The outline below are notes to a presentation I gave to Titus 2 Community’s Christian marriage group and The Explicitly Christian Marriage group, both on Facebook. To see the video presentation, click the button below.
Isn't this what the national holiday is really all about?
Certainly, we view and celebrate Thanksgiving Day in so many different ways. Well, except for the turkey. Those poor birds have nothing about which to be thankful. I suspect most of the United State are grateful for the time off from work, great food, and a time with family or friends. Sometimes, the origin of the tradition is recalled. You know? The pilgrims and Native Americans having a big feast together, and all that.
But, from God's point of view what is the essence of Thanksgiving or even thankfulness? Well, here it is: God wants us to be a people who are always giving thanks and who are always living thanks. In other words, we are called to a life of thanks, or as I call it - thanksliving. Here's why:
There are many places in the Bible that talk about praising and thanking God. Especially the Psalms.
1. GIVING THANKS CENTERS ON 3 THINGS
Biblical thanksgiving centers on three main reasons. We need a reason to be grateful, right? Most of the time we think of giving thanks to God happens when he answers our prayers. That's a good thing. And for the food we are about to eat - also a good thing.
Yet, the scriptures give us reasons that are wider and deeper than that. God's Word calls us to be thankful for three big broader, more profound reasons. What are they? God calls us to be thankful because of
· God's awesome character (Psalm 33:4-5,20-22)
· God's mighty works (Psalm 33:5-12)
· God's redemptive acts (Psalm 33:13-19)
2. GIVING THANKS CHARACTERIZES TRUE BELIEVERS
Did you know in the Old Testament true believers of this awesome God were called God fearers?
Not only that, they were called God thankers. Paul reflects on that in Romans 1:21. Unbelievers are not thankful to God. In fact, they are often characterized by thanklessness as a general disposition. True followers of the Lord are thankful to God for who he is and what he does. Christians are also characterized by a life of thankfulness.
Believers in Jesus Christ know we are guilty before God, but by God’s gracealone we are saved and redeemed by Jesus. Therefore, we show gratitude as we live in the reality of God’s grace.
3. GIVING THANKS CELEBRATES IN ACTIVE WAYS
This is a main reason why we have public worship.
1. LIVING THANKS IS AN OVERFLOW OF GIVING THANKS
This is what we see in the Bible time and time again. Psalm 86:12 expresses it well, "I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever." Whole-heartedness in Scripture is mind, will, emotions, soul, and body. Everything about you and me gives thanks as a response to the Lord.
2. LIVING THANKS IS GOD'S WILL TO LIVE HIS WAY
That is, to live from an overflowing heart of gratitude. This is because we are "rooted and built up in him and established in the faith...abounding in thanksgiving!" (Colossians 2:7) Thanksliving is not only a command, it is also the expected produce of a soul embraced by Jesus.
Joy-filled thanks is a quality woven into the very fabric of a redeemed soul, a true believer in Christ. To find out more, go to this post.
3. LIVING THANKS IS FUEL FOR THE FLOURISHING LIFE
Say what? Gratitude and thanksliving is fuel for the flourishing life? Really?
A truly flourishing life is the abundant life found through faith in Jesus Christ.
Yes, that's what Scripture informs us. One example is found in 2 Corinthians 9:11-12, "You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God."
Gratitude is a significant catalyst for contentment and contentment is a base for all the hues and tints of an enriched, flourishing life.
Gratitude leads to Glatitude (attitude of gratitude).
Gladitude leads to Contentment.
Contentment is a foundation for
Flourishing is what happens in a life of thanks: thanksliving.
How do you go from Thanksgiving to Thanksliving?
1. GET A JOURNAL AND WRITE IN IT THINGS FOR WHICH YOU ARE THANKFUL
Personal journal -write in it at least three days a week, but the best way is to take three minutes each day and handwrite something for which you are grateful.
Handwriting in a journal has been proven to elevate your mood.
Couple journal - Keep a journal for the two of you and use this as a guide:
* P – People (1 Timothy 2:1).
* R – Resources, such as food and provisions (1 Timothy 4:3).
* A – Actions and words: your conversation (Ephesians 5:4).
* I – Intercession, prayers, and answers to prayer (Philippians 4:6).
* S - Spiritual preferences and freedom (Romans 14:6).
* E – Everything
For everything you do (Colossians 3:17).
For everything you have (Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18), this is God’s will!
2. IN PRIVATE AND CORPORATE TIMES, GIVE THANKS TO GOD FOR
a. The Lord Himself
· His name (his awesome character)
· His fame (his creation and providence)
· His claim (he saved you)
b. The Lord’s blessings
3. GIVE THANKS FOR OTHERS AND APPRECIATION TO OTHERS
You can go to the store in Relavate.org to get How to Appreciate Others in 12 Meaningful Ways.
Start with appreciating your spouse!
4. SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF GRATITUDE
Dr. Emmons: “Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, and abundance.”
Ephesians 5:4 – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
The language of gratitude serves grace to others and is helpful in appropriate moments (see Eph. 4:29). It builds and encourages.
Several studies on healthy relationships show:
* For every negative word, phrase, accusation, etc., you need to counter with 7+ positives!
* The ratio of negative language and tone to positive language and tone is big predictor for a failed marriage!
5. PRAY IN GRATITUDE AND WITH GRATITUDE
Use the language of Scripture or Scriptures themselves to reflect an appreciative heart.
Thank God for specific things about your spouse.
6. PRACTICE FOCUSED ATTENTION
a. “Practicing focused attention involves tuning out as much negative as you can while tuning in the best of what you can. We all tend to do this when we are “in the flow.”
The Bible tells us to contemplate and ruminate on the Lord and his Word.
Push aside your worries, concerns, conflicts, to-do lists, and other noise in your mind.
Then, focus on the Lord, his Word, and other good things.
What good things?
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
b. “If we pay attention and search them out, we can see God’s blessings. Get in the habit of asking, ‘What person, place, or thing has given me some benefit that has added to my health, wealth, or happiness?’” - in ThanksLiving
As a couple: “What benefit has my husband or wife that has added to my health, wealth, or happiness?”
This is the week set aside to give thanks. This coming Thursday is a special day for giving thanks. However, live a life of thanks together. Do so as an expression of Christ's bountiful life overflowing through you. Of course, it is always time to give thanks and always time to live thanks.