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Thursday Thoughts: “Why Choose Gratitude?”

on June 19, 2014

ImageOur Ladies Bible Fellowship at church has started studying Scripture that has to do with gratitude, along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ excellent book, Choosing Gratitude. For the next several Thursdays, I will share what we are learning. It’s been a great study so far. I encourage you to read the book! Today’s focus is chapter 4. (You can read about chapter 3 here.)

In her introduction, Nancy tells of Matthew Henry, a well-known commentator of old, who was robbed when he was in London. Nancy quotes his response to the situation on page 62 of her book:

Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.

What an amazing way to view a very bad situation. I think he gives us a great example as to how to be truly thankful in a situation without mindlessly mouthing words of gratitude for being robbed (i.e., “Well, I’m supposed to be thankful for everything, so I guess I’m thankful for being robbed.”)

This chapter simply gives 8 answers to the question in the chapter’s title, “Why Choose Gratitude?”:

  1. Gratitude is a matter of obedience (pp 62-63).
  • Colossians 3:16-17 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS TO GOD THE FATHER THROUGH HIM.”
  • And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This obedient thanksgiving is evidence that Christ’s Word richly dwells in us.
  1. Gratitude draws us close (pp 63-65).
  • Psalm 69:30 ~ I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
  • {In all good conscience, I must make one clarification here. While I certainly believe that gratitude as a matter of obedience draws us close to God, I do believe that the verses Nancy uses do not directly support her claim that gratitude draws us close to God. Again, I believe that it does, but I would personally not use this verse or the other verses she lists in this section to support that statement.}
  • “See if expressing gratitude to the Lord doesn’t ‘magnify’ Him in your own eyes, increasing your depth perception of this One. . . . See if the practice of intentional gratitude doesn’t transport you even nearer to Him” (NLD, 64-65).
  1. Gratitude is a sure path to peace (pp 65-67).
  • Again, one more clarification: It is a “sure” path, assuming one is also striving to walk in other aspects of God’s will.
  • Philippians 4:6-7 ~ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • One of Nancy’s online discussion questions asked: “According to Philippians 4:6-7, prayer is not all we can or should do in disquieting situations. What–plus prayer–equals peace, according to this passage? (p. 66) How have you experienced this?”

Thanksgiving + Prayer = Peace. When there are specific situations that frustrate or worry me, it is good to pray about them, praying for God’s will and even praying that God might change or take away the problem (realizing that is not always God’s will). It is calming to lay my burdens at his feet, but more so to do so with a heart that is thankful for who God is and how he may be working through that difficult situation for His glory and my good.

  1. Gratitude is a gauge of the heart (pp 67-69).
  • “When you catch yourself being grateful to God for His obvious and even His more subtle (or hard to understand) forms of blessing, it’s an indication that your heart is being drawn to His, and that you believe He is good, faithful, and can be trusted” (NLD, 67)
  • Psalm 140:13 ~ Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.

Interestingly, this psalm (140) is one of many laments. “This individual lament serves the needs of people under threat from ungodly people who intend serious harm” (ESV note). Even in the midst of threat, we are to give thanks; this is an indicator of our “righteous” hearts.

  • “Giving of thanks is an indicator of our true heart condition. Those who have been made righteous by the grace of God will be thankful people” (NLD, 67).
  • In another discussion question, Nancy told of an interview with Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed at a young age:  “Joni told Nancy that she’s just disciplined herself to ‘give thanks in all things,’ so now it’s become a reflex reaction. Do you agree that expressing gratitude is a discipline? (p. 68)”

I do believe that the practice of gratitude is a discipline, but it should never be simply a rote response. We can voice “praise the Lord” automatically without meaning it. We must discipline our minds to be ever aware of God’s goodness so that we think–and speak–with gratitude consistently.

  1. Gratitude is the will of God  (pp 69-70).
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~ Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
  • Looking for God’s will? Well, here it is, in part: thankfulness in all circumstances!
  1. Gratitude is an evidence of being filled with the Spirit (pp 70-71).
  • Ephesians 5:18, 20 ~ And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. . . . Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Just as we would not believe an abuser or embezzler is being filled with the Spirit, “no more, then, can we believe that a person who habitually gripes, murmurs, and worries about his pressures and problems, rather than ‘giving thanks for everything,’ is filled with the Spirit! The fact is, we cannot whine and complain and be filled with the Spirit at the same time” (NLD, 71). Sobering!
  1. Gratitude reflects Jesus’ heart (pp 72-74).
  • Luke 10:21 ~ In that same hour he [Jesus] rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
  • Jesus “gave Himself to God and to the world, not under coercion, but with abandon and . . . with gratitude, grateful for the privilege of obeying His Father and of fulfilling the mission He had been sent to earth to complete” (NLD, 74).
  1. Gratitude gets us ready for heaven (pp 74-75).
  • Revelation 4:9-11 “And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’”
  • Rev 7:11-12 “And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’”
  • Rev 11:16-18 “And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.’”
  • “Every time we speak and live out our thankfulness here on this very temporary base of operations, we join our voices with the grand chorus of gratitude that wells up before the throne of God, and we prepare ourselves for what we’ll be doing throughout all eternity, glorifying and thanking Him for all He is and all He has done. So think of today as a ‘dress rehearsal’” (NLD, 75).

Just one of these 8 reasons should be ample motivation to choose gratitude. I so often fail, yet God is a patient God, who continuously pours grace on me, giving me even more reason to praise him and give thanks. I so look forward to joining the throng around the throne giving thanks to my Creator and Redeemer!

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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One response to “Thursday Thoughts: “Why Choose Gratitude?”

  1. […] Our Ladies Bible Fellowship at church has started studying Scripture that has to do with gratitude, along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ excellent book, Choosing Gratitude. For the next several Thursdays, I will share what we are learning. It’s been a great study so far. I encourage you to read the book! Today’s focus is chapter 5. (You can read about chapter 4 here.) […]

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