“Lift up a great shout of joy to Yahweh! Go ahead and do it—everyone, everywhere! Worship Yahweh with gladness. Sing your way into his presence with joy! And realize what this really means—we have the privilege of worshiping Yahweh our God. For he is our Creator and we belong to him. We are the people of his pleasure. You can pass through his open gates with the password of praise. Come right into his presence with thanksgiving. Come bring your thank offering to him and affectionately bless his beautiful name! For Yahweh is always good and ready to receive you. He’s so loving that it will amaze you—so kind that it will astound you! And he is famous for his faithfulness toward all. Everyone knows our God can be trusted, for he keeps his promises to every generation!” Psalm 100:1-5, TPT
AMEN!!! Thankfulness is the gateway into the awesome presence of God! The more we lift our thanks to the Lord, the more our hearts open to receive all that He is and all that He has for us. When we learn to give thanks in all circumstances, hope and gratitude fortify our hearts.
Consider the following:
In Proverbs 4:23, we are told to guard our hearts above all, for from it flows the wellspring of life.
In Luke 6:45, we are reminded that from the overflow of our heart, the mouth speaks.
In Proverbs 23:7, Solomon informs us that as we think, so we are.
In Matthew 6:21, we are told that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.
Proverbs 17:22 tells us that the attitude of gratitude produces a cheerful heart, and a cheerful heart is good medicine. On the other hand, hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12).
With these principles in mind, thankfulness is one of the key ways we can guard our hearts.
- Where is your treasure?
- Where is your focus?
- Where are your priorities?
- What are you thankful for?
- Where do you spend your time and resources?
What you carry in your heart has expression on the earth. A grateful heart produces humility and generosity while destroying pride and fear of lack. A grateful heart guards against entitlement, self pity, and victimization.
Giving thanks produces oxytocin, a hormone which produces a bonding to whom we are giving thanks. We bond to the object of our affection. As we give thanks to the Lord, we are literally bonding to our creator. The greater the thankfulness in our heart, the greater our revelation of God’s goodness, the greater our thankfulness and so on.
We Have So Much to be Thankful For
We must understand that we are owed nothing and deserve nothing. In fact, we deserved eternal separation from God – but Jesus! We had a problem that was infinite and eternal, impossible to overcome – but Jesus! God sacrificed His one and only Son, who suffered in our place, took the full penalty for our sin and died on our behalf to reconcile us with the Father. EVERYTHING we have that is good, is from our heavenly Father, the Father of lights.
God’s great mercy (holding back what we do deserve) and great grace (giving us what we don’t deserve) are both incredible reasons to give thanks. Receive God’s limitless grace, by faith alone!
By repenting and turning from our sins and placing our faith in Jesus, we receive the gift of salvation by faith alone. This is the greatest gift of unimaginable proportions – eternal life with heaven as our eternal home! This understanding provides the foundation for our thankfulness.
Thankful With and Thankful Without
At my company, we started to declare “Praise the Lord” for the good and the bad news. We had a stretch of not so great news that we met with “Praising the Lord” in spite of the “circumstantial evidence in the temporary realm” (a term coined by Barry Miracle). When we finally received positive news, one team member shouted out “Praise the Lord!” Another said, “It’s great to be able to praise Him for good news for a change.” and everyone started to laugh.
It is incredible. As we shout out “Praise the Lord!” it literally changes the atmosphere and brings in His joy and peace, regardless of the challenge. The atmosphere of faith, the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen, rises as we choose to praise and give thanks in all circumstances (Hebrews 11:1). We know all things are working together for our good because we love the Lord and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).
When circumstantial evidence in the temporary realm is painful, difficult or not as we expected (God uses all things for our good), we can offer a sacrifice of praise which glorifies God. When suffering (God is producing an eternal weight of glory), we can also offer a sacrifice of praise. We can give thanks, in advance, for the promises of God we find in His word. In fact, it is impossible to be happy without being grateful. As we continue to give thanks, we are strengthening our bond with God!
Thankfulness is a choice more than a feeling. Our body responds to our focus and words. Our subconscious focus and feelings follow our conscious choices to give thanks.
King David understood these principles and commanded his soul (mind, will, and emotions) to “Praise the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me.” (Psalm 103). Following his example aligns our perspective with God’s perspective. We begin to see and experience life differently with a thankful heart positioned in humility and peace.
Pause, take a moment, and begin to give thanks. Is it free flowing or is it difficult?
If giving thanks is difficult, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what is in the way? For me, at times, entitlement or comparison may be the thankfulness thief. These thieves of thankfulness also take with it peace and joy. When revealed, I simply repent and return to the arms of my heavenly Father and thankfulness bubbles up again. For others, it may be unforgiveness, bitterness, self-pity, victimization or the ugly and exhausting chains of the spirit of religion. I love the wonderful lifestyle of repentance. So simple. So powerful. So freeing!
Remember, the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. As we repent and get back in right standing with God (Jesus is our righteousness), it produces peace which then produces joy.
Write it Down!
Again, we enter His presence with thanksgiving and praise. Thanksgiving opens us to experience and encounter God who is always present. He inhabits the praises of His people. This is part of a lifestyle of worship.
What if you took just 5 minutes each day to journal reasons to give thanks? If you experience any blocks, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what is in your heart, simply repent and return.
Consider listening to the voice of God and asking Him to respond to your thankfulness. What does He have to say in response to your offerings of praise? What does He have to say about you?
After a week, reflect on how practicing thankfulness daily is starting to change you.
God is infinitely good. It is impossible to exaggerate the goodness of God. He is infinitely loving. Infinitely compassionate. Infinitely kind. Infinitely perfect. Infinitely powerful. Infinitely great. Infinitely righteous. Infinitely just. Infinitely Holy. He is our good and perfect Heavenly Father!
Thankfulness produces a grateful heart, an attitude of gratitude from which our words and actions flow. Let’s enter His presence with thanksgiving, today and every day! His presence is our love. His presence is our peace. His presence is our joy. His presence is everything.
From the old hymn: “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow”
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above, you heavenly host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost