 5:8. It says that God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That’s a love that endures forever.

God’s love is the same yesterday, today and forever. It endures forever. And that’s something that you can be thankful for every day of your life. No matter what your circumstances are, no matter how people around you are treating you, no matter how cranky you feel, God still loves you.

When we turn our attention away from the things that have gone wrong in our world and instead think about or meditate on God’s love for us, God changes our perspective and enables us to be thankful.

The second reason Psalm 136:1 gives for giving thanks is a simple one: because God is good. When I think about how powerful God is, how He spoke the world into existence, how the winds and storm obey Him, I am very thankful that He is a good God.

God describes Himself to Moses in Exodus 34. Listen to this:

6And [God] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
Exodus 34:6-7

That’s the goodness of God – compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving sin. I can be thankful for a God that is so good.

Now those of you who know Scripture, know that I didn’t finish God’s description of himself. He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and he does forgive sin.

But the verse goes on to say that the does not leave the guilty unpunished. A good God cannot overlook sin, and we wouldn’t want him to. God’s goodness requires justice. That means that the price or penalty must be paid for our sins. But His goodness also provided a way for that justice to be served. He sent His own son to die for our sins so that we might share eternal life with Him. God has already told us that when he judges sin, the penalty for it will be death. But He’s also already paid that penalty through the death of Jesus. When we accept Jesus into our heart and make him Lord of our lives, God no longer sees our sin. He sees that Jesus has already paid the penalty for it. That’s something to be thankful for.

I wrote earlier that Scripture identifies 4 things that help us to be thankful. The first two are reasons we have to be thankful: Because God’s love endures forever, and because He is good. Scripture also gives us two actions or assignments that help us to be thankful.

The first one is found in Psalm 100, verses 4:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalm 100:4

“Give thanks to God and praise His name.” We are to praise God. It’s pretty hard to praise God without developing a thankful heart. It’s hard to praise him and stay in a bad mood. Even when circumstances are difficult around us, we can choose to praise God. When we do that, we soon find that our spirits rise and we’re no longer looking at the difficulties around us, but at the goodness of God. Even when things seem to be at their worst, there are things we can praise God for.

We can praise Him for his goodness and for his never-ending love. We can praise him for his mercy and for sending Jesus. We can praise him for his presence in our lives. We can praise him for the wonders of His creation. We can praise him for giving us His Word to read. We can praise him for the peace and comfort He gives us.

The second action I see tied to giving thanks is related to praise. We can find it in 1 Chronicles 16:8-9:

8Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
9Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
1 Chronicles 16:8-9

Scripture tells to “Tell of God’s wonderful acts.” When it’s hard to be thankful, remembering the good things God has done and telling others about them changes our perspective and produces a thankful heart in us. Do you know God as your savior? Tell others about Him! Has he blessed your life? Tell others about it. We looked at the first three verses Psalm 136 earlier. If you are struggling to give thanks, I encourage you to read the entire psalm. It doesn’t tell us to proclaim the mighty deeds of God, it simply does it. Here are just a few of the things the psalm says to give thanks for:

Give thanks…

to him who alone does great wonders, (v4)
who by his understanding made the heavens, (v5)
who spread out the earth upon the waters, (v6)
who made the great lights — the sun to govern the day, the moon and stars to govern the night; (v7-9)
to him who divided the Red Sea asunder (v13)
to him who led his people through the desert, (v16)
to the One who remembered us in our low estate (v23)
and freed us from our enemies, (v24)
and who gives food to every creature. (v25)

The Psalmist is proclaiming the deeds of God. If you were to write your own psalm, how would it read? Mine would read something like this:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.
He saved me when I was running from Him
He set my feet on a solid rock, He removed my need for striving
He blessed me with a wonderful husband
He leads me in adventures of ministry, He gives me joy in serving Him
He forgives my sins
He teaches me the mysteries of life with Him
He restores my soul and He will give me the crown of life

I challenge you, the next time it’s hard for you make thanksgiving your sacrifice, write your own Psalm 136. You will find that God’s goodness will overwhelm your heart; that His goodness is bigger and better than everything that is pulling you down. Your circumstances may not change, but your heart and your spirit will.

You’ve all heard of Hellen Keller. She was born in 1880 unable to hear or see. The circumstances of her life were pretty bad. Yet she found things to thank God for every day. Listen to this quote from her:

“For three things I thank God every day of my life: thanks that he has vouchsafed me knowledge of his works; deep thanks that he has set in my darkness the lamp of faith; deep, deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward to—a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.”

If you know Jesus Christ as your savior, you can say that same prayer. “Thank you, God, for giving me knowledge of Your works. Thank you for bringing to my darkness the lamp of faith. Thank you, Lord, beyond measure, for the promise of eternal life with you.”

If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can do that now. If you have never said “Yes” to God, you are headed toward an eternity without Him – an eternity in hell, separated from God’s goodness and love. But that’s not what God wants. He loves you, and His love endures forever. He has made a way for you to spend forever with Him in heaven. That way is by asking Him to forgive your sins and to be Lord of your life. It’s His deepest desire for you.

You might pray a prayer something like this one:

Father in heaven, thank you for making a way for me to spend eternity with you. Forgive me, Lord for going my own way. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die on the cross as payment for my sins. Lord Jesus, come into my life. Teach me what it means to live my life for you. And Father, thank you for the promise of spending eternity in heaven with you. Thank you that you are good and that your love endures forever. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen

If you’ve prayed that prayer, you are a new creation in Christ Jesus. You have more to be thankful thank you ever have before.

When you find yourself in times where thanksgiving is hard, make it your sacrifice to the Lord. Turn to Him, remember His goodness, and give thanks.

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

1It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to the Most High.
2It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening.
Psalm 92:1-2 (NLT)

Your assignment during this focus on thanksgiving has been to memorize these two verses. How’s it going? I have them down, and I attribute it to quoting them first thing most mornings and last thing most evenings…and then any time throughout the day when I am tempted to complain about things.

What I’ve become convinced of is that giving thanks is a strong aggressive and preemptive play against the enemy. He wants to neutralize our witness for Christ. Giving thanks and proclaiming God’s unfailing love in the morning and His faithfulness in the evening puts us in the position of standing against satan before, during and after any and all attempts he makes to derail us. Here’s how:

Morning thanksgiving sets the stage for the day – and it establishes that we’re playing on God’s stage, not satan’s stage. It says “OK, satan – this is the field we’re playing on today.” It starts the game each morning with the home field advantage.

What’s the impact of starting every day by proclaiming boldly and declaring with enthusiasm that God’s love is unfailing; that His loving kindness is constant and that His mercies are new every morning? How will the first hour of my morning be different if I proclaim God’s unfailing love while I get ready for work instead of going over my to do list for the day or a taking stock of my aches and pains or rehashing the argument I had with someone the day before? It will be night and day different! These actions allow us to take control of our thoughts first thing in the day, setting the pattern for the rest of the day.

It also puts on my shield of faith. As I remind myself of God’s unfailing love my faith rises to meet the day’s challenges. It puts me more in the mindset of being on the offensive instead of playing defense.

Continuing to give thanks throughout the day puts me in a position of obedience because it is impossible to be actively praising God and actively complaining at the same time. “Stop complaining” Jesus told the crowds in John 6. The Apostle Paul wrote telling us to “Do everything without complaining or arguing” in Philippians 2:14. As I wrote in this blog – let’s be counter-culture and stop the complaining and grumbling.

Not only does being an aggressive giver of thanks put me in a position of obedience throughout the day, it repeatedly changes my focus from this world to the Kingdom of heaven; from bricks and mortar to gold and glory; from sinful, fallen attitudes and behaviors to righteousness and holiness and loving kindness. That’s being on offense.

And becoming more obedient in my thanksgiving and changing my focus to the Kingdom of God, has another huge impact – it repeatedly puts me in the presence of God. Psalm 100 says:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.

Psalm 100:4 (NLT)

Thanksgiving and praise bring us into the presence of God. And that’s where my victory comes from; that’s where my joy in life’s challenges is found.

Not only are we to proclaim God’s unfailing love in the morning, we’re to proclaim His faithfulness in the evening. “Lord, You are a faithful God and I thank you for it.” How different will our sleep be when the last thing we do is remember – declare and give thanks for – God’s faithfulness?

I love the bookending of praising God morning and night: “It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening.”  To me the psalmist is saying “Sandy, frame your life within the structure or boundaries of thanksgiving and praise. Morning and night, remember God’s goodness and thank Him for it.”

I’m working on my frame, how about you?

Lagniappe (a term used in southern Louisiana and southeast Texas, it means “a little something extra”)

Here’s a kind of cool thing about the word  translated “good” In this passage,  – “It is good to give thanks…” and “It is good to proclaim…”: It’s the same word that is used in Genesis when God declared that what He had made was “good!” God created the light and saw that the light was good. He caused the waters to be collected and the dry ground to appear creating the land and the seas and He saw that it was good. He created all the plants and animals and He saw that they were good. He created the sun, the moon and stars and saw that they were good. All of God’s creation was declared to be “good.”

And in the psalms, David writes that our thanksgiving and praise is likewise, “good.”

I think that’s pretty cool!

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

In his article “How to Spot a Transformed Christian” Gordon MacDonald identifies 12 outwardly visible characteristics of transformed Christians. Thanksgiving made his list as number 11:

11. Overflows with thankfulness. And that implies prone toward cheerfulness.

Some of us (me, for example) needed to learn the exercise of thankfulness. Our default pattern is to simply receive, to take, as if we are entitled and deserve the generosity of others.

But now and then comes along that unusual transforming person who literally walks through the day looking for things to be thankful for. With each expression of thanks, they press value on what someone (or God himself) has done. They believe that no human transaction is complete until it is covered with appreciation

Just as a marathon runner goes into training by running a bit more each day, we’ve gone into training in world-class thanksgiving by deliberately giving thanks a bit more each day.

In the first blog on thansgiving I suggested that you memorize Psalm 92:1-2. (Pause here in your reading to recite the passage for practice. If you can’t remember it, check out last week’s blog again.)

As I pursue God, I want my lifestyle to become characterized by giving thanks to God. The only way that’s going to happen is if I increase my thanksgiving muscle.

So how do I do it? How do we move from where we are to where we want to be – to where God wants us to be? How do we train our thanksgiving muscle to help it to grow stronger? Here’s some tips

  • Memorize Psalm 92, verses 1 and 2 if you haven’t yet done so.
  • Pray, asking God to make you aware of complaining and grumbling and to put a guard on your lips. When you’ve asked God to help you not do something, I’ve found that it becomes a little harder to do it!
  • Identify issues that cause you to complain and make a commitment to give thanks in those situations instead of complain – that’s putting the enemy in the corner. My guess is that you are tempted to complain and grumble about the same things every day. Turn those things into opportunities to be thankful.
  • Similarly, identify things that annoy you but you don’t actually complain about them (yet). There are lots of small things in my life that cause me to tighten my lips a bit or take a deep breath . I don’t complain about them because they’re not worth complaining about, but still, they annoy me. Turn these little annoyances into occasions for giving thanks.
  • Find triggers in your daily activities – anything you do regularly throughout the day – eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, putting your shoes or your sweater on or taking them off, putting your glasses on or taking them off, thinking about food – you get the idea.
  • Here’s a suggestion that links your behavior to Psalm 92. The last word of the last verse 2 – “proclaim God’s faithfulness in the evening” – means just that – evening or night…but it’s literally means “a twist away of the light.” It’s properly translated night, but I can use that literal translation as a trigger to remind myself to remember God’s faithfulness every time I turn off the light!

Giving thanks is a tangible way that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We can’t say that we love God and then grumble and complain about our circumstances. Well, we can, but the two actions are inconsistent. Yet we do them. Let’s not. Let’s become world-class givers of thanks. Lets live transformed lives. To God be the glory, great things He has done.

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Living God's HeartLiving Gods Heart

1It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to the Most High.
2It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening.
Psalm 92:1-2 (NLT)

A few weeks ago, I published a blog titled The Proof of Repentance – Living Differently. The point of the article was that when we agree with God about our sin, we choose to live differently. We choose to let go of sinful behaviors and replace them with behaviors that are pleasing to God. That makes us counterculture.

If ever there was a lifestyle pattern in which we need to be counterculture, it is grumbling and complaining. It is the most common conversational “style” I find – both among Christians and non-Christians. Ask anyone how they are doing and you are unlikely to hear about how blessed they are, even though we live in a most blessed country. Yes, we’re going through a recession and perhaps they’re not feeling as “blessed” as they were five years ago, but on our very worst days, we’re still living in a blessed country.

Psalm 92 instructs us to give thanks, sing praises and proclaim His unfailing love in the morning and His faithfulness in the evening. That’s a lifestyle of thanksgiving and praise. And it’s inconsistent with grumbling and complaining. A thankful heart must be developed and cultivated in our culture because grumbling and complaining is so prevalent. I confess – sometimes I feel like I have to complain about something just to be a part of the crowd. If I’m not complaining, I’m just too different from everyone else to be comfortable! Lord forgive me! Teach me to embrace the discomfort of not being like everyone else so that I can live in the joy of thanksgiving!

A thankful heart lifts our eyes to the Lord – I need that. A grumbling and complaining heart puts my eyes on the situation – and the very worst elements of it. Next week’s blog is going to be all about that!

This week, I want to get us thinking.

  • What do you have to be thankful for?
  • What keeps you from being thankful?
  • How strong is your thankful heart? Mine is doing OK, but I know it could be stronger.

I’m looking forward this month to learning about how to grow my thankful heart and then…actually growing it! My goal for the next four weeks is to become a more thankful person. Because I’m convinced that there is joy to be found in thankfulness. In good times and in bad times. I am hoping that people notice the difference, but even if they don’t, I will.

I am anticipating going into a difficult few months. We all face times that are more challenging than others. I want to experience my thankful heart growing stronger before I get too far into that difficult period.

So let’s start with an easy assignment. (At least I it’s an easy one.) Memorize Psalm 92:1-2.

1It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to the Most High.
2It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening.
Psalm 92:1-2 (NLT)

And if you find that to be a really easy assignment, begin to implement it.

  • Every morning when you wake, proclaim – declare with enthusiasm and confidence – God’s unfailing love.
  • Pause before each meal to give thanks – truly give thanks, don’t just repeat words you often say but frequently don’t fully embrace.
  • At least once each day sing praises to God. (Perhaps you could sing your thanksgiving before one of your meals.)
  • Every night before you go to sleep, proclaim – again, declare it with enthusiasm and confidence – God’s faithfulness.

I’m looking forward to this week…and next week and the week after that. I’m looking forward to them because I believe that developing a heart of thanksgiving has tremendous power to transform us into the people God wants us to be. And that will not only please God, it will bring more joy into my life.

So…let grumbling and complaining cease and let the thanksgiving begin!

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